Since we first discovered Tickled Moon’s charming personalised picture books a few years ago, we were blown away by the quality of the stories, illustrations, production values and personalisation options.
With Christmas on the horizon, and having recently had the pleasure of reviewing their latest treasure, The Sleepytown Express (which comes with a free audio edition and beautiful lullaby), now seemed like the perfect time to talk to Tickled Moon’s co-founder, Alison Reddihough.
We’ll hand you over to Alison, who here shares
the inspiring Tickled Moon story, along with some glorious Christmas gift ideas. Prepare to be tickled pink...
Describe Tickled Moon in three words.
Personalised children’s books!
What led you to found Tickled Moon? What’s your background?
I have always written - stories, poetry, plays, screenplays etc - but my first main passion was acting and then I moved into producing and filmmaking as well. When our first boy Harvey came along in 2004 (followed by Charlie in 2006), my acting career came to a bit of a hiatus, so I started writing more.
One day in 2018 I happened to be visiting a friend and she showed me a personalised book that she was illustrating. It was an immediate Lightbulb Moment of ‘I could do that’ and story ideas started flooding in. Simon (my husband) and I had been looking for something new to sink our teeth into, so after months of research and development, (including finding our amazing illustrator Jodie Wonford), Tickled Moon was launched in November 2019 with our first two books - The Birthday BOO! and The Christmas Wrapper.
What’s your editorial ethos? What makes you unique?
Personalised books have been around for years, but the quality of a lot of them is not great. Stories are unoriginal and dull, and illustrations twee, and they often purely rely on the personalisation aspect to sell them.
We didn’t want to replicate that - if we were going to create these special books we wanted them to be the best in terms of story, illustration and book quality. So, we set out to create really well-written, original children’s books - with touching and joyful stories and beautiful illustrations - that just happen to be personalised.
And then we thought, why not make the personalisations really different and fun too? So, you can add not only your child’s name, but all their family, friends, pets, cuddly toys, teacher, hometown, favourite gifts or foods? The children are so delighted to discover these as they turn the pages and it becomes a keepsake gift that they'll treasure forever. Basically, all of our books have to pass the ‘goosebump test’ - the story and illustrations have to resonate emotionally and create goosebumps, either by genuinely touching the reader or joyfully delighting them - otherwise they won’t make the cut.
What are you most proud of achieving with Tickled Moon so far?
Our seven books! They’re all so different and cover every topic and occasion, from creating the longest cuddle in the world, to an over-ambitious wrapping, rapping reindeer, to a soothing, sleepy train journey.
And it’s been wonderful to see our books featured on ITV’s 'This Morning' in a Best Personalised Gift Feature, on BBC Radio Sussex & Surrey and as the Best Buy for an IndyBest guide, amongst other press, awards and recognition.
But the thing that makes me proudest of all is the customer feedback we get daily. We love and fully appreciate our customers, so to hear how much our books mean to them and the children they’re giving them to, makes up for all the blood, sweat and tears involved in running a small business!
Please could you highlight some gems from the Tickled Moon backlist?
Where do I start?! As mentioned, all seven books are very different, although they are all beautifully illustrated by Jodie. Our bestsellers are our personalised books for two - The Longest Cuddle in the World and The Joyful Adventures. Both can be personalised for a child AND adult and feature lots of Additional Names, so that all their loved ones, heroes and pets can be part of the child’s story too.
I have a soft spot for our two very different and fun Christmas books too -The Christmas Wrapper and The Christmas BOO! . If you’ve ever read a picture book to a child, you’ll know how much fun it can be getting into the rhythm, rhyme and characters of the story. Both our Christmas books have plenty of that, and in The Christmas Wrapper, you even get to unleash your inner rapper!
The Christmas BOO! is also a great companion book to our birthday book - The Birthday BOO!. Both feature a well-intentioned, hairy, seven-toed monster who just wants to surprise your child with a BOOOO! at Christmas or on their Birthday. But it’s not the surprise that the child really wants, so can they help the monsters find some other way of using their BOOs?!
And not forgetting What’s That??!! which can be personalised for 1,2,3 or 4 names and is great for little ones. It’s a very silly, rhyming story, about very silly things that will definitely never happen and it will have the whole family shouting out WHAT’S THAT?!!!
Give us an elevator pitch for some of your recently published and/or upcoming books.
Hot off the press this autumn was our seventh book The Sleepytown Express - a ‘superpowered’ sleep story and song that is designed to revolutionise bedtime routines for children aged 0-7. It comes with a FREE audio version and is available as both a personalised book and - a first for us - a standard non-personalised book.
We don’t have any other imminent new releases planned, although I have a short, but very sweet, story I’d love to bring out next year, and a really fun personalised book for Easter (where the Easter Bunny decides to change a major Easter tradition in a rather drastic way!)
Please could you tell us about the thinking and process behind creating The Sleepytown Express? For example, we noted it was informed by your experience of putting your three-year-old to bed, and your NLP training.
The Sleepytown Express was 16 years in the making and 6 months in the creating! Every parent knows the struggle of bedtime battles, and for me 16 years ago, it was no different. Thwarted by trying to get my (then toddler) son Harvey to sleep, I felt there was a gap in available sleep products and information specifically tailored to children of his age.
Before my boys had come along, I had been fascinated by Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and I had trained to be a Meta Master Practitioner (with Paul McKenna). So, armed with the belief in the power of words to induce deep relaxation, I began crafting a story and song for Harvey about a steam train that took him on a profoundly relaxing journey to Sleepytown.
It worked! I wrote it down and approached a few publishers. But they were resistant to publishing a book that (in those olden days!) required an attached CD. Fast forward to 2023, where with Tickled Moon (and the widespread acceptance of QR codes, yay!), it felt like the right time to get it out there. So, after six months of development with our lovely illustrator Jodie, The Sleepytown Express finally arrived.
Tell us a secret about books…
They choose you (not the other way around)...
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