What’s next for One Button Benny?

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Fans of the lovable robot are in for a treat with his next eagerly awaited adventure coming soon.

For those who can’t wait until the sequel One Button Benny and The Giant Catastrophe lands in UK bookshops on August 8, Benny’s creator, author Alan Windram, has been invited to read the follow-up to his award-winning One Button Benny as part of this year’s online Borders Book Festival on Sunday August 2, reaching little ears all over the world.

And Alan, who also runs children’s publishing business Little Door Books, will be reading the first One Button Benny book on Facebook.com/littledoorbooks on Monday August 3, followed by a special reading of the latest Benny book on Friday August 5, live from the Highland Bookshop in Fort William.

These readings will be just the latest in a whole line-up of cheery, all singing, all dancing story videos Alan has been entertaining children with throughout lockdown, making up for missed events, gigs and roadshows. Hairy Highland cows, woodlands at Kilchrenan, the old harbour at Taynuilt and pretty Crinan Canal have been just some of the backdrops.

Alan said: ‘It gave families stuck in flats and cities in lockdown a chance to see a bit of the countryside and have a bit of a laugh when I got attacked by midgies!’

When Covid struck, he made it his mission to read every one of the 18 books Little Doors has published since it started in 2016. This year will see five more titles added, including One Button Benny and The Giant Catastrophe, illustrated by Chloe Holwill-Hunter, who was talent spotted by Little Door Books while working as a waitress and designing her own Christmas cards.

How Billy Hippo Learned His Colours and Molly’s Circus are among the 2020 titles published, pairing up established children’s writers with unknown illustrators ‘to give them a leg up into the business,’ said Alan, who got a pal from his am dram days, up and coming Hollywood actor Jack Lowden, to put his voice to the audio-telling of the One Button Benny adventures.

Even before One Button Benny and the Giant Catastrophe is out in the UK, it has already been translated into Russian. One Button Benny was voted 2019 Bookbug Picture Book Prize by 17,000 children and was also translated into Russian, as well as Slovakian, Korean, Arabic and last but not least Gaelic.

‘To be the chosen favourite by 17,000 children was just incredible and they all wanted to know what happened to Benny next, so there just had to be a sequel,’ said Alan.

With the Gaelic version of One Button Benny in mind and lockdown depending, Alan hopes to get to Barra with tales of his little robot pal in tow before the end of the year after a storm then Covid cancelled two previously planned trips  – ‘fingers crossed for third time lucky,’ he said.

Despite its size, Little Door Books is growing a big presence in the publishing world.

‘We’ve had lots of support from the publishing community and get calls from students looking for intern positions in our office, which is fine if they don’t mind sitting in the living room with the cats!

‘Everyone assumes we are working in a big glass office in Edinburgh or Glasgow when really we’re currently squeezed into a spare bedroom in a wee static  caravan in the Highlands. It just shows you can do so much with not much,’ said Alan.

Little Doors Books has its own section in Waterstones, Oban and at the Highland Bookshop in Fort William.