What We’re Reading: Finney’s Story by Alana Washington and Charlotte Caswell

There’s a theory that there are only seven basic plots in fiction and all stories are versions of them.

This is the problem Finney the Fox faces when he decides to write a book – but realises all his ingenious ideas have already been used.

It was also the task facing writer Alana Washington when she spotted a competition by UCLan Publishing to pen a picture book about their Finney the Fox logo.

Her clever take on this challenge – making the story about how to find inspiration for a story – beat the other six entries that made the shortlist and were judged by a panel of young readers.

And now her (and Finney’s) story has been turned into a published work illustrated by Charlotte Caswell, with an audio version read by no less than Sarah-Ann Kennedy. You might recognise her as the voice of Miss Rabbit in Peppa Pig and Nanny Plum in Ben & Holly. She is also a lecturer in animation at UCLan, fact fans!

So how does Finney find a way to be original and not just regurgitate Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs?

Well, after racking his brains and scouring the library shelves with his pal Ginger Cat, Finney realises that the most unique story is the one you have to tell about yourself.

It’s a charming revelation, giving children a chance to consider their own value and the importance of their experiences, as well as reinforce the message that kids need to see their own selves reflected in stories.

It’s a sophisticated idea that has been translated into an incredibly accessible format by Alana.

We really enjoyed the snappy dialogue format of the text, which bounces back and forth between Finney and his friend.

The artwork is striking and modern too. The publisher’s black and white Finney logo (named after a famous Preston footballer, as the university is based in the city) comes alive as a character perfectly, while the splash of bold orange, blue and green put me a bit in mind of Bethan Woollvin’s books.

It’s a fun and fresh read, and an original addition to the bookshelf that teaches children to be proud they are one-of-a-kind.

Finney’s Story by Alana Washington and Charlotte Caswell is out now. £7.99 (paperback), UCLan Publishing. Buy from Amazon

You can listen to Sarah-Ann Kennedy reading Finney’s Story here:

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