Inspirational reading for spring-summer

Wilding is a powerful and deeply personal account of how the Knepp Estate became a rewilding success story – there’s also something special for younger readers

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Wilding is an inspiring new book about the Knepp Estate by the award-winning journalist and author Isabella Tree. Isabella manages the West Sussex estate alongside her husband, and Rewilding Britain chair, Charlie Burrell.

The book is an honest and moving account of how, 17 years ago, the couple transitioned from economically unsustainable intensive farming on heavy clay soil to stepping back and letting nature take over.

It was a spectacular leap of faith,’ Isabella says. We began the project out of a love for wildlife, and because we would have lost an impossible amount of money if we had continued to farm.

But thanks to the reintroduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – which behave a lot like the large animals that once roamed Britain – we’ve seen incredible increases in wildlife.’

Rare species such as turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp. Also, populations of common species are rocketing.

The 3,500-acre estate is now an influential example of the transformative power of rewilding. And how nature gets to work so quickly, when allowed to do so.

If it can happen here, on our depleted patch of land in the over-developed, densely populated south-east of England, it can happen anywhere – if only we have the will to try,’ Isabella says.

Isabella writes for publications such as National Geographic, Granta, The Sunday Times and The Observer. Her articles have been selected for The Best American Travel Writing and Reader’s Digest Today’s Best Non-Fiction, and she was Overall Winner of the Travelex Travel Writer Awards. She is also the author of several books, including The Living Goddess and The Bird Man.

Wilding is published by Picador.

Good luck Red, and don’t be late for tea’

The Last Wolf is an inventive retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, in which Little Red sets off into the forest, declaring, I’m off to catch a wolf’. 

But as she does so, her mum can’t helping thinking, there hasn’t been a wolf around here for at least a hundred years.’

Perfect for five to seven year olds, this is a wonderfully illustrated, gentle page-turner that encourages reading. It also carries important messages about rediscovering the wild, the value of nature in our lives and how even small steps can make a difference.

The Last Wolf is written and illustrated by Mini Grey. Her books include Egg Drop, The Pea and the Princess (shortlisted for the CLIP Kate Greenaway Medal), and Biscuit Bear (winner of the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize Gold Award). Mini was given her name after being born in a Mini in a car park in Newport, Wales.

The Last Wolf is published by Ladybird Books.

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