Debut Review Challenge with Chantal Bourgonje

Chantal Bourgonje is an author/illustrator with an adorable debut picture book. Welcome to the Debut Review Challenge Blog, Chantal!

Debut By-the-Numbers: Fierce Grey Mouse

Number of years writing:


Number of years from contract to published book:


Date your book was released:

April 2019

Number of pages:


Number of launch events:


Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity:


Number of critique partners:


Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years:


Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out: 

1,379,874 and still counting

Current number of reviews:

On Amazon: 1; On Goodreads: 0

A Few Questions

  • Who/what are your greatest inspirations?

Dutch children’s book writer and illustrator team Annie M.G. Schmidt and Fiep Westendorp

  • Without giving anything away, tell us about your work-in-progress. What do you love about it so far? Where are you stuck? 

I love that the story I’m working on at the moment has lots and lots of snow in it, an enormous sneeze, little and large animals and buckets of friendship. At the moment I’m trying to reduce the introduction for each animal and make their journey longer and more perilous (poor creatures!).

  • What does your work space look like? Tell us about a typical work session. 

I work from my studio, in the annex to our home in the Wiltshire countryside. From my window I look out over fields with plenty of rabbits, deer, foxes, badgers, muntjacs, birds of all kinds, little mice and more rabbits, all giving me plenty of inspiration for stories and perfect models for drawing. Under my desk you will usually find at least one of our two whippets and on top of my desk you will usually find a cup of green tea, which I drink all day long. I work on my own stories in between illustration commissions, so the amount of time I spend on my own projects varies. But whatever I’m working on, I always have my own projects in the back of my mind and immediately scribble down a thought, or sketch a character or their environment. I treasure the days where I can work non-stop, for hours and hours in the flow of writing or illustrating my own books. Those days tend to be mostly in weekends or days I am able to schedule in whilst working on commissions.

  • When you need to take a creative break, do you have another activity or hobby that recharges you? 

Walking our 2 whippets on the beautiful, wide and open Salisbury Plains, taking pictures of the landscape, and especially the wild flowers in spring and summer, which I love.

Time to Play: STORY SMASH!

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Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript! 

Characters: Amelia, a little girl, Sebastian, a duck, Enid, a chicken and Poppy, a dog

Setting: Garden pond

Theme: Follow your heart’s desire

Problem: When all you want is to be left alone, but there are some persistent creatures around you that want to play and all goes terribly wrong when you give in.

Pitch: Amelia discovers she can do amazing balancing tricks on the washing line, but gets distracted when she finds out that Sebastian the duck needs rescuing and a new home, despite her parents having told her that they already have enough pets. Poppy the whippet is essential for the rescue, but all she wants to do is sleep. So Amelia and Enid, the chicken, concoct a cunning plan to get Poppy to come along for the big duck rescue!

I love stories where children and animals team up. Fun!

For a BONUS ENTRY, please leave a comment on this blog post! (This will apply if you also complete at least one official ENTRY FORM.

Okay, Challenge Participants! It’s Time to Write Some Reviews!

Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. For every five reviews you write for debut Kidlit creators between January 1-February 29, 2020, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Chantal has generously donated a signed book. Thank you, Chantal!


  • Support debut authors by suggesting their book titles to your local library.
  • Purchase them as gifts for children in your life, a teacher, or a local school.
  • Share book titles or reviews on social media and tag the author/illustrator.

About Chantal and her Book

Bio: Chantal Bourgonje is an illustrator and writer of picture books. For a long time she worked in big offices, but escaped to do a degree in illustration and narrative, graduating with a 1:1 Hons degree in 2011. During her studies she was highly commended in the MacMillan Prize and since graduating she has been awarded a Kirkus Star for books of remarkable merit, has been highly commended in the AOI Awards and has illustrated over 30 books. Books from the Pojo series she illustrated were winners of the 2015 Creative Play Awards and the two Worzel picture books that she illustrated were shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards in 2017 and 2018.

Chantal is Dutch, but lives with her English husband and two whippets in the Wiltshire countryside, which gives her plenty of inspiration.

She’s illustrated more than 30 books since graduating, and the first book she both wrote and illustrated, “Fierce Grey Mouse” just came out in March 2019 (Hubble & Hattie Kids).

Book Title: Fierce Grey Mouse

Author/Illustrator: Chantal Bourgonje

Publisher: Hubble & Hattie Kids

Year: 2019

Synopsis: Little Grey Mouse wants to be fierce for a day. He exercises, he eats mountains of porridge, and drinks liters of milk. He roars, he pounces and he puts on a most ferocious stare: he is FIERCE GREY MOUSE! But what happens when his friends want to play with Little Grey Mouse, and all they find is Fierce Grey Mouse?

#DebutReviewChallenge #ReadReviewRepeat

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