Introducing The Grolings: Cultivating Curiosity and Creativity

Hello everyone,

I am frequently asked about The Grolings, who accompany Matisse in the Topsy-Turvy Farm. Who are they? How did I bring them to life? Well, today is the day when I will start unveiling their story. This is just the beginning, as I will share more captivating Groling tales in future blog posts. So, let's dive right in...

When I began writing ‘Matisse and the Topsy-Turvy Farm,’ a delightful addition to ‘The Curious Adventures of Matisse the Cat’ series, I had a clear vision in mind. I wanted to create a children's story that would spark their imagination and take them on a whimsical journey. The central idea revolved around animals on a farm, each possessing the voice of another animal on the farm. That was the easy part. The challenge lay in determining how this extraordinary phenomenon came to be.

To add an element of mischief, I contemplated the introduction of a prankster character, perhaps a mischievous imp or a cheeky elf. However, I yearned to bring to life a completely original being, someone that the world had never encountered before. I also realised that this being could not exist alone; they needed companionship. So, my thoughts turned towards the concept of a group.

As I pondered their purpose, it became clear that these beings would be caretakers of the farm's flora, nurturing and tending to every plant and vegetable. My imagination took flight, drawing inspiration from my own life. My husband, Barry, and I lived in a house in Hereford that had an old miniature railway in the garden. It struck me as the perfect place for these magical beings. But what would they do within their miniature realm? The answer presented itself: they would cultivate plants, grow vegetables, and care for the Earth itself.

Then it came to me. That was it, they had to be called "The Grolings!" This name encapsulated their essence—they were beings who nurtured, tended, and brought vibrant colour to everything that thrived on planet Earth. I gave them a motto ‘Lovin' Planet Earth, a testament to their deep commitment to the world.

Allow me to introduce you to the first Groling that came into existence—Sprout Groling. Sprout is a mischievous young Groling you will encounter in ‘Matisse and the Topsy-Turvy Farm.’ Due to an incident involving mushrooms, he gained a naughty power that needs to be reversed before midnight. The only remedy is a pure white puffball mushroom, which must be used to create a special soup for Sprout. Will Matisse, with the help of the other Grolings, find the mushroom in time to restore his innocence and give all the animals their own voices back? To unravel this delightful tale, you'll have to read the book.

On the Topsy-Turvy Farm, all the Grolings are under the care of Elder Groling, who will be featured in future blogs. However, the most significant Groling of all is Flora Groling. Flora, also known as Mother Groling, she travels the world in search of acts of kindness in nature, inviting them to become Grolings. Today, I will share three secret stories of how these beautiful examples of nature's benevolence transformed into Grolings.

Let's begin with a little potato in an old man's garden. During autumn, the old man fell ill and couldn't tend to his vegetables. As spring and summer approached, the potato watched the garden becoming overrun with weeds and drying up. With the assistance of other animals, the potato created a wondrous maze and connected it to a water butt, ensuring the garden received much-needed hydration. He even convinced the weeds to relocate to another garden. When the old man finally returned to his vegetable garden, he was overwhelmed with joy. Flora had been observing Spud throughout the year and invited him to become the world's vegetable Groling. The little potato graciously accepted and became known as Spud Groling.

Next, we have a little raspberry in a pick-your-own field. During summer, she narrowly escaped being devoured by two greedy children. In autumn, she managed to avoid the farmer's pruning shears. Throughout winter, she found warmth beside a hibernating hedgehog until the arrival of spring. The little raspberry enlisted the bees’ help to pollinate the lower flowers on the fruit bushes, and in early summer, she protected the tender fruit from birds with a little assistance from the spiders. Flora observed the little raspberry’s resilience and invited her to become the world's fruit Groling. The raspberry felt honoured by Flora's request and became Berry Groling.

Lastly, we meet a giggly lump of waste residing in a compost heap. When the gardener unknowingly shovelled the waste onto his spade he exclaimed, "What a pong!" and threw him on the flowerbed. When he was dug in by the gardener, he giggled so much that steam came off him.  He giggled and sang a smelly song, which made the other waste in the flowerbed giggle.  This in turn, shook the flower seeds and woke them up.  All through the summer the little lump of waste made the flowers so happy that they displayed their best blooms ever. Flora, ever watchful, asked Pongy to become the world's compost Groling. Pongy graciously accepted and became Pongy Groling.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into the secret world of The Grolings. Stay tuned for future blogs, where I will share more enchanting tales. As a parting gift, I leave you with:

The Smelly Song

This is the smelly song,

Giggle with us, you can’t go wrong.

We know we stink and we know we pong,

But our plant roots grow big and strong.


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