‘How would a dog write? How would a dog think?’ - Charlie P. Brooks talks to Chris Evans about his new children’s book

Virgin Radio

28 Feb 2024, 12:29

Charlie P. Brooks talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio.

Author, racehorse trainer and former jockey Charlie P. Brooks has turned the pages of his new children’s book, Sammy and the Extra-Hot Chilli Powder.

It is the first in a new family series, and is told through the lens of Sammy, a Setterpoo, which is a cross between an Irish Setter and a poodle. 

Joining the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch, Charlie said: “I was thinking of an idea for a book, and we have a friend who can talk to animals via telepathy. And I thought that would be a great children's book, to write a book through the voice of a dog. And we've got the most fabulous dog at home that sleeps on our bed and does all the things a dog’s not meant to do. And I thought, combine the two and turn her into a border, sniffer patrol dog. And you could have a bit of fun.”

The author told Chris: “It's fun thinking ‘How would a dog write? How would a dog think?’”

The narrative sees Sammy - a brilliant sniffer dog - lose her sense of smell after encountering some extra-hot chilli powder. With the help of her best human friend Beanie, Sammy sets out to get her smell back and stop a plot to steal a precious diamond.

“You go through all the training, which is fun,” Charlie said of the book’s story-line. “And you get into how dogs are basically like the opposite to humans. So when humans think something’s a really disgusting smell, dogs think it's fabulous.

“And dogs do certain things. So when dogs say hello, they sniff your bottom. They don't shake hands and peck you on the cheek and say ‘Nice to see you,’ when they really don't mean it. They just have a good old sniff and they know who you are.”

Speaking more about the training that Sammy undertakes to become a sniffer-dog, Charlie says: “She thought she was just playing, and as a result of writing this book, I did quite a lot of research on sniffer dogs, and that is basically how they train sniffer dogs. It's a game, and every time they get it right, they get a biscuit. So they get it right again. And then they learn to smell out either cash or explosives or whatever they're trained to smell.” 

At one point in the story, Sammy, “has to push through being slightly excluded" from a group of dogs. Charlie said: “In children’s books, there should be some good messages for children. And I hope the message that comes out of that is don't exclude other children from your group. It's mean. It's not nice.”

Speaking more about the story, the author explained: “She has to retire to Bloomington, which is a thinly disguised village quite close to where I live!” He added: “Stick with what you know!”

The horse racing columnist for the Daily Telegraph added: “The characters in the village are the sort of characters you get in every village in England. One of my favourite characters is Farmer Gerald, who I may have borrowed from Clarkson's Farm!”

Just like his previous Holly Hopkinson series, there will be three Sammy books, and Charlie revealed that he has “actually already written the second one”. He told Chris: “I really do love it. I think my mental age is getting younger. I think if I was a time machine, my time machine broke when I was seven years old. Because that's sort of where my mental age is. And I think Sammy is for slightly younger readers than the Holly series was.”

Whilst the book is aimed at readers from ages 7+, its writer asked: “Isn't a good book a good book? Does it really matter where it's written for seven year olds or for 70 year olds?” 

Sammy and The Extra-Hot Chilli Powder is out now.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.