A FAMILY has joined forces to create a page-turner of a book for Dorset children.

Husband and wife team Stuart and Sandra Fretwell, from Portland, enlisted the help of their 12-year-old daughter to write a children's book designed to improve reading standards in schools.

The Fretwells are best known for The Pink Pippos of Portland, published in 2002 and distributed among every nursery, infant and primary school in the county.

For this effort - some four years in the making - the couple's daughter Sophie contributed illustrations and helped edit the book.

Combined with her mum's line drawings and her dad's writing, the as-yet-untitled book, aimed at seven to 12-year-olds, has turned out to be a real family affair.

Set on Portland, it tells the story of rebellious 11-year-old Cyrus, who has an incredible adventure on Midsummer's Eve.

It is hoped the fantasy-adventure novel will capture the imagination of schoolboys - whose literacy levels fall short of the standard reached by their female classmates, statistics show.

Mr Fretwell said: "I wanted this book to have definite learning outcomes, as well as being a terrific adventure.

"The plot is deliberately tense and convoluted - the intention being that it will need to be read a number of times and that eventually children will turn to the glossary and thereby improve their word power."

Former teacher Mr Fretwell describes the tale as a cross between Alice In Wonderland and Harry Potter'.

He hopes the book, which will again go to every school in Dorset, will be used as a stimulus for history and geography work because of its local references.

Killicks Hill resident Mr Fretwell is appealing for businesses from the area to help fund a DVD that will accompany the book and promote Portland as a destination.

He said: "All this will cost around £2,000 and I need to attract 20 sponsors at £100 each to make it happen."

Mr Fretwell has set up The Godwin Foundation to raise funds for the DVD and promises to acknowledge all sponsors inside the book.

He added: "I hope the story will get all local children picking up a book because it mentions places they've been to and they know of."

To sponsor The Godwin Foundation, call 01305 822831.