JASPER is a little dog with big ideas. In fact, he's convinced he's a Viking.

When he hears that the Viking Museum in his home town of Bogna is recruiting actors, he gets his owner Charlie Tanner (aged eight and a half) to write to the museum asking if Jasper can be considered for the role of a Viking dog.

Charlie does so - and what happens next is told in a series of hilarious letters swapped back and forth between Charlie and the Viking Museum's curator Astrid in Hilary Robinson's brilliant new children's book Jasper: Viking Dog.

"Dear Astrid," Charlie writes. "Jasper believes he may have Viking roots. I know acting as a Viking dog is not the sort of thing dogs would normally want to do, but Jasper is not like normal dogs. He came from a rescue centre. He wonders whether he was left on their doorstep one night by a Viking invader."

"Dear Charlie," Astrid replies. "I can confirm that Vikings did indeed keep dogs. They used dogs for hunting animals. I think if Jasper were to be a Viking dog in a museum he would have to show what Viking dogs did, rather than sit around posing ...for selfies."

"Dear Astrid," Charlie writes back excitedly. "I have discussed this with Jasper and we think he would make an excellent hunting or herding dog in your museum...We don't think anyone has ever seen a moose and a bear running around a museum car park in Bogna, chased by a Viking dog. So it would be a great way of attracting visitors."

"Dear Charlie," Astrid replies. "I am not sure how we would feel about having a moose, or a bear either, in the museum. It might frighten the visitors..."

Children may already be familiar with Jasper. He first appeared in Hilary's book Jasper: Space Dog, published last year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. No prizes for guessing what he wanted to be in that book.

But why a Viking?

She's always wanted to write about Vikings, admits Hilary, an award-winning children's author and radio producer who lives near South Millford. She's also a big fan of Jorvik - and in fact staff at the museum helped her research and fact-check her book. Which may explain why the Bogna Viking Museum sounds so uncannily like Jorvik...

But why did she call her town Bogna? "I think it sounds funny!" she says. Which, let's face it, it does.

So does Jasper get to fulfil his dream of acting as a Viking dog by the end of the book?

That would be telling.

But along the way, he and Charlie certainly learn an awful lot about the Vikings from Astrid. Like the fact that Vikings bleached their hair blond with potash soap. Or that some Viking warriors (like Harald Bluetooth) carved grooves into their teeth and painted them, to make themselves look more fierce. Or that there's no evidence they ever wore horned helmets. Charlie and his pet also learn that, sadly, no-one has yet found poo from a Viking dog...

Hilary is bang up-to-date with developments in York. There's even mention of a forthcoming Roman museum.

At one point, in a desperate attempt to get himself taken on as a Viking dog actor, Jasper gets Charlie to write: "Jasper thinks it might be a good idea if you start to think about different ways of attracting tourists. He thinks they may all go to the Roman museum instead of the Viking museum if you do not." Sage advice for any museum...

So grateful is Hilary to the Viking museum for its help on her book that she will be launching it during this year's Jorvik Viking Festival, which runs from February 15-23.

She will be at York Explore Library in Museum Street from 2pm on Wednesday February 19 to sign books. You'll also get a chance to meet Harald Bluetooth, go to Viking art school ...and take part in a Viking Quiz.

Jasper: Viking Dog by Hilary Robinson will be published on February 19 by Strauss House, priced £7.99.

Tickets for the official book launch at York Explore are £7 from jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk