18 November 2015

The Squirrel-Nut 09 - out now!

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6 July 2015

The Squirrel-Nut 08 - out now!

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10 May 2015

 Great photo of a happy Frog Band reader!

Thank you Toppsta for another funny frog book!!! The review is to follow shortly

READER REVIEW: Many thanks to "Emilyfroggie-toadie" aged 7 for this great review:

Title: The Frog and the Onion Seller
Author/Illustrator: Jim Smith
Publisher: Fircone Books
Who Read it: A girl aged 7 read it on her own
Star Rating: 5 stars

"I have really enjoyed this book because it was very funny and I could not stop laughing. I loved the main characters because they were all frogs and I love frogs!!! Duke de Buffo Buffo finds a treasure map and he hires a frog detective to go to France to find it. The detective gets in a lot of trouble and it's so funny!!!"


21 April 2015

In case you missed it, listen to Richard speak about Oxfordshire's Best Churches on BBC Radio Oxford on Sunday 19 April. He's on at 7.45am.

Oxfordshire's Best Churches on BBC Radio Oxford Facebook page!
There are 550 churches of all denominations in Oxfordshire, including 300 of medieval origin and many dating back 1000 years
Many of them have beautiful artwork and unique architectural features that are fading fast...
Richard Wheeler has photographed 100 of them to record these features in case they are ever lost...
Do you have a favourite Church in Oxfordshire? (Bonus points if you can identify where any of the below are!)

8 April 2015

Thanks to Leah & family for this lovely review of The Frog Band and the Onion Seller on book review site Toppsta:

Re: The Frog Band and the Onion Seller.
What an absolute delight this rather old-fashioned book is!
Lucia 5, and little brother Elijah 2, were enthralled as we followed the adventures of the slightly naughty treasure seekers. Wonderful illustrations, complicated enough to hover over each exciting page, and very meaningful to us as we live in a South Coast town with a pier. ( There's even a W flag for Worthing.) The chases, escapes and final reward make this a perfect story for fans of pirates, frogs and happy endings.


29 March 2015

Win a copy of 'The Frog Band and the Onion Seller' with Toppsta

Who's up for a bit of nostalgia? The Frog Band and the Onion seller is set in the 1920s and 30s and was first published in the 1970s. Out of print for a while, it has been lovingly brought back to life by a fan of the original series! It's a brilliantly illustrated story by Jim Smith and is perfect for fans of The Wind in the Willows. For ages 5+

When frog detective Alphonse Le Flic is handed an old map by the down-at-heel Duke de Buffo Buffo, he disguises himself as an onion seller and heads off across the Channel in his submarine in search of lost treasure! Having landed in England, his erratic cycling attracts the attention of the Frog Band, who give chase.

"One of the best children's picture books of 2011"
The Telegraph

To WIN and REVIEW a copy:
1. Like this page
2. Like this post
3. Comment on which books you still have from your childhood?


13 March 2015

The Squirrel-Nut 07 - out now!

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3 March 2015

Lovely review in Ecclesiology Today (49 & 50 - 2014) 'An attractively produced celebration of the pleasures available in a single county ... Those who know these churches well will relish the stimulus of a fresh point of view and all will find Wheeler a perceptive and lively companion.'

 1 December 2014

'Oxfordshire's Best Churches' has an edited extract in December's edition of The Countryman - Set Adrift in the Windrush Valley: Widford St Oswald's, by Richard Wheeler

18 November 2014

 The Squirrel-Nut 06 - out now!

Three-Wheelers and the Thunderbolt - how do these cars relate to a church and the Frog Band books? Take a look at

23 September 2014

'Oxfordshire's Best Churches' has two new reviews:

The Autumn 2014 edition of SPAB Magazine - The member magazine for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
'Wheeler's continued passion and charming writing guides the reader on an awe-inspiring architectural and historical journey ... This wonderful book ... would provide as much delight and knowledge from the comfort of your favourite arm chair as it would meandering around the Oxfordshire countryside.'

and the latest issue of Church Archaeology - the Journal for the Society for Church Archaeology
'Clear and always engaging, the beauty of Oxfordshire's churches never obscured through unintelligible jargon ... a must-have.'

11 February 2014

The Squirrel-Nut 05 - our Spring Newsletter is out now!

Further Praise for Oxfordshire's Best Churches and a surprise discovery. Take a look at

24 December 2013


'Oxfordshire's Best Churches' has an edited extract in January's edition of The Countryman - The charm of country churches: A mason's masterclass in Oxfordshire with Richard Wheeler

23 October 2013

Signed by the author ... Available from Books & Ink in Banbury, Jaffe & Neale in Chipping Norton, Coles in Bicester or online


21 July 2013

Charles Nove's interview on Oxfordshire's churches with Richard airs on BBC Radio Oxford this morning!


20 July 2013

Christopher Howse in Today's Telegraph - 'I'd have wanted it for my birthday if I hadn't already bought the book.' Take a look!


20 May 2013

The Squirrel-Nut 04 - our Spring Newsletter is out now!

High Praise for Oxfordshire's Best Churches and finding inspiration for the Frog Band books. Take a look at


22 April 2013

We now have the final jacket design for Oxfordshire's Best Churches - what do you think?







15 March 2013
Oxfordshire's Best Churches now has a foreword - by Matthew Saunders, Secretary of the Ancient Monuments Society and Director of the Friends of Friendless Churches, here is an extract:
'... the most enticing of all combinations is authoritative, individual text interlaced with photography that saturates you in the colour and atmosphere of the given church. That is the Wheeler Way. A key model undoubtedly is (Sir) Simon Jenkins' guide, England's Thousand Best Churches. Richard Wheeler does for one county what Jenkins does for a nation. Everybody who loves Oxfordshire is in his debt.'
Read the foreword here.

9 March 2013

Just two of the six scatter proof sheets (990 x 710mm actual size) of Oxfordshire's Best Churches photos that are going off to the printer shortly. Could make great posters!

3 March 2013
We have just received a pre-publication quote for our forthcoming 'Oxfordshire's Best Churches' from Sir SIMON JENKINS:
'The churches of Oxfordshire brought gloriously to life … a masterful survey'
What a great comment from the author of England's Thousand Best Churches!

19 November 2012

The Squirrel-Nut 03 - our Christmas Newsletter is out now!

Meet us at Christmas gift fairs, an update on Oxfordshire's Best Churches and more reviews for our Frog Band books. Take a look at



16 June 2012
Guardian review

Brilliant review of The Frog Band and the Onion Seller on The Guardian by children's user Eva, 'I like about this book when Alphonse gets kicked out of the window and when he lands in the sea because these bits are really funny.'

Read the full review on the Guardian website

28 May 2012

The Squirrel-Nut 02 - our second Newsletter is now out!

In this issue of The Squirrel-Nut, we look at the hidden treasures of Oxfordshire's churches and report on reviews for our Frog Band books - including an endorsement in The Telegraph and a review of Alphonse and the Stonehenge Mystery in ANORAK Magazine by William, aged 6.
Take a look at

15 May 2012
Guardian review
The Frog Band and the Mystery of Lion Castle was reviewed by Emma and Christopher, aged 4, in The Guardian Children's Books online. 'What higher praise can we give this book than that it is in the 'read often' pile? Christopher loved the detailed pictures. We would read a page then talk about the picture. ... We will definitely be investing in more of this series.'

Read the full review on the Guardian website

9 March 2012
Superb review from William (6 years old) in latest ANORAK MAGAZINE!

ANORAK MAGAZINE reviewAlphonse and the Stonehenge Mystery is reviewed by William, 6, in the latest edition of ANORAK Magazine:

'I really, really liked this book because the story was very exciting. I liked Alphonse because he was very adventurous. I would tell all my friends that they should read this book.'
- William, 6 years old.

Download a PDF of the review.

10 December 2011
Telegraph mention for Frog Band books!
The Frog Band Adventures featured in 'the best original works as well as outstanding retellings of classics in a great year for illustrated books' Take a look at

1 November 2011
Squirrel-Nut 01 - first Newsletter of Fircone Books now out! Take look at 

30 October 2011
Look inside the Frog Band books! Have a look at Just click on the cover for the book you want to see then click on the arrows on the right of the page to flick through.

29 October 2011
Fircone Books has been shortlisted for Mr Site's Website of the Month!
Please vote for us at

1 October 2011
Opening day of 'Jim Smith's Frog Band Illustrations' exhibition at Salisbury Museum - lovely day out (the kids loved dressing up as characters from the books) and great book display!

5 July 2011
From doing sketches for extra rations from his WW2 Japanese guards, to illustrating children's books, Jim Smith was a unique artist and storyteller. A forthcoming exhibition of his artwork re-launches three of Jim's well-loved children's books for a new generation...
Download the press release (as a PDF): Jim Smith Rediscovered press release_5Jul11

7 June 2011
New cover designs for the Frog Band books! Now updated for 2011, the Frog Band stories have been upgraded from their original late-seventies design. What do you think?

25 March 2011
Just going through the Frog Band artwork scans. Reminded again what a great watercolourist Jim was.

16 March 2011
Writing paused on Oxfordshire's Best Churches as Richard is off to Chepstow With nearly 40 out of a possible 50 churches now written up, Richard is, for the time being, focusing his attention on writing a talk for The Chepstow Society.

9 March 2011
Frog Band artwork at the repro house for scanning! After 30 years out of print, production has started on re-publishing the Frog Band stories. Out of 93 pages of artwork, only 31 illustrations from the stories remain with Jim's family, the rest will need to be scanned from printed copies of the books.

7 March 2011
Fircone Books Awarded Enterprise Grant We have just received confirmation of our successful application for the South Northants Business Grant. This £500 start-up fund will help towards the artwork scanning and design of the Frog Band books.