Related to: 'The Variety of Life'

Author Spotlight with Graham Marks

David Melling

David Melling is the international bestselling author and illustrator who first came to our attention with the critically acclaimed The Kiss That Missed, and whose The Tale of Jack Frost went from page to animated TV feature, voiced by Hugh Laurie. Here he talks to Graham Marks about how he became a children’s book illustrator, his influences, his passions and why he loves Twitter…

Hodder Children's Books

The Wonder of Trees

Nicola Davies, Lorna Scobie
Nicola Davies, Lorna Scobie

Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell is the author and the illustrator of the bestselling How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series, and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, illustrated by Neal Layton. How to Train Your Dragon has sold over 8 million books worldwide in 38 languages. It is also an award-winning DreamWorks film series, and a TV series shown on Netflix and CBBC. The first book in Cressida's new series, The Wizards of Once (also signed by DreamWorks), is a number one bestseller.Cressida is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust and the Reading Agency, a Trustee of World Book Day and a founder patron of the Children's Media Foundation. She has won numerous prizes, including the Gold Award in the Nestle Children's Book Prize,the 2017 Ruth Rendell Award for Championing Literacy, the Hay Festival Medal for Fiction, and Philosophy Now' magazine's 2015 Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity. She grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland and she now lives in Hammersmith with her husband, three children and a dog called Pigeon.

Daisy Meadows

Daisy Meadows is the author of the bestselling series Rainbow Magic and Magic Animal Friends. Her books have sold over 30 million copies worldwide.You can find out all about her magical stories and much more at the series websites: and

David Melling

David Melling has been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, the Smarties Book Award and the Independent Booksellers Award. His Hugless Douglas books have sold over 1.4 million copies worldwide, and the loveable brown bear has starred in a World Book Day book as well as his own theatre show. Before becoming an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator, David worked as an animation artist for films including the much-loved Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs. One of his most popular picture books The Tale of Jack Frost was animated and shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day.

Didier Conrad

Rene Goscinny was born in Paris in 1926, and spent most of his childhood in Argentina, before eventually moving to Paris in 1951. He died in 1977. Albert Uderzo was born in 1927 in a small village in Marne, France. He met Rene Goscinny in 1951 and on 29 October 1959 their most famous creation, Asterix, made his first appearance on page 20 of Pilote. ASTERIX THE GAUL, their first album, was published in 1961. Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad began writing and illustrating Asterix in 2013 with ASTERIX AND THE PICTS. There have now been 37 albums.

Elizabeth Dale

Elizabeth Dale always dreamed of being a writer but somehow got side-tracked into studying for a physics degree, followed by health service management. When her children were born she finally returned to her dream, writing thousands of short stories for magazines all over the world. Re-discovering a love of children's books while reading to her daughters, she decided to turn her hand to writing them - and has now published over twenty books for children, including picture books and junior fiction. Writing is her full-time job, but also her favourite activity. She also enjoys reading, gardening, walking, and being in the country. Her favourite children's books include Walk Two Moons, The Selfish Giant, Cosmic, and Someone Else's Life. She loves watching cosy sentimental films, such as You've Got Mail, Return to Me, and While You Were Sleeping, as well as classic old films starring Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Doris Day. Elizabeth is married, with three daughters, and lives in a village in West Sussex. Her daughters, Katie and Jenny, are also children's authors with Hachette.

Ellie Sandall

Ellie loved drawing from an early age and has a passion for picture books (she keeps her collection in a huge wardrobe in her studio!) After competing a degree in Graphic Design at Bath Spa University, she became interested in drawing and writing specifically for children, and went on to achieve a Master's degree in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. As a child, her favourite picture book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and she still loves the work of Eric Carle. In her spare time Ellie loves to get stuck into some DIY or go out in her kayak, and she dreams of one day owning her very own sausage dog.

Emma Dodd

Emma was brought up in Guildford, Surrey, in a family of artists. As a child she loved the work of Peter Firmin, John Burningham and Gerald Rose, and from as far back as she can remember she wanted to be an illustrator. Emma studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Central Saint Martin's School of Art and has worked in advertising, editorial and book illustration. The I Love You range has sold over 750,000 copies and I Love My Mummy won the Book Trust Early Years Award. Emma lives in Surrey with her husband and two children and their terrier cross, Buzz, who keeps her fit and provides inspiration. The family likes to spend any spare time in North Cornwall, surfing and walking in all weathers.

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton's books have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children's author.She wrote over 600 books and hundreds of short stories, including favourites such as The Famous Five,The Secret Seven, The Magic Faraway Tree, Malory Towers and Noddy. Born in London in 1897, Enid lived much of her life in Buckinghamshire and adored dogs, gardening and the countryside. She died in 1968 but remains one of the world's best-loved storytellers.

Enid Richemont

Although I've lived for most of my life in north London, I was born and grew up in South Wales. My mum read to me a great deal,and I think it was from her that I developed my love of language. I also enjoyed drawing and painting, and eventually won a scholarship to study at Dublin College of Art.When I came back from Eire, I first worked as a teacher in a Rudolf Steiner school. Then I came to London and took a number of strange jobs, including reading aloud to a blind writer and typing out his manuscript. The typewriter I'd hired to do this had some paid-for time left, so I used it to write a short story which I sold to a women's magazine. It became the first of many, and the beginning of a successful career. While my children were growing up, I stopped writing, and started a small design business, making screen-printed puppet theatres, flying saucers and playhouses that looked like medieval battle tents.Work took us to Paris, where we lived for two years, and where, incidentally, I first encountered the Romanian gipsy girl who features in my novel, FOR MARITSA WITH LOVE (Simon&Schuster).My first children's book, THE TIME TREE (Walker Books) grew out of a story I told my daughter and her best friend to pass the time on a very long walk (the original idea came from a TV programme I'd watched about teaching children with hearing problems). The girls begged me to write it down so that they could read it for themselves - so I did. This book is currently being marketed as a film series by Wild Thyme Productions.TO SUMMON A SPIRIT (Walker Books), was one of the Pick of the Year titles listed in the Children's Book Award. I'm now published in the USA and Australia as well as the UK, and my work has been translated into Danish, German and Japanese.My first book for Franklin Watts was PLOP CITY, a book about bird poo which continues to be loved, especially by small boys. I have two copies of the Arabic version

Francesca Simon

Francesca Simon worked for 12 years as a freelance arts journalist, writing for the Sunday times, and The Guardian amongst others. Francesca wrote her first children's book in 1989 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. She lives in London with her husband and son.Francesca Simon spent her childhood on the beach in California, and then went to Yale and Oxford Universities to study medieval history and literature. She now lives in London with her family. She has written over 50 books and won THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE YEAR at the Galaxy British Book Awards for HORRID HENRY AND THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN. Visit Francesca's website at and keep up-to-date with Horrid Henry at You can also follow her on Twitter @simon_francesca

Garry Parsons

Garry studied Fine Art at Canterbury and the Illustration Sequential Design MA at Brighton. He has illustrated many books and has won various awards, including the Red House Children's Book Award, the Stockport Schools Book Award, the Nottingham Children's Book Award and an AOI Images award.

Giles Andreae

Giles Andreae is the author of many top-selling, award-winning picture books. These include Rumble in the Jungle, Commotion in the Ocean and I Love My Mummy. However, it is for the international bestseller Giraffes Can't Dance that he is best known. Giles is also the creator of Purple Ronnie, Britain's favourite stickman, and of the artist/philosopher, Edward Monkton. These two ranges of greetings cards, books and merchandise have made Giles the country's top-selling living poet. Giles lives with his wife, Victoria, a children's clothes designer, and their four young children by the river in Oxfordshire.

Izzi Howell

Izzi Howell is the author and editor of over fifty children's books. She lives in East Sussex and enjoys learning languages, cooking and travelling around Europe.

Jim Field

Jim Field is a lead-driven, pencil-pushing, 25-frames-per-second Led Zeppelin fan. He is also a hugely talented illustrator and animation director. His first picture book Cats Ahoy! won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize and was nominated for the Kate Greenaway award. He has since illustrated a string of bestselling, multi-award-winning children's books, including Oi Frog! and The Lion Inside, as well as young fiction series Rabbit and Bear.

John C. Miles

John. C Miles began his fascinating journey of discovery in Toronto, Canada where he trained as a classical musician. Moving to the UK, he spent many years as a parasite on the broad back of London whilst working as a children's non-fiction editor. Like Anthony à Wood, he is a snapper up of unconsidered historical trifles and has spent many years studying the past and wondering how and why. He now lives near Bath, growing parsnips, taking photographs with his collection of vintage film cameras and dressing as an 18th-century pirate.

Julian Gough

Julian Gough is the author of several novels, a children's book, some BBC radio plays, and the narrative at the end of the wonderful computer game, Minecraft (TIME magazine's computer game of the year). His first children's book, Rabbit's Bad Habits, published in 2016, has been widely critically-acclaimed; Neil Gaiman called 'a laugh-out-loud story', and Eoin Colfer called 'an instant modern classic'. Julian has won the BBC National Short Story Award and has been shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. He also, in his youth, wrote the words (and sang) on four albums by the cult Galway group, Toasted Heretic, and had a top-ten hit in Ireland with 'Galway and Los Angeles', a song about not kissing Sinead O'Connor. He was born in London, raised in Tipperary, educated in Galway and now lives in Berlin.

Katie Dale

Katie Dale had her first poem 'The Fate of The School Hamster' published in The Cadbury's Book of Children's Poetry, aged 8 and hasn't stopped writing since. On graduating, she went travelling through South-East Asia - only to discover whilst in a Vietnam internet cafe that she was a winner of the SCBWI 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition.

Mick Gowar

Mick has written or edited more than 100 books for children and young people. He visits schools, libraries, colleges and festivals throughout the UK and abroad to give readings, performances and lead workshops.

Mick Inkpen

Mick Inkpen has been a bestselling children's author for over 25 years. He is one of today's most popular picture book author/illustrators and the famous creator of both Kipper and Wibbly Pig. Mick has won the Children's Book Award for Threadbear and the British Book Award twice, for Penguin Small and Lullabyhullaballoo. Kipper won a BAFTA for Best Animated Film.