Sunday, October 19, 2008

The amazing adventures of Chilly Billy by Peter Mayle

In 1984 I first started teaching and at some stage early in the year someone gave me a two page list of about 100 titles that made good read-alouds for junior primary classes. I remember sitting on a plane flying back to my home and reading the tantalizing title The amazing adventures of Chilly Billy the little man who lives in the ‘fridge".
At that time I had two special friends working in the book trade so I contacted them and they were able to obtain a copy of this book for me. First published in 1980 by Peter Mayle, this little book is such a gem with just 7 short chapters describing adventures that every child can relate to. In the opening chapter we meet Billy and discover his special and vital role in the ‘fridge which is turning the light on and off. In subsequent chapters Billy falls in love, makes a new friend called Norman and participates in the ‘Fridge Olympics and Frozen sports contest against his arch rival The Mad Jumper!

The colloquial style along with the genuine appeal of our little hero make this book a special winner every time. I estimate I have read this book to at least 2000 kids in Grade 2 and 3. The illustrations are just perfect too!

This book is unfortunately now out of print. I long for a service where publishers could be alerted about little books like this. I wish I could shout from the hills all the titles that should be reprinted so heaps of new children can enjoy them too. I would include O’Diddy by Jocelyn Stevenson, Ratbags and Rascals by Robin Klein, The Vegetable Thieves by Inga Moore, Sloppy Kisses by Elizabeth Winthrop and One is for one by Nadia Wheatley on this list. I do have some hope. I saw another favourite book of mine War and Peas by Michael Foreman was finally reprinted last year.

Peter Mayle is so famous for A year in Provence but I would like to tell the world to also read Chilly Billy. If you look on the internet you will see copies for over US$700 not bad for a simple little children’s book that was probably about $2.50 when it was first published.

I also own a copy of the sequel Footprints in the butter. It is not as successful as the first book but it is great to be able to show the children how Peter Mayle continued this story. A big thank you goes to a friend who found this book in a remainder shop over 18 years ago.

If you ever find a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Chilly Billy hold onto it and do not let it go it is one of the most special books of all time.


Knitfiction said...

This was lovely message to hear about. I am the author of SLOPPY KISSES and would so love to see it back in print.

Elizabeth Winthrop

Anonymous said...

I read this book when I was a kid back in Tasmania, Australia. I wanted to buy it for my kids, but was so disappointed when I saw the price. I hope it can be reprinted. I also cannot find it in the local library system.

Momo said...

Glad to hear the Tasmanian connection. This book certainly travelled far. I do wonder how we can get it back into print. I can guarantee hundreds of children that have heard it in my library would love to own a copy. Thanks for your memories of Chilly Billy.

Daniel said...

Chilly Billy!!! My mom read it to me back when I grew up in Japan. One of the two books I can remember reading.

Now I have my own 4 year old little girl and wanted to get a copy....and it's gonna set me back at least a $100! :( Hope they print it soon!

Anonymous said...

Must have been a big hit in Tasmania, I had it too! He also did the 'Where did I come from?" series.

I'm trying to remember a book from my childhood; the only clues I have was that it was about someone (an inventor?) who put to sea on a pedalo(?) and used a sextant, and invented a 'dolphinophone' to talk to dolphins.

My sister suggested that maybe it was part of the Chilly Billy series which I loved as a kid (and am now trying to buy on eBay, gargantuan prices for some special editions though!)....

I don't suppose anyone has any leads? I've tried googling keywords, but no luck so far...

Momo said...

The book you describe about an inventor is sadly not at all related to Chilly Billy or the sequel.