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The Lost Spells

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Asked whether there was an environmental message in The Lost Spells, Morris said: “It’s a celebration of the nearby wild. If there is a message there, it is simply wonder and awe at the beautiful complexity of the non-human. And respect, for the wisdom of trees, the shape of a bird, the wild of the fox.” After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.

A fun, wild and boisterous adventure full of paw-tapping music and dancing, played live on-stage by talented actor-musicians, The Lost Spells is a riot of colour and a new Alice in Wonderland, celebrating the magic, power and wonder of nature that could be just outside your window. Puffin started out as a non-fiction publisher, with its first title appearing in 1940. As the most iconic and well-known children’s book brand in the UK today, we are always on the lookout for innovative ways to tell the world’s favourite stories and for brilliant new debut talent and brands that connect with today’s young readers, from newborn up to twelve years old. The Lost Spells: Listening to a Landscape of Voices is an immersive exhibition which features original artwork, soundscapes and interactive experiences. TheFolk by the Oak festival team, proud commissioners of Spell Songs, were thrilled with the release of this wonderfully inventive, dazzlingly beautiful bookand the opportunity to create new music with the Spell Songs Ensemble!

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The Lost Spells: Listening to a Landscape of Voices opens at The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland on Saturday 23 July 2022 and runs until 4 June 2023. A series of spoken word pieces, wild nature calls and acoustic music created by musicians from the Spell Songs ensemble – the musical evolution of The Lost Words and The Lost Spells books – will create an ambient soundscape which invites audiences to listen to what nature is telling us. Morris, an illustrator who has sold more than 1m books worldwide, said: “I hope The Lost Spells will be something people can carry with them in these difficult times, as a place for the mind to rest. I hope it will help children to re-enchant their parents with the wild wonder and beauty of the world around them.” Amy-Jane Beer, a writer and naturalist who led a successful campaign to get The Lost Words into more than 600 schools in north and east Yorkshire, said the book conveyed the “profound wild magic” of the natural world to children and adults.

There is beautiful puppetry designed by Amber Donovan Kahn and lovely visual abstractions in Hannah Sibai’s set including artfully fluttering ocean waves and a giant luminous globe which looks like an oversized pop-up of Morris’s illustration in the book.

And a simple but effective stage design allowed the actors to move freely and helped the audience to use their own imagination when needed. We want to enchant people with the utter wonder of what a bird is and does. People talk about birdbrains but you think, ‘Oh. My God… I wish’. Humans are so full of their cleverness but imagine being able to navigate by scent or the stars.” Robert Macfarlane, who began The Lost Spells when he jotted down some lines about goldfinches while watching over his dying grandmother, said he hoped that it would inspire wonder, hope, action and change. “And that it might run wild in ways we cannot yet imagine, becoming songs, plays, protests, films and more. And that it might touch readers’ hearts a little in this hard autumn.” The spells are even better and I love the fact that it says explicitly ‘this is a book of spells to be spoken aloud’. Everything about it is absolutely beautiful and we will be getting behind it in a big way,” he said. The love of and for nature that Macfarlane and Morris are feeling is palpable - and infectuous. I also found myself learning the odd thing or two while reading their books.

What we’re trying to do is make birds visible to people who don’t see them because a lot of people pay them no regard.

New book delves into the rocky history of Durham

As with The Lost Words, the publishers of The Lost Spells have commissioned Eva John to create an 'Explorers' Guides', but this time the guide has been designed to follow the seasons, and updatededitions will be made available as the year progresses.

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