Children’s author Glyn Walden has revealed his latest hero: Lionel, the football playing wallaby.
Like Gabby the duck and Katy the cat who went before him, Lionel has a problem. “He can only do things two-footed. His tackling is dreadful and when he tries to kick the ball he ends up on his backside,” said Mr Walden. So like the characters in Mr Walden’s earlier books, Lionel is jeered when he tries to join in a game of football on the park at Diss. But Harvey the all-knowing frog comes to his rescue. “Harvey is the oracle. He teaches Lionel to play with his head and his tail.
The point of the books is to get people to come to Diss and have fun and enjoy the park
“He gets the kids on Lionel’s side, he scores a winning goal and they learn to be a bit more generous.”
Acceptance and overcoming a handicap are themes in Mr Walden’s books which are set in the Big Park - which is actually the award-winning Diss park.
A former Diss Town and South Norfolk councillor, Mr Walden is a champion of the park. “It is a jewel in South Norfolk’s crown,” he said.
“The point of the books is to get people to come to Diss and have fun and enjoy the park.”
Diss Express cartoonist and artist Mike Webb, who illustrated the earlier books, has again collaborated with Mr Walden in Lionel Lands The Winner. “There really are some cracking pictures,” he said.
Mr Walden is himself an example of overcoming a handicap. The former headteacher, who was made an honorary alderman for 40 years in public service, is battling back after a series of strokes last year. He has already created the character and title of his next book - a cricketing tortoise in Tyler Takes It On. Although Mr Walden cannot drive or play his guitar he is determined to get back into his garden. He is able to produce his books in draft form and, keeping it in the family, his teacher son Robert then gets them ready for the printer. A publication date for Lionel’s story is expected shortly.