Written by Jenny at Little Knoll Press
It was a great day in London for Wizzy and his author Anthony Ridgway attending the audio-recording of Wizzy the Animal Whisperer, voiced by David and Sheila Suchet
In the children’s story, written by Anthony and illustrated by Suzan Houching, Wizzy and his friends, Dan, James and Sophie, set out to solve a mystery on their farm holiday and end up having an amazing adventure with the help of Wizzy’s special powers.
Actually it was Wizzy’s alter ego who went to London with Anthony, this being a manual wheelchair with electric drive fitted to the large wheels – a bit like an electric bicycle. ‘Alter Ego’ Wizzy allows Anthony to sit a bit lower than in ‘old faithful’ Wizzy and this gives enough headroom for both of them to get into a London Cab.
The railway journeys worked wonderfully. There was help on hand at each railway station to place the ramp (this was organised beforehand by Grethe, Anthony’s mum and main carer) and once on the train we found ourselves guardians of the accessible toilet, it being conveniently situated opposite the space allocated for wheelchairs and bicycles! We also had a good view of the passing countryside…
At Waterloo Station we joined the queue for a cab and with the help of our Cabby manoeuvred Wizzy up the ramp and into the central space of the cab. Wizzy just fitted with a bit of wriggling, and then Grethe and I climbed in and squeezed onto the seats. I must admit, seeing Anthony’s face when Wizzy reached the top of the ramp, I could hear the words he had written in his book –
[Dan] ‘I felt a brief sensation of fear. Was this such a good idea?
[Wizzy] “I will protect you, Dan. Do not worry.”
[Dan] “Nothing gets past you does it?”’
Arriving at the RNIB Talking Books Studios, we found the studio manager, Daryl Chapman, there to greet us, and he guided us down the lift and into the recording suites. David and Sheila Suchet were already in the studio, rehearsing the book script while the sound engineer, Paul Pink, adjusted the sound levels ready for recording.
The ‘large’ recording technician’s booth had just enough room for Anthony (and Wizzy) to get a front stall view and Grethe and I to stand behind Paul. The recording started and we were spellbound…
We had set David and Sheila a challenge, asking them to conjure up different character voices for each of the eight characters.
Anthony’s writing is dialogue driven, logical as his hearing is very acute. This required each character in Wizzy the Animal Whisperer to have his or her own distinct voice.
David took the parts of narrator, Dan, Wizzy, Neil Hayes and the Police officer, and Sheila took the parts of James, Sophie, Mrs Braishfield and Karl – quite a task, especially when changing from one character to another during a quick exchange of words. Of course, David and Sheila were up to it, producing the whole range of voices, and without hesitation – in Wizzy’s words;
“Affirmative. I’ve processed the information. My speeds are the best.”
It was a wonderful day and our thanks go to the railway services, the London cabbies, RNIB Talking Books Studios, and most of all to David and Sheila Suchet.
Without Anthony we couldn’t have done it, and as the children say in the book, “We couldn’t have done it without Wizzy.”
The audiobook will be coming soon. Please email me if you would like a copy firstname.lastname@example.org
The printed book, beautifully illustrated by Suzan Houching, is available now.