Hi from the Readers’ Club with another in-depth look at one of our recommended titles and its author.
This time – Amanda Kidd and the illustrated children’s book
Ellie and the Cupcakes
• A beautifully illustrated children’s story about how everything we always wanted might not be everything we actually want. What’s more it comes with a terrific cupcake recipe!
• Wow … that was the first word my little 4 year old said when we finished reading the story… His favourite bit was the cupcakes at the start! The pictures were great and I especially loved the recipe at the end.
• It’s not very often I read a picture book and I don’t want to it end… it’s a charming story… lovely for bedtime for boys and girls. The illustrations are gorgeous.
Meet Amanda Kidd: I was born in Malta – a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Despite the beauty of living in a seaside town, where the beach was a two minute walk down the road, I always longed to be somewhere greener, where I could get lost in the woods or forest. Reading Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books only deepened that longing, so at 24, I packed up my suitcase and went to the Lake District, in England, on a working holiday. What should have been a short trip, turned into a 12-year stay, which included a year in Scotland where I studied for my Masters in Criminal Psychology. By then, my reading preferences had changed somewhat and my rooms were always full of psychological thrillers. I used to daydream about becoming a writer, but it seemed like such a far-fetched dream that I never took it seriously.
I met my husband whilst reading ‘The Jury Must Die’ by Carol O’Connell. I was struck by the fact that he had an unusual surname – Kidd. One of the characters in the story was called Timothy Kidd and I couldn’t believe that all of a sudden, this surname I’d never heard of, was both in the book I was reading, as well as in real life! Fast forward several years, we were married with two children and on a holiday in Cornwall. We love Julia Donaldson’s books, so we bought ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘Superworm’ and ‘The Smartest Giant in Town.’ As I was feeding my daughter, I heard my husband reading ‘Room on the Broom’ and something inside me lit up. I felt an excitement I hadn’t experienced since I was little, when I used to go to the shop to get another Enid Blyton book. I knew there and then that I had to start writing children’s books.
Thanks Amanda, so what gave you the idea for Ellie and the Cupcakes? I wrote Ellie earlier this year. My mum was constantly baking cupcakes and the children and I could not get enough. We would eat them fresh and hot out of the oven, and after we devoured everything, my kids would ask her, ‘When are you making more?’ I decided to write about a girl who loves cupcakes, but didn’t know where the story was going, until I saw ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ out of the corner of my eye and began to think about giants. I realised that I’d never read a story about a girl giant before, so I thought it would be good to come up with something different.
What’s the underlying theme that the book deals with? There are so many! There’s definitely a lesson in being careful about what you wish for, but there’s also a certain optimism about a girl who has dreams which come true and about appreciating what you have. I also like the fact that her mum supports her and tells her she will love her no matter what.
What do you hope readers will take from the book? Reading is fun!
What are you working on next? My second book, Sam the Sneezing Scarecrow has just been published. It’s a rhyming story about a scarecrow who’s allergic to feathers, and it’s also getting excellent reviews on Amazon. I am now working with the same illustrator to create my Christmas story. I will also be hosting a competition for children and the winners will be illustrated as elves in it! The details will be on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/amandakiddstories
Now, we always try to end our look at an author by asking them to take part in a modified version of the famous Proust Questionnaire that James Lipton would use at the end of the ‘Actor’s Studio” interviews…
So Amanda, if you are willing:
What is your favourite word? Awesome! I like the positive vibes it gives.
What is your least favourite word? Cockroach. I hate the creatures and I hate the word.
What is the best book you have ever read? It’s hard to choose, since I like such diverse genres. I will stick to picture books and Room on the Broom, since it’s the one that steered me onto this path.
What is the worst? I’m not sure I can class any of the books I read as ‘the worst’…
What sound or noise do you love? The sound of rainfall, waves crashing against rocks, my children playing happily together (doesn’t happen often, so I love hearing it when it does), my husband laughing heartily at something silly and wind rustling through the trees.
What sound or noise do you hate? Anything grating, loud and pointless.
What is your favourite smell in the world? There’s no way I can stick to just one. My sense of smell is my keenest sense and nice smells put me in a good mood, whereas bad smells make me angry (yes, really). That being said, I love the smell of my children’s hair, freshly cut grass, salty sea air, baking pies and chocolate orange.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A dancer (I can’t dance to save my life) or an actor. Maybe a singer. I think they have interesting lives and get to meet interesting people.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Your pets have been waiting patiently for you!
That’s all from us for now.
Take good care, stay safe and well, and well-read,
From Jaz and the Leschenault Press Team