Jane De Suza is the author of the recently-released book – SuperZero, a laugh-out-loud book for children. Other children’s books that Jane has written include Party in the Sky, The Big Little Want and the Han Series. She has also written a best-selling humour novel – The Spy who lost her Head. In an interview with Hippocampus, Jane shares interesting anecdotes of her childhood, and tells us about what inspired her to start writing humourous novels for children. Jane writes for magazines across the world including National Geographic and also writes a parenting column in Good Housekeeping.
- What inspires you to write for children?
‘I want a fun book for my kid,’ I told the bookstore guy. ‘About princesses?’ he asked. ‘No – funny.’ ‘We have books about vampires, wizards, morals, mythology, battles with greek gods?’ ‘FUNNEEEY,’ I said. ‘Take a quiz book,’ he suggested. ‘Makes your kid smarter.’
I don’t want kids smarter. They’ve got enough tests and mental maths and music classes. I want them to have fun. So I wrote SuperZero. I love it when kids reading the book thump the floor, roll around and laugh hysterically. There’s nothing happier-sounding than a child’s laugh.
- Tell us about a book that you loved as a child and that you revisit even today
When I discovered the William series by Richmal Crompton in my father’s bookshelf, I tumbled into love. William was the original rebel, the inventor, the leader of the gang into all sorts of trouble and so, so funny. Years later, one of the first things that convinced me that my husband was the right guy for me was that he loved William too. We’ve now started a collection of the original print William series, tattered and hunted out from second hand book stores all over.
- What are the three effective ways in which schools can promote reading for joy?
Schools should really get books out of neatly stacked libraries. Books should be living things – friends. Demystify them – get authors in to interact with kids as much as possible. Get children to act out characters from books. Ask children to take a book and change the story midway, into their own. Or else to take a character from a book and give him or her a new adventure – that sort of thing.
- Name three contemporary authors which you feel children should be exposed to
Only 3? Asha Nehemiah’s world of creativity, yet so set in local flavour. Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid – though excluded from most ‘serious’ book lists, I think this is a total creative genre-breaker and again – funny. Anything by Dr Seuss and Ruskin Bond.
- Which are 5 books which every school library should own?
I’m going to take this chance to push for books in libraries that encourage children to be with animals, love them, understand them, fight the systems that persecute them. I grew up with some of these books, so here goes:
– Call of the Wild – Jack London, Black Beauty – Anna Sewell, Born Free – Joy Adamson, Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling and the current fantabulous How to Train your Dragon series.
- If you could become any book character for a day, who would you choose to be?
As a kid, I spent many happy hours imagining myself to be Thumbelina, so tiny that I could slip through keyholes, hide in a book and sleep in a walnut. Interesting –the possibilities of growing smaller, rather than growing up, right?