The 34 year old England and Chelsea mid fielder and father of two daughters, aged five and eight – Frank Lampard is to write a series of children’s books, he revealed this week. Lampard has signed an exclusive deal with publishers Little Brown, after he said he was inspired by reading stories with his daughters.
The football star, who is currently engaged to Dancing on Ice presenter Christine Bleakley, will write a set of five books, featuring a school boy called Frankie, his football loving friends, and a pet dog Max. The books, called Frankie’s Magic Football, will be suitable for children aged five and above.
Lampard said the stories were “loosely based on friends and team mates”. The footballer will publish his first book, Frankie Versus The Pirate Pillagers, in June, followed by two more this year and another two in 2014. In a statement, Lampard said: “I first had the idea of Frankie and his Magic Football when reading stories to my own children. Sport and reading are two essentials for us at home, so I decided to make up my own football stories and adventures.”
He added: “The characters are loosely based on friends and team mates I’ve played with over the years. I am delighted that Little Brown liked the stories as much as my children and will be publishing the Frankie’s Magic Football series.”
Lampard’s book deal was brokered by Neil Blair and Zoe King, who also represent JK Rowling. They said the books were “full of loveable characters on wacky adventures” and destined for “great things”.
Lampard joins an illustrious list of ‘celebrities’ that have attempted to write children’s fiction, including Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who has written a series of children’s books featuring a character called TJ, and Sarah Ferguson with her now infamous Budgie the Helicopter.
So is it easy to write children’s fiction, or does your captive audience give you an inflated sense of writer’s worth? Author of the successful Astrosaurs books – Steve Cole has misgivings: “Your own child is unlikely to give your bedtime story a bad review, and I imagine that when you’re surrounded by fans and sycophants who’d applaud your every bowel movement it can be easy to get a distorted view of things.” He adds: “I think writing children’s books is considered by celebrities a ‘nice’ and ‘fun’ way to generate a further income stream – and, in fairness, that’s absolutely correct. It’s enormous fun to write escapist fantasy for young children, and easy to play at – but hard to do well.”
And Cole has some advice for would-be authors: “If I were being cynical I’d suggest they’ll discover the importance of editors and ghost writers,” says Cole. “I’d love it if Frank Lampard took this challenge – and this privilege – seriously. I’d suggest that, just as in his own game, without commitment and hard graft and serious ambition, the performance outcome can only ever be mediocre.”
Writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce disagrees that writers have to be professional to be able to construct a good book: “Most of the best books were written by people who were not writing for a living. Within the field of children’s literature, Tolkien and Lewis were academics, Edith Nesbit was a political activist.” The issue is that many celebrities who become children’s authors “are not actually people any more – they’re brands”.
But writer Michael Morpurgo suggests: “Anything that gets children reading is fine.” Especially boys who “are more reluctant to read, so if Lampard is going to write football books, I’d hope that gets more boys reading.”
Frank Lampard’s first book – Frankie Versus The Pirate Pillagers, is set to be released in June 2013.