Rob Hitchen, Film, TV and Journalism Lecturer at Nottingham College, has written and published Banana Joe: The Magic Acorns, a comical children’s storybook with a more serious message behind it.
The story is available as an e-book, which tells the tale of a little-known endangered creature called an aye-aye, adventuring through a new colourful world. Here, he meets lots of other weird and wonderful friends.
Aye-ayes are a rare form of primate, only found on the island of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. They look a bit like large rodents, but are in fact related to apes and humans.
Banana Joe: The Magic Acorns is set in Madagascar, but Rob has invented a magical world of train-driving snakes and aviator mallards.
The woods in which Banana Joe grew up face a dark future at the hands of creatures called Grumples. They look a lot like humans, and they have cut down the last magic oak tree, coveting land for their noisy machines.
The main character, Banana Joe (the Aye-Aye), is sent on an important quest with some magic acorns. Along the way he meets a whole host of creatures, from fishing bears to sarcastic hummingbirds.
Rob has written the story to be suitable for reading aloud to young children, with the ambition of engaging them with the idea of looking after our planet and the creatures on it.
The main idea behind the book is to bring a little joy to kids, while raising awareness of the aye-aye, its critical endangerment and wider conservation.
"If it breaks even, my intention is to also pass on a percentage of future profits to the protection and conservation of the species.- Rob Hitchen
Rob shared the book for free for an initial period, and has now made it available to buy online.
He hopes to develop it into paperback and hardback in future. He’s also exploring working with colleagues and others to create illustrations for future editions.
For now, the book is available to buy online. It is also suitable for older children and adults, as a light-hearted read with some education thrown in.