The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor by Aubrey Hartman

Hello, Aubrey Hartman! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to share Christopher Cyr’s cover illustration and Patrick Hulse’s cover design for The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor. What ran through your heart the first time you saw the eye-catching cover?

Aubrey Hartman: This is my debut novel, so seeing my first cover was a moment I’d imagined a thousand times over…and it blew away every hope or expectation. It’s a work of art. The rich colors, the sense of magic, the movement and depth and mystery. Christopher included great little Easter Eggs from the story, like the smoky clouds and Poppy’s masking-tape tights (she designs her outfits based on whatever book she’s currently in love with). But my absolute favorite part is the gorgeous, terrifying nymph on the bottom. It’s all just delicious.


Scenario: Imagine you’re booktalking The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor to 5th graders. What do you share?

Aubrey Hartman: When Poppy strikes a deal with the nymph, she accidentally trades away the magic of our world: books. Each night that Sampson— the winged lion— grows, another book disappears, and Poppy soon faces the harrowing reality that without their favorite stories, her friends and family change. And not in a good way.

The heart of LION is an invitation for readers to consider: What is your favorite book and how has it changed you?

So, to answer your question, I’d ask the 5th graders about their favorite books and what seeds those stories planted in their hearts. (I guess I’m less excited about what I have to share, and more excited about what kids will share with me.)

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Poppy Woodlock is every kid who’s ever felt underestimated or invisible or unimportant. When she starts middle school, she feels a distinct shift in her peers, but she can’t quite put her finger on it—like the game had changed, but she can’t even figure out the rules. Poppy is quirky and earnest and smart, but she’s got to gather the confidence to show those parts of herself. Her journey is discovering how to be a leader, how to use her voice, and beyond that, what it is she wants to say.

Story is how we make sense of the world around us; but maybe more importantly, how we make sense of the worlds within us.

John Schu, you should have asked me…
what happens when Poppy messes with unchangeable Old World magic? And the answer is…preorder the book to find out!



Aubrey Hartman lives in California with her husband and three young children. Like Poppy, she believes in magic: the kind that’s made up of powerful words, cinematic scenes, and characters who curl up in your heart to stay. Also like Poppy, she’s passionate about inspiring young people to recognize the impact their voices can have in the world. The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor is her debut novel.


Look for The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor on May 2, 2023. Use the code PREORDER25 to save 25% off at Barnes and Noble (September 7-9).  

A charming middle-grade novel about old magic, new friendships, a winged lion learning to roar, and a young girl fighting to be heard. Perfect for fans of classics like The NeverEnding Story.

Poppy Woodlock believes in magic, but so far she hasn’t found any. It’s been two weeks since her parents moved their family to Oregon to undertake their biggest project yet: revitalizing the once-grand Lark-Hayes Manor. Her older brother instantly found his place, but after being thrown into middle school midyear, Poppy is feeling…invisible. And not the cool kind. So she retreats to the places where she has always felt most at home: books and magic. And if the fantastic and supernatural exist, certainly they can be found in this mysterious old estate.

A late-night prowl leads Poppy to a desperate water nymph, with whom she strikes a dangerous bargain. But now Poppy has the secret of a lifetime: her very own flying lion. Sampson is exactly what she needs to prove magic does exist and, more importantly, that she is not to be so easily dismissed.

But the cost of ancient magic is astronomic, and it threatens to unravel the lives of everyone around her. Fixing the chaos will require Poppy to be clever and bold, and even at her smartest and loudest, she’s not sure it will be enough. But she has to try.

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