P Posted by Sandra on October 2 2013 0 Comments Dougie Poynter, McFLY, News

Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter are better known for playing in pop-punk band McFly, but now they’re causing a stir in the world of children’s literature, finds Alice Vincent.

Many musicians have ventured into the realm of children’s literature, inlcuding Madonna, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney. But Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter, better known for being members of British pop-punk band McFly, are possibly the first to write about poo.

It’s an unavoidable fact: the stuff’s in the title of both of their children’s books, The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas and The Dinosaur That Pooped A Planet, and possibly a bigger USP than their celebrity backgrounds. As half of McFly, a band which has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, they have sold more than 10 million records, and their first book followed suit, selling more than 72,000 copies and becoming the most popular debut children’s novel of 2012. Their defecating dinosaur has nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter.

Both Fletcher, McFly’s lead singer, and Poynter, the band’s bassist, admit that “not every parent wants to read their children stories about poo”, but they point out, ahead of their appearance at Bath Festival of Children’s Literature that it’s what “kids want to hear stories about”. “It’s so much more nerve wrecking reading in front of kids than performing in front of a few thousand people”, Poynter says, “because kids don’t lie. If they don’t find it funny they just won’t laugh. With children you can tell on their faces if the stuff isn’t good.”

The pair will be doing two readings and a question and answer session with their readers at the festival, one of their first major public appearances as authors. Tousle-haired, tattooed and in their late twenties, Poynter and Fletcher admit that they don’t fit the children’s author type; but they know what they are up against. Fletcher explains, “We had absolutely no experience in writing kids books and its a very competitive market. But we buy and read a lot of children’s books and we felt that our books had that extra something we were always looking for.”

Poynter has another view: “Julia Donaldson [creator of the bestselling Gruffalo franchise] is the One Direction of the children’s book world. We’re hot on her heels.”

The Dinosaur books are written in rhyme and follow the adventures of Danny, who was given a dinosaur to teach him a lesson for always wanting “things to be more amazing, more exciting and better than all of his friends”. He learns the hard way when the dinosaur eats, Grinch-style, Christmas. Danny is left with nothing, until the dinosaur kindly “poops” it out, “because he has a heart”, explains Poynter.

In the space-orientated follow-up, Danny and the Dinosaur’s friendship has blossomed, a relationship Poynter said “inspired us to write a lot more”. The Dr Seuss books, Fletcher claims, are a major inspiration: “They are the most incredibly written books and I love how stylised they are. They’re funny and silly but they still have a heart, which is something Dougie and I wanted with ours. It’s not just the poop jokes, we want you to care about our characters.”

Poynter explains that a lot of the writing process takes place in the long waits that come with life on the road. The band are currently polishing off their sixth album, and both Poynter and Fletcher compare the songwriting process with that of their books. Although both stress the hard work that has gone into them, it also seems to have been a bit of a laugh: “All these books are are me and Tom joking around with each other. We don’t take it too seriously.” It doesn’t sound like a sentiment that will go down well in the children’s literature camp. But, perhaps as with their music – which has long been snubbed by proper punk and rock fans for being lightweight, but continues to do well – the proof will be in the poop.



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