Published on Saturday, November 11th, 2023
A report by Dick’s son Giles King-Smith:
On October 18th I visited the Batts School in Witney, Oxfordshire, at the invitation of Jane Woodage, who teaches there, and who (quite a long time ago) used to babysit our children in Corsham.
It was a lovely visit, to talk about my Dad, and about “Ambrose Follows His Nose” and Josie Rogers (who finished Dick’s unfinished story), and to read from his books. The photo shows me walking across the stage, in a very poor impersonation of Max as he crosses the road, just before he is hit on the head and becomes a Hodgeheg. I should have crawled!
We had a session for the Juniors, and then a session for the Infants; and in between I scuttled (like a hodgeheg) across to Reception, and read them the beginning of “George Speaks”. The bit where Laura says to baby George, “You look like a little pig”, and George astounds her with “Pig yourself!”, always gets them laughing, to the point where the teacher has to shush them and restore order.
The attention, and the questions, from the children were really impressive. And, more than that, halfway through, one of the teachers (the English lead) emerged with a very tall stack of Dick King-Smith books from their library, for them to borrow at break-time. There was a lot of enthusiasm to borrow the copy of “Ambrose” (signed by Josie) that I gave them, along with the 40th Anniversary edition of “The Sheep Pig”.
These school visits are so rewarding, and they remind me that Dick’s books are still brilliant for primary children – and that his message about the value of reading (and writing) is really worth sharing.