In many families grandparents play a vital role in raising children.

They are often called upon to help with childcare when busy parents go out to work.

David Bell’s children enjoyed the time they spent with both sets of grandparents while he and his wife Helen, who live near Otley, were out at work.

The fun they had, and the bond that was created between the generations was the inspiration for a book The Growers, which explores that special relationship in an easily accessible, fun way.

The colourful paperback - beautifully illustrated by artist Nici Gregory - also includes activities that children and their grandparents can enjoy together.

“It goes back to the bond between my own child Tom, his grandparents and the activities they enjoyed in the garden,” says David, an award-winning writer.

“My parents had not looked after a little child since I was a boy. It was a case of ‘in at the deep end’.”

Across the UK almost ten million grandparents look after their grandchildren, a figure that is growing year by year. At least 80 per cent of grandmothers in England with a grandchild under 16 provide childcare.

It is not always easy to organise activities that will fill each day, but anyone lucky enough to have a garden has a ready-made resource.

The children in the book, Jess and Jack, ask questions that youngsters - puzzled as to why their parents are not at home - might ask their grandparents.

“Granny Grower, do you think that mummies and daddies go to playschool?” asks Jack, while Jess wonders if their parents have gone swimming.

Granny and grandad Grower enjoy the garden with their young charges, telling Jess and Jack how bees make honey to help their family, drawing comparisons with mum and dad working to provide a home.

“My parents love gardening and the children love being outside - I tried to find a way of creating synergy between them in a fun way,” says David.

“There are many activities you can enjoy in a garden. It is a healthy and happy way to spend time and to play. Grandparents love to impart their knowledge and love to see grandchildren enjoying themselves.”

The Growers is designed to help grandparents with their grandchildren and vice versa. It will, says David, help to bridge the gap between generations in a fun way.

A recipe for a cake, instructions as to how to make a bee hotel and a wildflower seed pad to plant in a pot are included in the book. A brief quiz at the end tests what readers have learned.

Mother-of-two Nici, from Sheffield, works from a studio in her garden, providing inspiration. Her illustrations are bold, colourful, imaginative and humorous.

The book was the brainchild of David, and James Thomas, founder of Harrogate-based publishers Pen Dance Productions, who lives in Bradford.

“The idea had been brewing for a long time,” he says. The Growers is the first of a series of books they plan to produce.

“The second will look at what’s underground,” says David. “How things grow beneath the surface and what Jess and Jack imagine to be there.”

Bob the frog - who is shy and does not like noise - will be the focus of the story in book three. “We want to create a book that involves more than just a quick read. We did quite a lot of research as to what would work,” says David.

Children can meet the characters from the book online, and look up activities at

*The Growers by David Bell and Nici Gregory is published by Pen Dance Productions costing £6.99. It is available from Amazon, Foyles, Blackwells and to order from bookshops. Visit