STUART SPENDLOW is the author of number one best-seller PENGUINPIG, The Art of Being A Brilliant Primary Teacher and now MONKEYCOW. Fresh on the heels of the UK stage show tour of PENGUINPIG, Stuart is here to tell us all about the world of MONKEYCOW in an exclusive post-launch interview.
1) Where did the idea for Monkeycow come from?
MONKEYCOW just happened to be an additional fictional creature named at the end of PENGUINPIG that was dreamt up during one of the numerous drafts. Upon the release of PENGUINPIG, loads of people kept asking me, “When’s MONKEYCOW coming out then?” and book number three (if you include The Art Of Being A Brilliant Primary Teacher) seemed to have self-titled itself! I just hope people aren’t expecting another ‘cross-breeding of animals’ themed story because they’ll be slightly disappointed…
2) How do you think it can be used well in school?
The main purpose of both PENGUINPIG was to fill a void of fictional stories about online safety for youngsters. Naturally, lots of teachers from around the globe had some awesome ideas for using it and they got across the message of not always believing everything you read online so effectively. With MONKEYCOW, the focus is all about not sharing passwords with anyone – the earlier the message is learnt, the more careful children will be.
3) How do you balance teaching and writing?
I always claim that I have the best job in the world and I’m pretty sure that most teachers will agree with that on most days! But I love trying out new things and taking on projects alongside teaching – it keeps my head creative and sparks a lot of ideas for teaching too. A lot of friends always ask how I find time and the answer is simple – make time; you’ll not regret it!
4) Do you have a 3rd book in the series idea? Any clues for us?!
Haha! I’d love to say yes, but I tend to put a massive chunk of my life into one book and, once it’s released, sit there and think, “What shall we do next then?!” So this is the perfect moment to think about it, right? TIGERSHEEP? STICKMOUSE? OSTRICHRHINO?! Once you’ve caught the writing bug you find yourself drafting books in the most bizarre of situations, so watch this space…
5) Why use a story/book to promote esafety?
Stories are such a great and natural way of capturing children’s imaginations and challenging their ideas. I absolutely love reading to children and the discussions that follow a ‘good book’ are always so rich and powerful. There are a lot of fantastic digital resources out there, but a real lack of physical fiction. So, I decided that a fictional story about online safety would be cheap, accessible and virtually limitless for teachers to make their own and plan ideas from. Oh, and I absolutely love doing all the voices too…