Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Duncan Beedie Q & A

21st March 2018


Our reviewers LOVED the gorgeous picture book, The Last Chip by author and illustrator Duncan Beedie and you can read their reviews here. The publishers (Templar) offered the opportunity for one reviewer to ask Duncan 10 questions and we choose the Year 5 class from St. Gabriel's School, Newbury. Their English teacher read the book to the class (including apparently some rather excellent accents!), then the class came up in small groups to reread the book and come up with some questions in their groups. The eagle-eyed among you will spot that there are actually 11 questions but number 11 is rather sweet and don't we all feel a bit like Percy sometimes...?

Year 5 Class, St. Gabriel's School Newbury
Year 5 Class, St. Gabriel's School Newbury

1 Do you like pigeons?

I do like pigeons, especially the scruffy ones you get in town centres. I can't help but feel they get a rough deal and I sympathise. 

2 Where did you get the idea for your book?

The idea simply came to me whilst watching pigeons scurry around for any scraps they could find. My previous books are set in forests, so I wanted to set this story in a city. I thought my home town of Bristol would be apt.

The Last Chip Inside Spread

What made you decide to be an author?

I Had worked in children's media for quite a few years, doing animation for TV, games and apps. Once I became a parent, I began reading picture books from my daughter and the more I read, the more I wanted to tell my own stories.

What made you decide to have a homeless character in your book?

I wan inspired to include the subject of homelessness in the story after a conversation with my daughter after she noticed someone sleeping rough in the street. I couldn't find the answers to her questions, but I thought if a 5 year old girl can be genuinely inquisitive about homelessness, then it's a subject that I shouldn't shy away from putting in my book.

Do you also illustrate your books?

Yes, I've worked as an illustrator primarily for my entire career. Ever since I could hold a pencil, I've been doodling and sketching.

How many books have you written?

The precise answer at the moment is three and a half, in that I have three published and I am currently working on the fourth. There are other ideas bubbling away as well, and lots of hastily drafted notes in various notebooks for other new ideas.

Book pages Placeholder Book

The Bear Who Stared

There once was a bear who liked to stare... and stare... and STARE.

Bear doesn't mean to be rude, he's just curious but too shy to say anything. But nobody likes being stared at and it soon gets Bear into trouble. Luckily a goggly-eyed frog helps Bear realise that sometimes a smile is all you need to turn a stare into a friendly hello.

Book pages Placeholder Book

The Lumberjack's Beard

Every day, Jim the lumberjack chops down trees. When his tree-felling leads to his woodland friends losing their homes, Jim comes up with a brilliant idea that will change the way they share the forest forever.

Book pages Placeholder Book

The Last Chip

Percy is a little pigeon, and he's very hungry. Life on the streets is tough, and every time he tries to get hold of a scrap of food, bigger, beefier birds bat him away. He's about to give up when someone offers him her very last chip. A moving and uplifting story about struggle against adversity and the kindness of strangers.


7 Do you have an idea for your next book?

The next book is about a moth who yearns to fly to the moon. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. When I was a boy I was obsessed with space flight and the NASA shuttle programme, so it's been a joy to do some space related research on this book.

8 Do you books always have animals in?

Aside from a big, bearded lumberjack, animals have featured strongly in all my books. But whenever animals feature they are simply a way of telling human stories in a slightly fluffier, cuter way.

9 How do you decide the names of your characters?

'Big' Jim Hickory came about as hickory is a wood that is mostly used to make axe handles, so I thought that would be an apt name for a lumberjack. I decided not to give the bear from my first book a name at all, simply because I didn't think it was necessary.

10 What books did you like to read when you were younger?

I had a very healthy Mr Men collection when I was a young boy. Aside from that I was always more interested in comics - I loved The Beano in particular. I think it was my love of comics that really drove me to want to be an illustrator when I was older.

11 Do you sometimes feel like Percy?

Thankfully, I don't think I've ever been as desperate for food as Percy. It is always pleasant if you've ever been on the receiving end of a stranger's generosity though. I think that's something we can all empathise with.

Inside spread of beachfront from The Last Chip

A huge thank you to the Year 5 class from St. Gabriel's School, Newbury. Duncan Beedie's next book will be out in 2019.

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