An enchanting new family exhibition opens at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle in October, coinciding with half term and continuing throughout the festive period.

How to Hide a Lion brings vividly to life the stories of bestselling author and illustrator Helen Stephens in a lively, interesting and entertaining way. The exhibition title is also the name of her most recent book, which was nominated in this year’s prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal award.

Discover where the ideas and inspiration for Stephens’ characters come from, find out how she turns those ideas into stories, have your picture taken with a caricature of a lion and see some of her original artwork. Large cut out characters from her books, along with user friendly information panels, a reading area, role play table and interactive activities such as a dressing up rack will add to the overall enjoyment of this amazing show. There will also be a lion trail around the whole Museum.

As well as creating the charming images for her own books, Stephens is highly regarded as an illustrator of other authors’ work. She has recently completed the visuals for Michael Morpurgo’s (of War Horse fame) latest children’s book Jo-Jo and the Melon Donkey, released in August 2013.

“Michael has kindly lent an early draft of the book for the exhibition, which is very exciting,” she said.

A selection of other Stephens’ stories, each commanding its own section in the exhibition, includes Fleabag, for which she was delighted to receive a Blue Peter badge in an authors’ competition, and The Big Adventure of the Smalls, whose illustrations were inspired by The Bowes Museum; unsurprisingly, as Stephens spent her formative years in nearby Staindrop and was taught at the village’s primary and secondary schools.

“I visited the Museum as a child and liked it very much,” she said. “I later brought my sketch book along and took inspiration from both the building and the collection.”

How to Hide a Lion, which runs from Saturday 26th October until Sunday 9th February 2014, will also feature a variety of objects relating to the author, including school reports and drawings, while limited edition prints from her books will be on sale in the Museum shop.

“We’re thrilled to have Helen exhibit her work at The Bowes Museum,” said Education Coordinator and curator of the exhibition, Amy Bainbridge. “Her illustrations are delightful and her books extremely popular, so I’m sure it will prove a ‘roaring’ success with the young and the young at heart.”