6 DECEMBER 2008, Page 48

Alternative reading

Surprising literary ventures

Gary Dexter



by Jeffrey Archer

Astonishing prescience for 1981?

Willy and the Killer Kipper — like the first of Jeffrey Archer’s two ‘Willy’ books, Willy Visits the Square World (1980) — is full of delights. A submarine has stalled on the ocean floor, and Willy and his teddy bear, Randolph, set out on the back of the Rightwayup Bird to save it from Konrad the Killer Kipper. On the way they are helped by Sybil the Seagull, an aspiring author and correspondent for the Bird Times who talks loftily about how humans are always plagiarising her articles. Finally Willy and friends prevail, the submarine is saved from the Killer Kipper and the book ends with Willy, flying back home to Cambridge for tea, where his father announces that ‘a famous Hollywood producer is planning to make a film about the whole miraculous escape’. ‘I thought that might happen,’ replies Willy with the sort of bland self-confidence that enables nineyear-old boys to grow up to be peers of the realm. ❑