7 year-old Boy Becomes One of the UK’s Youngest Published Authors

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
  • Seven-year-old Tom Burlison from Epsom is the winner of The Book People’s third Bedtime Story Competition and becomes one of the youngest published British authors
  • Winning book, ‘The Incredible Journey’, published by Little Tiger, available to buy exclusively from with at least 35% of the proceeds from the sale of each book being donated to Save the Children

Epsom schoolboy Tom Burlison has become one of the UK’s youngest published authors after winning a nationwide competition by leading bookseller The Book People. The Book People’s Bedtime Story competition set out to find the UK’s next budding author by challenging children aged between five and 11 to create a picture book on the theme of imagination.

Tom’s winning story ‘The Incredible Journey’ was selected from 1,000 entries in the nationwide competition.  The seven-year-old centred his entry on two main characters, Elliot and Ruby, and charts their daily journey to school, showing how imagination can make the world around you feel so much more exciting.  In the story Elliot and Ruby have many adventures; they travel through puddle portals to pirate lands, find parts of alien spacecraft, and get chased by dinosaurs, all on their walk to school.  Their imaginations unlock a world of possibilities, just as reading can do for children all over the world; it’s the key to unlocking potential, helping them visit worlds they’ve never seen, picture people they’ve never met.  And, for those in the toughest places to be a child, it can be a vital escape from reality.

Winning author, Tom Burlison said:

“I felt really excited when I found out my story would get published and it’s amazing that I will be one of the youngest ever published authors and that my book will soon be available for people to buy. It’s also brilliant that my book is going to raise lots of money for Save the Children and that makes me feel so happy.”

The judging panel that selected Tom’s entry was led by double Olympic gold medallist and children’s author Alex Gregory MBE, leading children’s illustrator, Sara Sanchez and representatives from the Book People, Save the Children and Little Tiger.

Tom found out he was the winner when head Judge, Alex Gregory visited his class and read the winning story to his friends and classmates before revealing that Tom had been chosen, not only as the winner of the five-seven age category, but as the winner of the overall prize.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The Epsom Primary school student was encouraged to enter The Book People’s Bedtime Story Competition by his family and his writing has been further developed at his school which not so long ago was struggling with reading and literacy levels but has been entirely transformed by a dedicated team led by Headteacher, Michelle Pollard. Thanks to their work Literacy has improved immeasurably thanks to a renewed focus on the importance of reading and writing and the design and introduction of a unique library, which houses the original Tree from the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

Upon learning of Tom’s achievement, Epsom Primary School headteacher Michelle Pollard, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted that Tom has won The Book People’s Bedtime Story Competition and can’t wait to stock his book in our one-of-a-kind library. We’ve worked very hard to improve literacy throughout the school and Tom’s wonderful winning story is a great testament to the school’s work and the encouragement he’s received at home.”

As part of the prize, Tom was given the opportunity to work with editors and designers at children’s publisher Little Tiger and was paired with illustrator Sara Sanchez, whose imaginative designs brought the characters to life. The book is published by Little Tiger and will be sold exclusively at, with at least 35% of the proceeds from the sale of each book being donated to Save the Children.

Sayyeda Salam, Partnerships and Philanthropy Director at Save the Children said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Book People on the release of Tom’s fantastic book.  Reading sparks children’s imaginations.  It’s integral to a child’s education and development and has the power to transform their future.  The money raised from the sale of Tom’s brilliant book will go towards supporting Save the Children’s programmes, to build a better world for children.”

Sarah Walden, Chief Operating Officer at The Book People and competition judge, said:

“As soon as we read Tom’s story, we knew it was a wonderfully clever and imaginative tale from a very gifted young author. The Book People is dedicated to inspiring a life-long love of reading and as a community focused company we’re delighted to be teaming up with Save the Children once more to launch Tom’s book, following the success of Frasier Cox’s story last year. The work they do to help children is absolutely invaluable and we’re excited to work with them to launch Tom’s book and help raise much needed funds.”

The Incredible Journey is available to buy from visit to purchase Tom’s brilliant book.

About The Book People

The Book People is a business that cares deeply about books, and the power that books have to improve outcomes in people’s lives, especially kids. It is the country’s favourite direct bookseller, distributing books through its award-winning website, fleet of local distributors, mail-order catalogue, and events.

The Book People believes it is everybody’s right to read and is driven by the goal of getting books into the hands of every young child in the country. The company gives free books to schools from its fairs and buses ‑ and gave away over £400k of books to schools in 2018.

About Save the Children

Save the Children fights every single day for children’s futures. We stand side by side with children in the toughest places to be a child. In places where others won’t go, we’re there, giving everything to make sure they survive, get protected, and have the chance to learn.

Because every child should get to make their mark on the world, and build a better future for us all.

About Little Tiger Group

Little Tiger Group is a creatively-led publisher comprised of four imprints, each with its own distinct approach to creating engaging and inspiring books for children and young people. The group’s flagship picture book list, Little Tiger, focuses on heart-warming, humorous and beautifully-illustrated picture books. Caterpillar Books specialises in interactive novelty books for babies and young children. Stripes Publishing creates exciting commercial fiction for young readers and teens. 360 Degrees produces stunning, illustrated non-fiction. Together, the Little Tiger Group’s mission is to create a diverse range of high-quality books, with something that will appeal to every reading taste, helping children develop a passion for books and a life-long love of reading.


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Written by Hassan Ahmed

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