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Book deal for Gaspard the friendly fox

BBC newsreader pens children’s book set in Islington after befriending a neighbourhood fox

10 May, 2018 — By Emily Finch

BBC newsreader Zeb Soanes with Gaspard

FOXES are often blamed for anti-social night-time activities such as ripping up bin bags and loud tortured screams, but not Gaspard, the lovable star of a new children’s book set in Islington.

BBC newsreader Zeb Soanes, 41, from Canonbury, was inspired to pen the story after befriending a neighbourhood fox, which he named Gaspard, two years ago.

“A couple of friends told me that my friendship with Gaspard had all the makings of a children’s story,” said the BBC Radio 4 newsreader whose voice has warned of incoming gales on the shipping forecast.

A publisher got in touch with Mr Soanes about a book deal after an article on his relationship with the foxes appeared online.

The new children’s book starring Mr Soanes’s namesake

He said: “I studied creative writing at university so I was excited to write this book. I was inspired by Gaspard and foxes. They are beautiful and magical, so clever and wily. I like that they are neither cats nor dogs but have features of both.”

He believed at first that Gaspard was a male fox, but was surprised to learn it was in fact a vixen when she brought her new-born cubs along for a visit.

“She’s so trusting of me and it was amazing to see her cubs,” said Mr Soanes, who lives off Southgate Road.

One of her cubs from last year – Mr Soanes calls her Goupil, an old French word for fox – still lives in the area and is often seen acc­ompany­ing his mother.

Mr Soanes, originally from Lowesoft, moved to Islington 12 years ago.

He sits and talks to Gaspard and Goupil on his doorstep, discussing what went on during his day and his favourite news topics.

The foxes feature in Mr Soanes’ new book, with Gaspard going on an adventure around the borough and even dropping in at the popular Angel canal festival.

Fans of the fox are invited to a book launch at Waterstones, in Islington Green, from midday on May 12. Those present will receive a special paw-print stamp from Gaspard.

Gaspard the Fox is published by Graffeg.


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