Percy the Park Keeper Stories by Nick Butterworth
- One Snowy Night
- After the Storm
- The Rescue Party
- The Secret Path
- The Treasure Hunt
- Percy’s Bumpy Ride
This article is about not just one book, but six books, all about a kindly Park Keeper, Percy. The first one was published in 1989, but it was the fourth that first came to my attention when it was given to my daughter as a birthday present and became a firm favourite. It is a charming story with a fold out page at the end to enjoy. The books became so popular that they were turned into television programmes, which all my children watched avidly. They are all appealing owing to the gentle pace, charming illustrations and a surprise fold out page.
Each book features Percy and his woodland friends. In One Snowy Night, Percy helps the animals come in from the cold while in After the Storm, Percy assists them in a relocation. The Rescue Party deals with a trapped rabbit and The Secret Path has the tables being turned on the animals. In The Treasure Hunt the animals find out that treasure can mean different things and in Percy’s Bumpy Ride a flock of sheep save the day.
1 See that a simple act of kindness goes a long long way
In three of the books, Percy helps the animals either find somewhere warm to spend the night, find a new home or find safety. However, he doesn’t always do it all on his own, the animals all help too. What a great way for young children to have it demonstrated that by pulling together the outcome is better for everyone.
2 These stories can help your child learn resilience
Bad things happen. Wrapping children up in cotton wool may seem the best response but in the long term it means your child will not be equipped to deal with difficult circumstances. It is important for children to build resilience by experiencing difficulties and overcoming them. These stories demonstrate that difficulties can be surmounted.
3 See the beauty of the seasons
In these books we get to enjoy the beauty of all the seasons. The daffodils in Spring, warm Summer days with wildflowers and butterflies. The exquisite colours of Autumn and the cold snow of Winter. The pictures are beautifully drawn, down to the last detail of Percy’s breath condensing in the cold Winter’s air. You can enjoy the pictures and talk about the seasons with your child. Explore which is their favourite and why.
4 Take a trip to your local park
Children learn so much from being outside. These books are great to stimulate them to look into the beauty of the Natural World. I have a particular fondness of garden birds and Nick Butterworth includes robins, blackbirds, thrushes and sparrows as well as woodpigeons, coots and seagulls. As well as wildlife, the books shares information about trees and plants. Go outside and see if you can spot birds and trees or bushes, and then go home and try to find out what they are called.
5 Enriches your child’s vocabulary
Books are wonderful at providing your child with words that they don’t come across on a day to day basis. These stories will introduce your child words like to cocoa, snuggled, shivering, chuckle, damage, tangly, wrecked, handkerchief, shrubbery, and handiwork and expressions such as “Good gracious!”, “pricked up his ears”, “a great storm was raging”, and “drifting downstream”. As your child’s vocabulary grows the more they’ll enjoy increasingly complex books, which in turn gives them more words. It’s a never ending expanding spiral.
These are lovely books that you will enjoy just as much as your child. This is the fourth article I have written for the blog and it was as a result of a personal request, from my brother-in-law, to write about the books he loved reading to my nieces and nephew 20 years ago. I hope he feels I’ve done the books justice. If you have a personal favourite, please let us know, and we can share with the rest of the world. Good books are worth sharing!
Additional Learning Opportunities
- These books are great for discussing animals and habitats.
- Can your child sort the animals from the smallest to the tallest?
- Maybe your child could plan a treasure hunt for you and write signs or clues?
- Could your child design a flying machine and where would they like to fly to?
- Go to the park and enjoy doing observational drawings of flowers or trees.