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Tilly Mint Tales

Tilly Mint Tales is a much-loved collection of 9 linked short stories and a longer story, Tilly Mint and the Dodo. When Mrs Hardcastle goes to sleep, Tilly Mint escapes into magical adventures. In her final adventure she tries to save the last dodo in the world from extinction. Illustrated by Tony Ross. 6+

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Available from Amazon.

Published by Random House, 2003. ISBN 978-0552548700.

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When Mrs Hardcastle goes to sleep, something magic always seems to happen to Tilly Mint. Tilly never says very much about it to Mrs Hardcastle, and Mrs Hardcastle never says very much about it to Tilly. It just happens, and that’s that. It’s magic.

Foreign editions

Tilly Mint Tales was also published in Thailand.

How ‘Tilly Mint Tales’ started

When I was a little girl, my mum and dad used to call me Tilly Mint. It wasn’t my real name, of course. We lived in a part of Liverpool called Knotty Ash, and it seemed that all the other little girls in the street were called Tilly Mint, too. We moved to the Wirral when I was four, and I still met Tilly Mints from time to time. I still do, wherever I go, but they always come from Liverpool.

Years after I left the area, a Radio Sheffield producer called Dave Sheasby asked me to write some stories for young children. I knew I wanted to write about a little girl called Tilly Mint. I used to tell my children bedtime stories about old Mrs Hardcastle, and I put her in Tilly Mint Tales too. It was only then that I discovered something wonderful about Mrs Hardcastle. She could make magic happen!

I talked to children about magic, and about the things they would love to do if they knew Mrs Hardcastle. Some of their wishes went into my stories, like riding a lion’s back, or hearing stars sing. The stories were broadcast many times on Radio Sheffield, and then Tilly Mint Tales was published, illustrated by Thelma Lambert. It was my fourth book.

What about ‘Tilly Mint and the Dodo’?

A theatre company called DAC asked me to write a play about Tilly Mint to take around schools. I wrote a musical about Tilly Mint and Captain Cloud and many other characters. It was about the last dodo in the world, which Tilly tries to save from extinction.

Tilly Mint and the Dodo was published as my seventh book, and is illustrated by my daughter Janna.

Now both books are published together in one book, with Tony Ross’s wonderful, funny illustrations. I wonder if any little girls called Tilly Mint will read it!

Tony Ross

Tony Ross has illustrated many children’s books, including another book of mine called Tricky Nelly’s Birthday Treat. In 2004 he was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen award.

…Full of affection and good humour.

Times Literary Supplement

Tilly Mint: origin and meaning of a Liverpool name

People often ask me where the name Tilly Mint comes from. As far as I’m concerned, it’s my name, because it’s what my mum used to call me, especially when she felt I need putting in my place! But lots of my friends used to be called Tilly Mint too, and when I chose the name for the character in my Tilly Mint Tales book (nothing else would do!) I received many letters from women to say that it was their childhood name too. What we all seemed to have in common was that we were all Liverpool children!

I started asking around to see if I could find the derivation of the name, and although there are several suggestions, the most likely (and likeable) is that it was the name given to the girls and women who used sell herbs such as lavender and mint in the city centre. Tilly is short for Matilda, which is related to the German name Mathilde.

Archive material for Tilly Mint Tales at Seven Stories

All files relating to Tilly Mint Tales and Tilly Mint and the Dodo are archived by Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. See here.

Writing tip

You could write more Tilly Mint adventures yourself. Whatever will Mrs Hardcastle dream up next?

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