KILDARE author and entrepreneur Emma-Jane Leeson is teaming up with Don Conroy – the well-known writer, artist, naturalist and presenter – for the next book in her popular Adventures of Johnny Magory series.
Johnny Magory and the Forest Fleadh Cheoil will focus on Irish woodland creatures and native Irish trees and feature wonderful illustrations from the man who inspired and entertained a generation of children on The Den. The book is set to be launched this August.
“I’m delighted to be associated with such a talented writer as Emma-Jane, who shares the same love of nature as I do,” said Don. “Her enthusiasm and energy are sure to awaken in young people an enduring interest in the outdoors. It’s a great pleasure for me to be working with her on her latest Johnny Magory book, bringing her characters to life in a fun and entertaining way.”
Emma-Jane explained that she was walking down the hall at home a few weeks back and accidentally kicked a pile of books her kids had left there – out flew Don’s book The owl who couldn’t give a hoot! She sat down to read it and began to think about whether he might be interested in working with her. She sent Don an email, not thinking she’d hear back, but received a reply and soon after they met.
“Having the opportunity to work with my childhood hero is just a dream come true,” Emma-Jane said. “He was such an inspiration in my life growing up and played a huge role in embedding my passion for animals and the outdoors. It really is just a dream come true, I’m so excited!”
Parents are being offered the chance to have their child’s name immortalised as an animal character in the book. To enter, parents/adults are invited to download a nature hunt from johnnymagory.com/fun-stuff. Their little explorer must head outside and collect the five items listed on the hunt, and the adult then needs to take a photograph of the collected items and post it on the Johnny Magory Facebook or Instagram page using the hashtag #DonAndJohnnyMagory.
Seven names are up for grabs and, started last Sunday 9 June, winners will be drawn every third day. The competition closes on Thursday 27 June so get hunting. .
It’s been a great year so far for the author, who left a full-time career in the corporate world in March 2019 to pursue her passion – she was a finalist in the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition the following month and won a highly commended ‘one-to-watch’ award at the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year awards in May.
The Johnny Magory series comprises three books to-date, and the purpose of Emma-Jane’s business is to get children outside exploring and connecting with nature and to promote Irish wildlife and heritage. She explained that she’s an advocate for creating a cultural change and directing children away from screens and back outside.
“I had the best childhood ever, always outside exploring and imagining I was on wild adventures!” Emma-Jane said. “I wanted to ensure my children had the same upbringing and knew all about the wonder of nature all around them. That’s why I wrote the stories; to encourage children everywhere to get outside using their imaginations.”