Nick Butterworth, the creator of Q Pootle 5 and Percy the Park Keeper talks about his love of books ahead of his appearance at the 2017 Manchester Children’s Book Festival

Nick Butterworth - headshotNick Butterworth, the award-winning writer, illustrator and creator of Q Pootle 5 and Percy the Park Keeper, will be appearing at the 2017 Manchester Children’s Book Festival on Saturday 24th June at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Nick will host two interactive storytelling sessions, exploring the power of imagination at this year’s Free Family Fun Day.

We caught up with Nick ahead of his special events.

Why do you think encouraging children to get involved in reading is so important?

“There are absolutely huge benefits. Children love stories. They have such wonderfully fertile imaginations. You can sit on the sofa, without a book even, and just say “one day a squirrel was climbing a tree” and suddenly if there is a child in the room they will look at you, sit next to you and want to know what happened next.

“While they are enjoying a story they’ve got the wonderful bonus of gaining the hugely important life skills of literacy and reading. They look at the words on the page and realise these squiggles actually mean something. They grow their vocabulary.

“Then there is an extra bonus of building relationships with adults. To that end, it is really important that people make time to share stories with their children every day. A tablet is not a substitute for a bedtime story.  You cannot talk back to a tablet and say: “Why haven’t I got some good trainers like that boy?” You cannot say: “Somebody was mean to me today like in that story”.  So the sharing of stories means that they get a better understanding of who they are. They grow up in a more secure background, with more confidence, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

 What were your favourite books as a child?

“When I was very young my real favourites were Beatrix Potter books. I loved, in particular, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. My mum read those endlessly to me and I can still quote you lines of the text from over 60 years ago. I can probably remember those better than what I had for breakfast these days!

“My absolute favourite was Treasure Island.  It had me gripped. For the first time I realised how a book can transport you to another time and place, and so that made a huge impression on me.”

Nick Butterworth_First Book_B. B. Blacksheep and Company_Holcombe Hill and Peel Tower feature in To Market to Market (1)
Nick Butterworth’s first book, B. B. Blacksheep and Company

Would you say they went on to inspire the rest of your career?

“They were the seeds that had the potential to become something. There was something in me that responded to stories, those stories particularly grabbed me but I love all stories. I didn’t have a career in mind because I didn’t really think about that when I was a boy.

“I wasn’t particularly successful at school. I was in a class of 50 children after the war with one teacher. Nobody noticed I was not able to read very well. I didn’t read for myself until the age of eight or nine, but fortunately my mum and my gran used to read endlessly to me so I knew books were a treasure trove. It was only later, when I became a graphic designer and subsequently an illustrator that I began to realise writing was an option to control what I illustrated.”

Which of your projects would you say you’ve had the most fun working on?

“Working on the animation of Q Pootle 5 has to be the most satisfying thing and fun thing I’ve done. I worked with so many great people – actors, writers, animators, musicians, sound effects people – it’s great when you get so many talents together. Watching the episodes is a joy. They are moving and funny and to come through a collaboration like that to see 52 good stories that children are enjoying is hugely rewarding.”

Why are you appearing at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival?

“I was very pleased to be invited to Manchester especially at this time. My family on both sides hail from villages in the Bury area (Holcombe Brook and Greenmount!) and I grew up speaking with a Lancashire accent. The view of Holcombe Hill with Peel Tower sitting on top is a hugely emotive sight for me. I’m so looking forward to being at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. The Festival was created to foster a love of books, storytelling and imagination and I want to connect with families and share the importance of reading and imaginative play for children.”

About Manchester Children’s Book Festival

Manchester Children’s Book Festival (MCBF) is a year-round programme of activities, including events and performances, author and illustrator school visits, projects and competitions. The Festival is organised and delivered by Manchester Metropolitan University, in partnership with organisations across the city.

Manchester Children’s Book Festival Family Fun Day takes place on Saturday 24th June, 10am-4pm at Manchester Metropolitan University All Saints Campus, Oxford Road, M15 6LL. General entry to the Family Fun Day is free, but some individual events and workshops carry a cost.

Nick will also be bringing Q Pootle 5 with him to meet new friends at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival Family Fun Day. Be sure to bring your camera for a chance to snap a picture of your little one with the friendly little alien.

To book tickets for Nick Butterworth’s events visit:

Under 5s: www.mcbf.org.uk/whats-on/events/nick-butterworth-interactive-storytelling-for-under-5s

Over 5s: www.mcbf.org.uk/whats-on/events/nick-btterworth-on-the-magic-of-storytelling-and-imagination

For the full schedule of Manchester Children’s Book Festival events and to book, visit www.mcbf.org.uk/whats-on/events.

Follow Manchester Children’s Book Festival on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @MCBFestival and use #MCBF2017 to stay up-to-date with the latest news and ticket releases.

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