I discovered Nigel Hinton’s work when I was at primary school – my teacher of the time, Mr Galbraith, used to read a chapter of a book to us each day and one time he chose a book called Beaver Towers and I fell in love (with the book, not my teacher…)
Something about the world of Beaver Towers, the baby beaver who can’t say Phillip properly (‘Flipip!’) and the three Mechanics (hedgehog siblings), the magic and mystery and danger clicked with me and I wanted it all and I wanted it now.
I’m fairly sure he read us the whole series – or at least the first two or three – and after each one I dragged my Mum down to the library so that I could get it out and read it again (and again and again). There was just something about the books that I couldn’t get enough of – I bought myself copies of the entire series when I was studying a Writing For Young People module at university because I wanted to read them all again, even then.
Now I think about it, Mr Galbraith introduced me to a lot of books I adored and it was definitely him who really kindled my desire to write and planted the determination in me to carry English through to at least college level (and in the end, University too). He also kept poking me to get my handwriting to an at least readable level so that when I did my writing other people could actually understand what on earth I’d put on the page – my writing is still scruffy but it’s a lot better than I think it would have been without his stubborn coaching!
My next Nigel Hinton discovery was The Finders, which my Mum gave me for Christmas and I have also read and re-read it countless times. A story of magic and faith in friends, The Finders ticked all my boxes with flying, furry angels and an angry Djinn (a great word for Scrabble I have since discovered – lots of points and several alternative spellings!) I know it so well I can picture scenes from it in my head as I type and am now fighting the urge to grab it off the shelf behind me and read it again. If you ever want to buy a book for a nine-year-old, I suggest this one or the Beaver Towers books – they are great.