WHEN an Ingleton Primary School teacher found himself facing lockdown, his immediate thought were to his charges in Years 3 and 4 and how he could help them deal with the enormous changes they would face.

Mike Forde thought the best way to reach out to them in a safe and fun way was to write a book.

“I wanted to give the kids in my class a funny story for them to read that could also be a tool to help families discuss their mental health and well-being during this enormous upheaval,” he explained.

He uses this inspiration to pen ‘How to Not Go to School: Parsley Mimblewood Saves the World!’

The book is available free to download online and has been a hit.

The webpage also gives the visitor the opportunity to make a donation to NHS charities if they wish.

In just a matter of weeks, the book has now been downloaded over 50,000 times, shared by hundreds of schools with children and parents and even translated into Italian.

After sharing the story on Facebook, Mike, 28, who lives in Lancaster, connected first with Sarah Beswick, an early fan and art hobbyist, and then profes-sional illustrator Rebecca Sampson who collaborated to create the illustrations for the story book.

He gained ideas close to home for the storyline.

“A lot of the inspiration came straight out of the classroom. Our class mascot, PomPom the Ninja pops up a couple of times. And my students love hearing about my tiny Gran so she’s in the story too. And the idea just seemed to grow and grow.”

He added: “I’m overwhelmed and humbled to see how far this little book has gone.

“I wanted to give the 28 children in my class a fun story that would help them come to terms with this huge upheaval and now thousands of families are reading about Parsley Mimblewood and her adventures. I’m so grateful to all the people who have read, shared and helped make this happen.

“I’ve received so many beautiful messages from wonderful parents and teachers who loved the story. They like that it’s silly and whimsical and they adore Rebecca Sampson’s beautiful illustrations. But I think they really seem to value it as a tool to read together as a family and use the discussion prompts at the end of each chapter to talk about things like missing friends or feeling cooped up and then deal with those issues together.

“Over 50,000 people have now read the little story book that I wrote for the 28 kids in my class. I never would have imagined it could go this far but I think it’s been so popular because it’s not about coronavirus. It’s a funny little story about a kid who doesn’t go to school. And people seem to have really enjoyed that.

“We’re in this bewildering moment right now where families across the world are in the same boat facing this. And maybe what we all need is a whimsical little story about imaginary friends and badly behaved nanny goats.”

Reading through the book explores a different issue children may be experiencing during lockdown, interwoven with Parsley’s adventures with her brother Bo, their nanny goats and an eclectic group of imaginary friends.

Rebecca added “I had been looking for a way to contribute during the crisis and when Mike contacted me and I read the story, I was instantly taken by how well it dealt with the situation in a way that would resonate with children, without making coronavirus the dominant theme. It was a rich, whimsical world which was a joy to illustrate and working with Mike has been fantastic.”

To make it as widely accessible as possible to families across the country, the book can be sourced at no cost on its dedicated website where people can also donate to support the NHS.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Mike graduated from St Andrew’s University before going into teaching via Teach First. He loves to write stories for his students but has never had his work published or shared before.

Rebecca Sampson grew up in Lincoln, before graduating with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from

Loughborough University. She has worked as a graphic designer & illustrator in Nottingham, London and Melbourne, Australia, before recently settling in her partner’s hometown of


To download a copy of the book go to: https://parsleymimblewood.wordpress.com/