Today we talk about Cheeky Pigeon, a book by John Walker published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author John Walker to get to know him better, the moment that prompted him to the writing of his book Cheeky Pigeon, as well as how illustrations are important in a children’s book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What prompted you to the writing of the adventures of Cheeketta and Parrot Eagle?
Our son got married late in life and had two children, first Oscar and then Charlotte. I wanted Oscar to be interested in flying light aircraft as I have had a private pilot’s licence for over 30 years along with an aerobatic and instrument rating. I wrote a book for him and then I realised it was all about me not him, so I scrapped it. I saw a picture of twenty pigeons on a telephone cable and thought of Cheeky Pigeon’s flock of world line-dancing champions. We have quite a large garden and have a twice full-size cast-iron eagle, which although interesting was a bit boring, so I painted all the feathers in bright colours and called him Parrot Eagle. I am not a huge fan of mobile phones and the internet although I do use them often and thought that very important messages could be sent by carrier pigeon, so along came Cheeketta as the head of the police carrier pigeon division. I have been in small to medium enterprise business for an awful long time and Pat, my wife, and I have travelled extensively to most continents, which is where the idea of the two children travelling with their grandparents came from.
- How important do you think illustrations are in a children’s book?
The books are written for children between about four to eight years old, so they will start with the parents, or grandparents, reading to them and progress to reading the books themselves. For the younger end we have used some cartoons throughout the book to depict parts of the stories. and actual picture for the older children to give them a realistic view of the world outside their own environment. So hopefully to encourage them to travel. I thought that children between four and eight years old and the adults who will start to read. them might find the books, if on a script only basis, a bit boring to read. There are nearly three hundred pages, with forty individual stories within the book split across five continents. Hence the cartoons and pictures. As the books are to be initially read by adults, I felt that real-life pictures and settings would keep the parents or grandparents interested as well.
- What would you like to hear from your young and adult readers?
When my grandson initially was able to read the books for himself, he was taken over by one particular story from the “Adventures in America” section. Here the child receives a medal for bravery for being the bravest boy in America for saving people from going over a waterfall in a boat. After reading the story several times he actually visualised himself in the role of the bravest boy in America. If the books can in any way inspire young people to strive and achieve the best they can in life, then I would want no more from the books. Regarding adults one of the most fascinating things in life is to travel and see how the rest of the world lives. Life in the west is often made out to be not good enough and reading the books gives one an idea how the rest of the world lives. It makes us feel lucky to have been born in a western country. It would be nice if the books created a lasting bond between grandchildren and their grandparents, which is completely different from the bond between parents and their children.
- How did it feel to see your book published?
When I started to write the five books, which have been amalgamated into one, I ended up with forty different adventures across all the books. It was sometimes difficult to remember all the different stories and settings, so I created small links between the individual stories. These are references from one story to another and even from one book to another so I could, if I needed to, go backwards and forwards between stories. Then the individual adventures did not read as completely independent ones and the links do what they say and link all the stories together. The book can be either read as one complete book or as forty different adventures. When complete, came the herculean task of getting a publisher interested. And I wrote to absolutely loads of them and agents alike until Europe liked the book and offered to publish. It is difficult to put into words the feeling of euphoria, when I realised that all the work I had put in had finally achieved a purpose and I would encourage all authors never to give up and keep trying till they finally win.
- Are you working on new writing projects that you can tell us about?
The Cheeky Pigeon book has been written for four- to eight-year-olds and I have nearly finished a further thirteen books for much younger children between one and four. They are called “Happy Horace,” who is a gorgeous little mouse, very clean and very, very happy. He teaches your young child many things. He takes the child, along with the mother and father to many interesting places, such as the seaside, the zoo, the railway museum, the petting farm etc. In the books there are noises for all the family to make, such as cats meowing, dogs barking, trains hooting etc. Also, at the end of each book they can all sing a lovely little song together. On a completely different note, when we moved to Portugal I was commissioned by the Manchester Evening News to write a series of twenty four full page articles called the “Last Great Adventure,” all about the trials and tribulations of moving to live in a foreign country. I am currently rewriting some of the articles and will amalgamate them all into one book.
Europe Books thanks the author John Walker once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book Cheeky Pigeon. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader I hope this book brings you joy and amuse you. And remember that, no matter how adult you are, books for children have a lot to teach us all! Written in simple and clear concepts, children’s book have the ability to give important life lessons both to children’s development and to adults, as they have the power to awaken their forgotten child side.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!