Tag Archives: Lyn McNicol

Fun on the radio

What you want to do now is to put your feet up and listen to the radio.

On Boxing Day (that was yesterday) there was a programme about [Badger] The Mystical Mutt on Radio Scotland. It was really about Lyn McNicol and Laura Jackson, who are the two slightly crazy women who are Badger, and who travel tirelessly around Scotland and beyond to bring their very large dog into schools to teach and entertain.

I’ve still to catch them in the act, but the books I’ve read have been fun, as are Lyn and Laura.

You have another four weeks during which you can listen to this online, or if you get up early on New Year’s Day you can hear the programme on the radio.

And today on the Today programme, you can hear Prince Harry interview Barack Obama. That could almost be worth getting up early for.

I’m not much of a radio listener, but I might take up my own suggestions here.

Book Week Scotland 2017

Starting on Monday, 27th November, is this year’s Book Week Scotland. And there is much you can do.

But don’t delay. There is no point in me suggesting you catch James Oswald in Auchterarder, because he’s already sold out. And because I have now more or less decided what I will and won’t do, I have stopped looking at the ticket booking facility, so won’t know what else might be too late.

Crawford Logan, aka Paul Temple, will do an event in what seems to be an undertaker’s ‘service room.’ But I don’t see why not. After all, he was last seen by the Bookwitch family doing a reading at the Grandmother’s funeral. He knows what to do.

Mairi Hedderwick is appearing all over the place, while still not doing so at a venue or at a time that suits me…

A place and time that is surprisingly good for me is Rachael Lucas talking about Asperger’s at Waterstones on Monday night. And more locally, I have Alex Nye coming to my nearest library (not that I’ve measured), and Alexandra Sokoloff will be talking at Stirling University.

Lin Anderson will be in Alloa, and Badger (the lovely dog) is coming to Cumbernauld.

And I could go on. But I won’t, because if I mention all the people I would like to see but can’t, because they are booked to speak in Shetland or (almost as bad) Orkney, I will get upset. But if you happen to be close to my far flung places, then off you go to a lovely event or two. Julie Bertagna, for instance. Or Debi Gliori.

Your top ten for Book Week Scotland

In just two weeks’s time Book Week Scotland will be upon you, at least if you’re in Scotland. Otherwise Scottish Book Trust’s powers might not reach all the way to where you are. But it won’t be for want of trying.

Many events are for schools and not public, but I have found a few I like the look of, and were it not for my vow of not stirring ever again, I’d head off for some of these.

Top choice is obviously Mairi Hedderwick in Helensburgh, when it’s Party Time with Katie Morag on Saturday 26th November at 10.30. It hits the right spot for me in so many ways.

Jonathan Meres is a very funny man. His show May Contain Nuts at Fauldhouse, West Lothian, on Wednesday 23rd at 9.30, should be great. If you can get out of bed that early.

Children’s Book Swap with Alan Durant in Strathpeffer on Friday 25th at 15.00. Get rid of books you don’t want, and choose someone else’s unwanted books instead…

Stories by Starlight in Inverkeithing on Saturday 26th at 16.30. How they can be so sure of stars I am not, ahem, sure, but it sounds good.

A Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism. Well, what could be more fun? That’s Gill Arbuthnott and Nick Armstrong in Fife on the 24th at 18.30.

John Fardell will be in Orkney on Saturday 26th at 10.30. Lovely, for anyone already up there.

Tom Nicoll: Writer of Nonsense! (and Mini-Dragons) entertains in Airdrie, also on Saturday 26th at 11.00.

Badger the Mystical Mutt and the Loch Ness Mystery (and Lyn McNicol) are in Glasgow on the 24th at 11.00. (Actually, make that the 26th! See Lyn’s comment below.)

A Library Ghost Tour in Rutherglen, also on the 24th, at 18.00. Boo!

City Lines featuring Chris Brookmyre in Glasgow on the 22nd at 19.00.


And number eleven is a Book Trail in Edinburgh’s St Giles’ Cathedral, every morning Monday 21st to Saturday 26th at 10.00. Clues to be found to win a prize.

Go on, go!

Badger the magician

I had hoped to finally meet Badger – who is a dog and not a badger – a few weeks ago when he came to Bridge of Allan for Book Week Scotland. But I had another event the same day and no working broom, so decided to leave it.

He’s a clever dog, however, and his ‘owner’ (author?) sent me this video where he shows how you should never give up. It’s enough to make me believe I will have time to write those Christmas cards after all. Perhaps even cook some kind of festive food.

Here is his Badgical Magical Day:

Badger does have a way with flowers. Achoo..!

(I reckon it’s the spotty scarf. The magic. Not the sneezing.)

Foggy fogs and fezes

It feels like it was a mere few weeks since I read the first Badger, the Mystical Mutt book, and here its authors McNicol and Jackson are intimating they’re on book number six! I suppose I have to believe them. It’ll be in my best interests to be on good terms with literary Scotland, so let’s celebrate Badger’s sixth publication day on this 2014 Walpurgis night.

He’s throwing a party in Badger the Mystical Mutt and the Flying Fez. It’s Old Year’s Night and he wants to gather the whole gang. But he’s missing his spotty ‘Chief and things aren’t going well. There is the foggiest fog Badger has ever seen (although I would say it’s unlikely you would see anything in such foggy circumstances).

McNicol & Jackson, Badger the Mystical Mutt and the Flying Fez

This is where a very naughty Fez called Otto appears and tries – pretends – to help. Most of the gang is also present, and everyone does their bit. Pickle is upset because she is missing someone special, but that’s what you have friends for. And the Badger books are there to show what friends are for.

(Badger was very helpful during Hurricane Sandy. He was a bit stuck in New York, so jumped in and did some work where it was needed, impressing the British Consulate in the process.)

Even the Dog Catcher seems to be friendly. Or is he? Perhaps Old Year’s Night is a time for change.

This is a Badger book, so you can rely on things being sorted out, despite Otto doing his worst.

The Scottish novelists

Lists will rarely be complete. But some are more complete than others.

On Monday Herald Scotland published a list of Scottish children’s authors.* What prompted this seems to have been Julia Donaldson’s decision to leave Scotland and move back to England. It felt like an ‘oh god who do we have left in Scotland if Julia Donaldson moves away?’ kind of list.

Don’t worry, J K Rowling is one of their ten ‘best.’ So are others that I know and admire, along with a few names I have never heard of. Which is fine, because I don’t know everything, and I’m sure they are great writers. I don’t even know who counts as Scottish for this purpose.

Although, with J K topping the list, I’m guessing they allow English writers living in Scotland. That makes my own list rather longer. Harry Potter isn’t particularly Scottish as a book, even if Hogwarts is in Scotland. Do Scottish authors living in England, or god forbid, even further afield qualify? (I’m not so good at keeping track of such people, so I’ll leave them out for the time being.)

As I said, I have no problem with who is on the Herald’s list. But along with quite a few Scottish authors, I gasped when I realised who weren’t on it. Catherine MacPhail and Gillian Philip, to mention two very Scottish ladies. Linda Strachan, Julie Bertagna and Theresa Breslin, who are also pretty well known and very Scottish indeed.

Keith Charters and Keith Gray. Damien M Love and Kirkland Ciccone. John Fardell. Lari Don, Lyn McNicol, Joan Lingard and Elizabeth Laird. Cathy Forde. Dare I mention the Barrowman siblings, Carole and John? Alexander McCall Smith writes for children, too. Roy Gill, Jackie Kay. Cat Clarke. And how could I forget Joan Lennon?

I’m guessing former Kelpies Prize shortlistees Tracy Traynor, Rebecca Smith and Debbie Richardson belong. (There is one lady whose name is eluding me completely right now, but who appears at the book festival every year and seems very popular…) Have also been reminded of Margaret Ryan and Pamela Butchart. (Keep them coming!)

Most of the above have lovely Scottish accents and reasonably impeccable Scottish credentials. But what about the foreigners? We have the very English, but still Scottish residents, Vivian French, Helen Grant and Nicola Morgan. Americans Jane Yolen and Elizabeth Wein. Ex-Aussie Helen FitzGerald.

And I really don’t know about English Cathy Cassidy, who used to live in Scotland but has more recently returned to England. I think she counts, too, along with all those writers whose names simply escape me right now, but who will wake me up in the night reminding me of their existence.

I’m hoping to get to know all of you much better once this wretched move is over and done with. Unless you see me coming and make a swift exit, following Julia Donaldson south. Or anywhere else. I think Scotland has a great bunch of writers for children. (And also those lovely people who write adult crime, and who are not allowed on this list, even by me.)

Sorry for just listing names, but there are so many authors! One day I will do much more. Cinnamon buns, for starters. With tea. Or coffee. Irn Bru if absolutely necessary.

Theresa Breslin's boot

*For anyone who can’t access the Herald’s list, here are the other nine names: Mairi Hedderwick, Barry Hutchison, Chae Strathie, Claire McFall, Daniela Sacerdoti, Debi Gliori, Caroline Clough, Janis MacKay and Diana Hendry.


I complain a lot. I know. But below is a perfect example of a contact email, offering me a book to read. I have taken the liberty of copying it here, shortening it very slightly. Even had I not been somewhat Badger-book deprived I’d have wanted a little look.

Badger the Mystical Mutt, a new illustrated children’s book for 5 – 9 year olds published by The Lunicorn Press. It’s now in its 2nd run of 1000 copies. We’ve been touring Waterstones in Scotland, visiting libraries, schools, Hamleys and we’re taking part in Aye Write, Glasgow’s Book Festival. We’ve decided to remain independent rather than seek a mainstream publisher because we want to be totally hands-on.

We also have a 6ft Badger Mutt character who accompanies us to all readings. Book two in the series will be out in May of this year. Feedback has been great, as has press coverage. There are lots of layers to Badger, there’s a bit of reiki, lots of healing, and the first book subtly addresses bullying. One reviewer said it was the message without the lecture, and kids seem to find it funny too, especially his strange travelling contraption – the wim-wim for the wowser.

He’s a big numptie, but a lovable one, and we hope he makes you smile. With badgical magical wishes, Lyn, Laura & Badger.’


It’s not every book character that bothers to sign emails, either. Although, funnily enough I encountered another badger (by name) mere days before I read Badger the Mystical Mutt.

OK, I didn’t totally get the wim-wim wowser thing, but I did enjoy the story. Badger, who I believe to be a dog and no badger, is a crazy but sweet dog, always looking out for others. He’s got a magical scarf which can sort almost anything out.

In this first book the subject is bullying. Or lonely dogs, if you prefer. Badger makes sure things improve, both for the bullied dog and for the bully. It’s funny, and it’s sweet.

Dogs can’t really do magic, though. Obviously… Or can they?