Announcing “Alienated”

We are so excited to announce our newest upcoming picture book, Alienated by talented author/illustrator Sophie Shortland. We’ve asked Sophie to tell all of our readers a little bit more about Alienated

Tell us about you 

My name is Sophie Shortland and I am from Surrey in the south of England. I currently study Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts and during my free time I enjoy watching films, lounging around and of course writing and illustrating children’s books.

What is Alienated about? 

‘Alienated’ is an illustrated children’s book that shines light on the subject of autism in children, in a playful and imaginative way. It dives into the mind of a child, to teach and inform a young audience about a tricky subject. Told through the eyes of an autistic boy, the audience learns about the abstract way in which he perceives the world.

Alienated is a children’s book focused around a serious subject matter that isn’t talked about enough. I hope my book can change the perception of autism and help people to empathise with sufferers.

Where did the idea for Alienated come from?

The idea for Alienated came from working in a children’s after school club. I would observe their behaviour and get them to draw for me at any opportunity. I noticed that a common theme in their drawings was aliens and monsters. Their work inspired mine as I began to develop a narrative around the idea of aliens. I wanted to touch upon a subject matter that hadn’t been very prevalent in children’s books: autism. I think children’s books are a great way to educate and inform children about the world around them. I hope my book educates children about autism or even helps autistic children understand their belonging in this world.

What is your favorite alien from the book and why?

My favourite alien from the book has to be the dad; I enjoyed his design and he was a lot of fun to draw.

How did you become an illustrator/author?

From an early age, I was obsessed with drawing and creating. Art was always my favourite class and my love for the subject lead me to do an Art Foundation after college where I first started illustrating books. We were given a lot of freedom on the course and were given a self-initiated project in which my goal was to make children’s books comparable to the ones that endlessly inspired me when I was a child. My outcome for this project was a rough version of Alienated. About a year after finishing my book, my Auntie sent me a message saying she had come across this submissions page on ThunderStone Books that were looking to publish children’s books that have an educational aspect which sounded perfect for Alienated so I sent it off and they liked it.

What are your favorite children’s books and why?

Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter – anything by these authors is pure gold. They seemed to have the formula for what makes a great children’s book. My Book shelves have been stacked with their work since I first could read. Their books possess a perfect balance of creativity and originality that separates their work from others. If I had to choose one book as my favourite it would be Dr.Seuss’ Cat in the Hat ; It is a timeless classic and there is nothing like it!

What advice would you give to young readers?

The best advice I can give to young readers is to not stop reading! I personally am dyslexic and struggled quite a lot with spelling and grammar as a child but I didn’t let it stop me from reading. My reading obsession helped me to create my own books and if you love it enough anyone can do it.


You can find Alienated in your local bookstore, coming August 1, 2018!

Week of Mindfulness: Day 7

This was the last day of my week of mindfulness using the Meh Activity Book. I’ve been surprised and delighted by how much 30 minutes a week has helped me get into a better state of mind for my new job and for facing life more generally.

Today’s mindfulness activity: the healing power of nature.




Today, I went for a walk. I am lucky to be quite close to little nature spots, and I chose today to go to one of my favorite ones. This is a place where I often go running in the mornings, and it’s a good place to think, get some fresh air, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Luckily today was warm and sunny. I didn’t take my page from the Meh Activity Book with me on my walk, but when I came home, I wrote down some of the things that I had seen, heard, and felt. It was a good reminder that being outside and having that quiet space to think can be a perfect environment for being mindful. The exercise is an added bonus too!



Thanks for following my week of mindfulness! Remember that you can download the Meh Activity Book for free and work on your own journey to be more mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Many thanks to Deborah Malcolm, who created this lovely activity book and the even lovelier wordless picture book from which it stemmed, Meh. If you want to learn more about Meh, visit the Meh product page.

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 6

Today’s mindfulness activity: filling the fish tank.

The 30 minutes of mindfulness activities with the Meh Activity Book today makes me think of a phrase of the movie Finding Nemo. The phrase is, “Just keep swimming.”

I really enjoyed coloring these adorable fish and making a few of my own (although they do not look nearly as nice or detailed as the ones from the worksheet). As I was doing it, I was thinking about that phrase, “Just keep swimming” and how hard it can be to stay afloat sometimes amidst stress and anxiety. I guess it’s best to just take things one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Just keep swimming!

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 4

It seems very fitting that today’s mindfulness activity has to do with focusing on tasks to do one at a time because with classes starting next week, my to-do list is feeling very long.

Today’s mindfulness activity: breaking down the mountain.

I love how this page of the Meh Activity Book illustrates how tasks on a to-do list can quickly pile up and overwhelm us. I know that the way I evaluate and measure my day’s productivity and my worth is directly tied into my completion (or not) of all the items on my to-do list. Yet, waking up to see that long list of things to do can sometimes freeze me with the anxiety of “the mountain.” How in the world can I complete everything that I am supposed to do? Sometimes the stress of it is so bad that I end up wasting time procrastinating or hiding from my list because I cannot bear the thought of tackling everything.

So today, I took a moment to re-evaluate my to-do list. I tried to prioritize the most important things (putting them at the top of the list) and then I went to the first item and spent a few hours tackling it.

I actually had a very productive day today, but I noticed that I didn’t feel nearly as overwhelmed as I usually do. Once I had made my prioritized list, I tried not to look at it as a whole, but just to move on straight to the next task once my previous one was done. I tried my best not to get too distracted by other things that come up during the day (like non-urgent emails), and by the end of the day, the mountain seemed a lot more manageable.

It was a simple mindfulness activity, but a very useful one!

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 2

Why is it sometimes so difficult to articulate the things we are good at or the things we like about ourselves?

Today’s mindfulness activity: filling my head with positivity.

This page of the book suggests filling the head on the page with what you like about yourself or with other things that make you happy. I was having difficulty coming up with a good list for the former, so I chose to go with the latter.

I filled my head with hugs, cake, diet coke, Scotland, artichokes, writing, books, bubble baths, and rainy days. What makes you happy?

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 1

Hi, I’m Rachel Noorda (co-founder and editorial director of ThunderStone Books). I do not usually write personal posts for this blog, but Deborah Malcolm’s Meh Activity Book has inspired me to try a week of mindfulness.

To me, mindfulness is being aware of how I am feeling and thinking. Mindfulness is being present and doing activities to stay calm and keep from being overwhelmed. The Mental Health Foundation defines mindfulness as “an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings.”

I’ve recently started a new job teaching at a university, and my husband and I have moved 1200 miles away for said new job. Needless to say, there is a lot of stress and anxiety that goes along with a big move and a new job. I was trying to think of ways in which I could be more aware of how I was feeling and take action to help minimize my anxiety. That’s when I decided to use the Meh Activity Book for a week of mindfulness.

Today’s mindfulness activity: coloring.

Things are busy, so I decided to set aside just 30 minutes (a manageable amount of time) to focus on mindfulness each day. For day 1, I spent the time coloring two pages with crayons. I am not an artist, as should be clear by the quality of my coloring, but I’ve found in the past that coloring is a nice way to keep my hands busy and relax myself while I think about the day.


I’m looking forward to Day 2!

You are welcome to download the free Meh Activity Book and work on your own week of mindfulness. We could all use some time to be more aware of our feelings, thoughts, and mental health.

CheMystery Goodreads Giveaway

We are giving away 5 copies of CheMystery on Goodreads and we would love one of our followers to win a copy! To enter, just click on the link below. Happy contesting!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

CheMystery by C.A. Preece


by C.A. Preece

Giveaway ends September 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Free Bookmarks for Summer Reading

Ah, summer. It’s a time of picnics, sunshine, swimming, and play. But for those who love books, it’s also a time of reading, where those extra hours of play can be spent in the company of a good book. Especially for those young readers out there, we at ThunderStone Books hope that you carve out a portion of your summer vacation to enjoy some interesting characters and engaging plots as you get lost in good books.

To help you in your quest to make this summer one that is adequately flavored with some delicious reads, here are some bookmarks from our favorite books (we’re biased; we know). Feel free to print these, share them, and use them to mark your place in your summer reading adventures.

Happy summer reading from ThunderStone Books!











Download the bookmarks