Jonathan Tulloch on Cuckoo Summer and his favourite historical books for kids

Cuckoo Summer by Jonathan Tulloch. Book cover and author photo.


The book we’ve sent our Cockatoo subscribers this month is a moving wartime adventure with some intriguing secrets and two fantastic lead characters at its heart. Cuckoo Summer transports the reader to the Lake District in 1940 – we absolutely love the historical setting, gorgeous location and in particular the budding friendship between local boy Tommy and evacuee Sally. It’s a thrilling, classic adventure story and the perfect summer read. Here author Jonathan Tulloch tells us about clipping sheep in the name of research, what inspired the book and which historical books for kids he thinks you should read next:

What inspired you to write Cuckoo Summer?

Cuckoo Summer was inspired by family stories. My mam spent the war years on a Lake District farm with my grandma and her sisters. I was always hearing about the cuckoo that called all day and the best way to clip a sheep. Their favourite story was about the plane that thundered over the farm one night and the next day everybody said a Nazi airman was hiding in the woods.

What research did you do for the book and did you learn anything that surprised you?

It surprised me how hard it is to clip a sheep! That was a bit of fun research.

Are any of the characters or the story itself inspired by real people or historical events?

The three aunties are all based on real people – my relatives. The background is real too. The rest is made up.

We love the setting! Why did you choose to set the book in the Lake District?

Thanks. I had to set the book in the Lake District because that’s where it happened! I also happen to be a Cumbrian.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

My favourite writing desk is a public bench on a hill under a huddle of hawthorns. On sunny days, I write there and listen to the blackcaps singing and watching the cows come home.

Why did you choose to write books for this age group?

Well, I heard these family stories when I was a boy and that’s how I still hear them.

What other historical books would you recommend our subscribers read next?

Phil Earle’s books are belter.

Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Tommy and Sally?

Something very exciting I hope. I have a feeling that the horrible teacher Miss Gently might get her comeuppance.  I can also see Sally wandering towards Tyneside, searching for something – with Tommy following.

Copies of our Cuckoo Summer pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!



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