A month or so ago, I posted here about books that are created off the back of television series (as opposed to TV series which are created based on books that already exist). Although I love the Fireman Sam television programme (not that the boys would give two hoots if I didn’t!) and think it’s geat to see C and H developing their own preferences, I am not so keen on the books that have been created to tie in with the series.
I should add here that C and H are of the generation that watches the new CGI Fireman Sam (on which the books we own are based) and therefore my comments don’t apply to any earlier versions. I mention this because C recently brought home the Fireman Sam story sack from pre-school (his unbounded joy was a sight to behold!) and the story it contained was clearly based on an older version of the show. I did prefer it to the books we have here, but then that could just be down to the nostalgic element of the characters looking more like the ones I remember from when I was younger.
Anyway, I mentioned on Twitter that I was keen to find good examples of books based on television programmes and two suggestions kept coming up. ‘64 Zoo Lane‘, created by An Vrombaut and ‘Abney and Teal‘, created by Joel Stewart. Both are incredibly lovely (I look forward to our evening viewing as much as the boys do!) and worth checking out if you know anyone with an interest in pre-school television shows.
We’ve not managed to get hold of any 64 Zoo Lane books, but we are now the proud owners of two Abney and Teal books and I have to say that I really, really like them. The language is lovely, the illustrations are super (they’re not merely screenshots from television series) and the plots are interesting and funny. The boys are now huge fans of both the books and the TV series and C in particular collapses into uncontrollable gales of laughter whenever Neep (the little turnip character) appears. My husband made a point of telling me how he thought C was ‘interacting’ with Abney and Teal far more than he ever does with Fireman Sam. It’s almost as though Fireman Sam is his comfort food – safe and reliable but not always the most tasty dish, whereas Abney and Teal is like a delicious smörgåsbord of treats every time, with a perfect balance between new and exciting things and old favourites.
and ‘Bop’s Hiccups‘:
I haven’t seen either episode on television yet (we have series linked the show but haven’t come across these ones) though in a sense that brings home to me even more that these books are able to stand on their own two feet.
***UPDATE! Having shown Joel Stewart this post, he alerted me to the fact that the reason I haven’t seen either ‘Brilliant Boots’ or ‘Bop’s Hiccups’ on television is that they aren’t based on episodes that currently exist, i.e. they have been created separately purely as books. This makes me like them even more!***
Having mentioned to Joel Stewart on Twitter that the boys were huge fans of the Abney and Teal and that I was investigating the books , he kindly replied (and sent a picture of the Neep soft toy that’s being brought out in a few months, leading to much hysteria here) and said that he and the Abney and Teal team had worked very hard to ensure that the accompanying books were of a high standard.
Stewart, creator of the show and an author and illustrator of other books (including the glorious ‘Dexter Bexley’ books, which I will be reviewing soon) also pointed out that the schedule for producing a television show such as Abney and Teal is incredibly fast-paced and that often one or two series can be completed before the first episode is aired. With this being the case, I am even more impressed that he and his colleagues have managed to create such good books to accompany the programme.
If anyone else has any other great examples of books based on TV programmes then I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m increasingly aware of how much greater a part ‘screen time’ plays in most children’s lives than it did in my own childhood and am therefore keen to seek out great work in the same way as I love finding great books!