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Cambridgeshire author Kim Temple’s new book offers a reason to smile

Jake and the Unexpected Smile is a delightful children’s tale written and illustrated by Kim Temple.

Author Kim Temple with her book. Picture: Jo Dziuba
Author Kim Temple with her book. Picture: Jo Dziuba

Kim, who was born and raised in Hertfordshire and now lives near Godmanchester, has always loved children’s books and had a book displayed in an art exhibition when she was just 10 years old.

Now, all these years later – after repeatedly being encouraged by friends and family to put pen to paper due to her childlike imagination and excellent drawing skills – her first book was published last year by Austin Macauley.

“I got to the point where I’d moved to Cambridgeshire, and it’s so beautiful here,” says Kim, 51. “I thought, ‘I’ve got inspiration, I live by the river, this is lovely’ - and in my book, a lot of the characters are based on family and friends.

“It’s basically about a boy called Jake, who’s very bored in the summer holidays and he ends up in the woodlands towards the end of his street. The willow tree he’s leaning against starts talking to him and it’s a bit of a shock...

“Then a squirrel comes along and he eventually meets all these different animals and characters that can speak to him. Basically, the book is about friendship and how these animals and Jake get together as a team to save the woodlands, because a dragon wants to get rid of them.”

Kim Temple's book, 'Jake and the Unexpected Smile'
Kim Temple's book, 'Jake and the Unexpected Smile'

Kim says the book is full of “wishes” and “magic” and notes that all of the characters have something unusual about them. “For example, the squirrel doesn’t like nuts, there’s a swan that can’t swim, and there’s a mole that doesn’t like mud.

“It’s also a book to show children that it’s okay to be different – you can still achieve things – and I’ve tried to put a lot of laughter in it as well so that children will find it funny.”

Kim Temple's book, 'Jake and the Unexpected Smile'
Kim Temple's book, 'Jake and the Unexpected Smile'

Kim says she’d had the basic idea for a number of years and then the book itself took her “about a year” to write. She reveals that this book is the first in a planned trilogy and that she’s currently in the process of writing the second one.

“By the third one,” says Kim, “you find out more about William, the willow tree – you find out more about his story.”

Kim explains that she has always been an illustrator, but found it hard work when it came to the book because she has always done more “serious, grey pencil drawings” – “I’ve drawn famous people for years, for friends and family and work colleagues,” she says.

“So to then have to do illustrations for a children’s book, I found that really, really hard. At one point, I actually said to my mum, ‘I can’t seem to do the cartoon-y, fun, colourful children’s drawings’ – and it was actually my mum who said to me, ‘Keep at it, don’t give up, don’t get an illustrator, you’ve got it in you, keep doing it’.

“And I still thank my mum because I sat down and got on with it and I was really pleased with what I did in the end.”

Author Kim Temple
Author Kim Temple

The book has proved to be quite popular so far. “The first day it came out on Amazon, it sold out,” says Kim. “I do have a lot of family and friends, admittedly, but it sold really well.”

Jake and the Unexpected Smile is available now from austinmacauley.com.

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