Mini-reviews

As the end of the year approaches and I desperately attempt to catch up on telling you about what I’ve been reading, may I present another bunch of mini-reviews…

Grimsdon (2010) and New City (2014) by Deborah Abila
9780857983220   9781742758558
Is it possible for a book to be both a dystopian sci-fi and a charming kids’ story? These two tales certainly manage it. Plus they throw in some environmental messages. A captivating read about kids in a flooded city after an environmental disaster, and their subsequent move to a new city as refugees.
thriveThrive (2015) by Mary Borsellino

An intriguing YA dystopian novel. Interesting characters and world, but the story is a bit disjointed and oddly paced. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite gel for me. It’s one of those books that I really wanted to love more than I actually did.

9781760154035300 Minutes of Danger (2015) by Jack Heath

Ten linked short stories that are fast-paced and EXCITING! Suspense, danger and action are the driving forces here. I love the concept of linked story collections like this. You get the immediacy of short fiction with the bigger picture of longer fiction, all in one book.

9780575086937Patient Zero (2009) by Jonathan Maberry

This is the first book in the popular Joe Ledger series, about a cop who goes to work for a special ops government agency, The Department of Military Sciences. This is a hard-edged, fast-paced techno-thriller about terrorists using a bio-weapon that turns people into zombies. Ledger is a wonderfully engaging character and Maberry is a master of this genre. The rest of the series is lined up on my to-be-read pile.

51gqzolrwll-_sx354_bo1204203200_Just Plain Cat (1981) by Nancy K Robinson

A nice story about a young boy and his newly acquired pet cat. Below this surface story are family relationships and the experiences of starting at a new school. All handled with quite a lovely old fashioned touch.

9780994469335Zombie Inspiration (2016) by Adam Wallace, illustrated by James Hart

Mad, bonkers fun! During a zombie apocalypse, with much brain-eating, Adam, James and Stacey run, hide, dispatch zombies and learn a little about themselves. A unique and innovative idea, this book is linked to an online course about using zombies as inspiration to be all you can be. Check it out!

9781741663099The Laws of Magic: Moment of Truth (2010) by Michael Pryor

This is the second-last book in Pryor’s wonderful, magical, engaging and totally awesome series set in an alternative history Edwardian period, where magic and science co-exist. I love then so much, I’ve been reading one book a year in order to try and make them last. I’ll read the final one next year.

thumb_cover_not_just_a_piece_of_cake_jpgNot Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author (2015) by Hazel Edwards

Hazel Edwards, author of the famed picture book, There’s A Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, has dipped into her own life story for this engaging memoir. It has a lovely conversational tone that makes you feel like you’re privy to a private chat rather than reading a book. Edwards doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, presenting a warts and all story. Loved it!

9780994358356Hijabi Girl (2016) by Hazel Edwards and Ozge Alkan, illustrated by Serena Geddes

Fiction, especially children’s fiction, can do extraordinary things. It can often achieve outcomes that no amount of lecturing or shouting from rooftops can. It can be enlightening while also being entertaining. It can promote understanding while also telling a good story. And this is what Hijabi Girl does. It’s a good story about kids in a school. Like all kids they have their friendships and difficulties; they deal with teachers and teasing; they have their likes and dislikes. They are ordinary kids doing ordinary things. But one of them happens to be Vietnamese. And another is a Muslim girl who wears a hijab. The cultural differences among these kids are simply part of everyday life, along with all the other little differences between them. One character likes soccer, another likes drawing; one character is into princesses, another likes Aussie Rules footy; one character eats rice paper rolls, another eats only halal food; one character has a pet rat, the others don’t; one character wears a hijab, the others don’t. In the end, difference is not only accepted, but celebrated. As it should be in real life. More kids books like this please!

Catch ya later, George

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This picture book is on FIRE!

A small pile of review books arrived in the post today. I’m super busy with writing deadlines at the moment, so I went to put them aside… but a picture book caught my attention. I was familiar with the author, Adam Wallace, and the illustrator, Andrew Plant. So I thought I’d have a quick flick through it. After flipping through a few pages I simply couldn’t put it back down. I was compelled to read it, study it, go over each page in great detail, read it to my daughter… and then review it. Because I can’t not tell you (oh look… a double negative) about this extraordinary book straight away. What is it? I hear you all shout.

It is a book with the deceptively simple title of SPARK. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before.

spark

It’s a book about a bushfire. It’s told from the perspective of the fire. And to say anything more would be to give away the joy and surprise of reading it for the first time.

vanillakidSpark is written by Adam Wallace, the guy behind such wonderfully popular books as The Vanilla Slice Kid (shortlisted for a YABBA award this year), Accidentally Awesome and Jamie Brown is NOT Rich. He’s also the evil genius behind the awesome Zombie Inspiration book/course/website (go check it out).

Adam is known for his no-holds-barred humour, but with Spark he demonstrates that he is equally adept at lyrical, playful and intense words. This book is beautifully written, the words leaping off the page, demanding to be read out loud.

We tore through forests.
We flew over rivers.
We razed homes.
The clouds cried, but their tears sizzled off my back.

poppyI am a HUGE fan of Andrew Plant’s work. He is an extraordinary illustrator and storyteller. Go take a look at his picture book, The Poppy. It’s one of my all-time favourite picture books. His illustrations for Spark are GORGEOUS! They live and breathe. They are soft and gentle, intense and ravenous, and captivatingly striking.

This is such an amazing book, I just want to keep going. But I’m running out of superlatives here. I would like to highly recommend that you all (whether you have kids or not… because a great picture book is not just for children) rush out and buy this book straight away… but it doesn’t get released until October. But you can go and order it! I really think you should.

Catch ya later, George

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Review – Disastrously Daring! by Adam Wallace

Disastrously Daring!, Adam Wallace (author), James Hart (illus.), Krueger Wallace Press, 2016 (the year of the ninja).

imageOn par with it predecessors, Accidentally Awesome! (review) and Blunderingly Brilliant!, Disastrously Daring! knows laughter is the best medicine. However, we all know that Jackson Payne’s recipe is so often one for disaster rather than a cure!

Adam Wallace and James Hart once again brilliantly combine for some eye-balling, head-smacking cracking good fun in this ‘whack-y’ illustrated chapter book for kiddos from age seven. With plenty of live action, mild violence and slapstick humour to keep its readers on their toes, this one hits a hole in one for the biggest (and tiniest) of golf enthusiasts.

Jackson’s Dad has only but the best of intentions for his son, hoping to encourage him to overcome his clumsiness and move past the obviously clear failings at anything sports related. But Jackson’s Dad’s genuine humility turns into nothing more than total humiliation… again and again and again (x lots).

imageIt doesn’t take long for the disasters to start rolling out. In fact, it happens the minute they step out of the car with a toe-studded mishap. And that’s just the beginning. Jackson’s day on the golf course is one unfortunate ball-to-head-bumping incident after the other. The poor, unlucky victim is snooty club member, Darnell; a funny moustache-sporting, villain-look alike with a posh voice. He is hosting Jackson and his Dad on the course for the day. But in Jackson’s well-intentioned efforts to make his dad proud, Darnell is knocked out on many occasions and is also Jackson’s suspect of some evil, suspicious and criminal behaviour.

After an exhausting, embarrassing (and hilarious) series of stray balls, trudges through bunkers and swamps and lunatic golf cart driving, Jackson is ready to surrender to sports all together. Thank goodness for Jackson’s gorgeous Nan who tries ever so hard to talk some sense into the senseless head of his.

Two important successes are achieved: 1. He is able to explain his feelings to his Dad without judgement, and 2. Darnell IS in fact an evil, suspicious and criminal villain as Jackson, most disastrously daringly, uncovers his stolen jewels and thieving record. What a champion!

Adam Wallace’s mission is clear; to facilitate and empower ‘awesomeness’ within his readers, and to stuff them with endless laughs and cringes that they will be bursting to read the whole ‘Jackson’ series again and again. And James Hart’s scattered, witty illustrations throughout the book perfectly complement the sharp comedy and energy that the story conveys.

Disastrously Daring! suits those silly-and-ridiculous-book-loving independent readers to a tee, or is it tea? Whichever!

imageFind out more about author Adam Wallace, illustrator James Hart and crook Darnell at the end of the book.

Adam also has a website and a blog showcasing his new initiative for encouraging ‘awesomeness’. His campaign for his book and inspirational course, ‘Zombie Inspiration’, ends soon so be sure to pledge here.

James Hart can be found at his website.

Darnell would rather not be found. Besides, I don’t think jail cells have a website address.

image

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Adam Wallace Is ‘Accidentally Awesome!’

996029_10151963055537069_1799375660_nYou may remember my ‘Awesome Author Interview with Adam Wallace’ from last year (if not, click the link!). Adam Wallace has had heaps of books published over the last 10 years, including the totally gross chapter book series ‘Better Out Than In’ and ‘Better Out Than In Number Twos’, the frightening ‘Pete McGee’ trilogy, the freshly-pressed ‘Random’, and picture books including ‘The Negatees’, ‘The Share-a-Not’ and ‘Mac O’Beasty’.
Well, he’s back again with some more ‘awesomeness’ and side-splitting comedy for us! Introducing his brand-spanking-new junior fiction chapter book (which is the first in the planned series, and of which he self published, by the way), ‘Accidentally Awesome!’  

accidentally+awesomeHave you ever done something so embarrassing that actually made you a hero? Have you ever hurtled down a hill on your bike, only to fortuitously crash into a handbag thief and save the day? What about setting off an airshow of false teeth in the old age home, only to have them miraculously reunited with open mouths? Well, Jackson Payne has done these things. But he didn’t mean to. He became totally awesome by accident.  

In Adam Wallace and James Hart’s ‘Accidentally Awesome’, young readers will relish every bit of Jackson’s highly entertaining, yet somewhat unbelievable, journey that sees him come full circle.    

With loads of slapstick comedy to have you bursting at the ribs, this story is not for the faint-hearted. Head butting crooks, rescuing half-frozen cats, and pleasing old, slobbering ladies give Jackson plenty of reason to want to quit fluking happy endings. But when he does, this causes more problems like blood noses, squashing innocent birds and allowing bank robbers to escape. Super evil villain doesn’t suit him either, so deciding to help people on purpose seems like the way to go. Jackson ropes the bank robber in to his genius plan; to use his ‘accidental awesomeness’ for stopping him from mugging Mr Popadopolus, the cupcake man. When his plan doesn’t exactly, well, go to plan, Nan is there to teach him some life lessons, in a roundabout, obtuse, confusing kind of way. The point: Be Yourself.  
Accidentally awesome pic2 After long thought, some rest and a giant sun cupcake literally visiting him in his dreams, Jackson finally realises that being lucky is something to appreciate and helping people is reward in itself. In a hilarious ending involving Jackson and the bank robber, and a whole big rhyming debate, he returns to true form of being his clumsy ‘accidentally awesome’ hero self once more, and saves the day.  

Adam Wallace’s language is clever, conversational and completely comical. His wit is sharp, with phrases like, ”If I tell the absolute no-lie stick a needle in my eye truth…” (Get it? Needle = Sharp!). And equally humorous and expressive are illustrator, James Hart’s energetic drawings that perfectly compliment the ludicrous situations in the story. ‘Accidentally Awesome!’ is highly recommended for kids from six years old who are looking for an engaging laugh-out-loud (LOL!) read.              
Krueger Wallace Press, 2015.

I just had to know a bit more, so I asked Adam a few questions…

Congratulations on the release of ‘Accidentally Awesome!’. How have you felt about your self publishing journey?
Well, it’s been a long one. The first book I ever published was a self-published book, way back in 2004. So it is like I have sort of gone full-circle now, going back to full self-publishing. Now though I have a chunk of experience to fall back on, and also a fan base I have built up over the years. So I am heading in with a stronger starting point, and hopefully that will be a bonus!  

What was your favourite part of the story to write?
There are two parts really. I loved writing the conversation between Jackson and his nan. Doing dialogue like that is really fun, especially making Jackson kinda dopey in it. But I also really liked writing the slapstick humour, trying to get across the physicality of what was happening and keeping it sharp and funny.

What has it been like to work with illustrator, James Hart?
He’s awesome, and not accidentally! James and I have wanted to work together for years now, and as soon as I was able to choose the illustrator, he was top of my list. He’s kind of a legend, and we had some great fun meeting and working out the stories.

What is your best ‘accidentally awesome’ moment of all time?
Oooooh, good question … now it needs a good answer! I think it was the time I tried to put money on 19 at the casino and the chip slipped onto 20 and I was too shy to let them know it was the wrong number but then 20 came up!!! Totally accidental, totally awesome!

Thanks heaps, Adam! That was ‘ORSM’! (Adam’s new way of spelling ‘awesome’!)             

Contact Adam Wallace and get a signed copy of his book at:
www.adam-wallace-books.com
He’s on Facebook, too:
www.facebook.com/wallysbooks

Awesome Author Interview: Adam Wallace

received_m_mid_1408443449328_c66032bcbb1d9cf649_0I recently had the pleasure of meeting funny man and children’s book author, Adam Wallace, creator of titles including Mac O’Beasty, The Negatees, The Pete McGee series, Jamie Brown is Not Rich, and Better Out Than In. I am even more fortunate that he has agreed to answer some of my questions!

Firstly, congratulations on being shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2014 for Better Out Than In Number Twos!
Thanks heaps, Romi! It was definitely a shock and a thrill. I am in very esteemed company too, nominated among names like Griffiths, Jennings and Marsden. I mean, I’ve never heard of these wannabee authors, but someone tells me they’re pretty good. I might check them out sometime.

9780987463531Can you please tell us a brief run down on what the story is about?
Well, it’s all very sophisticated, a story of class and romance … oh no, wait, that’s not my book, that’s Pride and Prejudice. Mine has six short stories, all in rhyme, and all extremely gross, disgusting and funny! It’s the sequel to Better Out Than In, which was all very sophisticated … ah dammit, I did it again. That one’s gross too. Basically, I wanted to make children laugh and get a buzz out of reading, so it’s about things that make kids laugh.

Considering the nature of this series, I’m a bit wary to ask… how did the idea for these come about?
Well, they’re all based on my wife, Andrea … haha, just kidding. Actually, there is one story based on something she did once but I won’t tell you which one it was.
It was Bob’s Burp.
I wrote the very first story, Whoops, because I had been writing stories with messages. They were still funny, but I wanted to write something that was just funny. So I wrote it, read it to some kids at the After Care I was working at, and they loved it and asked for more stories on similar topics and I just went from there.

Do you have plans to write Better Out Than In Number Threes? Fours? Fives?
Haha, I wasn’t going to, but then a kid at a school said that if I did a third one I should call it Better Out Than In the Turd. I was gobsmacked. I thought it was genius, pure genius. So now I am slightly tempted to give it a go, but only after I have finished the projects I am currently working on.
Better Out Than In the Turd.
Hahahaha. Genius.
Sounds awesome! Do it!

Besides writing disgustingly funny stories, I understand you make visits to schools around Melbourne. What’s it like meeting a bunch of excitable kids?
I love it! It is so much fun. It is totally draining at the same time, but it really gives me a buzz. They have such great energy, and are such an honest crowd. They will only react to something if they really like it (or don’t like it), so when you can get a whole group laughing you know you have earned it.

What are your favourite things to do with them?
I do readings, I do brainstorming activities, and I do cartooning with them, and they’re all my favourite! With the reading I love getting a laugh out of them, and with the brainstorming I love the brilliant and often hilarious ideas they come up with. With drawing, I love seeing them take what I show them and turn it into their own unique version.

What’s the most impressive piece of work or display, relating to you, that you’ve seen from the kids?
I went to Tucker Rd Primary School in Bentleigh the other week, and they had done a display covering an entire wall. It had facts about me, questions for me, Wanted posters about me, pictures of me and, most impressive of all, a working toilet on the wall! When I say working, you could pull a string and the lid would open up! So awesome!
A tribute to Adam Wallace… nice!

Have they said anything funny or shocking that caught you by surprise? How did you deal with that?
One time I gave what I thought was an awesome session to some preps, and at the end I asked if there were any questions. One kid up the front put up his hand and said, ‘Why are your ears pointy like an elf?’ It had obviously been playing on his mind the whole session, so I thought I should answer him honestly and openly.
‘Because I’m half-elf,’ I said.
‘Okay,’ was his response.
I have got some mileage out of that one!
Then last week I had this great exchange.
Kid: Does your hand get sore when you write your stories?
Me: Sometimes, because I hold my pen funny.
Kid: YOU WRITE YOUR STORIES WITH A PEN??????????
Me: hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Do you ever get time away from kid-type ventures? Do you have any other hobbies?
Ummm, does an afternoon nap count? Oh, actually, I guess kids do that too. If I call it a siesta I think that makes it grown up, though! I do have some hobbies. I love playing golf, although don’t do it nearly enough. I also love going to live comedy and live music, and do that as often as I am able. I am also trying to teach myself piano. I learnt when I was about 8, so it is slowly coming back to me.

Are you ever serious? Or is there constant laughter in your household?
I tried being serious once, but I wasn’t very good at it. It was kind of boring, and so was I!!! We do like to laugh a lot in our house, often at my dancing skills, but I haven’t tried to get my wife to piggy back me since the great piggy back dancing debacle of 2013.
Let us never speak of that again.

Can you reveal any more that us ‘Adam Wallace’ fans can expect from you in the near future?
Well I can’t reveal too much. Last time I did that there were police involved! Oh … you mean books! Whoops!
I have a book called Random which is currently being edited and laid out, and there is a tentative release date of early 2015. That’s just a random collection of random things and random pictures scattered randomly throughout a random book!
I also have a book about to be illustrated by the awesome James Hart that will hopefully be out at around the same time. That one’s called Accidentally Awesome, and is the first of what will be a long series. It’s a about a totally clumsy kid whose clumsiness leads to awesomeness … eventually.
That sounds very exciting! We’ll be sure to look out for your new releases!

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Adam! It has been a blast!
My pleasure, thanks for letting me answer them!

Discover more about the scintillatingly hilarious Adam Wallace at:
www.adam-wallace-books.com

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Awesome Giveaway!
To WIN a SIGNED COPY of Adam Wallace’s Better Out Than In Number Twos, all you need to do is head over to My Little Story Corner, and answer the following question by 11.59pm AEST Friday August 29, 2014:
What are the TWO (2) titles of Adam Wallace’s books that are due to be released early 2015?

www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner

Beyond the NYR12 vids

Last post I showed you some of the videos available from the National Year of Reading (NYR12) website and YouTube channel (see: “NYR12 vids”). But there are lots more videos out there.

NYR12 has not only promoted the joy of books and reading, it has also encouraged others to do so. And so many people across Australia have taken up that challenge — to spread the word and to promote reading.

Timothy Chan, an official Friend of NYR12, took it upon himself to coordinate a unique project — Love2ReadTV. He banded together numerous NYR12 Friends, getting each of them to record a video about the importance of reading in their lives. He has then edited those videos together into a series of webisodes and posted them to the Love2ReadTV website. There are three episodes, so far.

Episode One features Adam Wallace (author of Dawn of the Zombie Knights), Deby Adair, Mick Walsh, Morgan Schatz Blackrose and Meredith Costain (author of Bed Tails and the A Year In Girl Hell series).

Episode Two features: Nicky Johnston (author/illustrator of Happy Thoughts are Everywhere), Dee White (author of Letters to Leonardo), George Ivanoff (that would be me) and Juliet M Sampson (author of Behind the Mask).

Episode Three features: Peter Cawdron, Narrelle M Harris (author of Walking Shadows), Ron & Margaret Sharp and Alice Pung (author of Growing Up Asian in Australia).

And there are still two more episodes to go. But wait, that’s not all. There’s also a special librarians episode:

Go to YouTube and search for “National Year of Reading 2012”. You’ll find lots of other videos created by people and organisations to celebrate NYR12.

Do you have a favourite NYR12 video? Share it in the comments section below.

Catch ya later,  George

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Five Very Bookish Questions with author Adam Wallace

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

This is so hard! I love different things about different genres. And reading and writing probably give me different favourites too. Oh man, what to say? I have to lean towards picture books I think, but still, oh, I can’t decide! Can I say I like children’s books as an entire genre? Two I LOVE are Huge Harold and The BFG.

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

Well, I sort of got into reading horror books quite young, but that’s probably not the answer you were after! My favourite books as a young child (before I became a bit twisted as a slightly older child) were Roald Dahl and Bill Peet books. I love how they have the underdog coming through and finding their place. And they’re funny, and brilliant, and awesome!

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

For me, it has to have humour. It doesn’t have to be laugh out loud funny, or slapstick type writing, but I need something that gets me grinning. The Thirteen Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths got me straight away and had me laughing out loud. The Princess Bride, book or movie, is so funny. Inconceivable!

Number 2 attribute (he he, number 2) would be to work on different levels.

Where you can read the book and take the fun and the laughs, or you can go deeper and find the message, or deeper still and find something the author may not even have known about! It can’t just be: “YOU MUST NOTICE AND LEARN OR THIS BOOK WILL BE WASTED ON YOU!” We should be able to take out of it what we will.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is one where although the message is blatantly obvious, the brilliance of the writing, the funny words, the amazing rhyme make you love the story and then go, “Oh. Right. Got it.”

Another great example of this are the Bill Peet books. The main character is usually an outcast, someone different, who needs to find their place in the world. But everything about these books is story and rhythm, and then there are themes to be discussed.

Atttribute number 3 would be rhythm. This can mean rhyme, but it doesn’t have to. It can be the flow of the words, or the flow of the entire story. Stargirl has amazing rhythm. It’s in prose, but it’s like the words sing to you. In rhyming rhythm, I think The Lorax is just about number one. It is brilliant.

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

Make it fun. Don’t make it seem like something they have to do, and most definitely do not make them read things they don’t want to read. Kids are put off so easily, and understandably, when they are forced to read books that they just don’t like. Let them see that reading is something to enjoy, a whole new world to explore, and that the creation of that world is in their hands and mind.

Name three books you wish you’d written.

Harry Potter, for the obvious reason – I love the name Hermione and now it’s been taken – dammit!

The Princess Bride, because there are passages in that book where I have actually gasped out loud at how amazingly well written they are.

Stargirl, because it is a life-changing book housed in a touching, funny, heartwarming, brilliant story.

Adam Wallace was an engineer. Then he realised that writing books for kids was WAY more fun, so he did that instead. Some of his books are funny and inspiring (The Incredible Journey of Pete McGee), and some are just plain gross (Better Out Than In). With 20 books published, and more on the way, Adam is fast becoming a well-known name in the world of children’s books.

www.adam-wallace-books.com
www.youtube.com/awallace100
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Interview – What Makes a Great Picture Book, with Adam Wallace

Welcome Adam! So lovely to have you join us on Kids’ Book Capers to talk to us about what makes a great picture book. You’ve been writing some pretty great picture books for a while now. Why did you start writing them?

Well I sort of had no choice. I started writing for children, and what burst out of me were picture books. The rhymes and images were in my mind and I had to let them out! I always wanted to write for children, possibly because they are closest to my maturity level. Writing in rhyme was exciting for me, so picture books were the perfect fit.

Which part of the PB writing process do you like the most?

The first draft. Just seeing something take shape before your eyes is awesome. But even the editing is kind of fun, when it’s not boring, because that’s where you get to the stage of reading it out loud and having that moment of, “Yes! That is how it has to be!” And then seeing the pictures is amazing too, seeing your words come to life through someone’s images.

So basically I think I have covered the whole process. To cut a long story short, I love it all!

What three elements do you think comprise a well-rounded PB?

Gold, silver and potassium. Are they all elements? I think so. How embarrassing, I used to study Chemistry!

Anyway, I think humour is number one for me.

Having the illustrations and text complement and bring the best out of each other would be next. If one is much stronger than the other, the book doesn’t sit as a whole piece of art.

Last, but most definitely not least, I would have to say respect for what children enjoy. I think picture books can get lost in being written for awards and adults rather than kids. These books are for children, and to write for children well you have to respect them and what they like.

Why is humour so important?

Because it’s relaxing. Because it opens up doorways for children to discuss things they may otherwise  feel uncomfortable discussing. And because when children are being introduced to books and reading, you want them to enjoy the experience and laughter is not only the best medicine, it is the best thing ever. When children realise that reading and books are fun and interesting and exciting, that is what is going to make them want to read more books. Humour can do that.

Do you think PBs should be heavy on lesson-learning and morals?

No, says he who has written picture books on sharing, healthy eating and being positive. Look, morals and lessons are important to have in books for children, but not as a preachy, overbearing presence. If the lesson/moral is cloaked in humour and fun, that is even better. Dr Seuss was the master of this.

Do you ‘test’ your books on kids before they are published?

Sometimes, and sometimes I will read at poetry nights to adults as well. I have a couple of excellent readers for nephews, and they are always great to chat to for ideas and feedback, although I still haven’t finished one story I sent them the start of! Cathy von Chatterbox. I have to get onto that one day.

How do the kids react to your books?

By laughing like crazy … I hope. As most of my books are soaked with a good dose of humour, laughter is the main response, although I also get quite a few “eeeeewwwwwwwww!”s when reading them Better Out Than In. Just ‘cos there are a couple of mildly gross elements to the stories.

What other elements do you use to make a picture book special for kids?

Hooks? Plot twists? Marshmallows?

Marshmallows help, but usually sugar free ones (is that even possible?). Twists are great. I am just reading Paul Jennings’ biography, and it discusses his use of twists. Kids like to be led the wrong way, especially if they can work out the twist before it comes. I think rhyme is a big thing I use too. For me, I like being able to punch a joke every second or fourth line. Rhyme also often helps the adults who are reading to the children get into a rhythm, and makes it more fun for them.

Where do some PBs go wrong? What style do you NOT like?

I don’t like picture books that seem more for adults, or awards, than for kids. I also don’t like really bad, forced rhyming. Or picture books that talk down to kids rather than treating them like the awesome, amazing human beings they are, capable of so much more than they are often given credit for. Or picture books that give children nightmares and they’re only five for crying out loud why was it so scary and it makes them wet the bed when all they wanted was a cheerful goodnight story with their … oh. Wait. I have said too much.

What’s more important – the text or the illustrations?

Oooh, tricky one! Both are so important, although as The Arrival showed, sometimes text isn’t needed for a picture book to be amazing. I don’t know the answer to this one, and I have just gone cross-eyed. Okay. I think both are equally important, but both must do the job they are there for. We don’t need the story describing everything we can already see in the pictures, and the pictures must bring the text to life, not go off on tangents.

When they work together and are both as strong as each other though, that’s when magic happens.

What are some of your favourite PBs?

There are SOOOOO many, but I grew up on (as in read while I was growing up. He wasn’t on the floor of my house or anything) and still love the master, Dr Seuss. My two favourites of his are The Lorax and Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

Another author from my childhood I am still a massive fan of is Bill Peet. My faves of his are Huge Harold, The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg, and The Whingdingdilly.

Shall I go on? Okay, I will! Just one more. I also love The Short and Incredibly Happy life of Riley.

Which PB do you absolutely wish you’d written and why?

Harry Potter. Does that count as a picture book? There were pictures in some of them!

No, I’m just kidding, of course. I would have loved to have written a Dr Seuss book. Any of them really. Just to have that magic coming off the page, and I truly believe there is magic in the way he uses words. He was a genius.

See more on Adam ‘Wally’ Wallace and all the wonderful picture books he’s penned, at www.adam-wallace-books.com.