My latest picture book, I Like Trains, is Book of the Week at Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Libraries this week! I had a lovely time visiting St John’s Wood Library a couple of years ago and had hoped to go back with I Like Trains, so this is a kind of virtual visit – and the upside is anyone anywhere can join in through Facebook.
I’m extremely happy to say that Alphonse, there’s Mud on the Ceiling! has been shortlisted for Oscar’s Book Prize! The prize celebrates the best pre-school book of the year and is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton; the winner will be announced on Monday 25th of May. There are five other brilliant books on the shortlist and you can read more about them, Oscar’s Book Prize and Oscar at www.oscarsbookprize.co.uk/.
I loved making I Do Not Like Books Anymore! because the subject was so important to me – and because it’s always fun to spend time with Natalie and Alphonse. But I also felt quite a lot of anxiety about getting it right, and about how it would be received. Natalie’s struggles with reading, and the ways she and Alphonse find of reclaiming books and stories, were largely based on my own experiences as a child. Things I learnt as a Teaching Assistant and while working for an early-years education charity fed into the book too but I’m (obviously) no expert.
I think all that worrying about making A MASSIVE PEDAGOGICAL/DEVELOPMENTAL ERROR has made it extra-lovely that people have responded so positively to the story. The support of wonderful organisations like Empathy Lab and Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) means a lot – as do all the messages I’ve received from individual teachers, librarians and parents. I especially love it when children make their own books in response to the story, as Natalie and Alphonse do: like these ones shared by teacher @today_we_read on instagram or those I’ve been lucky enough to see develop at workshops and events (below is a very excellent book being created at Heffers in Cambridge in 2018).
There are foldable books to download and fill with stories on my Free stuff page, based on the titles of Natalie and Alphonse’s books – but I’m just as excited if children’s stories have nothing to do with Tomato And The Chair or The Magic Pigeon (although I would love to find out what happens in Whale Goes Shopping).
Even if I get to keep making books for years and years and years, I can’t imagine that receiving advance copies of a new book will ever stop being REALLY EXCITING. This is my third Natalie and Alphonse story: it’s about mud and sticks, living in a flat in the city and being wild. The best place to hear more about the book is probably on my Instagram.