Puttock, Simon

views updated

Puttock, Simon


Born in New Zealand. Education: University of Newcastle, degree (English literature). Hobbies and other interests: Collecting textiles and cacti, travel, silver-smithing, painting, swimming.


Home—Edinburgh, Scotland. Agent—c/o Rosemary Canter, PDF, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.


Children's book author. Worked variously as a bakery worker and disc jockey; bookseller, then manager of children's department of a Newcastle book shop, begin- ning c. 1996. Guest lecturer in picture books at University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; judge for Whitbread Children's Award and Kathleen Fidler Award. Presenter to schools; former musician.

Awards, Honors

Highland Book Award, 2006, for A Ladder to the Stars; Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books, 2006, for Little Lost Cowboy.



Coral Goes Swimming, illustrated by Stephen Lambert, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2000.

"Here I Am!" Said Smedley, illustrated by Martin and Ann Chatterton, Mammoth (London, England), 2000, Crabtree (New York, NY), 2002.

Big Bad Wolf Is Good, illustrated by Lynn Chapman, Gullane (London, England), 2001.

A Ladder to the Stars, illustrated by Alison Jay, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

A Story for Hippo: A Book about Loss, illustrated by Alison Bartlett, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Squeaky Clean, illustrated by Mary McQuillan, Bodley Head (London, England), 2001 Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Who's the Boss Rhinoceros?, illustrated by Mary Quillan, Egmont (London, England), 2002.

Pig's Digger, illustrated by Alison Bartlett, Egmont (London, England), 2002.

You're Too Big, illustrated by Emily Bolam, Doubleday (London, England), 2003.

I'm Coming to Eat You on Thursday, Macmillan (London, England), 2003.

Mademoiselle Gorilla, illustrated by Nicola Slater, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.

Horsey, illustrated by Russell Julian, Egmont (London, England), 2004.

The Day the Baby Blew Away, illustrated by Cathy Gale, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2004.

Pig's Prize, illustrated by Alison Bartlett, Egmont (London, England), 2004.

Dear Father Giles, HarperCollins (London, England), 2004.

Little Lost Cowboy, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2005.

Wild West Winnie, illustrated by Ross Collins, Macmillan (London, England), 2005.

Don't Count Your Chickens, Macmillan (London, England), 2005.

Stella to Earth, illustrated by Philip Hopman, HarperCollins (London, England), 2005, published as Earth to Stella, Clarion (New York, NY), 2006.

Miss Fox, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2006.

Butterfly Girl, Hodder (London, England), 2006.

The Little Old Lady Who Cried Wolf, Macmillan (London, England), 2007.

Don't Bug Me, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2007.

Goat and Donkey in Strawberry Sunglasses, illustrated by Russell Julian, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2007.

Goat and Donkey in the Great Outdoors, illustrated by Russell Julian, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2007.

Contributor of book reviews to www.Jubileebooks.co.uk/.


By the time Simon Puttock turned eight years old he was a world traveler, having lived in New Zealand, Australia, Trinidad, Barbados, and England. He was also determined to become a writer when he grew up. As an adult, Puttock still indulges in similar passions: traveling around the world and writing books for children. His books, which have won several awards in his adopted Scottish homeland, include A Story for Hippo: A Book about Loss, A Ladder to the Stars, Horsey, and Earth to Stella! A "good-humored tribute to the power of imagination," in the opinion of a Kirkus Reviews writer, Earth to Stella! follows a young astronaut-in-training as her imagination transforms a bedtime ritual into a trip to the stars. Noting Puttock's depiction of a "visibly loving" father-daughter relationship in Earth to Stella!, Wanda Meyers-Hines also praised the "innovative" illustrations by Danish artist Philip Hopman, dubbing the book "a stellar choice for independent readers."

Puttock's books often feature lovable animal characters that reflect the feelings of their intended toddler audience. In You're Too Big! Elephant excitedly attends his first day of preschool, but when he tries to join in the games of new friends Hyena, Mouse, and Lion, his size and slow pace ultimately cause problems. The new student's dejection turns to delight, however, when his mother arrives at the end of the day, her arms open wide for a loving hug. Noting Puttock's themes of tolerance and diversity, School Library Journal contributor John Sigwald wrote that Puttock's "simple story" is enhanced by "charming, kid-friendly" illustrations by Emily Bolam. Described by Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg as a "lighthearted" tale that will cause even the "staunchest bath opponents to "reconsider their position," Squeaky Clean finds three dusty piglets herded into the bathtub by Mama Pig, protesting all the way. When they discover that bath toys are as fun to play with as outside toys, the savvy oinklets are determined to get grubby again, hoping that another bubble bath will be waiting. "Puttock's prose favors brisk, rollicking rhythms," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic in a review of Squeaky Clean. In Kirkus Reviews a contributor noted Puttock's ability to build "kid-sized cliffhangers" into his tubby-time tale and concluded that his story "is good-humored and filled with bubbly language."

One of two books that follow the antics of a pair of fast friends, Goat and Donkey in Strawberry Sunglasses finds absent-minded Goat preparing to do the grocery

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

shopping with a list Donkey has carefully drawn up. Unfortunately, the many choices facing Goat when he arrives at the store cause the helpful animal to stray. Rather than fruits and vegetables and the always-important ice cream, Donkey is surprised when Goat pulls a trumpet, a hat, pink sunglasses, and even a toy octopus from his grocery bags. Goat and Donkey in Strawberry Sunglasses is enlivened by humorous artwork by Russell Julian, an illustrator that also teams with Puttock on Horsey. Two animals are also the focus of this story, but this time the animals are the stuffed toys that come to life and have adventures after their infant owner has gone to sleep. In a review of Horsey for the London Guardian, Julia Eccleshare dubbed the book "a delightful bedtime adventure."

In Puttock's award-winning picture book A Ladder to the Stars he introduces a seven year old who wishes on a star that she could dance among the twinkling lights in the night sky. When her wish is heard by a star far away, the star causes a tree in the girl's yard to grow … and grow … and grow. For years and years the tree grows taller and taller, until the girl becomes an old woman and her wish, repeated again with in the star's hearing, is now granted. Praising Puttock's "lyrical" depiction of the life cycle, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, writing in School Library Journal, also noted the warm-toned folk-style paintings contributed by Alison Jay. Author and illustrator are "well matched for understated elegance in word and illustration," Van Vleck concluded.

Teaming up with artist Alison Bartlett, Puttock addresses another poignant subject in A Story for Hippo, which focuses on the close friendship enjoyed by spunky young Monkey, shy young Chameleon, and the elderly hippo that ultimately passes away. While a Kirkus Reviews writer cited A Story for Hippo for its loving portrait of a friendship between "an older and younger animal," Booklist contributor John Peters deemed the work a purposeful picture book … that sensitively explores the topic" of death.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, December 1, 2001, John Peters, review of A Story for Hippo: A Book about Loss, p. 650; June 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Squeaky Clean, p. 1743.

Canadian Review of Materials, November 1, 2002, review of Here I Am! Said Smedley.

Guardian (London, England), July 10, 2004, Julia Eccle-share, review of Horsey.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of A Story for Hippo, p. 1130; February 15, 2002, review of Squeaky Clean, p. 263; September 1, 2002, review of Big Bad Wolf Is Good, p. 1318; July 1, 2004, review of You're Too Big!, p. 635; April 1, 2006, review of Earth to Stella!, p. 355.

Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2001, review of A Ladder to the Stars, p. 64; February 4, 2002, review of Squeaky Clean, p. 75.

Resource Links, April, 2002, review of Here I Am! Said Smedley, p. 13.

School Library Journal, November, 2001, Kathy M. Newby, review of A Story for Hippo, p. 133; January, 2002, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of A Ladder to the Stars, p. 108; April, 2002, Mary Elam, review of Squeaky Clean, p. 120; August, 2002, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Big Bad Wolf Is Good, p. 164; July, 2004, Jane Barrer, review of The Day the Baby Blew Away, p. 86; December, 2004, John Sigwald, review of You're Too Big!, p. 118; March, 2006, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Earth to Stella!, p. 200.


Books, Reading, and Writing: Network for the Scottish Children's Book Web site,http://www.braw.org.uk (April 15, 2007), "Simon Puttock."

Egmont Books Web site,http://www.egmont.co.uk/ (April 15, 2007), "Simon Puttock."