“I remember reading ‘The Butterfly Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast’ as a boy and being absolutely captivated,” says Rik Carpenter.
“I loved the clever storyline and the beautiful illustrations. I read it over and over and totally connected with the characters – forgetting completely that they were creepy crawlies!”
The Sheffield teacher has just released his first book, ‘Stinky and his Mate’ which is earmarked to be the first in his Creepy Crawly Stories collection. The book follows a swarm of flies as they try to survive a hazardous journey through a neighbourhood. Along the way, they come up with a cunning plan to avoid being eaten by a flock of birds, there is a scary and fateful meeting with three wicked spiders, and a kaleidoscopic butterfly pal who uses her artistic skills to help the swarm through the dangerous woods.
“Insects come in many different colours, shapes, and sizes, and just like us they are “different but the same’,” explains the 57-year-old father-of-two.
“Although they may at first, in our ignorance, seem insignificant, we soon learn to recognise their true value and worth.
“I believe my writing, by focusing on insects and creepy crawlies, allows the reader and listener to explore difficult topics such as equality, diversity, and bullying, and allows children to understand the importance of being different.
“Writers, like everybody else, are influenced by the era they grew up in, and those around them, along with what they watch, listen to, and read. Butch and Sundance, The Magnificent Seven, The Wizard of Oz, The Beatles, Jaws, and the three witches from Macbeth all either make an appearance or are integrated into ‘Stinky and his mate’ as a result.”
Rik, a master decorator by trade, who teaches at the Construction and Design Centre in Sheffield, wrote the original draft of Stinky and his Mate 25 years ago, when his own children were babies. He stumbled across it again five years ago, and began amending it. He then teamed up with freelance illustrator Peter Hudspith to bring the world of Stinky to life.
“I think that children are the most important people in the world, and if we can get them reading early, and let them develop a sense of fun as well as knowledge and understanding, they'll take that withthem,” says Rik.
“I think a fun environment helps children learn and develop quicker, and I believe it will give us the Roald Dahl's and the J. K. Rowling's of the future – so here's to children having fun.”