The Foolish Hedgehog

[book cover]
Nicola L. C. Talbot
Magdalene Pritchett
Recommended Age:
Preschool and Key Stage 1 (up to 7 or 8 years old)
ISBN 978-1-909440-11-1. Ebook (available from SmashWords and other ebook retailers, such as Kobo, Apple Books, and Barnes & Noble).
ISBN 978-1-909440-01-2. Paperback saddle-stitch (out of print but there may be remaining copies in store).


A little hedgehog promises his grandmother that he won't go onto the wasteland (the road) where the dragons (vehicles) live, but one day he's tempted onto the road by a hungry crow. Will he manage to get home safely? This story can be used to introduce young children to the concepts of road safety and stranger-danger.


There once was a little hedgehog who lived with his grandmother.

Every evening when the little hedgehog went out to play, his grandmother would always say:

“Don’t ever go onto the hard wasteland. There are dragons there. Great giant creatures, with eyes shining brighter than the moon. Their roar is deafening, and their breath is poisonous. They have no claws, but their round feet will trample you.”

Every evening the hedgehog promised his grandmother he wouldn’t go near the wasteland.

But one day, as he played with some fallen leaves, he heard the roaring of the dragons. He wanted to see if they really were as big as his grandmother said.

“I’ll just have a peek, that’s all,” he thought. “I won’t step on the wasteland.”

View longer sample on SmashWords.

Book Readings

On 21st March 2013, Magdalene and I went to Heartsease Primary School in Norwich. I read The Foolish Hedgehog to the younger children and we talked to them about writing and drawing. Then we spoke to the older children. I read them a brief extract of the book, and we had a question and answer session.

We were very impressed with how polite and well-behaved all the children were, and they asked some very interesting questions. We received some lovely letters from them afterwards. Here's a selection of some of the great things they wrote:

The reason I have written to you is to say thank you and we all really loved you coming today, all I have to say is a great big thank you. Could you say thank you to the illustrator Magdalena from the children of Heartsease Primary. She is great at drawing (a lot better than me!) and you are great at writing. I know I will treasure meeting you both.

I learnt a lot about you and your books. When I grow up I want to be a writer like you. I want to follow in your footsteps.

Thank you for your wonderful assembly about you and your brilliant books. You have really inspired me to write more and get better at drawing so I can maybe write my own book.

I was really looking forward to this lovely assembly of yours. I just have to say that I have learned many new things in your wonderful assembly. When you read that extract of the story, it really took me back to when I last read it. I love reading so much. I do it all the time and whenever I am bored I read for hours. So when I grow up I would like to be an author just like you.

Thank you for coming to our school and talking to us about your books. And I hope you enjoyed the questions and us.

Also some questions that you said were good. Also the illustrator's. I liked where you brought the book in and showed us.

I really, really liked the pictures that Magdalena drew as well. Tell her she's a great artist.

It was really interesting to find out what you need to do to be a author and how you do all the different processes. I am impressed with the quality of the story. The book you brought in was really good even though it was for younger children. I find it quite cool how the characters do things that we do because you have to write it in human form then you have to change the names to animals.

I wasn't surprised that you were good at literacy but I was surprised that you were good at maths and science. Your book you showed us was really good. If I had to pick a book to read that I hadn't it would be one of yours.

I am really glad I met you because when I am older I would like to become a writer like you.

When I first saw you, you looked like a lovely author and I thought that you had some fantastic books even if you do only have three books. But they are all great. I love everything about you and your books.

Thank you for coming into our school and helping us to understand that reading, writing and maths helps us to get good things in the future.

In my spare time, I am going to try and write my own story because you and Magdalene have inspired me to read more and to write some stories.

Thank you for all the incredible things you have told us. As you were talking about it I really wanted to write a story. I really look up to you and Magdalena. You have really inspired me. Every word you said made me think that I want to be an artist and a writer. I'm going to write a story as soon as I get home.

The way you described it was mind blowing.


Part of a creative writing course I did as a prerequisite for the diploma course at UEA there was a component about Vladimir Prop, and I had to write a fairy tale that followed a set of Propp's functions. While I was thinking about princes and princesses and all the other things fairy tales usually involve, I saw some road kill (of which there is a lot in the lanes near my village) and the story turned into one about a hedgehog and a crow.