The author of a popular children’s book has revealed how a visit to Kent inspired the beloved story.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Storm Whale, writer and illustrator Benji Davies shared that the idea came to him following an afternoon spent sketching in Whitstable.
The Storm Whale, which tells the story of a little boy who finds a whale washed up on the beach, was Benji Davies' award-winning debut illustrated work.
The well-loved children’s book has now been translated into more than 40 languages and sold over a million copies.
The Grandma Bird author said: “This was the piece that I developed for my portfolio after a visit to Whitstable in Kent, where I sketched some oystermen’s huts - that would eventually become the opening spread of my debut picture book.
“As I added the boy, a sentence floated into my head… 'Noi lived with this dad and six cats by the sea'.
“Can’t quite believe it’s been ten years since I was waiting for my debut picture book to meet the world, not knowing how things would turn out and everything that has happened since. So glad that Noi is still on the bookshop shelves.”
Now the Whitstable connection has been revealed, it is easy to spot the hint to the town in The Storm Whale’s drawings.
The iconic black oystermen’s huts can be seen looming over the grey stone walls, lined with piles of lobster pots, leading to the familiar pebble beach.
Oysters have been gathered in Whitstable since the Roman times and the industry remains important to the area to this day.
The harbour as we know it was built in 1832 by the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway Company.
One Whitstable resident shared their reaction to the news on social media.
“Happy 10th birthday for one of our favourite picture books," she posted on Facebook.
“We live in Whitstable and my boys and I always wondered if it had been inspired by the huts and beach. It has made my day to know this and I can’t wait to tell them.”