For the past two weeks, one of the UK's best-selling authors, Will Mabbitt, has been working with children in the Infant and Junior libraries. Presenting in an engaging way that encourages participation from the students, Will talked about his ideas, writing and, "most importantly", how he makes "loads and loads of mistakes".
Will is best known for his Mabel Jones Series - an exciting adventure of Mabel versus a collection of villainous animal pirates. He worked collaboratively with students to create pirate animal characters based on his series. The children eagerly contributed their ideas, sharing their descriptive words for the character's personality and the items the pirate might have. This helped the children to develop the skills of characterisation, motivation and detail, and to see how they can develop plots for stories.
Younger students were delighted by Will's interactive storytelling sessions. They laughed out loud at 'This Is Not A Fairy Tale', a fun twist on a traditional tale, which sparked the children's imaginations and showed how they can enjoy changing the end to stories.
On Will's final day with us, parents and students enjoyed a Meet the Author session with book signings.
In our interview with Will, we find out where he gets his inspiration from and what he hopes our students will gain from his visit.
Why did you choose to write children's books?
I like writing stories for my own children. Hopefully other children will find them and like them too.
What is the most difficult thing about writing characters?
Making the reader believe in something that is obviously made up. Like an anteater pirate with a wooden nose.
Where do you get inspiration for the disgusting parts of your stories?
Is there anything you've edited out of your books?
LOADS. Blood is always the first thing to go.
How long on average does it take you to write a Mabel Jones book?
About 3-5 months for a first draft.
Why do you think children and adults like reading your books?
I think all my books have jokes that work for different ages. My aim with my picture books is to get children and parents reading together.
Where's the most fun or unusual place you've written?
I can write pretty much anywhere because I'm really good at ignoring things. I've written on the floor of over-crowded trains, behind the warthog enclosure at London Zoo, and whilst wearing the backend of a pantomime horse outfit.
How many hours a day do you write?
About 2 or 3.
What's your favourite childhood book?
I have loads, and they change daily, but Treasure Island is always up there, as is The Witches by Roald Dahl. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is my favourite contemporary book.
What does it feel like to have been nominated for the Lollies Book Award 2018? (when will the winners be announced?)
I love that someone liked my book but it's hard to take awards very seriously. I'm not sure that it's very useful to judge books (if I win, I will probably change my mind though!). I don't know when the awards are announced but I will definitely go to the ceremony as they will have canapés.
For your 'I can only draw worms' book you said: "I am usually modest and talk down my work, but I really believe I have created the greatest book of this century and probably last century too (although I haven't read all of them)." Who do you think is the best author: you, Roald Dahl, David Walliams or Enid Blyton and why?!
They were going to put a rude tweet about my worm illustrations on the back until they realised it had been written by my big brother. I'd say all those authors are different so can't be compared, but maybe that's because I'd be last.
What do you hope Tanglin children will gain from your visit?
At the very least they will get to meet someone who loves books.
Michael Kelly, Head Librarian Infant School said: "Author visits are such a beneficial opportunity for our students. They introduce them to new stories and books and in doing so encourage them to read more. They allow students to explore their own creativity as well as their writing and drawing ability."
Will's visit was kindly sponsored by the Tanglin Parent Teacher Association (PTA).