Before I start, I want to thank Amanda for so kindly allowing me to write a guest blog for her wonderful site.
have always been an avid reader - now, at aged (AHEM … *CLEARS
THROAT*) I am literally never without a book in my hand. I read
everything I can get my hands on (including the backs of cereal boxes -
trust me, you can learn a lot from them) and treasure all my books (my
favourite is over 120 years old and is in bad condition - it was like
that when I was given it).
often work with children and they roll their eyes when I tell them off
for desecrating their books - turning the corners over damages them.
Who knows, maybe your favourite book will become a collector’s item one
are your favourite authors? Do you like any of the classics and - more
to the point, what makes a classic? I love Enid Blyton even at my age
- in fact, it was one of her books (The Little House At The Corner)
which revealed my path to me. The minute I read that book, I knew I was
going to be an author (which is a dream I have fulfilled).
remember one of the first books I ever fell in love with - sadly I
can’t remember the title but the subject and cover remain firmly lodged
in my head. It was about an astronaut and the training he went through
(fiction but based on fact) and, bizarrely had a black and pink cover.
Why do I recall that book with so much affection? Because I went
through a phase of copying the stories out by hand - this was the first
one I did it with.
before you adults shout ‘PLAGIARISM’ at me, let me explain. I never
intended to publish and pretend it was my own. The aim was to learn my
craft and - even from a young age - I knew that there is a connection
between the brain and hand.
learned about sentence structure and length - if you write a poem, it
is fine to have, say five words to every sentence but it becomes
monotonous if you try to do it in everyday writing.
also discovered the importance of choosing JUST the right words.
Without that, the scene can be black and white - not even any contrast.
someone who is tired. They may be described as yawning or rubbing
their eyes … that tells you nothing about HOW tired they are. However,
what if they COLLAPSED into a chair with a heavy sigh of relief and
wiped the sweat off their face? Now you get a completely different
picture of how they feel - it is more realistic.
think that’s one reason I love Enid Blyton so much - she brings a scene
to life. The characters sing and dance off the page - she also has the
gift for making you laugh with her descriptions. Check out the Five
Findouters (which are available in huge books, each containing a
trilogy) and I challenge you not to laugh when Freddy is disguised as
the author herself.
she is classed as ‘old fashioned’ and no book is above criticism (even
my own). Her writing style is third person omniscient (also known as
head hopping). Now that is out of favour at the moment but I don’t see
why. She goes so far as to tell us what Kiki the Parrot is thinking in
one story … OK, so maybe that IS going a little too far but she’s still
immensely popular today and a little known series of her books have been
found recently - as a result, she appears to be having something of a
So, am I saying that she’s the only writer worth reading? NO!
a writer, I’m forced to keep up with current trends (oh, what a
tiresome job it is, too - NOT!) so I have to read books by modern
books are very different to those I grew up with. Back in the 1970’s
we had titles such as Mrs Pepperpot, Milly Molly Mandy, The Five
Children and It and the Swish of the Curtain. Fast forward to modern
times and the trends have changed dramatically - very few books have
survived the test of time. Now David Williams and Tom Gates have the
top spot, along with Michael Morpego and JK Rowling.
think what I like about these books is that the stories may well be
silly and laugh out loud (certainly in the case of David Walliams) but
they usually raise some very important issues (such as prejudging people
in the case of Mr Stink; and what life would really be like if you had
billions of pounds - not as much fun as you might expect as Joe from the
Billionaire Boy discovers). I am delighted to see a few classics have
stood the test of time such as Stig of the Dump, I am David, Anne of
Green Gables and the wonderful Heidi. Sadly most books do not remain
popular for long enough to become a classic.
reader is required to think more than their ancestors (now I am showing
my age, using that word). When I was young, most of the stories were
just that - fictional, exciting tales. We would read them and play
games based on their adventures. However, these days, books seem to be
focussed on messages. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this -
just that I miss the days of reading for pure pleasure.
guess that’s why I write the way I do … but even I have been forced to
conform if I want my work traditionally published. My stories, I now
realise DO contain messages of hope but I hope I don’t ram it down the
throats of the readers. I hope they are fun and make people laugh -
only you, the reader, can judge. In this paragraph I have committed the
cardinal sin of repeating the word hope close together several times -
but that is done for effect).
book that did surprise me was Chris Colfer’s The Land of Forgotten
Stories. I love the premise of this (which has become a running theme
recently). In this series (I believe we are up to book 6 now …) which
make me laugh and cry off the page (quite the achievement, believe me!)
the author asks what happened AFTER the fairy story ended. Did Snow
White and her stepmother bury the hatchet? What happened to Red Riding
Hood? And WHO is the Frog Prince? These and other stories are explored
in depth, with the twist being that the famous Fairy Godmother actually
has two grandchildren from our world - both of whom fall into a huge
book and find themselves in their land (somehow I love the frog prince
best). I expected it to be silly but it’s so easy to engage with the
characters and you, the reader, delight in the joy of rediscovering old
friends - the only one I don’t think he’s brought into it is Beauty and
the Beast (sad, as that’s my all time favourite fairy tale).
like Enid Blyton, Chris Colfer writes in third person omniscient and
pulls it off. Personally, I don’t like first person (which is the
current trend) - it’s rare that I find a book it works in. For me, the
problem is I cannot suspend disbelief. I’m really not riding into the
sunset towards Cinderella’s castle with wolves baying at my back … OK,
I’m mixing my stories but you get the idea.
Many children have asked why I love reading and writing - well my answer will always be the same, regardless of the activity.
ESCAPISM. Remember, you can never be lonely when you are a reader because the characters will keep you company.
Disney have started adding messages to their books and films - that’s a
subject for another blog if I’m ever invited back! **HINT! HINT**
on a personal drive to make reading fun for children. Let me know in
the comments which your favourite books are and why. You never know, I
may be inspired to read one of them and perhaps they may even become a