Thursday 1 September 2016

An awesome guest post from Catherine Coe, author of the stunning "Blossom Wood" series published by Scholastic.

We're super-fortunate that today is a bit of a splurge on the blog. Posts here, posts there, posts everywhere. We couldn't resist squeezing in our stop on the fantastic "Unicorns of Blossom Wood" Blog Tour though, with a fab guest post from Catherine Coe, author of the Blossom Wood published today by Scholastic Publishing. You may have already caught up with Catherine's brilliant "The Owls of Blossom Wood" stories but now it's time for even more magic and fun with Charlotte's favourite mythical creatures.

Here's Catherine with her favourite children's books to share with you. Take it away Catherine!

Mr Skinny

When I was very young, I adored the Mr Men books, and so I had to pick one for this list. I’ve singled this out because I love the little tummy Mr Skinny gets at the end of the story – it never fails to make me smile.

Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Pr√łysen
I’ve got a big thing for tiny characters (The Borrowers nearly made this list) – and Mrs Pepperpot is definitely one of those. A little old lady who lives with her husband, Mrs Pepperpot has a secret – that she sometimes shrinks to the size of a pepperpot. It’s a simple yet vivid concept, and I liked that every book was split into many short stories – perfect for a newly confident reader as I was at the time. I also now I appreciate that the series was originally Norwegian – I wish that more foreign-language children’s books were translated into English.

Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

One of the things I love about poetry collections is they’re perfect for reading out aloud, making reading a very social experience. And this is the great Allan Ahlberg at his finest. I remember reading the hilarious poems over and over again with family and friends – I can still recite most of them now! ‘Please Mrs Butler, this boy Derek Drew…’

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Books set in woodland are also a love of mine – and for me, Winnie-the-Pooh started it all. But while the setting provides the atmosphere and sense of freedom in the stories, it’s the dialogue between the characters that makes them sparkle. Just flicking through my copy now, I can open any page and find a line full of such voice and vivid characterisation it’s mesmerising – I can only dream of being as talented as Milne.

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Although it may not be very PC today, this was by far and away my favourite book as a child. I couldn’t wait to get back to the tree and to discover the next land at the top – and even when I reread it (as I did many, many times), the lands still felt magical and exotic. The idea of taking readers on magical journeys is something I try to replicate in my Blossom Wood books – giving readers the feeling that anything is possible, just like Blyton did for me.

First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Yep – another Blyton! I loved school stories. In fact, I still do (I’ve been known to commission the odd one or two in my other guise as a children’s book editor). And I read them over and over and over. Apparently, I would beg my parents to send me to boarding school – not because I didn’t like home, but because it seemed like it would be such an adventure. I didn’t want to miss out on that! But alas, I never went, and so I satisfied my appetite by reading instead. Malory Towers was my favourite Blyton school series, but I also devoured St Clare's and, when I was younger, The Naughtiest Girl in the School.
My collection of Enid Blyton school stories. The dog-eared ones on the left were originally my mum’s!
Matilda by Roald Dahl

My mum and I read Matilda together when I was seven years old, taking in turns to read while I was tucked up in bed, and so, while the book is a brilliant piece of storytelling in itself, this also makes the list because of how magical those moments of reading together were. I’m a fan of many of Dahl’s books – Danny the Champion of the World is another favourite – but Matilda beats them all because she is such an extraordinary, determined character.

The first two books in Catherine’s new Unicorns of Blossom Wood series, "Believe in Magic" and "Festival Time"(with more to follow in 2017), publish today, 1st September 2016 from Scholastic Books.

Find out more on Catherine's awesome website