Former Herts Ad reporter's 'charming' new children's picture book about Albert the upside down tortoise

Former Herts Advertiser reporter Ian Brown and Eoin Clarke have created children's picture book Albert Upside Down

Former Herts Advertiser reporter Ian Brown and Eoin Clarke have created children's picture book Albert Upside Down, which is published by Graffeg. - Credit: Ian Brown / Eoin Clarke / Graffeg

A former Herts Advertiser reporter will achieve his long-held dream next week when his first children's book is published.

Albert Upside Down, written by ex-Herts Ad journalist Ian Brown and illustrated by Eoin Clarke, is available from April 27.

Former Herts Advertiser journalist Ian Brown, pet tortoise Albert and the cover of his book, Albert Upside Down.

Former Herts Advertiser journalist Ian Brown, pet tortoise Albert with his book publishing contract and the cover of his book, Albert Upside Down. - Credit: Ian Brown

The picture book is packed with charming illustrations and is perfect for inquisitive, playful little minds. 

Published by Graffeg, it is the first in a heart-warming new series from the award-winning duo of TV writer Ian Brown and animation director Eoin Clarke.

"It’s taken years to secure a deal and at last the first in a series of picture books is coming out," said Ian, who joined the Herts Ad as a junior reporter after NCTJ training at the then Harlow Technical College in 1984.

In the 1980s, Ian covered court, golden and diamond weddings, the Herts County Show and crime in the area, and was later the dedicated reporter for the Herts Ad's Radlett and Borehamwood edition, covering Radlett, Borehamwood, Elstree and Shenley.

He then became a sub-editor on the paper, before leaving after about five years, going on to work for national newspapers and London evening papers, and then TV including Top Gear and The South Bank Show.

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Over an illustrious 30-year career in television, Ian has written for the best in the business: from Homer Simpson to Bruce Forsyth, Simon Cowell to Harrison Ford, from This is Your Life to Comic Relief, Strictly Come Dancing and BBC Maestro. 

And now, introducing the biggest star yet… Albert the Tortoise!

The cover of Albert Upside Down.

The cover of Albert Upside Down. - Credit: Ian Brown / Eoin Clarke / Graffeg

Inspired by the adventures of real-life Greek tortoise Albert, who was rescued more than 50 years ago and has lived happily with Ian's family ever since, this is a timeless tale that uses humour to show children the power of working together and thinking creatively.

Currently there are set to be four books in the Albert series, aimed at 3+ and tortoise fans of all sizes, with more to follow.

"The books were ideas I kept trying to get published on and off over many years," said Ian.

"There were a lot of rejections from agents and publishers.

"Albert is based on a real tortoise – also called Albert – who was rescued by my wife when a little girl more than 50 years ago. The real Albert could be 80 years old."

Ian added: "The book touches on the importance of teamwork, perseverance, building resilience and, ever more timely as 2020 and 2021 revealed themselves – despite being written long before, the importance of helping others literally get back on their feet."  

In the picture book, Albert has a problem: trying to reach a tasty treat, he has ended up on his shell, upside down and stuck!

Can the other garden creatures overcome their rivalry, team up and help him get back on his feet? 

Insects on the belly of Albert the tortoise in book Albert Upside Down

Insects on the belly of Albert the tortoise in book Albert Upside Down - Credit: Ian Brown / Eoin Clarke / Graffeg

Vibrantly illustrated by animation director Eoin Clarke, part of the animation team behind CBBC's Operation Ouch! and ITV's You’ve Been Framed, Albert and his garden friends are set to capture the hearts of children everywhere.  

Albert Upside Down also includes fascinating facts about these modern-day mini-dinosaurs living life on the veg.

Did you know that tortoises are among the most ancient creatures on Earth? Or they live on every continent except Antarctica? 

The second adventure featuring Albert and his garden friends – Albert and the Wind – will be published in October 2021.

Albert the tortoise with the Albert Upside Down book.

Albert the tortoise with the Albert Upside Down book. - Credit: Ian Brown

Celebrities have already praised the illustrated adventures of Albert.

The Fast Show's Paul Whitehouse said: “It’s utterly brilliant and charming and if you’re an upside down tortoise, essential reading.” 

Comedian Julian Clary, author of The Bolds children’s book series, said: “Beautiful, heart-warming and wonderfully illustrated. I am in love with Albert!”

Countryfile presenter John Craven wrote: "What a treat for our youngest book-lovers – and for grown-ups who will guide them through it.

"Stunning illustrations and well-chosen words tell the story of Albert the tortoise getting back on his feet after a fall, helped by a somewhat disorganised band of garden creatures.”

YouTube star Joe Sugg, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, described it as "a great little story of coming together to help those in need" and is "fantastically illustrated".

Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson added: “I like this book, I like the drawings and I like the man who wrote it. I like tortoises. What's not to like?"

Get to know the real Albert better on Twitter @AlbertTortoise and Facebook @AlbertTheTortoise. 

The book can be ordered from local bookshops, Amazon or for worldwide distribution from the publishers at https://graffeg.com/products/albert-upside-down

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