The family of late children’s author Dick King-Smith is bringing his work into the 21st century by creating a website to promote his books online.
The website goes live today (11th February) and features a biography, fun facts, a quiz, and resources for teachers of key stage one and two. There will also be links to YouTube clips of adaptations of his work, which included the film "Babe", adapted from his book The Sheep-Pig, and the TV show "The Queen’s Nose".
Juliet King-Smith, the author’s eldest child, said the family began thinking about his online presence several years ago, after he died in 2011.
“At first we were all mourning but then about two years ago I realised that I liked using my iPad and computer and that people looking him up [online] would only find a disparate amount of information, a lot of it repetitive,” she told The Bookseller. “There was no website when he was alive and he was famously, in his family, scared of technology. He was of a generation when people don’t take to it. For many years he used an ancient typewriter from the 1920s. Eventually he got another one but he still only typed with only one finger.”
The site was created by design agency Multiple States and features illustrations by Layn Marlow.
The relaunch comes as Walker Books is planning to re-release King-Smith’s Sophie series about a young girl who wants to be a farmer when she grows up. The books will feature new illustrations from Hannah Shaw and three of the books will hit bookshops in February, with another three following in June.
Emma Lidbury, commissioning editor at Walker Books, said the rebranding of the Sophie books has “been a while in coming”. She said: “It was time to give them a refresh… Dick King-Smith’s endearing texts deserved a creative vision that was contemporary while retaining an element of timelessness.”
King-Smith was one of the most successful children’s authors of the 1980s and 1990s, and most of his books were inspired by his love for children and the countryside. He won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for The Sheep-Pig in 1984 and was named children's author of the year in the 1991 British Book awards. He has recorded over 1.6 million UK sales in the Nielsen BookScan era.
For Juliet, the website will help cement children’s love for her father books. “I know children still read his books and I’ve been asked to go to schools several times to read them. We’re trying to exploit his legacy in a good way and get all the right information into one place.”