Wednesday 26 September 2018

Joining the "How Rude!" Blog tour with Clare Helen Welsh, and some fantastic writerly inspirations from childhood.

We're joined on the blog today by a very special guest. Clare Helen Welsh is here to talk about her favourite childhood picture books. It's an awesome read so take it away Clare...!

Hello! My name is Clare and I am thrilled to be writing a guest post today about childhood picture books that have inspired my career as a writer.

I must admit, my early years are a bit of a blur where books are concerned. But there are three that stick firmly in my mind.

1. ‘Burglar Bill,’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Burglar Bill is one of my all-time favourite reads. It’s dangerous, just my kind of humour and the repetition allows readers to anticipate and join in with the story. This is certainly something I aspire to emulate in my texts. I also love the way that the dialogue reflects the characters. There’s no mistaking who is speaking; “That’s a nice toothbrush. I’ll ‘ave that!”

As a writer, this is something I don’t find easy. I work hard to keep my authorial voice out of my character’s dialogue. Here’s Sneaky McSqueaky from Aerodynamics of Biscuits, illustrated by Sophia Touliatou; “Climb aboard! Let’s get some cheddaaaaarrrr!”

2. ‘Peepo,’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

I also vividly remember reading Peepo at many a bedtime. Again, there’s the lovely language and repetition. But I also loved the interactive die cut hole, which is an important reminder of the reason I write picture books in the first place; to bring children and grownups together to share a special moment in their busy lives. I now use this book in schools to teach about the past! The detailed illustrations are a great talking point; coal shovels, bed warmers and war time uniforms.

If I can learn something from a book, then I personally love it all the more. I have a real interest in using books to help children deal with difficult issues. My first picture book with Little Tiger Press, The Tide, is a text to support children with a family member living with dementia. It publishes in the first half of 2019 and is illustrated by the incredible Ashling Lindsay.

3. The ‘Mr Men’ and ‘Little Miss’ Books by Roger Hargreaves

I remember my Nan having a whole set of these books! My favourite was certainly Mr Tickle, which I would come back to again and again and again. And what a perfect accolade for a book! To have created a plot so well formed and satisfying, that readers come back to it over and over.

How rude! illustrated by the amazing Olivier Tallec and publishing on 4th October with Words and Pictures, is also a character driven story, which uses humour to tell a tale of kindness, manners and friendship. It gets more and more chaotic with every page turn but has that satisfying ‘awwww’ moment at the end too. There are plans in the pipeline for more Dot and Duck adventures. I can only hope that these stories bring a snippet of the enjoyment I had from the Mr Men and Little Miss books.

So there we are… my top three picture books from my childhood.

But when I really think about it, I’m not sure I have ever really grown up!

I still have opportunities every day to immerse myself in a child’s world. Picture books are always a focus in my day job as a primary school teacher. In class, we bring stories to life and use the words and their settings to learn about the world. Some of our most used books include; Owl Babies, The Bear Hunt, The Tiger that Came to Tea, The Naughty Bus, Stuck! Stickman, Room on the Broom, Supertato, Oi Frog, Funny bones, Sally and the Limpet, Dear Greenpeace… the list goes on and on and on (But that’s a whole different blog post!) I count myself very lucky to be able to immerse myself in imaginary worlds every day. This exposure to many great texts helps me analyse what works, to then apply this in my own writing.

So, it’s been an interesting trip down memory lane. Thank you again, Phil and Charlotte, for taking part in the How Rude! blog tour (Our pleasure! - Ed)

I’m sure there are many books from my childhood I’ve forgotten about. I’d love to hear what yours were and why. They might jog my memory!

Clare is a primary school teacher and children’s author who lives in Devon with her husband and two children. She writes a range of different picture books, including funny and quirky and sensitive and emotional, but always hopes her books bring a little added something to story time. How Rude! publishing on Ocotber 4th and is available to pre-order here!

You can find out more about Clare here on her website or by following her on Twitter @ClareHelenWelsh. She also has a Facebook page. She is represented by Alice Williams at Alice Williams Literary.