I’m so excited to share the cover of my new picture book, Ollie and the Otter, illustrated by Kirsteen Harris-Jones.
It’s published by Kelpies in March 2017. Right now there’s a big ship full of boxes of Ollie, slowly sailing from China to Scotland. BUT… they sent one ahead by plane, I got an advanced copy already! It was so exciting to see it. I even read it to a very small, captivated (and sleeping) child, baby Zoe:
Everyone else has to wait until March and that feels like ages away.
The story is set in the Cairngorms and it’s about an Osprey called Ollie and an Otter called Rory. It’s about friendship, fun and fish splatting.
The story begins when Ollie has just caught a fish. This is rather challenging for osprey – check this out this video from BBC Highland:
Now Ollie needs to learn to throw fish because he wants to make friends with Isla, a female osprey. He has to drop a fish mid air and she needs to catch it below him for that to happen. Yes that really does happen with ospreys in real life. How awesome is that? In real life mating follows but never fear, there is no mating in this story aimed at children aged 3 to 6 years.
Rory helps Ollie by making targets for him to aim at and he even dresses as an osprey (with water weed wings) to get pinged through the air via a seesaw branch and MacAntlers the stag:
Unfortunately, all that focus on throwing isn’t working. The fish won’t go where they’re supposed to go. Will Ollie ever throw a fish to Isla? Will they ever become friends?
The theory behind the story
This book is loosely based on Sir Ken Robinson‘s educational theory ‘the element’. Robinson observes that if you’re not naturally good at something, schools tend to make you do more of it – think extra maths lessons. But actually, the research shows if you do the things you are naturally good at – the things that make you, you – it could be dancing or art or football, as you do more of that creative practice your confidence rises. Then you get better at everything, even the things you find hard, even maths. I love maths so I don’t mean to pick on that as an example, it’s just one of those common ones that gets people at school.
So for you, being in your element is doing something you love and you don’t want it to end, where time sort of stands still and you might forget to eat even. It could actually be maths for you. If that’s your thing then you need to do more of it! And if you’re not sure what your element is, think back to what you loved doing in childhood. That’s likely to help point you towards it. Or you might not have tried it yet – try new things because you never know what might be your thing.
Ollie and the Otter is published on 16th March. You can pre-order it from all good bookstores online. I recommend using Hive because they pay taxes, they’re cheaper than amazon and every time you order from them you support your local independent bookshop – you collect the book from there and they get a commission.
You could also order Sir Ken Robinson’s brilliant book ‘Learning to be Creative’ while you’re at it. This includes all the theory behind his book ‘the element’ but with extras. It’s really, really good.