Sarah McIntyre

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved comics - Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson was my favourite! I also adored the illustrations of Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel, Errol Le Cain and Ezra Jack Keats.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I want to be Iris the mermaid in my book Oliver and the Seawigs and explore underwater. Wanting to be a mermaid was my childhood fantasy, so that's why I made her look a bit like me.

What is the best thing about reading?
Reading lets me escape the boring and annoying things in regular life and, in seconds, the pictures and words can whisk me off anywhere, to a castle or desert or even to another planet!

What is your all-time favourite book?
It probably changes every time you ask me but probably Watership Down by Richard Adams. I love how its characters show so much about how humans relate to each other, but at the same time, they're 100% rabbit.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Encourage them to draw. Have as many art supplies around the home as possible. If a kid gets excited about a character or place he or she has drawn, stories will bubble out and they can write or talk about them to you, turn them into puppet shows, animations and things like that.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My parents always bought a good range of art supplies for me. They took me to the cinema to see interesting, unusual films and to the library with a big apple box to carry a load of books home each visit.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I don't have children but I share my books with children all over the country at schools and festivals. I love it when they get excited about certain things (they went nuts over the 66 pugs in Pugs of the Frozen North!) and I make mental notes for creating the next book.
You can't miss flamboyant award-winning writer and illustrator Sarah McIntyre in her signature pointy specs and hat. She works in an old police station in south London, complete with jail cells! Her new illustrated book, co-created with Philip Reeve, Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair, is out now.

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