‘Dream come true’ as Fulwood resident secures deal with Macmillan Children’s Books

Posted on - 17th April, 2024 - 6:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Fulwood, Fylde News, Kirkham, Preston News, Proud Preston
Hazel Gardner
Hazel Gardner wants her books to inspire a love of reading

A Fulwood resident has secured a four-book deal with one of the ‘Big Five’ publishers.

Hazel Gardner’s Penguin and Pup has been snapped up by Macmillan Children’s Books. Hazel said the news was a “dream come true”.

Penguin and Pup is a laugh-out-loud picture book series illustrated by Lollies-shortlisted Nikki Dyson. The first story to be released will be Penguin and Pup: The Perfect Christmas.

Hazel, who grew up in Kirkham, said: “Finding out about the deal was probably one of the most incredible feelings of my life.

“Anyone who has attempted to be traditionally published knows how difficult the process can be. It took me a year – and many, many rejections – to be signed by an agent, and the book deal came from there.

“To sign with Macmillan – a Big Five publisher – was a dream come true. Then, to have the incredible, bestselling Nikki Dyson on board to illustrate the books was the icing on the cake. I still haven’t entirely processed it to be honest.”

Penguin and Pup by Hazel Gardner
The first in the Penguin and Pup series is a Christmassy caper

Hazel went to university in Manchester and lived there until 2017, when she moved to Preston to be nearer family. She has written numerous stories over the years while working in project management, communications and event.

Hazel said: “I have many other stories, written and ready to find homes. My writing ranges from laugh-out-loud humour and silliness, to mindfulness and poetry for children.

“Before starting Penguin and Pup, I had a strong urge to write something in rhyme, and I knew in my mind what the rhythm of the text would be. I started to play with a back and forth between two characters, who ended up being Penguin and Pup.

“As a parent myself, I think the rhyme is very satisfying to read. I think children will laugh a lot at the situations the characters find themselves in – after all, the book cover promises ‘giggles guaranteed’.”

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As for the future, Hazel’s aim is write full time.

“I would love for ‘Penguin and Pup: The Perfect Christmas’ to find its way into many Christmas Eve boxes and small hands later this year” said Hazel.

“The ultimate goal for my books is for them to be read and enjoyed by as many children as possible and to inspire a love of reading. I’d obviously love for the series to be a bestseller and to continue with the characters for years to come. My dream is to be able to find homes for as many of my stories as possible and to be a full time author.”

Penguin and Pup: The Perfect Christmas is available to pre-order from the MacMillan website.

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This story was made possible by support from you, our readers and a host of organisations in the city, through our Crowdfund Lancashire appeal, which unlocked support from the Lancashire Culture and Sport Fund provided by Lancashire County Council. You can see all our coverage and, if you know of an event or arts project in the city we should be covering, send details to

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