Ben Davis is an award-winning children's author whose books include The Private Blog of Joe Cowley and The Soup Movement. Before he became an author, Ben wrote jokes and sketches for radio shows. He lives in Tamworth with his family, works as a postal delivery worker, and in his spare time enjoys rock climbing, white-water rafting and pretending to have adventurous hobbies.
James Lancett is a UK based illustrator, storyboard artist and yellow sock lover! As a child growing up in Cardiff he was obsessed with cartoons, video games and all things fantasy. He studied BA Illustration and Animation at Kingston University and he now works as an illustrator and storyboarder for cartoons.
Lenny Lemmon and the Trail of Crumbs! (Nosy Crow)
Author Ben Davis turns to school stories and all the things that can go wrong in the classroom with his new series about Lenny Lemmon, a boy who tries to do the right thing but who can't help getting it wrong.... In Lenny Lemmon and the Trail of Crumbs, a Very Important Person is coming to the school...and Lenny's attempts to make sure the visit goes smoothly go wrong, and chaos follows.
Author Ben Davis tells us more about Lenny Lemmon and how memories of his own school days help to shape these stories:
Q&A with Ben Davis
"I'm slightly ashamed to say that I do laugh at some of my own stuff, very much in that classic Dad way."
1. Who is Lenny Lemmon and what are his adventures about? What happens in the latest book, Lenny Lemmon and the Trail of Crumbs?
Lenny is a boy who tries his best to help, but tends to make things worse! In Trail of Crumbs, the school is due a visit by its chief executive and rumours abound that she could close it down, forcing the kids to attend the terrifying Birch Hill school instead. On the day of her visit, Lenny and his friends, along with the hyperactive school support dog, Crumbs, are banished to the PE supplies container to count shuttlecocks. When they realise what's happening, they make their escape. And it all goes terribly wrong from there.
2. How do Lenny and his friends manage to cause so much chaos?
So, first they try and help. When that goes wrong, they try and put things right, which only makes things go even wronger. Rinse and repeat. That's the magic Lenny formula.
3. Do you laugh out loud when you're writing these books? What's the funniest moment for you in the new book?
I'm slightly ashamed to say that I do laugh at some of my own stuff, very much in that classic Dad way. The bit that got me was when Crumbs ripped down a Brilliant Teachers display in the staff room, only to reveal a 'Countdown to Summer' poster and a 'difficult pupils' section, which for some reason has a photo of Lenny on it.
4. What children's books and TV series make you laugh?
If we're talking books, Pamela Butchart does it for me. TV series has to be the Amazing World of Gumball, which is miles funnier than lots of adult comedies.
5. The Lenny Lemmon books are set in Lenny's school - does writing the stories remind you of your own school days? (good or bad!)
They absolutely do. The school I picture when I write it is my primary school, and there are parts of it which are absolutely inspired by my time there: the strict divide between playgrounds, the little kids being terrified of the big kids, teachers acting differently when visitors are there, etc.
6. Do your author visits to schools help give you ideas or characters for your stories?
They certainly help me in stay in that kid mindset when I'm writing, which is vital to the Lenny books. Listening to the way they tell stories and express themselves is a huge inspiration.
7. What or who inspired you to base this story around a support dog, Crumbs?
I've met one or two library dogs in my time, and it's always a delight! The support dog idea was actually suggested to me by a friend and Crumbs himself is based on a dog we once owned. He was a Border Collie and every bit as wild as Crumbs.
8. What do you think the illustrations by James Lancett bring to the story?
Oh, I love them so much and they bring an extra dimension to the story. To read about Crumbs destroying a table of cakes is one thing, but with James's illustrations, you actually get to see it in all its glory.
9. What else do you have planned for Lenny Lemmon?
I can't reveal too much or the Head Crow at Nosy Crow might come and peck me, but let's just say Lenny's next adventure is . . . OUT OF THIS WORLD!
10. Where and when do you write your books? How do you fit in writing around your working day as a postal delivery worker? And what does 'time off' look like?
I tend to get a lot of work done in the kitchen, usually early in the morning or in the evening. These days I get it done whenever I can, though. Sometimes even on my phone when I'm on my break!
A day off to me is usually a little gym session, watch a bit of TV, read a bit, then do some writing because I can't help myself. Super boring, sorry!