This month's Parakeet book is a real treat. A gentle and inspiring animal adventure with a gorgeous coastal setting, charming characters and beautiful illustrations, Call the Puffins is perfect for newly independent readers. Plus it's the first in a new series which we know our subscribers are going to love! We quizzed author Cath Howe on what inspired the book and which other books with animal characters she recommends you read next.
What inspired you to write Call the Puffins?
I used to spend my childhood holidays in Scotland, in Kintyre. I’ve always loved wild spaces by the sea. The story was also inspired by finding out all about carrier pigeons in wartime. In the human world we have helpful teams who train for badges in organisations like the Scouts and Brownies and they interested me too.
Puffins look amazing, like lifeguards in bright uniforms with orange beaks and feet and black and white markings. They seem busy and purposeful, but they are also quite funny to watch.
What research did you do and did you learn anything about puffins that surprised you?
I wanted the stories to be as close as possible to the world of real puffins, so my rescue team are living in burrows on the cliffs. While I was writing the stories, I visited the Island of Skomer in Pembrokeshire and watched puffins diving off the rocks and the busy life of their burrows. Puffins’ beaks have barbs at the back so they can collect lots of fish without dropping any. I also discovered that sometimes their beaks light up in the dark- that’s such a cool thing.
What quality do you think is the most important for a member of the Puffin Rescue Team?
Teamwork. I think these puffins need to look out for each other and help each other when things get tricky.
What message would you like young readers to take away from the book?
The puffins in my stories find ways to cheer themselves up and encourage each other. They sing a promise each day.
Here it is:
I promise to be unflappable
To bravely cross the sea and sky
To rescue eggs and also birds
It may not work, but I’ll always try.
I hope young readers will enjoy the spirit of the puffins - they always have a go and try to make life better. I think that’s a good way to live.
Can you tell us anything about what happens next to Muffin?
In the next story, Muffin and Tiny have become firm friends. Book 2 tells the story of Tiny who is finding the training hard and has to do The Egg Challenge. But a dangerous rescue awaits both of them which is a big test.
Why did you choose to write books for this age group?
This is an age group who are curious about the world and full of questions and ideas. I really enjoy working with this age group in schools. I absolutely love writing the puffin rescue stories because they are so joyful.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I write my stories standing at a very old clerk’s desk which used to be in a hotel in Dundee- it’s 160 years old. I like to think of all the people who have written at it over the years.
What other books with animal characters would you recommend our subscribers read next?
Other books I would recommend:
Helen Peters’ Jasmine Green series about real animals.
The Adventures of Harry Stevenson by Ali Pye - stories about a very plucky guinea pig.
Max The Detective Cat by Sarah Todd Taylor - a mystery-solving mouse-hunting cat.
The Dragon in the Library by Louie Stowell - a fun fantasy about Kit’s discovery in a library.
Copies of our Call the Puffins pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!
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