Publisher of the Month: Keppel Publishing and the Rory Stories
It seems fitting that the inspiration for one of Scotland's most popular series of children's books can be traced to telling bedtime stories to a tiny tot. Andrew Wolffe, author of the best-selling Rory Stories picture books, came up with some seaside tales of a little boy called Rory and his mischievous dog, Scruff McDuff, when his own son was only a few months old. (Just in case you're wondering, Andrew's son isn't called Rory and he doesn't have a shock of red hair that defies gravity. It is true, however, that the family dog used to be a Scottish terrier but that's another story!) Little did Andrew realise that within a matter of a few years, he would be sharing those same stories, and some new ones, with fans of all ages.
Based in the fictitious coastal village of Sandy Bay, there's always a touch of magic in every Rory Story, which means that Rory and his friends can do things and go places that boring grown ups can only dream about. The combination of lively illustrations, memorable characters and imaginative twists in the tale seem to have struck a chord with pre-school children and early readers, with over 56,000 copies of the books sold since the launch of the first two books back in 1999.
There are currently seven, full-colour picture books in the series, with exciting adventures ranging from rescuing a rock pool stranded whale to taking to the air, courtesy of a flying fish. Many of the stories are inspired by the author's happy memories of childhood visits to the beach and his continuing love of being by the sea. Perhaps capturing the fun and carefree pleasure of playing at the beach is one of the secrets of Rory's success? But there's no doubt that telling the story would be half as much fun without the bright, colourful illustrations by Tom Cole, which bring the characters and their adventures to life in such a unique way.
Acclaim for the Rory Stories
"Rory's seaside adventures are gentle and delightful. He's a splendid character."
"Rory is fast establishing himself as a most endearing character. The encounter is as close, chummy and reassuring as any of us could hope for."
"The large text and bright illustrations make the Rory Stories series perfect for children reading alone for the first time."
"The Rory Stories do what they say on the cover - and their success lies in their humour and innocence."
"I like Rory's hair. He has the same hair as my brother. I like Scruff McDuff because he is very funny."
KELLY, AGED 5.
Andrew Wolffe was born and raised in Gatehouse of Fleet, south west Scotland. A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, Andrew is a graphic designer with his own busy consultancy based in rural Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The launch of The Rory Stories in 1999, marked Andrew's debut as a children's author and since then he has been in demand at book readings and literary events such as the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He is married and has three young children, who are perfect for testing new ideas for stories about Rory. Andrew is a Reading Champion, as part of Read Together!, the Scottish Executive's home reading initiative, which aims to encourage parents and carers to read with their children from the earliest age.
What is the inspiration behind The Rory Stories?
I came up with the idea for Rory and his adventures while telling stories to my then baby son during a summer holiday at the beach where I played as a child.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Being with my family, fly fishing, gardening, going for walks especially on the beach and, if I had more spare time, I would get back to doing some drawing and painting.
What do you most enjoy about The Rory Stories?
Doing readings and seeing children's faces light up as they become caught up in the characters and fun of the stories.
What are your plans for future Rory Stories?
One of the great things about Rory is that he can do anything, go anywhere and have all kinds of exciting adventures with lots of different characters. I've got plenty of ideas for new stories that I will be developing during the next year or so.
What kind of books did you most enjoy reading as a child?
I always enjoyed books with lots of pictures in them and books with animal characters who spoke and thought like humans - a bit like The Rory Stories come to think of it.
The talent behind the lively, colourful illustrations in The Rory Stories is Tom Cole. Born and raised in Oxfordshire, Tom is a graduate of Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he studied photography. Now living in Oxford, Tom is the creative director of the design department of an educational publisher and does illustration and draws cartoons in his free time. Rory and his Rock Pool Adventure was Tom's first published book.
When did you first decide to try your hand at illustration?
I've wanted to draw for as long as I can remember. In primary school I illustrated stories written by my friends. By the time I had graduated from university, I'd had several commissions that encouraged me to explore doing it professionally.
When was your first commission?
I was about 15 and still at school. A charity called Save the Rhino had approached my art teacher and asked if he knew anyone who could draw cartoons. The charity then commissioned me to draw several rhino cartoons to appear on promotional material and T-shirts.
What is your idea of the perfect day off?
I think it would be visiting old haunts in Edinburgh with some good friends on a breezy autumn day.
What is your all-time favourite children's book?
It's difficult to name just one, however, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl was fantastic! The edition I had was not illustrated, so in terms of illustration it would be any book illustrated by Quentin Blake. But it was the Asterix books that first inspired me to draw.
How would you describe Rory?
Rory is always occupied and if he's not having an adventure, he's dreaming of one!
Who is your favourite Rory Stories character?
Definitely Rory. He's a really fun character; but apart from him, I have to confess a fondness for the whale in Rory and his Rock Pool Adventure