AS a new city (informally, of course), Milton Keynes is a pretty forward thinking place, writes Sammy Jones.
Now it has an equally forward thinking written companion – a page turner aimed towards the youth, but truly suitable for all, and set 30 years in the future.
Big Frog is the debut novel by former Principal of Milton Keynes College, Rob Badcock.
As the title might suggest, one of the city’s most famous characters has a starring role.
The bubble-blowing huge amphibian that peers over shoppers, delighting kids of all ages in Midsummer Place.
The attraction to the frog? “It is just so captivating. If you watch them, the expressions on the kids faces are magical and thousands of young people have all grown up with, and remember, it.
“It is something fun, in a world where we need a little more fun.”
Andrew Beasant, the man who designed and built the landmark, passed away just a few weeks ago, which unintentionally makes Big Frog the perfect tribute.
The book has been eight years in the making – five years from idea to shaping and writing while juggling a busy day job, and three years more bringing it to market.
In the book, the environment has gone loopy and the majority of the human race now live billions of miles away in a new planet, but there are a few hangers-on, still residing in the vast domed cities which tower over the old ones.
Beyond the citidomes, a treacherous rainforest exists, stalked by giant elephants and ruthless bounty hunters.
Now meet Rib Meskitoe, your main focus. The 14-year old student of Nanozoomology from Milton Keynes has run away from home and is working on a lottery till in Wigan when he gets the idea to steal a ticket worth 250 million dollars.
Now he is on the run, a fugitive in the rainforest with a price on his head.
All he has is the money and an incomprehensible set of instructions from his oddball friend Kaddie.
Taking account of the environmental theme, Rob says he is ‘realistic, but optimistic,’ about the future.
“I get annoyed when people say the environmental change isn’t happening,” he admits. “This is a good, funny read about the environmental change happening to the earth now.”
Big Frog might have an environmental thread, but it is also a zany novel, written by a man who knows more than most how to engage with the young market.
“My job kept me young at heart,” Rob acknowledges, “and I know what does appeal.
“This is a crossover novel for Milton Keynes that is primarily aimed at teens, but it will also appeal to an adult market with a sense of humour, who like a good read.
“I have lived in Milton Keynes for 20 years now and the place is close to my heart.
“It is still seen for its concrete cows and roundabouts, but it is a young city and deserves a young story.
“Big Frog gives the young population a new identity...”
Turn the page and move forward to a slightly newer age. Rob is still looking to the future too; Big Frog is part one of a trilogy, with the second slice currently being worked on.
>Rob Badcock will be at Waterstone’s in Midsummer Place on Saturday, between 9am and 4pm.
Pop in, have a chat, purchase the copy of a book and settle down for a weekend of escapism.