A word with the author: Oi book series creator Kes Gray talks his love of World Book Day

Following another successful World Book Day, and as March remains our month to celebrate books, reading and the industry’s relationship with licensing, takes its chance to have a word with Kes Gray, the three times World Book Day author of the best-selling Daisy and Oi book series.

Gray reflects on this love of the annual reading festival…

Oi Kes, thanks for talking with us. Can you tell us, what does World Book Day means to you?

World Book Day means ‘busy’ to me. It’s the time of year that I visit more schools over a short period than any other time of the year. It’s a time when assembly halls and fancy dress costumes coalesce. It’s the time when the fun of reading becomes the one and only subject on the curriculum. And I always feel under dressed.

What is about World Book Day that you enjoy in particular?

I like the liberation of it. Children and teachers leave their school uniforms at home and books become heroes for a day.

If you were going to dress up, which character would it be?

If I was 7 Batman. If I was 59, Batman.

Do you have any interesting experiences of World Book Day?

I have been a chosen World Book Day author three times, twice with my Daisy books and most recently with Oi. My most memorable World Book Day moment was guesting at the Greatest Book Show On Earth in Coventry in front of an audience of 1000 children.

I unleashed my X Man skills flicking cream crackers, rich tea and ginger nut biscuits further than I have ever flicked them before. (In case you didn’t know, I’m an X Man, my X Man name is Biscuito and my arsenal is a biscuit tin.) Be afraid, be very afraid.    

What kind of reaction have you had to the Oi series over the past year?

The Oi series has gone from strength to strength over the past year. Its popularity continues to grow apace and shows no signs of waning. Thank you, children, parents, teachers, librarians and  bookshops great and small. We couldn’t have done it without you.

What sort of growth in popularity have you seen for both the books and the extended product portfolio in that time?

Outside of conventional publishing Oi Frog continues to make new friends. In Sarah Fletcher we have the best merchandising agent we could wish for. In partnership with the Kenny Wax Theatre Company ‘Oi Frog & Friends’ has debuted in the West End, is travelling the country and has been short listed for the Olivier ‘Best Family Show’ award. In retail terms Frog, Cat and Dog really are going places. New friendships are always very welcome.

What plans have you got to continue to expand the Oi ‘world’ from both a publishing and products perspective?

We take our lead from Sarah, but at the top of our wish list would be a plush manufacturing partner who really wants to push the plush boat out. Jim, Sarah, and I want to develop an Oi plush range that is different to a conventional range.

Think of it as  a ‘plush + range’  a range that can both grow and combine fun and education in a way that only Oi can. We are in no rush and will hold out for the right partner. If you think it’s you, OI! give Sarah a call…

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