Monday 29 October 2012

Red House Children's Book Award - Blog Tour

*DRUM ROLL and Tooty Fanfare!* 

INTRODUCING Louise Yates author and illustrator of Dog Loves Drawing and Dog Loves Books as part of the 
We are utterly thrilled to present to you in association with FCBG and The Red House Children's Book Award, ultra talented book lover and creator of some of our most treasuresome fave picture books Louise Yates.

Louise's sublime debut picture book A SMALL SURPRISE, was published by Random House in 2009. 

Hotly followed in 2010 by  DOG LOVES BOOKS  (the original Book Sniffer

A splendid picture book which promptly scooped the Roald Dahl Funny Prize , became an instant New York Times bestseller and went on to win the Parents’ Choice Award on its release in the US. 

So here's Louise's Book Sniffer guest post, I hope you are sitting comfortably, lets begin...

I’m often asked how I became a children’s writer and illustrator.  When I talk to young children about their own stories and drawings it is clear to me that children are natural authors and illustrators - these are not things they need to become! However, they can need a good deal of encouragement to continue expressing that early, innate and often uninhibited creativity as they develop. I think that one of the reasons I’ve continued to work creatively into adulthood is the attitude that my family had towards books and the imagination when I was growing up.

"One of my earliest experiments with text and illustration."

Maurice Sendak (author of ‘Where The Wild Things Are,’ and a great champion of the ‘untamed’ nature of children) said that he much preferred the sort of child that chews books; to the well-mannered child that treats them with reverence and care. Well, that wild child would have been given short shrift in our household!

I was allowed to ‘let rip’ on old magazines and shopping catalogues (which I also loved) but books were sacred. Hands should be clean, pages should be lifted from the far corners, and books should not be left on the floor! These were the book-handling rules impressed on me at a young age. In hindsight this seems strict, but they were rules absorbed through example and gentle coaxing, rather than any imposing discipline and I’m very grateful to my parents for this approach. It helped me to understand that books were available and accessible, yet valuable and special.

My character 'Dog', expresses a love of books

I think it also helped me to develop a habit of behaviour that enabled me to learn. When a book opened, the atmosphere changed. I was quiet and still - more from anticipation and pleasure that something wonderful was about to be revealed than from obedience. I think that this early lesson in how to shift from frenetic play to quiet, intense observation and listening also helped prepare me for school.  

Both my parents took turns to read to us each evening when we were little. My Dad, in particular, enjoys reading out loud and still reads to me from time to time even now. Its marvellous to me that neither of us has really out-grown that shared experience and I think it’s worth challenging the perception that reading together is something one only does with young children.

My Dad also used to write stories for my brother and I during his lunch break at work (also, most likely, when he was supposed to be working!) ‘Sam’, one his characters, was an alien that landed in nearby woods and was discovered by my brother and I when we were building a camp there. Sam became a great friend that shared many adventures over a series of evenings’ episodes. ‘Ruggles’ was a Yeti, found in the garden shed of our new house. He moved between our world and the Himalayan Mountains - which could be reached through our attic. 

 All dressed up for school 'Book Day' -
my Brother as Asterix, my Mum as the Tin Man from the wizard of Oz, and me as Roald Dahl's BFG.

My Father wrote us all into these stories as characters (including himself), so from an early age I had the sense that I led an imaginary, fictional life in parallel to my everyday existence.

A friend recently told me that her Father believes people lead three lives:

The life they lead in reality
The life they lead in their dreams
The life they lead through books. 

When I work with children now, I try to encourage them to tell their stories (fictional, or factual) and I’m constantly struck by the importance of the imagination in helping them to make sense of the world and their own story – a sense of confidence, possibility, empathy and self. 

Books and reading are invaluable tools in encouraging this development, but I realise that to many families, books are expensive luxuries.
This poses a challenge to the whole family’s creativity and I think it’s encouraging to recognise that books are, in essence, simply storytelling and play: affordable luxuries, essential to us all.   

Dog Loves Drawing has been shortlisted in the Younger Children category of the Red House Children's Book Award 2013. The Red House Children's Book Award is the only national children’s book award voted for entirely by children. It is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children's Book Groups, and sponsored by Red House. 

Visit Louise's wonderful website here! THANK YOU for popping by to meet us Louise we've loved having you on our blog. Three cheers for Dog Loves Drawing


  1. Oh. This has bought a tear to my eye. What a lovely lovely post. Thank you Louise for such a great post, and thanks Book Sniffer for hosting!

  2. This post makes me so happy - it's so lovely to hear from people who are so passionate about books and reading and are so talented at creating books themselves! I'm sorry to say that I hadn't read any of Louise's books prior to today, but after reading this post we rushed out to buy 'Dog Loves Drawing' (they didn't have 'Dog Loves Books' in stock but we have ordered it) and have already enjoyed *quite* a few tellings this afternoon. Thanks, Book Sniffer and thanks to Louise too :-)

  3. It is such a lovely post, isn't it? Thanks Book Sniffer for hosting and making look so pretty. I sent the link to Louise and she was really chuffed with it too :0)

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