Earlier this month, Amazon announced Mike Doodson from Cheshire is the winner of its UK Christmas writing competition for his original children’s book, A Christmas Squirrel. The story follows a grumpy, greedy squirrel who discovers the spirit of generosity from three wise trees as he learns to share what he has with the woodland creatures around him. The tale is brought to life with magical illustrations by celebrated children’s illustrator, Ian Beck, and is now available to millions of readers in print, on the Kindle app for iOS and Android, and via any Kindle or Fire tablet.

The Christmas Squirrel

The Christmas Squirrel

In addition to having his book illustrated, Doodson wins a £2,000 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card, a new Fire tablet and an Amazon.co.uk marketing campaign to support the launch of his book. As a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) author, he will earn royalties of up to 70 per cent from sales of the book which retails at £2.79 in digital and £4.49 in print from today. 

Taffy Thomas MBE, storytelling expert and competition judge, remarked: “Mike’s story is magical and will delight families this Christmas, and I particularly like the food-sharing element of Mike’s re-telling. The tale’s link to the natural world is lovely. It is a great story of rhyme and reason.”

A digital marketing manager for a technology solutions business from Mobberley by day and an aspiring author by night, Doodson, 30, a first-time dad who had never before spoken about his dreams of writing, beat hundreds of entries in the search to find a modern equivalent to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. His story about compassion and forgiveness strengthens the narrative’s spirit of community and diversity, capturing the hearts of the expert judging panel, which in addition to MBE storyteller Taffy Thomas included children’s author Cerrie Burnell, Ian Beck, last year’s winner Lucy Banks, and members of the Amazon UK books team.

Penning the tale for his six-month-old daughter, Anais, Doodson said: “I’m delighted that my interpretation of such an inspiring Christmas classic has won the competition, and I hope readers will enjoy my re-invented tale reminding us about the true meaning of Christmas. The themes of redemption, repentance and forgiveness underpin the magic of this time of year and regardless of whether I won or not, I thought an uplifting take on the classic would be the perfect Christmas present for my daughter.”

Illustrator Beck, whose 35-year career includes writing and illustrating the children’s classic The Teddy Robber and the album art for Elton John’s classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, commented: “I was lucky enough to be part of the judging process as well as to illustrate the winning book and whilst the calibre of entries was wonderful, the story of a Christmas squirrel is a perfect depiction of the meaning behind A Christmas Carol. I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed illustrating it, and I look forward to reading it to my grandchildren this Christmas.”

Alessio Santarelli, Amazon’s EU Kindle Content Director, commented: “Mike’s story stood out for us as a particularly heart-warming tale. It’s interesting to learn that Mike kept his aspirations to be an author so quiet before entering the competition – we are thrilled to be able to celebrate his story as a new author using Kindle Direct Publishing this year.”

A Christmas Squirrel is available in paperback and to purchase in the Kindle Store and can be read with Kindle Unlimited, a subscription programme which allows members unlimited access to over one million established and new titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device.

KDP is a fast, free and easy way for authors to publish their books in print and digital to a global audience, and receive up to 70 per cent royalties on their work. Readers can access the winning story on the Kindle Store on any device with the free Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, PC and Mac, and on Kindle e-readers and Fire Tablets.

For more information, visit www.amazon.co.uk/christmasonkindle

Extract

“For Anais and Lauren”

It was Christmas Eve and every creature and beast was merrily busy, preparing a feast. Woodland Hall was dressed with bright decorations, ready for the next day’s festive celebrations.

From the door wafted and the sweet smell of spice, among bunting strung up by a family of mice. Here, each year the animals braved the cold weather, celebrating and sharing their Christmas together.

All except Squirrel, who while out walking the wood has this magical time quite misunderstood.

You see, Squirrel cared only for his own nut hoard, so the troubles of his neighbours were always ignored.

Pinned to the hall door was a welcoming flyer: Join us for a feast and a lovely log fire. Stocks are low – please bring along whatever food is spare - we’ll divide it all up and each take a share.

“I’ve spent all year working to build up my larder, my neighbours should have worked harder. I can’t be expected to share with them all.” Squirrel said with a hump as he passed Woodland Hall.

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