This week an old school friend, Daniel Peter Hitch, author of Bubbles the Pirate and The Short Stay picks his three books.
I don’t care about your book! Instead tell me about three books which influenced your book…
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
The often-forgotten sequel to the Chocolate Factory had Wonka taking Charlie into space and seeing the wacky dangers of the world around him; this story stuck with me for its depiction of an expanded universe (before I realised what a universe was) that didn’t necessarily have to be a repeat of the same material in the first story. Bubbles is a Pirate in a pirate-y land but each story is its own theme that just happens to fit his universe.
From the classic Blake illustrations to the zany plot, this story is in dire need of emerging from the shadow of its better-known older sibling.
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
A group of three children discover a magical tree filled with all manner of fairytale folk such as Saucepan Man and Moonface, who, well, has a Moon for a Face! Atop the tree is a bizarre set of clouds that allow access to infinite dimensions, but only for a short time; if you stay too long you risk being trapped in the land above forever. Topsy Turvy land where everyone walks on their hands not feet.
There was an underlying theme of fear and that reality around the children may not always be fair, I remember being scared as a child when the Jo, Bess and Fan were stuck in Dream land when the Sandman throws sand in their eyes to make them sleep. Bubbles the Pirate struggles to understand his limitations and in the third story struggles with the reaction the other pirates in his town have towards the two Knights from a foreign land who live together.
The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle
Whether it’s this book, or the entire Pirate Next Door pantheon I love reading these to my kids. The use of rhyme and banal British idiosyncratic reaction to these outsiders is cheeky and very believable. Jonny Duddle showed me that humour in children’s books can be for the adults not just the intended target audience. I wrote Bubbles for my Pirate obsessed son trying to explain real life scenarios that have occurred to him in the form of stories, and you get the sense that Jonny Duddle knows his audience well too.
Oh, ok – tell me about your book then…
Bubbles the Pirate by Daniel Peter Hitch
Four short rhyming stories tell the story of Bubbles the Pirate; he isn’t like other Pirates and feels sad, his family will change, he will meet strangers from far away and have to help a girl Knight-in-training adjust to Pirate life.