Up in the clouds with McCartney

LOS ANGELES: Besides being a grandfather, a knight, and a former Beatle, Paul McCartney is now a children’s book author. The 63-year-old singer entertained a young group of cute but squirmy elementary school students on November 10 by reading an excerpt from his new book High in the Clouds and answering questions. The reading got some unexpected responses from the young audience. In the first six pages of McCartney’s book, about an industrious squirrel named Wirral (named after McCartney’s hometown), Wirral’s mother is crushed to death by a tree knocked down by nature-hating developers. From there, he sets off for the mythic animal-loving land of Animalia.

“Why did the author make such sad stories for children?” asked one perplexed little boy.

Caught off-guard, McCartney wrapped his arm around the boy and joked, “To make children cry.”

“But cheer up. It’s going to be all right,” he quickly added.

McCartney co-wrote High in the Clouds with author Philip Ardagh, who was brought in after a first draft to “finesse” the book, McCartney told The Associated Press in a phone interview before the event.

The story was his own idea, McCartney said, and was inspired by his collaboration nearly 10 years ago with animator Geoff Dunbar on the animated short Tropic Island Hum. Dunbar also illustrated High in the Clouds.