There’s a first time for everything, as they say, and I’d like to think that includes giving a blog post a wildly unrealistic title, cynically designed to draw readers in and drive traffic. Of course there is no magic bullet – and of course you knew that – but with ten years’ personal and professional […]

Here’s a question for you parents: what was your first experience of Shakespeare? Was it reading aloud in turn in a stuffy classroom, or being taken to the theatre and being shushed and told to sit still until the interval and an ice cream bribe? Here’s another question: will your children’s experience be the same, […]

Once upon a time, and not so distant either, there was a child – actually there were plenty of children – who didn’t really like stories. It may be that quite a few of them were boys, but by no means all; from an early age, they just preferred books about real dinosaurs, animals, trains […]

Once upon a distant time, children didn’t read too many stories about animals: certainly not the cuddly, emotive, almost-human sort, nor the majestic, learning-to-respect-Nature sort either. For centuries, as far as most books were concerned, animals were either serviceable or edible (and sometimes both) – and children’s books, if they even existed, were strictly for instruction […]

Happy World Book Day everyone, whether you celebrated on “official” World Book Day yesterday, or (as we did) today. I looked out this morning over a glorious assembly of creatures and characters, including half the Gryffindor common room. Parents all (and I speak as one who was trying to manufacture a raven – Edgar, you […]

I’m conflicted. As a British author, how can I not be delighted that British children’s books are loved around the world – from Alice in Wonderland to Harry Potter by way of the Hobbit? And yet, as a sometime translator, how can I not regret that British children’s publishing is so inward-looking? British adults read only […]

I’m thinking this week of all those coming up to 11+ entrance exams and their families: may it all go well for you. Amidst all the talk of dumbing down and grade inflation, it seems to me that, if anything, 11+ entrance is as hard as it has ever been: having seen the sample question […]