Interview with Susannah Lloyd.

It’s time for #ChatWithThePBLady ๐Ÿฅณ๐ŸŽ‰

If your kids love fun and interactive books, you’ll want to check out my interview with Susannah Lloyd. We talked about her book THIS BOOK CAN READ YOUR MIND. Illustrated by Jacob Grant.

๐Ÿ“š What item do you always carry with you?
A notebook and pen.ย  Little scrippets of ideas come to me when I’m least expecting them, and I need to stop and jot them down, as they fizzle away incredibly fast. I have written ideas down on bus tickets, soap packets, bun wrappers, anything to hand, in the past.ย  But now I always come prepared.ย 

๐Ÿ“š What’s the furthest place you’ve travelled to?

I think the Himalayas, a very beautiful place called Spiti, high up in the mountains. 

๐Ÿ“š Fill in the blank. A perfect day must have _______.

Let’s see. Being with people I love, laughing, paddling in the sea, a walk in the woods, an old movie, preferably with Cary Grant or  James Stewart, a roast dinner would be a big bonus … throw in a LARGE pudding and the day is complete.

๐Ÿ“š What’s something that makes you happy?

Books. Picture book sections in bookshops and libraries are my happy place.  I enjoy rereading favourite books especially – it feels like hanging out with an old friend. I’m reading a lot of James Marshall and William Steig at the moment. I love them. My happiest moments of parenting have been reading bedtime stories to my boys. Writing also makes me very happy – having a project that I’m excited about on the go. I get in a real grump if I haven’t got time to write. 

๐Ÿ“š Let’s talk about THIS BOOK CAN READ YOUR MIND. What makes this book such a fun and interactive read?

Well, this book can do something that has never been achieved before.  This book can READ YOUR MIND!

Just one little word of warning: this book is extremely delicate, and is particularly sensitive to silliness of any kind, so whatever you do, just please make sure you donโ€™t think of anything silly… 

do hope we can trust your readers with it! 

๐Ÿ“š Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

I love books that involve the reader. I especially love it when the reader is one step ahead of the adult reading the words. It’s a mischievous dynamic that I try to aim for in all my books. So I knew I wanted to try to write a book that harnessed that dynamic in some way. I remembered a famous science experiment in which they proved that if you are told not to think of something, your brain just can’t resist thinking about it. I think it was elephants, or polar bears, something like that.  I thought that would be a great springboard into a picture book because kids are forever being told what not to do. 

I once read something that Vivian Schwartz said in a blog post which really chimed with me โ€“ that in deciding your subject material for a picture book you must  โ€œtravel back in time, meet your four-year-old self, and you will find something that you two agree on profoundly.โ€ I feel that is especially true of this book โ€“ my four-year-old self definitely agreed there should be unicycles, tubas, pink elephants doing the can-can… Each book I have written has to meet with the approval of my four-year-old self, first and foremost. 

๐Ÿ“š This book features lots of fun and interactive scenes. Do you have a favorite one?

With this book I hope that the readers will feel very active and involved โ€“ after all, the book is led by what happens in their own minds. But my favourite spread is quite late on, once things have really escalated:

“Will. You . Please. Behave? Children will be reading this book, for goodness sake. We just cannot afford for it to be rude in any way. I insist that you are not, I repeat, NOT, going to think of any further rudeness. Especially not anything about elephants and their bottoms. And that is an ORDER.”

I love Jacob’s illustration on this page so much – the elephants look so shocked by the materialisation of their silly pants in this scene, a mouse who inadvertently materialised several scenes back is starting to have a whale of a time, tooting a trumpet on his own little unicycle, and the monitoring equipment is starting to spark and smoulder in the most alarming way. 

๐Ÿ“š This book has a lot of laugh out loud moments. How would you describe the humour in this book? What makes it so funny?

I love picture books which feature the downfall of anyone overly serious or pompous, especially anyone who deigns to patronise children (as the scientist does, to his own unravelling). A couple of my picture books have been described as Monty Pythonesque and I love that. I’m a big Python fan. 

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