“Shocked and elated” at chance to help children protect planet 

Protect the Planet by Norfolk vet, tv presenter and author Jess French

Protect the Planet by Norfolk vet, tv presenter and author Jess French - Credit: DK publishing

Norfolk vet and television presenter Jess French loved World Book Day as a child – now she has written one of the books to be offered to millions of children 

Wildlife and animal expert Jess is one of the 12 leading children’s writers invited to create a book for this year’s World Book Day on March 4. 

Jess French

Jess French - Credit: supplied by World Book Day

“I was shocked and elated to be chosen as one of the authors of this year's £1 World Book Day books. I love World Book Day!” said Jess. 

Her book Protect the Planet, aimed at five to eight year olds, will be available free with children’s World Book Day tokens. 

“At school World Book Day was one of my favourite days of the year,” said Jess. “I'm particularly excited that my book is about protecting the planet. It's something I really am passionate about and have written about several times before, but this is the first book that has been so widely accessible, and I think it's my best yet!  

Protect the Planet by Norfolk vet, tv presenter and author Jess French

Protect the Planet by Norfolk vet, tv presenter and author Jess French - Credit: DK publishing

How would you describe Protect the Planet in a sentence?  

"Imagine you could save the world using only kindness. . .Protect the Planet will show you how!"

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Tell us something amazing from your World Book Day book?   

"If we don't make a change, a quarter of the Amazon rainforest will be gone by 2030. But we have the power to save it! By buying products that are kind to the planet we can protect the Amazon and all the plants, animals and people within it."

Are there any key suggestions you could give local families who are keen to protect the planet?  

"Think about your buying habits - do you need all the new things you are buying, could you buy second hand instead and what impact do the products you are buying have on the planet?"

Jess grew up in Norfolk and is now raising her own family in the county. She and her partner recently moved from near Winterton to north Norfolk, where they live with their three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, plus a dog, a cat and hens.  

And although nature-lover Jess has been writing a novel and several new children’s books during the pandemic she said: “It has been great to have so much time to get out exploring and discovering the local wildlife hotspots.” 

She trained as a vet and carried on treating animals alongside writing nature and conservation books for children and working as a television presenter for CBeebies, introducing children to the natural world with shows such as Minibeast Adventure with Jess. She has also led wildlife exploration sessions for groups of schoolchildren.    

TV presenter and veterinary surgeon Jess French. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

TV presenter and veterinary surgeon Jess French. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Unsurprisingly, as a child Jess loved reading about animals. “I loved any book about animals, particularly the Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant and fantasy books like The Wind Singer by William Nicholson.” she said. Now her children love animal books too. “Although maybe that's just what I like to read to them!” she said. “Recently we have also enjoyed Little Cloud by Anne Booth and Sarah Massini. I also read them my picture book Slow Down, Monkey! for the first time this week - it was very nerve wracking in case they didn't like it!” 

As well as Protect the Planet, Jess has several more books out this year including Earth's Incredible Oceans in April and How to Be a Vet and Other Animal Jobs in July.  

“I also have a board book about cat behaviour for pre-schoolers coming out in the summer,” she said. “I'm currently working on things that will publish next year as well as my first novel, which I am submitting to publishers later this month.” 

One of her own favourite World Book Day books was the children’s novel An Eye for an Eye by Malorie Blackman and she said: “I still vividly remember the excitement I felt when selecting my World Book Day books as a child. It’s an incredible honour to be selected to write one myself, especially to address such a crucial and timely issue as protecting our planet.” 

This year’s World Book Day books are: 

Protect the Planet by Jess French, illustrated by Aleesha Nandhra.  

What the Ladybird Heard Play Book by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks. 

There’s a Wolf in Your Book! by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott. 

Luna Loves World Book Day by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers. 

Gigantosaurus Dino-Spot by Jonny Duddle. 

Planet Omar: Operation Kind by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik. 

The River Whale by Sita Brahmachari. 

Skysteppers by Katherine Rundell. 

Little Badman and the Radioactive Samosa by Humza Arshad and Henry White, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff. 

Football School: 20 Fantastic Football Stories by Alexander Bellos and Ben Lyttleton. 

Skulduggery Pleasant: Apocalypse Kings by Derek Landy. 

Kill Joy by Holly Jackson. 

Each is available for just £1, or free with a World Book Day token. Children will either take home a printed token when they return to school or nursery, or be given access to a digital version. The World Book Day books will be available from bookshops and supermarkets. 

World Book Day is on Thursday March 4. It was created by Unesco and offers every UK child and young person the chance to choose a book of their own each year, to encourage reading for pleasure. Research has shown that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future achievement – above family circumstances and parents’ educational background or income. For 1 in 7 children, and 3 in 10 of those receiving free school meals, their first book was a World Book Day book.  

This year’s World Book Day includes a free programme of events featuring all the 2021 authors and illustrators, online and on YouTube, and a new children’s book club and story corner. In her video, Jess French shares tips for children on easy everyday things they can do to help protect the planet. For full details visit worldbookday.com

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