Worcestershire author Sue Russell has just published a really lovely book of poems for children - Animal Rhymes for Sleepy Times illustrated by Josh at wizard pi. We were all delighted by its characters, rhymes, images and humour. The grandchildren particularly loved going back to search for Cyril the snail, hidden on every page.
We spoke with Sue about her book.
We love the collection of poems in the book – how long have you been writing poetry? I am pleased that you like my book. It gives me so much pleasure to hear that, because my aim is to share tales which make me smile. I have been writing poetry for about six years. I have always enjoyed writing and have previously penned the words to Christmas carols.
Are all your poems aimed at the younger audience? If not, what age group is your favourite to write for and why? I have written, but not yet published, poems for all ages but I enjoy writing children's poetry the best because I can be really creative.
How much time does it take you to write a poem, once you have the idea for it? It’s a bit of a mixture. Sometimes the poems seem to come easily, but others develop over time.
In the book, which poem was quickest to write, and which took longest? Sid the Dinosaur’s poem came quickly, the one that took the longest to finish was Benji the Badger.
Where do you get your inspiration for the story lines to your poems? I initially wrote the poems for my great nephews and nieces. I used to send them a poem for their birthday, along with a knitted toy of the featured character. I often write about everyday things which amuse me. Cyril the Snail came to me as I watched a snail slithering along my garden path.
How did you pick which poems made it into the book? Did any of the children help you pick them? My very clever illustrator, Josh at wizard pi, chose twelve poems for my book from the fifty or so in my portfolio. He selected the poems which went together the best. As a dad who loves reading to his young children, he knew exactly what to look for and he did a brilliant job.
What advice would you give to any budding poets out there? My advice would be to watch and listen to everyday things, especially the ones that amuse you, then give it a try. Your work might not be perfect straight away, but I find leaving an unfinished poem for a while then coming back to it with a fresh pair of eyes is the best way.
Animal Rhymes for Sleepy Times is a lovely collection of poems – and we noticed it says ‘book 1’ on the cover. Does this mean further books are in the pipeline? And if so, will they feature the same characters? Yes, I hope to have book two published next year, so keep an eye on my Facebook page for updates.
I have already written another fifteen poems with book two in mind. Some are about characters that appear in book one so they may make a reappearance, but some introduce new ones including Rosie the Rabbit and Pedro the Parrot. Here’s a sneak preview, exclusively for your readers:
Rosie the Rabbit
Rosie the rabbit would only eat toast, she was driving her poor mum quite crazy.
She would not eat greens or dandelion stew, not even a freshly picked daisy.
Her mum said ‘now Rosie this really must stop, you need a more sensible diet’.
Don’t be like Rosie, try something new, you might like it if you dare to try it!
We have not one but TWO signed copies of Animal Rhymes for Sleepy Times to be won in our competition - the winning entry will receive a copy for their child and a copy for their nursery or school! Click here for details.