Monty Python star Terry Jones full of praise for JK Rowling at Wimbledon Bookfest


The actor and writer was giving a talk about his latest book release, Animal Tales.


By James Pozzi

Actor and writer Terry Jones praised Harry Potter author JK Rowling for her book series igniting an interest in reading for an entire young generation.

Talking at the 2011 Wimbledon Bookfest about Animal Tales, his latest release as a children’s author, Mr Jones – a literacy advocate – hailed the Harry Potter series for giving children a passion for reading.

The Monty Python star, 69, whose long and distinguished career has also seen stints as an illustrator, screenwriter and director, had adults and children out in force at Wimbledon Common on Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve only read a couple of the books, but what JK Rowling has done for a younger generation of readers is remarkable,” he said.

Mr Jones states children’s writing is his first love, and spoke of his two-year-old daughter Siri serving as inspiration for his first book since 2002, coming 30 years after his first release Fairy Tales.

“The great adventure has always been getting to the desk and writing,” he said.

Animal Tales is an irreverent and quirky collection of stories ranging from a dog setting up as a GP, the crocodile who’s desperate to get a job and a golden snail resident of Surbiton.

Mr Jones discussed an array of topics over the course of an hour, such as the inspiration for the new book, his love of writing and favourite characters of the children’s genre.

“I’m of the belief that fairytales tell us a lot more about today than reality does,” he said, naming influences ranging from the Middle Ages to Rupert the Bear impacting on his writing.

“I believe children have a greater love for animals than they do humans, they are certainly drawn to them,” he added.

Mr Jones says he first decided to write for children when he used to read Grimm Brothers’ fairytales to his now grown up daughter Sally.

He decided something more light-hearted was needed for youngsters.

“The Brothers Grimm were a little on the dark side for a young child.

“Undoubtedly they are classics but you don’t necessarily want your child to be hearing about people being eaten and other such grisly stuff.”

The talk coincides with the BBC drama Holy Flying Circus, an account of the period leading up to the controversial 1979 release of Life of Brian.

Monty Python fan Tim Spencer, 38, who was in attendance, said the event had something for everyone.

“I brought my young son, as Terry Jones is someone who could talk about putting out the rubbish and it’d still be a compelling listen,” he said.

The annual Wimbledon Bookfest concluded on Sunday after its one week run.

This year has seen book discussions from a variety of famous names such as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Actress Maureen Lipman.

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