Tag Archives: Mick Inkpen

What they bought

Feeling grumpy again. And I’m going to ignore Thumper’s mother for a few minutes.

It is a good thing that of the 100 biggest selling books in 2016 17 were children’s books. I reckon that’s more than it used to be. But I am trying to work out if I believe it’s a good thing that eight of them are by David Walliams.

Five are by J K Rowling, two are Jeff Kinney’s and there’s a Mick Inkpen and a Roald Dahl. The last two were World Book Day books, which might explain the numbers.

On the one hand, I like that people are buying books for children, and I like the fact that lots of children are reading. But I would love for many more of those books to be by other authors.

I can understand why the book business bow and scrape to David Walliams. He brings in a lot of money. And presumably, if publishers didn’t go for his books, there wouldn’t be the same number by others sold, nor even published.

But I do mind. If the books are bought because they truly are what a child wants, then OK. I hope that after they will move on to other kinds of books, by other writers. Writers who take more part in the writing process.

But I hate the fact that books are bought because you recognise the name off television. And not in a literary way.

I’m relieved that the top selling spot is occupied by a Harry Potter related book. Anything to avoid the celebrity book effect.

As long as children read… And I suppose, as long as someone buys books for them. I remember reading pretty light and flimsy books myself, and craving more. They were all by different authors, however, and many of the books were borrowed. It’s the fact that it appears that children’s publishing stands and falls with one man that bothers me.

I hope his success means there is plenty of money to put into publishing real children’s books.

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Threadbear

Occasionally I feel a little threadbear myself, not to mention washed out. But I’ve never featured in a Mick Inkpen book.

Here, 25 years on from his first appearance, we have Threadbear again, the slightly worn bear with no squeak. It is very sad. I’m not sure who is saddest, Threadbear himself for not squeaking, or his owner Ben who keeps squeezing and thumping and doing all sorts just to get a noise out of his bear.

Mick Inkpen, Threadbear

It’s probably Threadbear, because who wants to be a disappointment, let alone fail in what their purpose in life is? He has the squeaker; it just doesn’t squeak.

And then, it is Christmas, and that jolly fat man in red rides past. And Threadbear is suddenly full of hope. But still no squeak.

Oh bear!

Don’t give up on the man in red’s powers just yet. You might get that lovely shrunken feeling.

Squeak.

Kipper’s Visitor

For World Book Day I was sent a darling little goose – well, gosling – who says ‘honk’ a lot.

Mick Inkpen, Kipper's Visitor

I’ve not previously come into close contact with picture book WBD offerings, and this was a delight. Soft and compact, it’s a picture book you could travel with, and one that will fit nicely in the hands of the tiniest reader.

Kipper finds this gosling, that has come out of nowhere and which only says ‘honk’ to everything Kipper asks it.

It honks at the – plastic – duck in the bath. The duck doesn’t reply. Kipper gives his visitor a bath and a blow dry.

And then the gosling meets Big Owl, who is very soft.

I love it.

Kipper

Why did I never read Kipper to Offspring? This 25-year-old is very appealing, and the mother of Offspring’s friends down the road swore by Mick Inkpen. If he had anything to do with a book, she’d buy it for her little darlings. This was back when we organised bookselling parties, inviting the same parents over and over again to come and buy more and more books.

Kipper did invite me to his 18th birthday bash seven years ago. But still I didn’t really read.

Now that he is 25 there have been some re-issued older picture books, and even to me it’s like meeting up with old friends again. In Kipper’s Little Friends he learns he’s not a doglet or dogling, but a puppy. There are many other little animals who are -lets and -lings, though, and very cute they are too. And it’s not only the froglets and the ducklings that make me want to hug the book.

In Kipper’s Toybox his beloved Sock Thing appears to be at risk and he moves into his toybox to make sure all his little friends are safe [making me just want to hug the whole toybox…]. The answer is mice. Two to begin with and quite a few more after a while. And less toybox.

How well I remember wanting to collect cereal box freebies, as someone who wasn’t allowed to eat the most exciting cereal. Kipper finds a beach ball with his in Kipper’s Beach Ball. It smells nice and plasticky. And it suffers from being played with, the way inflatable toys generally do. And no matter how much cereal Kipper gets, he only ever finds the other, more boring, toys to collect.

But we did have fun, both with the ball while it lasted and the live and toy friends. Hugs all round!

Mick Inkpen, Kipper