Usually I’m not a massive fan of TV adaptations of books but I must admit that I came across the children’s TV version of The Queens Nose before my Mum bought me the book (with the TV tie-in cover). I think it was the brilliant casting that carried the series – I seem to remember there was more than one in the end, leaving the confines of the book long behind but still keeping the Dick-King-Smith-ness intact.
Whatever it was, The Queens Nose captured my imagination and I still sometimes find myself absent mindedly rubbing the Queen’s head side of a 50p if I happen to have one in my hand (although it is infinitely less satisfying now the coins are so much smaller than they were.) It had the perfect balance of humour, magic, people and animals, which was all I really asked for in books when I was a child. Actually, not much has changed when I think about it…
Dick King-Smith was a master at writing books I loved to death and I think that came down to the simple fact that he was an animal lover and that shone through his writing and resonated with me. I loved his series about Sophie and her desperation for a pony – this reminded me a bit of my big sister who is horse crazy, still – and her other pets such as Puddle the puppy. Sophie was clumsy and stubborn and made me chuckle – I must have read and re-read that series countless times and it never got old.
There are so very many Dick King-Smith books that I have fallen in love with over the years: Babe, Saddlebottom, Ace, The Invisible Dog, All Pigs Are Beautiful, The School Mouse, Smasher and probably others that I can’t remember off the top of my head.
The two most loved, though, are a short story called Jenius The Amazing Guinea Pig and I Love Guinea Pigs.
Dick King-Smith clearly had a thing about pigs in general and guinea pigs were no exception. Jenius is possibly my all time favourite short story from my all time favourite short story collection (The Upside-down Mice and Other Stories) and is all about a clever little guinea pigs who can do all kinds of tricks. Up until the time his owner takes him into school to show off how amazing he is and then he gets scared by a cat and doesn’t do anything at all. Simple but adorable, funny and with a message about pride and showing off at its heart, it’s just a lovely short story for kids.
I Love Guinea Pigs is a non-fiction picture books about guinea pigs, their history and how to care for them. Inside, Dick King-Smith shares memories of his own guinea pigs over the years and their characters along with information about the noises guinea pigs make and what they mean, what they like to eat, etc. I own few books so read as that one and yet it is still in really good condition because I loved it so very much – I can pretty much read it/see all the pictures in my head without having to open it and I still know exactly where it is (on the bookshelf behind where I’m sitting) because for all Tori and Arthur have access to it, it is still my book and I am going to look after it forever. Because I love guinea pigs too and it always felt a little bit like Dick King-Smith had written that book just for me and me alone.