Elys Dolan

What books did you read when you were a child?
I was, and frankly still am, a big fan of the Little Dracula Books by Martin Waddell and Joseph Wright. They were just the right amount of gruesome with plenty of hilarious moments and acres of detail to pour over.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
No question about it, I would be a Wild Thing from Where the Wild Things Are. Bring on the wild rumpus!

What is the best thing about reading?
It gives you the opportunity to explore new worlds, new people and new situations at your own pace. With a book you can spend 30 seconds on a page or an hour, you can go back and reread and let that narrative unfold in a way that suits you.

What is your all time favourite book?
You can’t ask that! That’s like asking someone to choose their favourite child! If I had to pick I’d probably choose The Hobbit. I remember my Mum reading it to me in the evenings when I was very young. It was the book that made me realise that books can contain detailed, fully formed, convincing worlds all of their own.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I really can’t claim to be an expert on child development so to be honest I don’t know. Something I think helped me was having conversations around the dinner table with my large family of five brothers and sisters. There was a 17 year age difference between the youngest and oldest child but everyone was involved as equals.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A huge part! I’m terribly dyslexic so I struggled with writing all through school and university, with teachers often writing me off as dim. My parents though were always encouraging, let me know that I wasn’t an idiot and that those doubters were wrong. Now I write for a living and have nearly completed a PhD and that’s down to the confidence they gave me.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
There are many brilliant picture books out there that encourage visual literacy in an increasingly visual world. Matty Long’s Super Happy Magic Forest books are hilarious and would make anyone want to read them all. Meg McLaren’s Pigeon P.I is a personal favourite of mine. Looking for Ladybird in Plant City by Katherina Manolessou is a brilliantly detailed book that lets the read drive into a whole world and well worth a read.

Elys grew up in a place that consisted of a house, a tree and a field. She lived in the house, played in the field and occasionally fell out of the tree. Later, Elys amassed an extensive collection of colouring pencils and went to study on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. She’s been writing and illustrating children’s books ever since.

When not making books Elys grows cacti, collects pocket watches and confusing maps and waits for the day that someone will bake her banana bread. She is also a lecturer on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art.

Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory by Elys Dolan has been shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies). To vote for your favourite book, vote on the Lollies website, www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Lollies PopJam channel. Voting is open until 14th December so be quick!

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