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The Neighbourhood Surprise

£7.99 (paperback)

UK only


The Neighbourhood Surprise is an inclusive tale of a community coming together to celebrate one of their own.

Much to the disappointment of Koya and her friends, Mrs Fig is moving to a retirement home. Koya and her neighbours want to be included in the leaving party preparations for their dear friend! They get to work, helping their parents make delicious vegan and vegetarian food for everyone in the neighbourhood to enjoy.

The Neighbourhood Surprise introduces children to different kinds of diets, namely vegetarian and vegan, and includes facts about these lifestyles.


Discover fun book activities


Download a free poster with beautiful artwork from this book!

Teacher Resources

Download a free Teacher Resource Booklet with lessons inspired by the book!

Book trailer

Meet the author and illustrator


Sarah van Dongen is a Dutch illustrator based in Amsterdam. After studying Literature in Utrecht and Amsterdam, she completed an MA in Children's Book Illustration in Cambridge. She grew up with vegetable gardens, an orangery, a herd of deer, and plenty of green space to explore! Sarah's childhood still inspires her work today. Her style is cheerful, personal and celebrates daily life.

Watch an interview with Sarah

Read more about The Neighbourhood Surprise:
  • Download: Our FREE Teacher Resources for The Neighbourhood Surprise!
  • Watch: Librarian Jenny Hawke reads The Neighbourhood Surprise!
  • Watch: Read Along with us to The Neighbourhood Surprise!
  • Read more: Celebrate community this Christmas with The Neighbourhood Surprise!
  • The Neighbourhood Surprise longlisted for the DBF Children’s Picture Book Award 2022!
  • 3 Tiny Owl Books in the CBC Winter 2021 Showcase: Let’s Cook and Eat Together!
  • Read a review: The Neighbourhood Surprise combines intergenerational friendship and the importance of community – The Little Literary Society
  • 3 Tiny Owl Books Longlisted for Cogan Friendship Picture Book Award 2022!
  • Read a review: ‘A charming story about kindness and caring for others’
  • Read a review: ‘A clever book about inclusivity and community!’ – Senior Lecturer Mathew Tobin
  • Books to Bake: Bake Scrummy Vegan Brownies from The Neighbourhood Surprise!
  • Celebrate Gardening Month with Vegan & Vegetarian Yumminess!
  • Read a review: The Neighbourhood Surprise is a a lovely share for libraries and beyond! – Instagram Reviewer
  • Read a review: ‘We Were Inspired to Write Thank-You Notes For Neighbourhood Helpers!’
  • Watch the trailer for The Neighbourhood Surprise
  • Download: A beautiful FREE poster!
  • Read a review: This charming story illustrates the power of intergenerational friendships and different cultures! – Publisher Spotlight
  • Watch: Sarah Van Dongen’s DrawAlong with Edinburgh International Book Festival!
  • Download: FREE Neighbourhood Surprise activities!
  • Read a review: A Simply LOVELY Book!
  • Read a review: Five Stars for The Neighbourhood Surprise!
  • Read a review: I loved the visual character development – Goodreads Reviewer
  • Read a review: This beautiful picture book celebrates unity and inclusion – Checkemoutbooks
  • Read a review: Food is such a powerful social connector and deeply rooted part of our culture – inclusivestorytime
  • Read a review: The Neighbourhood Surprise combines intergenerational friendship and the importance of community – The Little Literary Society
  • Read a review: A lovely book about the importance of community – Mancunian Mum
  • Read a review: A great community story of intergenerational friendship – Youth Services Book Review
  • Read a review: Nourishing community connections and respect – Spirituality Practice
  • Read a review: A delightful read about community – Mai Story Book Library
  • Hooray! The Neighbourhood Surprise is out now!
  • Read a review: A fantastic resource for children who are curious about veganism and vegetarianism – Mutually Inclusive
  • Read a review: With a diverse range of cultures, there is a real sense of celebrating community – What The Kids Read
  • Watch an interview with Sarah van Dongen in her inspirational studio!
  • Read a review: A joyful celebration of community and friendship – Library Lady
  • Read a blog: The Neighborhood Surprise is now available in the US!
  • Read a review: Sarah van Dongen’s warm-hearted illustrations are a joy to contemplate! – Red Reading Hub
  • Read a review: A story of community, diversity, acceptance and love – Scope for Imagination


Check Em Out Books

This beautiful, cheery picture book celebrates unity and inclusion

Chris Routh, Librarian

A joyful intergenerational, multicultural, food-filled story!

Red Reading Hub

Sarah van Dongen's warm-hearted story is a joy to contemplate

Posted in All Books, Books & Gifts, Food & Community, Key Stage 1