Ian Whybrow

…coming soon…

February 26th 2015. Animals: What is the Point of Them? The Unfluffy Truth.

February 26, 2015 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

For the past few days I’ve been incapable of coherent thought and without motivation. It’s me chest, doctor. And me doze. Gawd, the stuff I’ve bin a-corfin up. I blame it on the Guernesaiaise. I spent a week among those Channel Islanders between Feb 9 and 13 visiting three primary schools a day in regions as much as twenty-five minutes from St Peter Port, to talk about my books for one of the best Schools Library Services still in business with professionally trained children’s librarians regularly seconded to schools to advise and direct reading . Sadly, there are not many of these left on the mainland and our children are the poorer for it.

Anyway. Those schools. And all that time ago. Delightful establishments they were, every one of them, but there is a rule that I always overlook until it’s too late: it states that the younger and more  innocent-looking the kids in the audience, the more potent , gripping and poisonous their germs. What I am suffering from is the authorial equivalent of farmers lung or pneumoconiosis. Every fule know that.

I did manage a short visit to St Martin’s Prep in Northwood on Tuesday 24th Feb but had to cut my losses and pack as many small boys as possible into a combined session in their splendid hall. I played the sympathy card, natch, and they responded with a quiet and intense attention – except during the Raaahry bits – that was humbling. Oh, come off it; it swelled the head, temporarily cleared the pipes and got the blood squirting round nicely.

The theme was animals, so that was alright; they got dinosaurs, endangered creatures, small wolves, meerkats, heroic hamsters, the lot – animals being the stock-in-trade of writers who need, not just to co-edition but simply to get published as children’s writers these days, while avoiding the problems that writing about humans incur – such as appealing to a particular race or sex; acting independently of parents; discovering secrets; doing daring things like rowing a boat, cycling through the countryside or the city, swimming without supervision in a lake, climbing up things, striking up relationships with strangers, etc. In other words, animals can get away with the things that health and safety rules and political correctness no longer permit. Of course, you can stay out of trouble by writing fantasy, by being facetious and exaggerated and by shifting the action to another time – but these modes don’t necessarily suit the readership or match the writer’s shifting sensibility. Oo, it’s a demanding bizz, this.

By the way, if in your germy state you visit (as plagues are said to visit) independent schools, naturally you get a kind and attentive minder like Dawn Davies here, but every now and then you get one of these, too … your own parking space.




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I’m off to Hemel today to Galley Hill Primary today. Softly I go now. Pad, pad. Cough cough.

Space! I must have space!

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