Thursday 4 March 2021 is World Book Day. Many a book has been written about, in or inspired by our National Parks. From the big names of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter to children's author John Miles, who we interviewed for this timely blog about his series of books which connect young readers with National Parks, nature and wildlife.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you arrived at writing books for young audiences....
I have always worked outdoors, from Forestry Commission - often in the National Parks - to working for the RSPB. I went self employed in 1991, which increased my travelling around the world along with a longer stay in Egypt where I fell in love with ‘ancient birds’. I have written several books using that theme from ‘Pharaohs Birds’ to Hadrian’s Wildlife as well as helping folk know where to find birds in a series called ‘Best Birdwatching Sites’ covering several of the National Parks.
It was while researching one of these books I had my moment which triggered the children’s theme watching Kittiwakes by the Hadrian’s Wall Path in the centre of Newcastle sliding down ‘The Sage’ at Gateshead or so I thought. I knew few people were writing ‘real’ wildlife books and was fortunate to start with a publisher and when he died I kept going. Now I have 14 children’s books from Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons to Dung Beetles.
What National Parks feature in your books?
My initial theme was very urban showing children what could be found all around them. This changed with ‘Gowk the Cuckoo’ based and sponsored by The Broads. As a migrant bird to Britain you follow the Cuckoo back to Africa. The Broads National Park even sponsored a Cuckoo with a satellite tag on calling it ‘Gowk’ but sadly the bird died in Spain. The Lake District National Park was used in ‘Liver the Cormorant’. Liver is born on Windermere where Cormorants nest on an island but when winter comes she flies to Liverpool Bay which holds the largest concentration of Cormorants in the UK and where the symbol of the city is the ‘Liver bird’ which is a Cormorant holding a twig for its nest.