29 October 2008

Spotlight - Dick King-Smith

Some authors are special favourites in our reading lives, and deserve a bit of a special mention. Dick King-Smith is one of those authors.
He is one of Britain's most prolific writers, and has written over 100 books, most of them with animal characters. "Babe the Sheep Pig" ("Babe the Gallant pig") is probably his most famous character and the movie won him an Academy Award. Not a bad result for a former Gloucestershire farmer!
Gordon King-Smith (was called "Dickie-Bird" by his parents, shortened to Dick) was raised on a farm and had many pet animals. His love of farming and animals led him to become a farmer himself, but after 20 years he gave it up to become a Primary school teacher and, later, a writer.
DKS' love and extensive knowledge of animals shines through in every one of his stories. He creates characters that are convincing both as animals and humans. The books are also full of gentle humour, some are laugh out loud funny! His understanding of and appreciation for children is also evident. He seems to know exactly what makes them tick and what they like to read.

Here are a handful of our favourite characters:
Sophie - A small but very determined little girl whose ambition is to become a farmer. Her menagerie of pets include woodlice, snails, a cat and a rabbit. The six books in the Sophie introduces us to her adventures, her family and friends (best friend Great Aunt Al from Scotland).
Funny Frank- a chicken with a dream - he wants to be a duck and swim.

Titus ("Titus Rules OK") is a Pembrokeshire corgi puppy in the royal household of Windsor Castle. He is learning the ropes (how not to trip Prince Philip up for example). This book is hilarious in its description of life in the castle seen through the eyes of a dog.

Jackson is a rabbit, a very unusual rabbit. He lives by the sea and loves to watch the tall ships sailing in and out of the harbour. Jackson imagines a life on the seas and longs to be a sailor. One day he stows away on the "Atalanta" with his girlfriend Bunny bound for Australia. And the rest, as they say, is history...... history re-written.

Omnibombulator - a beetle who is so small that his parents give him a really long name to make him feel more important. Being a very small beetle is not easy, but in the end Omnibombulator discovers that it can be really useful!

Siegfrid - "The Adventurous Snail". With characters such as Siegfrid, the British snail, a British ambassador, the US president and a girl (snail) called Peggy Sue this book is very amusing.

Most of the books by Dick King-Smith have short chapters and make a perfect read for 6-8 year olds.

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