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.

Published by

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.