Northern Children’s Book Festival: Author Ian Brown set to visit Sunderland schools with stories of celebrity tortoise Albert

The adventures of a beloved pet tortoise named Albert will entertain Sunderland schoolchildren as part of this year’s Northern Children’s Book Festival.

Author Ian Brown, creator of the Albert the Tortoise book series, will visit Benedict Biscop C.E. Academy and Hill View Academy in the city on Wednesday, November 16. While in Sunderland, he will read some of his stories to the children and talk about his career as a writer.

Ian, who worked as a journalist before becoming a TV writer, producer and author, said: “It’s great to be visiting Sunderland once more. It was a regular location for This Is Your Life shows. Visiting the schools is wonderful and the reception for the books from the youngsters is great. I hope a return visit can be planned.”

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Illustrated by Eoin Clarke, Ian’s books are inspired by real-life tortoise Albert, who is more than 80 years old and has been a family pet for more than five decades. He was rescued by Ian’s wife Millie more than 50 years ago, when she was a child herself.

Ian Brown will visit schools in Sunderland on Wednesday, November 16. He's pictured here with Albert the tortoise, the inspiration for his books. Picture: Ian Brown.

Since the release of first book Albert Upside Down in 2021, Albert has gathered thousands of fans across the globe. Also in the four-book series are Albert and the Wind, Albert Supersize and Albert in the Air.

Ian, who’s based in London, added: “Albert seems to be taking all this in his stride. He has become a bit of a diva but that might just be his age. We’ve all been amazed at how his popularity has grown. He has fans across the UK, USA, Japan and Australia.

“It took me thirty years to get a publishing deal, trying in between TV work, but Albert was the inspiration I needed.”

Celebrity fans raving about Albert include YouTuber and Strictly Come Dancing star Joe Sugg, ex-Emmerdale actor and I’m A Celebrity 2021 winner Danny Miller and influencer Lydia Bright.

Albert the tortoise, inset, along with one of Ian Brown's book covers. Pictures supplied by Ian Brown.

Ian has also expanded his book credits with the recent release of Hugg ‘n’ Bugg Finding Home, the first in a new series of books featuring a scruffy yeti and a mountain flea who does not like the cold.