Over the years I have given many, many hundreds of talks to many, many thousands of children. I originally trained as a teacher. So I have long harboured ambitions of writing books for children that will help spark a love of reading and getting out on adventures of their own.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally published my second book in the series about The Boy Who Biked The World. Reading ages vary greatly, but – roughly speaking – this is a book you could read to children from aged 5, or read by yourself from age 7.
I would love schools to read this book as a class text, so I am selling bulk orders (min 20) for cost price just to try to get more copies out there into the hands of children. Just get in touch.
Below is a sample of the new book to give you a flavour of the writing style.
If you’d like to buy the book as a Christmas present, you can do so here. I’ll sign every copy.
Patagonian mountains towered above Tom, jagged like sharp teeth, with mighty glaciers running down from the peaks. Glaciers are formed over hundreds of years as snow is compressed and turns into ice. Glaciers are like enormous rivers of ice, but rivers that move so slowly that you can’t see them move. Three-quarters of all the fresh water in the world is frozen into glaciers. Tom looked up at the end of a glacier – a gigantic wall of ice in a bright blue lake. Every so often a chunk would fall into the water 60 metres below. Gigantic blocks of ice – as big as cars – crashed down into the lake with a sound like an exploding bomb. As they hit the lake they made massive splashes, causing huge waves. It was great fun! Tom settled down with a couple of banana sandwiches to watch the show.
The road now was nothing more than a stony track, and Tom’s bags rattled as he bounced along. There were no bridges so sometimes he had to cross rivers. Tom would take off his shoes and socks and roll up his trousers above his knees. Then he would push the heavy bike through the freezing water, taking care not to lose his footing. If he fell over he would not only get very cold and wet and cross, he might also be swept away by the strong current.
After a few more days, the track fizzled out completely. Tom felt alone, but not lonely. He felt excited. He had been riding round the world for a long time now. He was fit and strong. He knew how to repair his bike if it broke down. He knew how to read a map, and how to survive in the wild. This was a wilderness challenge, and Tom was up for it!
For a whole day Tom pushed his bike up a small, steep, muddy footpath. Hour after hour, mile after mile. The forest around him was dark. Sometimes he had to carry his bike and bags, and tripped over rocks and roots. It was exhausting. When he eventually reached the top of the track he saw a tall metal post. It was old and rusty. Nobody had been here for a long time.
Facing him, on his side of the post, was written the word “Argentina”. On the other side of the post was written “Chile”. This was the border crossing between two countries! Tom had crossed 30 international borders on his journey around the world, but this was the first time that the border had ever been on a muddy footpath on top of a hill. There were no barriers or police checkpoints. He was wet, cold and tired, but Tom still had the energy to smile and punch the air.
“Yes!” he shouted to himself. “That’s one more country done.”
He freewheeled slowly down the track, away from Argentina and into Chile, down towards a lake dotted with small icebergs. He could not go very fast for two reasons. The first was that the track was too rocky to go quickly without shaking his bike to pieces. The second reason was that Tom was now sharing the track with an enormous bull! He didn’t know where the bull had come from, and he didn’t know where it was going. But he did know that the bull was huge and ferocious-looking. Every so often the bull turned around, looked at Tom, and snorted loudly. He didn’t want to shout “hurry up” or try to overtake him on the narrow track. So Tom had to settle for trundling along behind the bull until they reached the lake.
The next morning Tom had a lie-in. He had to wait to catch a boat across the lake to the other side, as it was the only way he could continue heading north. He could lie lazily in his sleeping bag for as long as he wanted. The trouble was that Tom didn’t know how long he might have to wait. In fact, nobody seemed to know! The boat arrived “about every two weeks”, but nobody he asked knew anything more than that. It was a relaxed way of life down in Patagonia.
The boat did not come that day, so Tom had a lie-in the next morning too. And the morning after that. He threw stones at icebergs, went and said hello to the bull, and washed his clothes in the freezing lake. He was getting bored sitting beside the lake, waiting.
So Tom was happy on the morning of Day Four when he awoke to the chug-chug sound of a boat. Leaping out of his sleeping bag, he ran to the water’s edge, waving and shouting. The captain of the yellow-and-blue boat changed direction in order to come and pick him up. Tom hurried to pack his gear and wheel it down to the lake. Everything he owned, including his house, could pack away into just a few bags, ready to move on to the next adventure. It’s surprising how few things you really need in life. The fewer things Tom had, the happier he was.
“¡Hola!” he called to the captain. “¿Como esta, senor? ¿How are you, sir?”
Tom hadn’t seen another person for days and was happy to have a chat. He was also looking forward to reaching the town across the lake because he had been rationing his food and was now really hungry.
“¡Vamos! Let’s go!” cried Tom, heaving his bike on board. “Tengo hambre. I’m hungry.”