INSPIRATION FROM A DROWNING DICTIONARY – Part Two in a profile of Children’s author, Lee Fox

Ginger McFlea Will Not Clean Her Teeth is the book featured in part two of our profile on Australian children’s author, Lee Fox.

Although the inspiration for parts of Ginger’s story also came from exposure to water, Lee Fox explains that it was quite a difference experience from what sparked Ten Little Hermit Crabs.

I  was holidaying in the Northern Territory. While I was writing the first draft for “Teeth”, the rhyming dictionary fell into the crocodile infested river and I had to fish it out with a stick. That’s how choppers became part of the story.

You have said that Ginger is your favourite out of all the characters you have created. Can you tell us why?

I love the look that Mitch Vane has given her. She is strong willed, smart, funny and creative. I like the way that Ginger is smart enough to realise that by doing the right thing she is not losing anything, that in fact she is gaining something important.

Can you tell us about Ginger’s Story?

Ginger McFee refuses to look after her teeth.  They are awful, smelly and full of cavities. It takes a clever doctor and the Tooth Fairy to turn Ginger’s attitude around.

What did you enjoy most about writing Ginger McFlea Will Not Clean Her Teeth?

Ginger McFlea is the twin of Jasper McFlea in Jasper McFlea Will Not Eat His Tea. I loved the opportunity to turn Ginger’s character around in this book. It was fun to show how characters and people have different dimensions, not always good and not always bad.

How did you come to create characters like Ginger?

I didn’t set out to become a children’s author, but it makes sense to me now that I’ve become one because I adore children and babies. I’m also very in touch with the adolescent who still lives within me. She gets a voice when I’m writing YA fiction.

Who will enjoy reading this book?

Children aged 3 to 8 will be able to relate to the main character Ginger, who is funny and creative, but likes things her own way. There’s also Ginger’s cute pet turtle, Keith and Dr Felicity Cheek, the funkiest dentist in the universe.

In this book there are plenty of fun rhymes and synonyms for teeth. And Mitch Vanes gorgeous illustrations are so much fun.

There are other books written about children and teeth. Is there something about Ginger McFlea Won’t Clean Her Teeth that sets it apart from other books on this topic?

It uses a lot of humour and one reviewer said recently that, “This book teaches, but doesn’t preach.”

How could teachers use this book in a classroom?

It’s a great way of getting kids to write about things they don’t like. It can be fun for kids to take that topic and stretch it out of all proportion.

Thanks so much for visiting Kids’ Book Capers, Lee and sharing how your write your books. It has been lovely talking with you.

Dee

THE CALL OF THE HERMIT CRAB – Part One in a profile of Children’s author, Lee Fox

Australian children’s author, Lee Fox was raised in a home where there were no books, but she has always loved reading and writing. She says that in 2000, after many years of asking herself what she was going to be when she grew up, she finally decided to have a go at writing.

Over the next two posts she’s going to be sharing with us how she became a published author, and how she creates her books for children.

You were often the sole parent of five children, was it a difficult decision choosing to become a writer?

After I decided that writing was my purpose in life, I summoned the courage to go for it. I set about learning my craft and trying to gain a profile as a writer.

Did you do any formal studies?

I did a correspondence course and a number of short writing courses, and I enrolled in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT.

I read stacks of books on writing, but most importantly, I wrote.

Congratulations on your book Ten Little Hermit Crabs being awarded a 2010 CBCA Notable Award. Can you tell us where the inspiration for this story came from?

A family holiday in Fiji a few years back. My daughter and I used to play with the hundreds of hermit crabs scuttling on the beach at sunset. When I relived the memories at home, a refrain started going through my head – Hush says the seashore, shh says the sea. I knew there was a new story about to emerge. I love that kind of inspiration.

What’s Ten Little Hermit Crabs about?

It’s a simple story for children aged 1-6 about ten quirky hermit crabs and their exciting day on the beach.

It’s a counting backwards story so on each spread one crab has an adventure and disappears (but not forever). There’s a happy reunion at the end of the book.

Why will kids like Ten Little Hermit Crabs ?

Kids like rhythm and repetition, and there are some great words like skedaddle, scuttle sprint and frolic for them to enjoy; as well as the lilting refrain that sparked the idea for the book. Then of course there are the great illustrations.

What do you love most about the illustrations?

It’s not that easy to give a hermit crab personality but Shane McG has done a fantastic job. He has captured their adventurous spirit and cuteness.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book.

I enjoyed finding a place for the refrain Hush says the seashore, shh says the sea. It was also a joy to write on a sea theme as it brought back many happy beach memories from my childhood, particularly when Shane started sending his beautiful illustrations through.

Ten Little Hermit Crabs is Lee Fox’s fourth out of six published books.

On Wednesday, Lee is coming back to Kid’s Book Capers to talk about Ginger McFlea Will Not Clean Her Teeth, and why Ginger McFlea is her favourite character, out of all the characters she has created.

Hope you can join us then.

Dee