Nursery school children are facing close encounters with tortoises, yetis and dinosaurs in a visit by TV writer-turned-author Ian Brown.

Ian, who has written for cartoon shows like The Simpsons, is holding ‘story time’ sessions at AlphaBlocks nursery in Hadley Wood ahead of World Book Day on March 7, reading from his Albert the tortoise and Hugg ’n’ Bugg series of picturebooks.

Ian, who grew up in Potters Bar, is on a return visit to the school, which teaches youngsters from Enfield, High Barnet and Potters Bar as well as Hadley Wood.

He gives talks about the real Albert, a tortoise that has been in his family for 50 years who is also a big hit on social media as well as being the inspiration for the picture books.   

“It’s been quite a journey for Albert,” Ian explains. “He was rescued by my wife Millie when she was a little girl.

“The last time I visited AlphaBlocks the children made a food box to take back to Albert, who seems to be taking all this in his stride.”

Ian is accompanied in his talks by a lookalike tortoise made from a coconut, as well as a yeti and a T Rex dinosaur.

“The props help me talk about real Albert and to tell the stories,” Ian says.    

Albert the real tortoise is more than 80 years old and has been a pet in Ian’s family for five decades through three generations. The creature has its own pages on Facebook, X, Tiktok and a website, having gathered thousands of fans around the world.

Albert’s appeal has been growing since the first book, Albert Upside Down.

It took Ian 30 years to get a publishing deal for Albert in between his TV work. Ian has TV credits under his belt like the South Bank Show, This Is Your Life tribute show and Top Gear as well as The Simpsons.

But Albert the Tortoise is Ian's best seller with stories like finding himself on his shell upside down and his garden friends teaming up to try and get him back on his feet. Another features a supersize Albert with dinosaurs.

The series aims to introduce early readers to garden creatures in a gentle way.