Introducing… new children’s books from the pen of Happydesigner

As children’s book illustrators we like to think we know a thing or two about what makes a good book for youngsters.

We’ve illustrated books for children of every age, from 0, to pre-school, to primary, to teens, and we have learnt a lot along the way, from working with many wonderful authors.

So now we are very proud indeed to announce… cue drumroll… the first in what we hope will be a new series from our fantastic illustrator and author Sarah-Leigh Wills.

Of course, we already know what a great writer Sarah is, having penned her series of ‘Gillie Can…’ books, and you can find out a bit more about the Gillie books here. Books can be purchased here. Published by KA Books.

But this next book is rather different. It follows Sarah’s ethos of writing books with a purpose, and features some truly lovely illustrations.



Start Today With A Smile

Sarah-leigh wills

Start Today With A Smile is aimed at younger readers, but can be enjoyed by just about anybody!

It’s not just a lovely read for the children, it’s lovely to read aloud to children, and it’s all about understanding that you can’t change what happens in life, but what you can change is how you react to events. 

Lots of things happen to the little girl in Start Today With A Smile, but it’s how she copes that gives a hopeful message to readers. The message is: look at the positive in a situation and just smile, because it’s so much better for your mental health.

Sarah’s written the book from the heart and put herself into it. In fact, the main character has very similar hair! She comes across difficulties through the day – odd socks, spills, naughty cats. But she doesn’t let this worry or upset her; she just smiles!

Start Today With A Smile should be on sale in the late summer/early autumn. It may well be the first in a series. Watch this space for more details…

“Did you say books, plural?” we hear you ask. Yes you did. Because Sarah has been VERY busy and not only created Start Today With A Smile, but she has also written…

Another drumroll (and why not…)

Sally Sapling

Meet Sally Sapling, a copper beech tree. The book follows her journey through the decades from seedling, to sapling, to mature tree, to very old lady aged 100!

From the 1920s to the 2020s, Sally witnesses historic events, from suffragettes to the swinging Sixties, to the Millennium, to the London Olympics. 

And for her 100th birthday she gets a very special visitor – but we won’t spoil it by letting you know who.

Sally Sapling is a stand-alone book, not part of a series, and we’re very proud of it. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story takes you on a journey through the decades. We’re sure the book will be just as entertaining for parents as it is educational for children.

You’ll need to wait a little while for publication, but don’t worry we will keep you posted.

So that’s Sarah’s collection so far: Gillie Can (available now); Start Today With A Smile (coming very soon); Sally Sapling (in the pipeline). Let’s not forget Oh Erik…. But that’s for another day! And if you happen to be a fan of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, don’t forget Sarah has also written a children’s book based around the band (you can purchase the book via the band’s website). 

picture book illustrator

If you like Sarah’s books, and especially if you like her illustrations and want some help with your own books, we’d love to hear from you.

Written by Jo Smyth (

Some of our previous clients

happydesigner clients