Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List is full of heart, humour and wonderfully vibrant characters. Jenny Pearson has a true talent for blending humour with heartfelt moments, and I have come to expect great things from her books! I am so pleased to share a special piece from Jenny Pearson as part of the Great Big Blog Tour! It is truly special!
Speaking frankly about my inspiration
I’m often asked about where I get my ideas for my stories and the answer is all sorts of places, but more often than not, my ideas spring from something real. In Grandpa Frank, the main character is eleven-year-old Frank Davenport, his dad is also named Frank and so is his Grandpa. The idea to have three generations all with the same name came from my own family – my dad is called David and so was his dad, and you’ve guessed it so was his dad’s dad! What a creative family we are.
I have a great friend of mine, Sam, to thank for the idea to send Grandpa Frank and his grandson Frank, on a bucket list adventure where they try out things they (well, young Frank) has always wanted to do. Sam and her mum, took her grandad Albert on their own adventure of 90 things to do at 90. Albert got up to all sorts – he drove a tank, learned to box, raced racing cars and flew a plane! It was a joyous thing to see, so inspirational and I thought that I just had to write a story about it.
I always like to draw on people I know when creating characters. The children in my books, like Freddie Yates, Lucy and Sandesh, and now Frank Davenport from Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List, are inspired by the many children I have taught over the years. I tend to take little bits from different kids and smoosh them together. I am very lucky to spend my time surrounded by kids who are funny, clever and who show me how to look at the world in a different way. I’m even luckier that I can steal their personalities and shove them into my books.
Grandpa Frank is also based on someone I know – my own grandad Browne, and I’d like to think he would chuckle at some of their similarities. Grandpa Frank is rather grumpy when young Frank first meets him, but deep down he is actually a bit of a softy – he’s just forgotten how to show that. He has a terribly dry sense a humour and when I was writing him, I very much had my grandad’s voice in my head.
When I started writing Grandpa Frank I really wanted to write a funny adventure, but as is often the case when I write, deeper themes bob to the surface like a pensioner in a duck pond (you’ll have to read the book). Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List is a story about a boy who ends up with a huge wad of cash and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his grandad. Together, they take on some pretty unexpected challenges from parkour to swimming with ‘dolphins’ whilst dressed as a glittery pineapple. But it is also a story about the importance of the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren, a story that realises that money can’t buy happiness, and a story that shows that even though families can break, they can also be put back together again. I also hope that it is a story that reminds people that the older generation surprise and inspire, teach and learn, and most importantly, matter.