Monday, March 19, 2007

"Percy has sold a staggering 4 million copies worldwide"

Also in today's blog
Inaccessible article on Loathing Jane

Yesterday we had a family Sunday lunch. While Mr Bookworm, an excellent cook, was busy in the kitchen, I had the pleasure of reading to my eldest grandson who already, at two and a half, shows signs of being a keen bookworm.

The story he had brought for me to read was one of Nick Butterworth's delightful Percy the Park Keeper adventures.

Yesterday's story - Percy's Bumpy Ride – was new to me. Here's a summary.

"Percy the park keeper has been busy in his workshop for days. As his animal friends try to guess what he is making, Percy suddenly emerges sitting on top of a very strange machine…his new lawn mower The animals jump aboard for what turns out to be a very bumpy ride when, unexpectedly, the mower takes off into the sky. They all enjoy the ride until the engine fails and the machine begins to fall down and down. But some sheep in the field below all gather together and provide a very soft, woolly landing for Percy and his animal friends. And Percy rewards the kind sheep – offering them the, still unmown, long grass in his park as a tasty treat."

Later, I went in seach of the author.

At his publisher's website, I learned that "Nick Butterworth was born in Kingsbury, North London in 1946, but moved to Romford in Essex with his parents at the age of three. They moved to run a sweet shop, so Nick found himself fulfilling every child's sugar-coated dream of growing up right inside the proverbial chocolate factory.

Having intended to go to art college after leaving school, Nick decided to take a job as a typographic designer in the printing department of the National Children's Home at the last minute instead. He went on to work for several major London design consultancies before moving into freelance graphics. He has also worked as a television presenter on the TV-AM children's programme Rub-a-Dub-Tub and produced a regular illustrated story called Upney Junction for the Sunday Express magazine. At present, Nick concentrates on writing and illustrating his phenomenally successful children's books.

Percy The Park Keeper first came to life in One Snowy Night in 1989, which The Sunday Times described as, 'a tremendous and well-deserved success' and The Independent called, 'a heart warming bedtime tale.' It wasn't just the reviewers who loved Percy and the world of his park - children, parents and teachers alike fell in love with the kind hearted park keeper. More Percy adventures followed and the range now includes 6 hardback books, paperbacks, audio tapes (read by Richard Briers) and a range of activity books. The latest Percy book, Percy's Bumpy Ride was published in October 1999."

Here's another quote I picked up. "A Percy book is bought every 15 minutes - not bad for an animal-loving park keeper!"

Inaccessible Telegraph article on Loathing Jane

Saturday's print edition of The Daily Telegraph came with a booklet called Explore : A User-Friendly Guide to The Telegraph Online.

Inside was a message from the newspaper's editor, William Lewis. It included this –

"All of you reading this will have heard about the internet, and many of you will know that this newspaper, with its familiar combination of innovation and reliability, has embraced the world of the web more comprehensively than any other national newspaper."

Sunday's issue included a feature "Jane Austen Showdown - Our greatest novelist - or joyless and provincial? Two writers lock horns over the inimitable, inescapable Ms Austen" including Loving Jane by Toby Young and Loathing Jane by Frances Wilson.

Since early yesterday morning I – and no doubt thousands of others - have been trying to access the Frances Wilson article, without success. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the Telegraph's website people to put this situation right.


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