Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Adventures of Algy

From Jenny Chapman:

Since the publication of Algy’s first children’s book in July 2015, I have often been asked the same questions about Algy and his adventures, both by local people and by visitors to the area, so the Diary has kindly agreed to let me publish the answers to the most common questions here.

I will be signing Algy’s books and chatting about Algy’s adventures at the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse this Sunday, 7th August, so I hope to see you there. All sales will go through the lighthouse till, to benefit the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust.

And to mark the occasion, the Kindle versions of both Algy’s books will be available for everyone to download FREE from any Amazon site all day on Sunday - just in case you can’t get to the lighthouse…

[Q] What is “The Adventures of Algy”?

[A] The Adventures of Algy is a mixed media project focussed on a unique character called Algy - a large fluffy bird - and his interaction with the natural environment of Ardnamurchan. The project originally started as a Tumblr blog with photos and GIFs in March 2012, when I needed to create a lot of original examples of Photoshop work for a book I was writing at that time. Over the next couple of years, Algy’s adventures took on an unexpected life of their own, and expanded into illustrated children's chapter books in late 2014, when we also built Algy his own supporting web site. The project as a whole involves photography, animation and GIFs, occasional video and sound recordings, original writing, and original art work, as well as a lot of book production and web site work.

[Q] How tall is Algy?

[A] It’s strange, but I am quite often asked this question. When he stands up straight, Algy is about 2 feet tall, which seems to be quite a bit larger than many people suppose.

[Q] What is the relationship between Algy's adventures on Tumblr and his children's books?

Through his posts on Tumblr, Algy developed a distinct and unique character which seems to be loved by his fans, some of whom actually correspond with Algy, instead of me. As Mairi the post lady will tell you, Algy even receives letters and parcels in the post from time to time, often from overseas.

This special character is maintained in his children’s books, where Algy appears as himself, and - like the Tumblr blog - the books are based entirely in this local area with accurate descriptions of the place and the weather… However, the books are adventure stories illustrated with paintings and drawings, with a cast of characters drawn from the local wildlife, each with their own distinctive voice. Wee Katie the field mouse is especially popular with children:
The Tumblr blog, on the other hand, is entirely photographic, and the text is mainly a factual description of the local environment, from Algy’s special point of view, with his occasional reflections on life, the universe and everything. No other characters appear in Algy’s Tumblr posts except when he hosts a Tumblr party. Both the books and the blog include poetry, but in the books the poetry is my own, and on the blog it is quoted from well-known poets.

[Q] How many followers does Algy have?

[A] Algy currently has approximately 10,000 registered followers on Tumblr, from all round the world, and all of them are adults or young people in their late teens, not children. (Tumblr as a whole is unsuitable for children, and prohibited to young people under the age of 13.) He also has a small following on his Facebook page, which is a much newer aspect of the project. I have no way of knowing how many people look at Algy’s Tumblr blog on the web, or at his own web site.

[Q] What is Tumblr, anyway?

[A] For those who don't already know, Tumblr is a combination of blogging platform and social media, primarily used for microblogging (very short posts) of images and GIFs. Each user has their own blog, which anyone can view at its own URL in isolation from the rest of the Tumblr world, without logging in. Algy's Tumblr blog is at

Registered users of Tumblr normally see posts by the people they follow as a constant, live stream on their "dashboard”, and may not visit any actual blog pages at all.

[Q] Just how adventurous is Algy?

[A] In his children’s books, Algy is very adventurous indeed, though never beyond the bounds of possibility for a fluffy bird. He can’t swim, for example. On his Tumblr blog, though, Algy tends to be much more lazy, spending most of his time sitting around the place, musing on life in the West Highlands. Sometimes, however, he gets caught in a storm…

Although I occasionally composite the photographs for Tumblr, they are usually genuine - that is, in most cases Algy really was in the situation depicted.

[Q] Does Algy have his own web site as well as his Tumblr blog?

[A] Yes, Algy has quite a substantial support site with many features for children, at The site will continue to be developed, as it’s quite an ambitious project, but you will find plenty of material there now. Special facilities for children already include an interactive online dictionary, a Visitors’ Book which anyone can write in, and a facility for kids to upload their own drawings or writing for display on the site. It also includes Algy’s own online book shop.

[Q] And Algy has a Facebook page too?

[A] Yes, this is the newest way of following Algy. His Facebook page is at where he duplicates the material posted on Tumblr for those who don’t like Tumblr, but also includes special offers, news, events and so on. It’s a good way to keep in touch with Algy and his adventures if you are not on Tumblr.

[Q] What are Algy's books like? What age range do they suit? Are they picture books?

[A] Algy’s books are not picture books, but children’s chapter books, with an illustration at the beginning of each chapter. There are typically ten or eleven chapters in each book.

As books for children to read on their own, they are intended for the age range 7 to 10 or 11, and are also ideal for reading aloud to children aged 5 and 6 as there are many sound effects, rhymes and word play of the sort that younger children love. I’m told that Algy’s books have actually been enjoyed by a huge range of ages, both male and female, with the oldest known reader to date aged 89 and the youngest aged 4 (it was read aloud to her).

Algy’s books are adventure stories in which all the characters are real animals and birds. They have plenty of dialogue, a smattering of poems and rhymes, a wide range of characters from the humorous to the scary, and true-to-life descriptions of local places which can be recognised by those who know them, or by young visitors who love to explore - and every story has a heartwarmingly happy ending, of course.

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