Author and illustrator Thomas Docherty answers our questions in a quick fire Q&A.
His newest picture book, Wash-a-Bye-Bear is out June 2012.
One of your books, Ruby Nettleship has been selected for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, congratulations! How does it make you feel?
It’s a wonderful feeling to think of all the children who will be reading my story and enjoying the pictures this summer. The book has a very positive, inclusive message, as well as being a lot of fun and I’m proud that the libraries have picked up on it and decided to include it in the challenge. I’m very fond of the story in particular as a lot of it was inspired by the area where I live and work in Bristol.
Do you think libraries are important for children?
I think libraries are important for everyone. I am lucky enough to live near a brilliant local library and it is a hub of community activity and always full of a wide range of people of all ages. When I take my own children to the library I like the way that they have the freedom to choose their own books and are able to experience a wide range of ideas and styles and make up their own minds about what they read or look at. When I was young, I was lucky enough to be taken to the library by my mum and dad, and as someone who found reading quite difficult, it was the picture books and comics that I found there that kept me interested in reading.
Do you remember the first book you loved?
I read a lot of books when I was young and loved them all but the first books I discovered for myself (in the library) and still love to this day are the Asterix books. Their ingenious combination of words and pictures probably played a large part in me wanting to write my own picture books.
Wash-a-bye-bear is a gorgeous book, where did you get the inspiration from?
The idea came from two places. An image in my head of a child seen from behind, sat in front of a washing machine, watching a bear go round and round (I don’t know where that came from!). Alongside that was the idea of how children explore very adult emotions through playing with their toys. As the story progresses, Flora is learning all about unconditional love and all the anxieties and rewards that go with it. I think that is something that all children and parents can relate to.
Did you have a special bear growing up?
I never had a bear that I could not do without but I did have a bear that had belonged to my grandma that I was very fond of. He was called Big Ted and he was so old that he was stuffed with straw and quite hard and scratchy. He had been so hugged and loved over the years that he was darned and patched all over and had a lot of character. I think he must still be somewhere in my mum and dad’s house.
What are you currently working on?
Two things. A rhyming picture book written by my wife Helen called ‘The Snatchabook’ about a night time book thief. And I am just about to start on a new picture book with Templar called ‘The Driftwood Ball.’ The only way to describe it is West Side Story with woodland creatures and of course, a happy ending.
Want to know more? Visit www.thomasdocherty.co.uk or http://www.templarco.co.uk/picture_books/thomas_docherty/thomas_docherty.html