Related to: 'When Planet Earth Was New'

Author Spotlight with Graham Marks

Jane Simmons

Jane Simmons is a uniquely talented award-winning illustrator and author, and the creator of some of our best-loved children’s books. Here she talks to Graham Marks about boats, motorbikes and making a mess, as well as her words, her art and her latest picture book, Lily Gets Lost.

Álvaro Scrivano

Alvaro Scrivano was born in La Plata, Argentina where he grew up. He has been working in Education for more than 20 years and currently works at an inner city primary school in London as a Learning Mentor and ICT Manager. He coordinates two Code Clubs where children learn and develop coding skills with the help of volunteer Computer Scientists. He has created a myriad of projects for his students in different programming languages such as ScratchJr, Scratch, Python and Hopscotch.

Lynne Benton

Lynne Benton was born in Bournemouth, but moved to Bath at 18 to train as a teacher, and has lived there ever since. She has taught in several primary schools in the area, as well as working as pianist and receptionist in a Dancing school and bringing up four children. In 1982 she and her husband, Robin, a fellow-teacher and composer, co-wrote a musical play for primary schools based on the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece (still, happily, in print) but it was only when their children began leaving home for university that she began writing seriously. In 1996 she was a prizewinner in the Independent's Children's Story of the Year competition, and since then has had several fiction books published. As well as writing longer novels for older children she enjoys writing humorous "bite-size" stories for younger ones. She welcomes invitations to go into schools and talk to children about her books, since it keeps her in touch with her readers, who she finds a continual source of inspiration.

Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick used to work in children's publishing and before that he was a bookseller. He now happily writes full-time. His books have been shortlisted for many awards, including The GUARDIAN CHILDREN'S FICTION AWARD, the BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD, the CARNEGIE MEDAL and the EDGAR ALLAN POE AWARD. Marcus lives in Cambridge and has a teenage daughter, Alice.Find his website at www.marcussedgwick.com and follow him on Twitter @marcussedgwick

Margaret Mayo

Margaret Mayo is an acclaimed storyteller and author who has been creating stories for children for over 35 years. She has written more than 50 books, including the bestselling Dig Dig Digging, Choo Choo Clickety-Clack! and Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp! A former teacher, Margaret uses her wide-ranging experience with children in her writing. She lives in Brighton.

Max Wainewright

Max has written over 20 educational software titles for children. His programs and websites have won a number of awards including BETT, ERA and Practical Pre-School Gold Awards. Max also used to be a primary school teacher. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Mike Gordon

Mike Gordon is an ever-popular and award-winning cartoonist. He has produced over 500 cards for Hallmark and over 300 picture books for various publishers. His talent has been rewarded with numerous awards inlcuding Berol cartoonist of the year (1988) and runner up for the Trento Fra realto e Follia (1990). He was also nominated for the Silver Quill Award (Germany, 1991) and for the Book and Magazine Illustrator of the Year by the National Cartoonists Society (1995).

Nathan Reed

Nathan Reed has been a professional illustrator since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. Recent books include How to Write Your Best Story Ever and the Marsh Road Mystery Series. His latest picture book written by Angela McAllister, is Samson the Mighty Flea. He was also shortlisted for the Serco Prize for Illustration in 2014. When he's not illustrating he can be found with his two boys and a football on Peckham Rye Common.

Neal Layton

Neal is an award-winning illustrator and author of children's books. He has worked on more than 80 titles to date, working with authors such Cressida Cowell and Michael Rosen, and won several prizes including a Gold Award in the Nestle Children's Book Prize for 'That Rabbit belongs to Emily Brown'. His books have also been shortlisted for the Red House Book Awards, the Blue Peter Book Awards, the Booktrust Early Years Award, Funfzig Jahre Deutcher Jugendliteraturpreis and New York Public Library's annual list of best Children's Books.He also writes his own books, 'The Invincible Tony Spears' and the bestselling 'Mammoth Academy' Series. His books are currently in print in more than 16 languages worldwide. He lives in Portsmouth with his wife and two daughters.

Nick East

Nick East is the illustrator of the bestselling Toto the Ninja Cat as well as the Goodnight Digger and Knock Knock series. He worked for many years as a museum designer but was always a storyteller, whether as a child, filling sketchbooks with quirky characters, or as a designer displaying a collection of ancient artefacts. Nick lives near York with his wife and two children and, when he isn't writing or drawing, he is out riding bikes and spending time with his family.Find Nick at nickeastillustration.com

Nicola Morgan

Nicola Morgan is an international speaker and award-winning author for and about teenagers. She has written nearly 100 books, including novels such as Fleshmarket (currently being adapted for the London stage) and Mondays are Red, but in the last twelve years she has become increasingly well known for her passionate factual work on adolescence, with Blame My Brain - The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed and The Teenage Guide to Stress being seminal titles for teenagers and the adults who work with and care about them. A former teacher and dyslexia specialist, Nicola now writes and speaks around the world on a range of subjects relating to adolescence and wellbeing, as well as the reading brain, reading for pleasure and the effects of life online. Her positive, respectful and empathetic attitude towards young people naturally led her to write Positively Teenage.

Pat-a-Cake

Pat-a-Cake takes you and your child on a magical journey. From sharing the very first baby book to watching your little one read all by themselves. The adventure begins here . . .

Patrice Lawrence

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. Patrice lives in east London and shares a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum 'n' bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Music can't help creeping into her books. Her debut novel, Orangeboy, won the Waterstone's Book Prize for Older Readers and the YA Book Prize, and her second novel, Indigo Donut, won the Crime Fest Best Crime Fiction for Young Adults and was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize. @LawrencePatrice

Paul Mason

Paul's books cover a wide range of subjects, from whether the Romans ate crisps to how to build the world's best skatepark, but he writes mostly about sport. Whether you are interested in swimming, cycling, snowboarding, surfing or another sport, Paul has probably written something that will inspire you to get out and give it a try. Paul writes in a shack by the beach, which he shares with his one-eyed surf dog, Daisy.

R J Anderson

Rebecca Anderson was born in Uganda, raised in Ontario, went to school in New Jersey, and has spent much of her life dreaming of other worlds entirely.As a child she immersed herself in fairy tales, mythology, and the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and E. Nesbit; later she discovered more contemporary authors like Ursula LeGuin, Patricia A. McKillip and Robin McKinley, and learned to take as much pleasure from their language as the stories they told. Now married and the mother of three young sons, Rebecca reads to her children the classic works of fantasy and science fiction that enlivened her own childhood, and tries to bring a similar sense of humour, adventure, and timeless wonder to the novels she writes for children and young adults.

Richard Brassey

Richard Brassey is the author and illustrator of a host of colourful and original non-fiction books for children, among them the bestselling Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and The Story of Scotland, which won the TES/Saltire Society Award. He lives in Essex. Visit his website at http://www.richardbrassey.com.

Roberta Terracchio

Roberta Terracchio was born and lives in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, where she creates her trademark bright and engaging minimalist digital illustrations.

Ronne Randall

Ronne Randall, originally from New York, has worked in children's publishing since 1980 and has been a freelance editor and author since 1993. She has written more than 150 children's books, published on both sides of the Atlantic. She has a special interest in folklore and fairy tales, and she has an MA in Folklore from Sheffield University. She is married, with one son, and lives in Nottinghamshire, England.

Rosie Banks

Rosie Banks is the author of brilliant series Secret Princesses and Secret Kingdom. You can find out all about Secret Princesses and much more at the series website: http://www.secretprincessesbooks.co.uk

Rudolf Farkas

Rudolf Farkas is passionate about fine art. He has been a painter for over 35 years and a freelancer illustrator since 2006. He has extensive experience in creating oil paintings and digital illustrations for children's books. Over the past 10 years, he has worked on numerous projects with various well-known publishers, such as Bloomsburry Publishing, Cambridge University Press, Harper Collins Publishers, Igloo Books Ltd., Oxford University Press, Penguin Random House, Weldon Owen Publishing and Ravensburger Company. One of his strengths is realistic representation. His interests vary from historic topics to flora and fauna. As a professional artist, he always welcomes new challenges and he really enjoys coming up with creative ideas.

Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner is an award-winning novelist from London. Her books have been translated into 22 languages and have sold more than one million copies in the UK. Her historical novel for older readers, I, Coriander, won the Smarties Children's Book Prize in 2005. Two thrillers both set at the time of the French Revolution, The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 2009, followed. Actor Dominic West (The Wire) has bought the film rights to both titles. Her YA novel, The Double Shadow, was published in 2011 to critical acclaim. Sally Gardner's stories for middle readers include Lucy Willow and the popular Magical Children series of six titles: The Strongest Girl in the World, The Invisible Boy, The Boy with Magic Numbers, The Smallest Girl in the World, The Boy with the Lightning Feet, and The Boy who could Fly, which are also available as audio books. She has also written and illustrated picture books including The Fairy Catalogue, The Glass Heart, The Book of Princesses and Playtime Rhymes. Sally Gardner continues to be an avid spokesperson for dyslexia, working to change the way it is perceived by society. She is dyslexic and argues that it is not a disability, but a gift.Her website is www.sallygardner.net and you can follow her on Twitter @TheSallyGardner