Birmingham’s own Michelin Star Chef Glynn Purnell has released his first children’s book about his late Jack Russell, Whoops.
The Magical Adventures of Whoops the Wonder Dog is aimed at primary school aged children and tells the story of Whoops, a very special little dog, who eats far too many baked beans and curry powder. Whoops uses her surprising superhero powers to stop her evil neighbour, Doctor Dactyl, from pulling off the crime of the century.
Glynn Purnell, who has previously released two best-selling cook books, Cracking Yolks and Pigs Tales (2014) and Rib Ticklers and Choux-Ins (2016), has teamed with Nuneaton-based illustrator Ashley King to create the book. Ashley’s previous credits include The Bookshop Girl, Erica’s Elephant, Elvis the Squirrel and the hugely popular Witch for a Week series. The Magical Adventures of Whoops the Wonder Dog is released in paperback on Friday 7 September.
Glynn said it had been a long-held ambition of his to write a book for children.
“I still remember the vivid images from the magical worlds of my favourite authors when I was younger – and I am excited that I might be able to do the same here,” he said. “I hope it feels as fantastical and exciting for young people to read as it did for me to write. Having three children of my own, aged between 7 and 13, I have learned what enthrals and engages children. I got very involved in all Whoops’s adventures even though I was writing them!
Glynn started penning the book in September last year, when his dog Whoops was 13 and in good health. Older than all three of Glynn’s children, Whoops was very much the family pet. Glynn’s daughter started to ask whether Whoops was going to die of old age soon, which was what prompted Glynn to write the book.
“I wanted to immortalise Whoops in fiction, for my own kids, first and foremost. But as time went on and the illustrator came on board and the book came together, it seemed like it had potential to appeal to a wider audience. Most of us grow up with pets, and at some point, they inevitably pass away. This can have a big impact on children. I wanted to tell a story where Whoops had her own secret life when the family were all out at school and at work during the day.”
Sadly, Whoops died very suddenly in January this year. Glynn said, “Thankfully it was very quick, with very little suffering. Whoops started showing signs of illness and discomfort on the morning, and she died later that night from a tumour that we didn’t know about. By this time, I was four months into the creation of the book, and I knew I had to finish it. It took on even more importance for me and my whole family.”
There are strong nods to Glynn’s career as a chef within the book. Whoops gets her magical superpowers by eating baked beans and curry powder, which is the first dish that Glynn remembers making when growing up. He would cook for his younger siblings while his parents were out at work and make baked beans on toast, mixing curry powder in with the baked beans.
The real Whoops made national news in 2012 after chasing burglars away from Glynn’s family home. Glynn’s house was broken into during the night, but the burglars got more than they bargained for when Whoops, seven years old at the time, sprang to the family’s defence and chased them away, taking only a couple of baby-changing bags with them.
The Magical Adventures of Whoops the Wonder Dog is available nationally on Friday 7 September from Amazon, as well as being stocked in the gift shops of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Birmingham Symphony Hall. It can also be bought from Purnell’s Restaurant on Cornwall Street in Birmingham.