Guy Bass and Stitch Head, MCBF Trailblazer, Friday 20thApril, 10am, MMU Geoffrey Manton Building
Words by Kevin Danson, photographs by Claudia Conerney
Outside lecture room 3 kids swarm the foyer waiting for the final school to arrive to see Guy Bass, author of award winning book, Dinkin Dings and the Frightening Things, and to hear about his new book, Stitch Head and the Pirate’s Eye, published by the ‘small-but-mighty’ Stripes Publishing. Before I avoided the oncoming chaotic chorus of excited children, and sit at the back with the cool kids (Guy’s publicist Paul), Guy manages to notice, and compliment, my Über stylish footwear. As you’ll see from the blog below, I was certainly won over.
Guy has everything under control when he begins talking with this large group of school children. Sharing the joy of going back to his childhood memories when writing his books, Guy starts us off with full on nappy heaven. Not knowing myself where the line of ‘too far’ is, I wonder what the general thought was when it came to the satisfaction of nappy expansion. This isn’t just throw away chitchat, everything has a purpose. Guy gets to a common goal most children (and one teacher) have as their dream job. A superhero. Although the list of supernatural superheroes is long, the nappy-wearing Tarzan was toddler Guy’s aspiration. Unfortunately, he learnt vine swinging wasn’t his thing after a few collisions with a tree.
Still reading and carrying comics around with him, Guy takes us through his spiderman stage and his limitless imagination of pretending the floor was a wall (we’ve all done it). Like any classic superhero, 4-year-old Guy also suffered from an Achilles’ heel… chips. His love of superheroes did not end in defeat however. Atomic!, is one of Guy’s books that provides a different layout, with a mixture of book and comic, especially when the action heats up. I saw them on his stand and was curious to see more, but my focus is on Stitch Head.
Thomas Bakes a Cake, an all-time personal favourite of Guy toddler. It’s basically Jamie Oliver’s cookbook. Storyline; Thomas baking a cake, ending, the cake is baked by Thomas. His second most memorable book is of a more commendable selection, Roald Dahl’s, George’s Marvellous Medicine. Dahl’s influence might be seen through the quirky humour in Guy’s books, or it could just be that Guy is Peter Pan. From watching him in the nappy scene and horizontal abseiling earlier, I’d go with the latter.
Currently writing his 18th book (!), third in theStitch Head series, Guy shows us his notebook from which the Stitch Headidea germinated. I think this is great thing to show as it’s inspirational to see how a thought can transform into something much bigger. Trains appear to be a popular place to get such successful ideas, since this is where the doodle in Guy’s notebook took place, as did the initial idea for Harry Potter, as no doubt you will know.
Here’s some information on the book Guy’s here to talk of today. Stitch Head is all about the goings on in a castle called Castle Grotteskew, in the town of Grubbers Nubbin, home to the mad Professor Erasmus. His very first creation, Stitch Head, has been forgotten and is left to compete for the Professor’s attention amongst the endless amount of experimental monsterous creations. In Stitch Head and the Pirate’s Eye, Stitch Head becomes convinced that his ice-blue eye once belonged to the legendary Captain Flashpowder. Through a series of swashbuckling events, Stitch Head and a cursed crew sail the high seas in a life-changing adventure.
Guy announces that he has brought a creation of his own for us to see come to life for the very first time. Children are so curious. Necks are craning and bottoms leave their seats, mine included, as we try and get a perfect view of the contents beneath the sheet. With a magician’s hand, Guy whips off the cover to reveal the Frankenstein-like body of Stitch Head, sitting as if slumped in deep sleep. Will Guy use a spark of electricity to shock it to life? That maybe slightly dangerous, so instead he opts for a less scientific way. After three mighty bellows of WAKE UP!’, Stitch Head is on the move doing a circle of meets and greets to the excited crowd. Excitement turns to destruction when Stitch Head becomes dismembered by his clumsy ogglers. True to his character, Professor Erasmus, Guy has failed in perfecting his creation this time, but assures us he’ll have him in one piece for the book signing. Phew.
|Photo: Stripes Publishing
|Before we line up to get our copies signed, Guy ends with an unusual story called, Nightmare Pigs in 3D.That’s right, I think a lot of us were shocked with the title too. Hearing him read in his many voices keeps the audience in giggles and slightly face-ached from too much smiling.
Leaving with a grin wider than the Cheshire Cat’s, Guy has certainly brightened the dreary Friday morning. I’m sure I’m not the only one leaving here with inspiration, and even more sure I won’t be the first to have my book signed. If only I could turn back the clock, just not as much as over-the-line Guy.
With time only for a quick bite to eat, Guy continues on to Gorton where he’ll be speaking to kids at St Richards Primary School about his latest release. Let’s see if they’ll have as much fun as we have.