Tag Archives: Porridge The Tartan Cat

Writing For Girls And Boys – blog post by Alan Dapre, children’s author


Recently, I was browsing in a well-known superstore with my young daughter. She found pink pyjamas decorated with rainbows – ‘For Girls age 7-8’. Then a set of dinosaur pyjamas. Isla turned to me with a frustrated look and said, “I really want those dinosaur ones, but it says ‘For Boys age 7-8’.”

Then a similar thing happened when we walked through a local discount store. The toy aisles were clearly segregated by colour and gender – pink for girls and blue for boys. Isla picked up a blue skateboard then put it down. “They make me think I can’t have it. Why can’t girls and boys share the toys?”

Why indeed?

As I write this blog at home, I am surrounded by Lego models. Some sets are obviously packaged for boys, others for girls. My daughter chose all of them, regardless. “I think boy stuff is cooler than girl stuff. They get to have ferocious dragons and knights and ninjas. Girls just get pretty rainbows and unicorns and lots of pink. Some girls might want to have different colours and have adventures.”

One of my favourite childhood books was The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp. Tyke takes on the school establishment in an action-packed tale. It was quite a shock to discover the eponymous protagonist was Theodora Tiler. Most of the books I had read up until then featured boys doing all the exciting stuff.

Being adventurous is a vital part of growing up for all children, not just boys. Books should reflect that. My Porridge the Tartan Cat books are funny, fast-moving, action packed adventures that anyone can read.

Twins Isla (named after my daughter, who calls herself Real Isla) and Ross McFun feature in every book of the Porridge the Tartan Cat series and star in two. Both characters are go-getting children, with enquiring minds who courageously work together to solve tricky problems. I chose non-identical twins because I wanted female and male characters who are equal but different. Children with the confidence and freedom to express and exchange ideas. In each book, they take turns to explore, to question and to lead. I’m not writing for girls or boys. I’m writing for girls and boys.

 

girl reading kittycat kidnap by alan dapre

My wife is an engineer – and a great role model for our daughter. Together we encourage Real Isla to try new things and believe in herself. Anything is possible. Last month she scuba-dived in a cage at Deep Sea World and loved every moment. Not every child gets a chance to do that. Or to be in a book like Real Isla. But all children should see characters with identifiable traits, and read reassuring books that show them it’s okay to be themselves. Books that nourish, sustain and empower children to be the best they can be.

By the way, my daughter loves wearing her new dinosaur pyjamas. And I love that she loves them, too.

This blog re-post is taken from the Alan Dapré author page at the Discover Kelpies site

Wee Write! 2017 – Alan Dapre

wee write 2017 alan dapre
Back in 2015, I met the organiser of Wee Write! at an event where new books from Floris were being showcased. It seemed quite surreal to be chatting about half a dozen books I had not yet written. At that time, I was working on my first title – ‘Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Brawsome Bagpipes’ – and creating the style for the series.

Brawsome Bagpipes, alan dapre, author, scotland, floris books, childrens books, humour

The six Porridge books can be read in any order, as they feature recurring characters but stand-alone plots.

Just before the first two books were launched (Feb 2017) I was invited to take part in the Wee Write! schools programme. A great idea that brings schools into the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It costs schools nothing and the children get lots from the experience. A morning – or afternoon – off school to watch authors and, in my case, engage in some silly wordplay and enjoy plenty of interaction. Yes, if you come to my event then be prepared to volunteer.

Nearly 180 pupils, teachers and helpers filled a large space inside the library, overlooked by big windows and curious office workers. Helped by Janette (an experienced  librarian) and knowledgeable technical staff, I was able to prepare my presentation and props in no time at all. The worst bit was hanging around the back of the projector while I was being introduced. As ever, I couldn’t resist a bit of silly shadow hand puppetry and that got the kids laughing.

wee write book festival 2017 Alan Dapre author

The stage was set for me to start. I was soon chatting about how my Porridge books came about. I then gave the children wee snippets about characters – aided by Yuliya Simona’s brawsome illustrations – and introduced Porridge (in soft toy form).

Porridge the tartan cat, porridge, tartan cat, alan dapre, dapre, toy, plush porridge, Floris,

Plenty of noisy fun ensued with fast-paced tongue-twisters,

alan dapre tongue twister brawsome bagpipes porridge the tartan cat

and kids running about the stage sorting out muddled-up words. A lot of Porridgy goodness was somehow spooned into one hour. At one point, we created our own crazy competitions – aiming to be as daft as Gadget Grandad’s Scottish Shed Racing Championships. There was also a lively joining-in session where children danced around and mimed tapping along to a noisy tripe writer. Next we explored together facts that sound like a load of old (typed) tripe but are actually true!

floris, tripewriter, alan dapre, porridge the tartan cat,

The hour flew by and everyone was hoarse and happy by the time my event ended. A short Q & A brought out some very good questions. “What’s my favourite book?” I was asked. I replied that it’s any book that’s being read. Books are meant to be read, to stimulate and engage.

Judging from the reaction of staff and the kind comments afterward, the children went away motivated and excited. If libraries and authors can get children enthused by the written word then we are all onto a winner.

porridge, language, made up, tartan cat, alan dapre, me-wow, mewow, cat talk,

 

Wee Write! is in someways an off-shoot of Aye Write! but it has its own special atmosphere. It offers a wee glimpse of the magic of books – and writing – to any kids (young or old) lucky enough to attend.

I loved it. Good job too because I did it all again that afternoon.

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Porridge The Tartan Cat Series – launching Feb 2017

I know I really should have been blogging this year but most of my time has been spent writing an exciting new 6 book series for Floris Books, a large publisher based in Scotland.

The Series: 
Each story stars a member of the McFun family. Gadget Grandad, Groovy Gran, Mini Mum, Dino Dad, Roaring Ross and Invisible Sister. Nothing is ever what it seems in this fantastic family. Everyone has a surprising secret – and a knack of getting into trouble. Luckily, Porridge is around to lend a helping paw and save the day. All it takes is courage and a box of brain-boosting Fishy Biscuits.

The first two books come out in February 2017. Here’s the cover for:

“Porridge The Tartan Cat and the Brawsome Bagpipes”

It’s brilliantly illustrated by Yuliya Somina, who has illustrated for Bill Bryson’s bestseller ‘A Really Short History Of Nearly Everything’.

porridge-1-cover

That’s the cover. Here’s a quick summary of the story:

Gadget Grandad does nothing on Sundays. Me-yawn. However, Porridge and the McFun twins soon discover he spends the rest of the week doing incredible things – like Walter ski-ing with a shark called Walter, or catching sneaky Scotch Pies (spies). All the while, mouldy old Fergus McFungus is stealing ingredients to cook up a secret secret recipe for disaster. Can anyone (anycat) stop him from destroying the world and volcanoes and fishy biscuits and elephants!”

***

The other book being launched is:

“Porridge The Tartan Cat and the Bash-Crash-Ding”

Here’s what it’s about:

Groovy Gran was once in a band called The Tattie Scones, but it split in mysterious circumstances many years ago. Porridge, the twins and Groovy Gran go on a mission to reunite the band members and put on a special one-off Big Gig. Unfortunately the dastardly Dug o Doom is on the prowl, trying to thwart their every move. Porridge is determined to save the day – and the show. Claws-crossed it will end with a fantastic Bash-Crash-Ding!

 

porridge-2-cover

 

I’ve seen the illustrations so far and they look very impressive. Energetic, fun and just right to capture the imagination of 6 to 8 year old readers. That said, there is enough word-play and imaginative quirkiness for grown-ups to enjoy too.

Well, I’d better crack on. More stories to write. I’ll post more thoughts and exciting news later.

Catch me on Twitter: Alan Dapre On Twitter

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Launch of the ‘Young Kelpies’ range of new books. Mine included.

I was delighted to be invited to attend the launch of the new Young Kelpies range. It features four series from exciting authors. ‘Axe throwing’, ‘goal scoring’, ‘mysterious’ and ‘adventurous’ are the key words for each series.

Mine is the adventurous one…with lots of gags, wordplay and exciting action.

Each brilliant series has six books and is written for children aged six to eight. If you want funny and engaging stories then Young Kelpies will do the business for you.

The launch was a light hearted affair where each author read an extract in front of the great and the good from the publishing trade. I was on last and could see how well the other authors were being received.

I ate a bacon buttie and threw myself into my performance.

Alan Dapre Porridge The Tartan Cat

Alan Dapre reads an extract from his Porridge The Tartan Cat Series

There was certainly a lot of interest for my Porridge The Tartan Cat series.

When Porridge was wee he fell into a tin of tartan paint. A tin of tartan paint. Not easy to say or do. Porridge loves sharing tales about the McFun family. He has even cat-a-logged all their funny adventures. Six books coming out in 2017.

Can’t wait. Guess I’ll have to 🙂

More info on my books and lots of others can be found on twitter #discoverkelpies