‘It’s cold in the park in winter’ are the very first words from the very first Percy the Park Keeper story, in One Snowy Night, in 1991. Nick Butterworth wrote them just after he’d come home from a walk in his local park, where he’d seen the park keeper’s hut with the door open, looking all cosy on this cold and frosty morning. And it was here the idea for Percy the Park Keeper, living in a hut, with the park for his garden and the animals that live there as his friends, was born. From 1991 to 2004 there were six books published in this series – One Snowy Night (1991); After The Storm (1993); The Rescue Party (1993); The Secret Path (1995); The Treasure Hunt (1997); Percy’s Bumpy Ride (2004) – followed by One Springy Day fifteen years later and in September this year (2022) A Flying Visit. I for one, am very glad this idea grew into these delightful stories. My now adult son absolutely loved this series over half a century ago, and as a three-year-old, park visits were always as Percy with a green coat, cap and wheelbarrow. Such happy, joyful memories.
In A Flying Visit the story opens on an autumn day with the hedgehog dreaming about being able to fly when he is suddenly woken by a bird falling and hanging upside down in the tree, all tangled up in a washing line. He asks hedgehog for help and a sandwich but not to tell anyone and from here the fun begins. Percy and all the other animals eventually all come along and in return, Carla, the seagull, offers to help hedgehog realise his dream of flying. I won’t spoil how this happens but there is a lovely fold-out page section in the book at this point; a feature we have come to love with this series (remember the maze in The Secret Path?).
This heart-warming story has all the winning ingredients of the Percy the Park Keeper stories: humour, kindness, friendship and teamwork and is sure to capture the hearts of a new generation of young readers. A book filled with illustrations that spark joy, to share at bedtime and read aloud with children in early years classrooms that will be sure to inspire them to go outdoors and create their own park adventures.
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