Which genre of children’s books do you like most and why?
I can’t just pick one genre: my top four are fantasy, adventure, history and mystery – and if these can be combined in the one book, that’s the best of all! I also love a little tingle of romance in the blend.
So here are some titles as example: the Harry Potter series; Northern Lights, (Philip Pullman – this is my top favourite of His Dark Materials series – the other two fall off considerably), The Hunger Games; Leon Garfield’s novels (especially Black Jack and Devil in the Fog), Alan Garner’s books, especially The Owl Service, the Narnia series, the Moomintroll books, Allan Campbell McLean’s The Hill of the Red Fox, Nicholas Stuart Gray’s The Stone Cage. And more. Lots more!
Which books did you love to read as a young child?
All the above (of course, excluding the modern titles), plus books of fairytales and myths: Roger Lancelyn Green’s Tales of the Greek Heroes, the Hamish Hamilton collections of stories of fairies, dragons, mermaids, giants, etc, stories of King Arthur; all the Tintin books in English and French, plus heaps of French titles in abridged form, such as Michel Strogoff by Jules Verne, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and Capitaine Fracasse by Theophile Gautier.
Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven were big favourites (but I didn’t much like her school or fantasy series, for some reason.) I also loved Nancy Drew and Donna Parker mystery series. I loved ghost stories too and scared myself silly reading them till late at night!
Which three attributes make for a great children’s book?
All these books I’ve quoted have the right attributes: gripping stories, vivid characters, memorable voice. Pretty much the same attributes as for any great book full stop!
What is your number one tip for encouraging children to read?
Let them read what they want but don’t be afraid to introduce them to new things. And show them by example rather than lecture how exciting reading is!
Name three books you wish you’d written.
Born in Indonesia of French parents, Sophie Masson came to Australia at the age of 5 and spent most of her childhood shuttling between France and Australia, an experience which underlies much of her work. She is the author of more than 50 books, mainly for children and young adults, published in Australia and internationally. Her recent historical novel for children, The Hunt for Ned Kelly, won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Her most recent novels are The Boggle Hunters (Scholastic), Moonlight and Ashes (Random House) and Ned Kelly’s Secret (Scholastic).