Monday 5 June 2006

Radio Roundup on Children's Writing

Here in the United Kingdom, radio is a wonderful resource for those interested in writing and books. BBC Radio broadcasts many programmes on books and reading – Open Book, A Good Read, Book Club, and Front Row are the main ones.

My problem has always been that I tend to listen to radio only when driving or as I'm getting breakfast for the kids. These days, nobody sits down of an hour to listen to the radio. But it is so worth it, especially if you are an aspiring writer looking for inspiration.

Here are some radio highlights so far this year on the subject of books for children – do have a listen ... they're all available online:
  • The picture book writer and illustrator Bridget Strevens Marzo and Penni Cotton, a specialist on children's literature, discuss how mothers are portrayed in picture books. This was a Mother's Day special on Woman's Hour – it opens with the voices of small children comparing their own mothers to the mothers in books like Dogger by Shirley Hughes, Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr, The Sad Story of Veronica Who Played the Violin by David McKee and Really Really by Kes Gray and Nick Sharratt. Listen to Mothers in Picture Books item, aired on 24 March 2006.
  • Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses was discussed by an audience that included teenagers on Book Club (click on 'Malorie Blackman April 2006' on the 'Listen Again' column on the right hand side). Blackman was in great form and it was touching to hear the thoughtful questions of teenagers.
  • Open Book interviewed illustrator Quentin Blake about the Lester stories he wrote in the seventies, which he read aloud and illustrated on the children's television programme Jackanory. Listen to the programme featuring Quentin Blake, aired on 30 April 2006.
  • Open Book also interviewed novelist Philip Reeve on completing his Mortal Engines quartet. Listen to the Philip Reeve interview, aired on the 12th of March 2006.
  • Chocolat author Joanne Harris is not a children's author, but I really identified with this Open Book programme where she talked about why Ray Bradbury, one of my favourite childhood authors, may have made his name in sci-fi but deserves a place in the pantheon of really great storytellers and wordcraft. Listen to the Joanne Harris feature, aired on the 26th of February 2006.
  • Front Row interviewed Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), who will be ending the highly successful Series of Unfortunate Events with the 13th book on Friday the 13th this October. Unfortunately, the programme will only be kept online until the 14th of June but if you read this before then, go to Front Row and click on Wednesday. If you don't catch this piece on time, here are some quotes from the interview:
    'I enjoyed writing for children's books .... you never love a book the way you love a book when you are 11. It's been exciting to meet so many 11 year olds who have my book in their heads.'

    'It is strange (writing adult novels again) because after writing so many children's books, one thinks of the audience a lot – not necessarily because of commercial success or that kind of expectation – but I myself kept returning to my own childhood memories again and again (to remember) what I liked to read and what kind of experiences I had ... what I thought was frightening.'

    '(Pleasing the audience) is something you don't hear a lot of adult novelists discuss. They often say, 'This was a story that was important for me to tell, or there was this historical detail that I found so fascinating or important ...'
Stay tuned, as they say.


  1. You will not believe how many times I've tried to post a comment here. Blog's a bit dodgy or my connection is! I like the links, Candy. Really interesting and I will link my blog here for others' sake, if you don't mind, that is.

  2. Oh Blogger was in a state yesterday! I was trying to reply to your comment and it just wouldn't let me in! Thanks so much for the link! And thank you for dropping by now and then even if I must be the least prolific blogger of them all!

  3. Fantastically helpful stuff, Candy, as usual. Will you be in London July 6th? Could meet up with Terry!

  4. Rinda M. Byers30 June 2006 at 20:57

    YES! Enjoy reading your blog so much. Always helpful information and an encouraging word. Thanks!

  5. These are great links - thanks so much. I'm swimming through the Philip Reeve one now to get to his section of the show. I'll be teaching creative writing workshops in Brighton in October, and will point people towards your site for reference. And I'll link to your blog from mine too, if that's OK. Good stuff...


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