The infectious laugh of Janice Clark, aka the Scottish Granny, has catapulted yet another picture book to global success.
The Scottish Granny’s latest viral hit is a September 22 video of her laughingly reading Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird’s I Need a New Bum!, about a boy who decides he needs a new derriere after discovering his own has a crack in it. The video has been viewed more than a million times across YouTube and Facebook.
Earlier this fall, Clark became an internet phenomenon when a video of her reading Craig Smith and Katz Cowley’s The Wonky Donkey to her infant grandson went viral, pushing the book to the top of multiple bestseller lists. The Wonky Donkey continues to hold the #1 spot on PW’s picture book list. I Need a New Butt! (the title of the U.S. edition of the book) debuted at #5 last week and currently sits at #9.
Initially published in 2012 by New Zealand-based publisher Oratia Books, the book was acquired by Dover Publications at the Frankfurt Book Fair and released in the U.S. in 2014.
“It’s ridiculous the way kids like to be ridiculous,” said Dover publisher Jennifer Feldman, explaining why the company was initially attracted to the book. She said the humor in I Need a New Butt! made it a good fit for Dover’s children’s list. “The art is very, very cute. It’s colorful and it’s fun,” added Feldman, noting that picture books, while not a huge portion of the list, are part of the mix.
Weekly print sales of I Need a New Butt! were in the low double digits until the Scottish Granny’s video started making the rounds online. “It’s always been a fabulous book, but sometimes it takes something extra to get the attention [and] for people to find the book,” said Feldman, who estimates the book has sold more than 100,000 copies since Clark’s video. “We’ve been able to mostly keep it in print, but we’ve been running back for reprints repeatedly, which is an exciting issue to have.”
“I thought to myself, if I keep going here I’m going to make everyone a fortune,” Clark said of her latest success. “I’m just reading to Archer,” she added in reference to her grandson and YouTube co-star.
Coincidentally, in 2019 Dover will release two similarly irreverent titles by the duo behind I Need a New Butt!: Doctor Grundy’s Undies will release in May and Seagull Sid and the Naughty Things His Seagulls Did! will release in June.
Meanwhile, according to the Bookseller, the popularity of Clark’s video has caused Scholastic U.K. to acquire U.K. and Irish rights to the book with a planned release date of December 20.
Unlike The Wonky Donkey, which Clark and her daughter obtained very cheaply while shopping, most of the books Clark now reads online have been sent or suggested by fans, followers, and authors. I Need a New Bum! ended up in Clark’s hands after a friend of author Dawn McMillan sent a copy.
McMillan said she had no idea her friend was going to send the book to Clark, but she’s pleased he did so. “She is just a delightful person and her reading is wonderful,” said McMillan. “And the little baby’s look of bewilderment sort of all goes with it really. I feel very, very privileged that she’s read the book.”
McMillan indicated the Scottish Granny’s video has given I Need a New Bum! a global audience and has been generating international fan email. “I’m happy for it to go round the world if that’s what happens,” said McMillan. “Meanwhile I’ll just enjoy the fact that people are enjoying it.”
Although Clark is based in Australia, her daughter said Facebook stats indicate roughly 90% of the Scottish Granny’s audience is global. At present, the Scottish Granny has more than 70,000 followers on Facebook and more than 20,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel.
“The number of people who’ve started reading to their kids, and all the comments, it’s just really, really nice,” said Clark of her followers. Still, Clark said she doesn’t have any particular plans to capitalize on her success. “I’ve just thought, I’ll read books and keep a smile on their faces,” she said. “It’s fun.”