Rosie Wellesley

What books did you read when you were a child?
Once I could read for myself I read everything I could get my mitts on. But I generally didn’t like the illustrations- they were always ‘wrong’, so I used to cover them up with my hands. When I remember this now, I am surprised to have become an illustrator. At least I have total control over the images…

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Lucy, from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Tough, strong, not afraid of adventure and good friends with a lion. I wish!

What is the best thing about reading?
Living an extra life in every book.

What is your all time favourite book?
It fluctuates with time, but I always turn back to Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons when I need delightful language and humour. Usually in the bath.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I am a fan of singing to my children. They have learnt so much about cadence and language - and the pleasure of dance. And at last I have found some people who don’t seem to mind my terrible singing voice (that almost makes the sleeplessness worth it).

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Huge- but it all started with being read to so much as a child. Curling up with my parents on the sofa being read to, are some of my warmest childhood memories.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
The books my parents and I like reading to my kids are endless - and quite wide-ranging. Sharing an imaginative world with my sons is very special. Even though my oldest son reads alone quite happily, I will often pick up the book where he is at and read chapters aloud to him. Then we get to share the story and characters together. Not unusually I will later creep in and steal the book out of his room after he is asleep to finish it myself. This happened most recently with The Explorer by Katherine Rundell - it is an exceptional book. Also with most of the Cressida Cowell books, except there my husband nabbed them even before me.

I once read that children are most encouraged to read by watching their parents do it. I cannot vouch for its evidence base, but I use it to justify curling up on the beanbag and getting stuck into a book in front of them…

Rosie Wellesley studied Fine Art at L’ecole des Beaux Arts in Aix en Provence and then The Ruskin School of Fine Art in Oxford.

She then trained as a doctor, working in East London and then Zambia. However she returned to drawing with the Postgraduate Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing school in Shoreditch. Following this she started writing and illustrating for children- her books include ‘The Very Helpful Hedgehog’ and ‘Moonlight Bear’ (Pavilion Publishing). She has also illustrated for other authors, including the award-winning film director Pinny Grylls.

In 2016 she was awarded a ‘People Award’ by the Wellcome Trust to combine for the first time her interest in illustrating for children and health. The resulting book about a dinosaur with T-Rex-cema is called ‘The Itchysaurus’ and is out in February 2018, published by Pavilion Children’s (PB £6.99).

She lives and works in East London with her husband and two young sons.

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