MY LIFE IN BOOKS: Maudie Smith
I’ve read two children’s books this week in two different age ranges, one by a debut author and one by a past master.
Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, which is published this month, is a very touching story. Cosmo, the young hero, is trying to come to terms with his beloved grandfather’s memory loss and finds himself bound up in the past in the most extraordinary way. It is very beautifully written and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from this gifted storyteller.
Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner, the first of the Wings & Co series, is a comic fairy tale for the modern world. I love Sally’s original take on life and language, both of which shine through here. The illustrations by David Roberts are marvellous and make this book doubly desirable.
My favourite comfort reads: Let’s see, I think I’d be going back to the books my children and I enjoyed at the end of a long day when they were small. Jill Murphy’s Peace at Last has all the elements a picture book needs and really tickles the senses; Dogger by Shirley Hughes, is to my mind the perfect story for young children, superbly complemented by the illustrations which capture the jolly shabbiness of life so cleverly.
Books that made me want to be a children’s writer:I’m not sure if I was actually aware of this process going on inside me but I think I might plump for Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. Seuss got me thinking about language and how very playful you can be with it. He may also have been the first to show me what larks are available if you plop a fantasy character into the real world. Catherine Storr (Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf), Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking) and Roald Dahl (The BFG) all helped with that too.
Books that made me cry. I’m most likely to cry at books when I’m reading aloud. I recall this happening with Journey to the River Seaby Eva Ibbotson who ties up all her emotional threads so well, and Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo. My daughters laughed at me when they heard my voice break but I bet that was only to hide their own tears! Patrick Ness can make me cry too, no problem – I’m thinking of both A Monster Calls and The Knife of Never Letting Go.
Books I wish I’d written. Hmm. There are lots of these. I’d love to have written The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber, The King of Capri by Jeanette Winterson or maybe The Railway Children; I’d take pretty well anything by Patrick Ness or Frank Cotterell Boyce and I’d like to have been the one to have thought of Mrs Pepperpot – but mostly I just want to write the book that I’m meant to write, however good or bad it may turn out to be – I’m interested to find out what my next one will be like!
The book everyone should read. This is so hard but I think today I’ll go for a classic, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce. I only came to this one recently. It’s got some archaic words in it but the mysterious story of the boy crossing the boundaries of reality is one that really endures.
Thanks for having me!
What a great selection, than you so much!