The people behind Cuthbert the Croc
Meet the Author
For as long as I can remember, my world has involved numbers. I have always loved them, and this love quickly grew to become a love of Mathematics. As a maths teacher, I enjoy being able to help others not just understand this world but to really appreciate and enjoy it. I am always saddened to hear people say that they never understood Maths at school and ended up hating or fearing it – I hear this all too often and it would be wonderful to be able to bring about a change.
For me Maths brings joy, interest, excitement and challenge. Soon after my son was born, I began thinking about how amazing it would be to introduce him to the world of number and mathematics. I thought about how to do this and looked for suitable stories books to help. Stories form the basis of so much of formal and informal education in the early years that it seemed to me to be the natural way forward. However, I quickly found that there was little available. I began to think of stories I already knew from my teaching and my own education. It quickly became apparent that the stories were too complex, e.g. Zeno’s paradox. I couldn’t recall any suitable stories, perhaps because such abstract ideas are difficult to shoehorn into stories to suit young children. In the absence of suitable stories, I began to think of my own.
After much thought, I settled on my first story of the counting numbers being infinite. My son was learning to count and wanted to count higher and higher. He loved big numbers and, just as other children ask their parents, he would ask me for the biggest number. The concept of the infinite is so counter to much of the rest of our existence and yet it is essential to the world of mathematics. There is much discussion about how to improve mathematical education and my view is that we must not to shy away from difficult concepts but to try to make number and mathematics a natural part of everyday life. By the time I had completed this story, my son had started school and so I began to focus on what he would be learning.
I have tried to look at key mathematical concepts in a simple and engaging way without losing the mathematical rigor. For example, in “Cuthbert Goes On and On” the idea of adding just one more is so simple that it can be understood by all. This idea, however, is also very powerful - it is after all the crux of our formal proof that the set of integers are infinite. Similarly, “Cuthbert Switches Things Around” introduces the commutative nature of addition. Another very simple idea and yet this is one of the four rearrangement axioms used not just for numerical calculations but also when working with algebraic expressions. Finally, “Cuthbert Sees Double” focuses on doubling numbers and recognising that this is the same as multiplying by two. This marks the start of our times tables journey. Something that fills me with a sense of excitement. A new world is emerging and hours of fun playing with numbers and spotting patterns lies ahead.
I am currently working on the final three stories in this first series. These focus on the timetables and the commutative nature of multiplication and I hope to publish them at some point in 2022. I am then planning to create a second series focusing on subtraction, division and fractions.
I hope that my stories will help parents, carers and educators. Those who are confidence with maths and numeracy will, I am sure, build upon the ideas raised in the books and those who need a little help will, I hope, feel supported and empowered to engage in the world of maths and number. I believe that if we can help children to engage with the world of number and maths in a positive, relaxed and enjoyable way, we will be able to overcome some of the negative perceptions that exist. This, in turn, will allow many more to see and enjoy the beauty that lies in number and mathematics.
Meet the Illustrator
I have always enjoyed painting and drawing, and I am passionate about illustration, telling a story through pictures and drawing an audience in to a tale. During my previous career as a teacher, I often used my art in teaching to illustrate stories and poems with my classes.
My inspiration comes from a love of storytelling - which I studied at university as part of my degree. I adore books and poetry and my work is influenced by a wide variety of different authors and poets, primarily children's authors.
Typically, my style is to make use of bright and bold colours to portray animals and other characters anthropomorphically. I particularly enjoy creating humorous and fun illustrations. I also enjoy sketching realistic pictures of pets and other animals.
I like to work in many different mediums including acrylic, watercolour, pen, ink and coloured pencils. Although I am a bit of a traditionalist, I completely see the value of programs such as 'Sketchbook Pro' and make use of them according to the needs of each project.
I live in the Wiltshire countryside with my young family, a constantly escaping rabbit, a very affectionate elderly cat (who is currently on my knee as I type this!) and a huge ginger cat that is the soppiest tiger around.