Five Very Bookish Questions with author Kathryn Apel

Which genre of children’s books do you like most and why?

I love picture books and their deceptive simplicity. They’re short… but they have many layers, so you can read them over and over again, finding new things. They’re also warm and inviting for sharing. I read picture books to myself, to babies, to school kids, to my husband, to co-workers, to high schoolers… to anyone!  (I’d read one to you, if I could.) And the thing I notice? Everyone enjoys them! Even though they might not have picked the PB up to read it for themselves.

In a sense if you read expressively, you draw people in no matter WHAT you read. But a great book, like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is begging to be read with expression. Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough is a laughable winner, with voice effects and the added attraction of rhyme.

Which books did you love to read as a young child?

I can’t remember!!! I truly honestly can’t remember much of when I was a young child – which seems an awful waste of memories! Thinking, thinking… I remember loving Lennie the Lamb’ out of the collection, Favourite Fairy Tales – and was soooo excited to discover a copy of the book in a reading corner at a little shop, recently. It wasn’t for sale – was there to keep kids occupied while adults shopped – but my delight must have shown, because the lady in the shop offered me the tatty, well-read book with pages all adrift… and I couldn’t say no.

Oh. And I also remember The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky – but I’m not sure if I remember it for the story (which I liked) or the fact that it was MINE, given to me at the end of preschool. (I also remember the chorus to the little drama we acted out the night I received it, about the fox and his feathered ‘friends’… “And a couple of you will grease my chin before we reach the town-o.”).

AND what is more, I have that picture book now, too… quickly snaffled up at a library cull recently. Goodness. It seems I remember more than I had realised. Maybe these recent re-encounters have proved as good memory jogs.

Which three attributes make for a great children’s book?

Heart (The Lion Who Wanted to Love by Giles Andreae) or humour (Duck in the Truck)

Wordplay (all Lynley Dodd books)

Illustrations – three illustrators who stand out for me: David Miller’s exquisite paper craft, Barbara Reid’s plasticine art – fun to read AND do! And Jeannie Baker’s meticulously detailed collage.

Combined, I think the elements of heart or humour, wordplay and illustrations make for an engaging read for children and adults.

What is your number one tip for encouraging children to read?

Just do it! And find friends you can read with and talk to about reading. At first, reading may seem like a chore, as you’re stumbling over difficult words… but if you keep at it, reading becomes as natural as breathing and it almost sucks you into a magical world of its own.

My son wrote a snapshot poem recently about reading. I think it’s perfect:

around the world

and anywhere –

with a book.


Name three books you wish you’d written.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (love it! So perfectly simple.)
Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd (any of these books)
Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt (Perfect!)

And also special mention to Dog In, Cat Out by Gillian Rubinstein (four words perfectly, playfully placed).

About Kathryn

Kathryn is a children’s author/poet who writes too much. Her goal is to find the perfect word for every situation. Sometimes that’s tricky! Kat co-ordinates the worldwide January Month of Poetry for kids and adults. Her picture book, This is the Mud! has been read on PlaySchool.

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Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.

5 thoughts on “Five Very Bookish Questions with author Kathryn Apel”

  1. Good questions and answers. bertie and the bear was a particular favourite in our house along with posum Magic, Angie the Brave, the Golden Egg book,the list goes on and on.

  2. Thanks for prompting my reflections, Tania. It was good to ponder your questions and put thoughts on paper. Thanks also Dimity, Dale and Sally for dropping by and leaving a comment. DImity, I love my son’s little poem too – and the fact that it has dual meanings, both true.

  3. Loved having you, Kat! It’s fascinating delving in the mind of the author! And I love your book suggestions. x

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