One of our talented BISP teachers, Neil Griffith has just published his first children’s book. Neil, who has worked as an Early Years teacher for 6 years wrote and illustrated his story, “The Angry Banana” during the recent lockdown. The book follows the exploits of a banana who gets increasingly annoyed as other fruit are chosen before him in the fruit bowl. There is a nice mixture of children’s rhymes, counting fun, and even a song from the Fine Young Pineapples. The book also has a cheeky ending guaranteed to have children in stitches! Whilst collecting quotes from toddlers was a challenge, we managed to speak to Olivia (aged 2) about her opinion. Her verdict? “That’s so funny!”
We sat down with Neil and asked him a few questions about the Angry Banana.
What made you decide to write a children’s book?
The recent period of lockdown and time spent at home gave me the chance to be creative and learn something new. This is my first picture book and I learned a lot about keeping the story short and sweet, as well as making sure there are enough cheeky jokes in there to capture children’s attention!
As an Early Years teacher and parent, I am always looking for fun ways to talk to children about social skills, as well as managing feelings and behaviour. What started as a silly story told to my own children ended up becoming a book that I wrote and illustrated myself.
Where did the idea about an angry banana come from?
It was as random as it sounds! I knew that I wanted to write a story about a character who needs help regulating strong emotions. So, it was always going to be an Angry something or another. I went through a number of possibilities but settled on The Angry Banana because it had a nice sound to it. Almost as soon as I had a name, I sketched him out and he came to life.
Could you describe The Angry Banana?
The Angry Banana is a simple counting book for children aged 2 to 6 years old, with a story that teaches us to be patient and calm. Counting to 10 is not only a useful mathematical skill, it is also a great way to keep a cool head when we are feeling grumpy!
My illustrations were carefully designed to prompt questions from parents and teachers that will help children to develop their foundational understanding of numbers, or ‘number sense’. I have included a page with teaching tips at the back of the book to help with this.
How has the book been received?
My first batch of books sold out really quickly, and it has been amazing to receive so many positive responses from children, parents and teachers alike. To hear that children have been asking for the book to be read over and over is probably the best news I could have received. As long as they are enjoying it, I feel as though it has been a success!
What are your plans for the future – is this going to be the first in a series?
I am already receiving orders from people in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and The UK, so he will be an International Angry Banana very soon! I am excited about promoting this book a little more, and seeing how far I can make him travel.