Saturday, December 15, 2018

Q&A with Suzy Senior

Suzy Senior is the author of two new children's picture books, A Pirate Christmas and Octopants. Her other picture books include Tales from Christmas Wood. She lives in Sheffield, England.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for A Pirate Christmas, and what do you hope young readers take away from the book? 

A: Hi Deborah! 

My family love pirate stories, so when I was looking for a different approach to telling the Christmas story, pirates were an obvious choice. My husband really enjoys reading to my son, so they were great inspiration for the Dad and Joe characters!

I worked with a wonderful designer and editors who were enthusiastic about making this (perhaps unexpected) story-within-a-story a success, and they were a huge encouragement. 

I really hope that readers enjoy it. I'd love children to want to read it / hear it again and again. The nativity is such an amazing story - which has become very familiar to many of us - so I have really enjoyed the the idea of seeing it afresh, as the pirates discover it for themselves. 

The book also gives me a great excuse to go to work in my pirate outfit, which is always fun!

Q: What was the inspiration for your octopus picture book, Octopants?

A: Octopants all began with a squeezy octopus bath toy which my daughter had when she was small. We used to sing a little song for this octopus which went along the lines of: "I am an octopus. I've got no underwear! I am an octopus. I've got no underwear!"

This got me thinking - what if you really were an octopus and you couldn't find underwear to fit? What an unfortunate situation that would be, and what a perfect premise for a funny picture book . . . 

Q: What do you think the illustrations by Andy Catling and Claire Powell add to the books?

A: I adore picture books because of the way the words and pictures work together to turn a short manuscript into something so much bigger.

It has been wonderful to be paired up with Andy and Claire for these books - they are both so talented, and put so much joy and humour into their illustrations. They turn a story into riot of colour and fun, with something new to spot every time you look at a page again!

The endpapers on both books are quite special, and I can't help but point them out delightedly every time I visit a school and share the books with a class.

Q: What are some of your own favourite books for kids?

A: Oi, Frog by Kes Gray and Jim Field - that's hilarious! We have always liked Mick Inkpen's Kipper books, too - my children had the audio CD, and I would catch myself listening to it on my own in the car! And Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books are wonderful. There are so many incredible new children's books at the moment, though, I keep finding new favourites. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: More rhyming picture books! They are a little bit like doing a difficult jigsaw, but great fun and always worth the work.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I have just seen the final proofs for my next picture book, publishing next summer! I can't say much more yet, but it involves unicorns, looks fabulous . . .  and I am SO excited!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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