We're pleased to welcome to the blog the brilliantly funny and award-winning children's author Philip Ardagh, whose brand new young middle-grade series with Rob Biddulph - The Nine Lives of Furry Purry Beancat (available here) - is now available.
Just like every other cat, Furry Purry Beancat loves a catnap but unlike other cats, she wakes to find herself in a different one of her nine lives! In each book we follow the hairy heroine as she embarks on a new adventure. Whether saving a train from disaster as a railway cat or creating purrfect potions as a witch’s cat, Furry Purry Beancat saves the day.
But where did Philip Ardagh find his inspiration for a fiendishly funny animal story like Furry Purry Beancat? Read on to find out ....
My Five Favourite Funny Books About Animals
Charlotte's Web by E B White is one of the best books EVER written about animals - namely a pig, a spider and a rat - and about friendship and about growing up, but is it funny? It has humorous moments, but is it laugh-out-loud? Probably not. It's also VERY SAD in places but, because it's so well written and so readable, that's fair enough, then.
And what about the Winnie the Pooh books by AA Milne, illustrated by E H Shepard. They're very funny but are they about animals? I mean, yes, Winnie the Pooh is a bear but he's a teddy bear so does that count? Some of his fellow animals – Eeyore the donkey and Tigger the tiger – are also toys, but what about Rabbit and some of the others? I think they’re real. Well, as judge AND jury, I've decided that - yes – the Pooh books do count as a funny animal books. Phew!
Which leads me on to the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond. Now, Paddington is a real bear, all the way from darkest Peru, and the books are funny, so does this series qualify as funny books about an animal? Yes, I suppose so but Paddington is a very anthropomorphic animal, living with the Brown Family in London. (As well as being a very long and very impressive word, anthropomorphic means that the animal in question - Paddington - behaves like a human. He wears human clothes, walks on two legs, speaks English... You get the idea.) He's almost human, so do books about him really count as funny animal books? I think they'll have to (for this blog, at least).
What about Babe, The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith? I've no idea. I've never read it. (Don’t tell anyone!) I saw the film though. I found the beginning extremely upsetting, the singing farmer loopy, and the fear of being eaten - er - not very funny at all. But Dick King-Smith's BOOKS are usually great! And I’m sure he has plenty of OTHER funny animal stories which are a hoot... but my mind’s gone blank.
To be honest, I was beginning to panic when I started to write this paragraph because I was getting nowhere... then I suddenly thought of PICTURE BOOKS! There are a GAZILLION funny picture books about animals: The Oi! series by Kes Gray and Jim Field, starting with Oi Frog!. There's What Does An Anteaters Eat? by Ross Collins who also drew Karl Newson's I Am A Tiger... In fact there are libraries and bookshops filled to the eyeballs with funny animal picture books.
But what about chapter books? I know! I know! The One-Hundred-and-One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith is a brilliant animal book which is exciting AND funny, with the evil Cruella de Vil after the poor little puppies to make fur coats! The Disney animation is good but the book is even better. It's SOOOOOOO exciting and very funny in places too.
Hopefully that's the same with The Nine Lives of Furry Purry Beancat. Yes, her adventures are funny but you care about what happens to her and to the people and the other animals she meets
And, for me, that’s what makes a really entertaining read.
Hang on! hang on! I’ve thought of another funny animal book... How about–
Too late? What do you mean ‘too late’?
Hey ho. Happy reading!
The Nine Lives of Furry Purry Beancat: The Pirate Captain’s Cat and The Nine Lives of Furry Purry Beancat: The Railway Cat by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Rob Biddulph are out now (Paperback, Simon & Schuster)
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