There was a time, about ten years ago, when I could have recited by heart the whole of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Room on the Broom. I know The Gruffalo is their stand-out hit, but for me, Room on the Broom has a clearer plot and just the right level of daftness. I’d love to write a rhyming story one day, and if I do, Donaldson’s perfect ear for rhythm and rhyme will be my inspiration.
Magical fantasy was never my go-to genre, but there is one that I like more than any and that is Astrid Lindgren’s often-overlooked The Brothers Lionheart from 1973. Lindgren is best-known, of course, for the madcap Pippi Longstocking books. The Brothers Lionheart is a much darker affair, however – a kind of Scandi-noir for kids, with death, revenge and even suicide as themes. I’m not sure I’d ever have dared to write it, which makes me wish I had.
Finally, and purely for vanity, I wish I had written Treasure Island – or indeed any book that is still being read by children nearly 150 years after publication! These days, sadly, the archaic language makes it a tough read for kids: perhaps I’ll propose a re-write?
Ross Welford’s latest book The Dog Who Saved the World (978-0008256975) is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.
Room on the Broom (978-1447286578) is published by Macmillan Children’s Books, £6.99. The Brothers Lionheart (978-0192729040) is published by OUP, £6.99 pbk.