‘Thimble and the Girl From Mars,’ by Jon Blake, illustrated by Martin Chatterton.

The very first Thimble Monkey adventure: ‘Thimble Monkey Superstar,’ was shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Book awards. The series now has a fourth LOL-worthy instalment in the form of ‘Thimble and the Girl From Mars.’ Make sure you read author, Jon Blake’s piece featuring eight (possibly) interesting facts about the creation of this story.

‘Once again, Thimble causes chaos in Dawson Castle, the bungalow home of failed children’s author Douglas Dawson and his disabled son Jams. This time, however, there is a new character on the scene: Bunches Rattigan, a feisty, football-playing, internet-savvy girl from Mars (or so Jams sees her). When Bunches sets her sights on Thimble, and Jams makes an ill-advised bet with her, the scene is set for a struggle for Thimble’s affections which leads to both hilarious and downright dangerous adventures.’

This book is just as packed with hilarious hi-jinks as its predecessors. Young readers will find lots to laugh about as Thimble gets up to his usual tricks! Chatterton’s lively illustrations help make this text even more accessible to children aged 7+

As well as being a whole lot of fun, this book also touches on a range of more mature themes: disability, fostering and home-schooling. It’s one of the great strengths of funny books that they can help open up conversations about a huge variety of topics which might otherwise be tricky.

Now it’s time for: ‘8 (possibly) interesting facts about Thimble and the Girl From Mars (TAGFM)’ – by Jon Blake.

1. Thimble and the Girl from Mars are both based on the same person.

The inspiration for Thimble came from my daughter Zazie when she was a very random toddler and did all kinds of crazy things, like drawing huge crosses all over the walls in felt pen.  Now she’s eleven (and fiercely competitive with her older brother) I based the character of Bunches on her.

2. I had to buy a desk to write TAGFM.

As it was lockdown and I had a partner and two kids using all the desks in the house, I had to buy an exam desk and install it in my attic bedroom so I could write undisturbed. . .until the cat decided it was her desk.

3. TAGFM was my second book to be named after a song.

Girl from Mars was a hit for Ash in nineteen ninety-something. Around that time I wrote The King of Rock and Roll after a Prefab Sprout single.

4. I wrote Chapter 1 years before the rest of the book.

I got the idea for a scene involving Dad. Thimble and a game of tiddlywinks while walking around Avebury in 2017 but did not know what to do with it!

5. Jams’s poem in chapter five was not written by me.

Jams’ kitten poem was actually written by my son Jordi, the model for Jams.  He was six years old at the time.  The next poem he wrote won a RSPB national competition. I am hoping he will soon start writing my books for me.

6. The words in TAGFM were written in Wales. The pictures came from Australia.

I write all my books in Cardiff, but Martin Chatterton was in Australia when he did the illustrations for this one. This could never have happened when we first started doing books together, because there was no internet!

7. All the settings are based on places in Wales

I never use real place names in my books, but I always have a real place in mind when I write scenes. Tomcats Park is based on Thompsons Park in Cardiff, for example. The donkey scene is based on Sandy Bay in Porthcawl and the clifftop scene is based on Nash Point, not far away from there.

8. The first Thimble book came out in 2016, but the character of Joe Trendo first appeared in 2003.

Joe Trendo, the superstar author much despised by Jams’ dad, first appeared in The Deadly Secret of Dorothy W, and that is where you will find the only visual portrayal of him, by the illustrator Korky Paul. As I never tire of saying, he is not based on any real person!

Interesting facts indeed. I can definitely empathise with having to share lockdown desk space with a cat!

Happy reading, Thimble fans!

Library Girl.

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