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The Power to Make Little People Feel Better – Wendy Meddour on Picturebooks

We are delighted to welcome author Wendy Meddour to the blog today, whose new book Sunny and the Birds is available now from Oxford Children’s. Wendy discusses the joy that she and her own children have found in picturebooks and tells us about how she has learned to tap into the power of picturebooks to make small children feel better…
Wendy meddour picture books blog

Wendy meddour picture books blog

Guest Post: Wendy Meddour

Author of Sunny and the Birds


The Power to Make Little People Feel Better

Wendy meddourThe joy of picture books

Picture books have always special in my life. They’re at the centre of my earliest and happiest memories. I remember curling up in the safety of my parents’ laps while being read magical stories about pixies and goblins, weird and wondrous tales about green men who set sail to sea in a sieve, and sleepy snails with names like Shellover and Creep.

So, it’s no surprise that I wanted to pass this gift on to my own four children.  Fortunately, they loved picture books as much as me! A trip to the library was met with the same level of excitement as the promise of an ice-bun, a play in the park, or a bag of sweets. We’d dip into the large library boxes of picture books and pull out brightly illustrated stories about crocodiles brushing their teeth, princesses using potties, gorillas playing pianos, aliens making jelly and pizza, children being frightened of their own shadows, and old-fashioned trains that could talk!

When we got home, we’d take our time to revel in the words; the repetition, the pattern, the rhyme, the stories that we’d accidentally learn off by heart. We’d borrow the maximum allowed every week – finding one for each and every occasion: to make us laugh, or cry, or learn, or relate, or question, or invent, or dream. 

The special power of picture books

I didn’t just read them to my own children. They were such delightful things that I wanted to share them, so I read them at preschools and story-times and to my friends’ and families’ children. The more I read, the more I realised that they had a very special power: picture books made little people feel better!

When I became convinced of this, I was an English lecturer, not a writer. But I wanted to be part of the magic. Could I write stories that would make little people feel better too?

I couldn’t. At least, not at first. My first few picture books were rhyming and funny. How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel and The Glump and the Peeble made children laugh, or aspire to be more confident, but I don’t think I made them feel better.

 

Practice Makes Perfect

So, I practised. And practised. And always tried to be honest, respect my readers, and write from the heart. I think that the more I wrote, the more I read, and the more I listened to children, the more I understood what they were worried about. This was crucial.

It helped me to start writing picture books like Lubna and Pebble, Tisha and the Blossom, Howard the Average Gecko, The Friendship Bench, Sunny and the Birds, and Cleo the Completely Fine Camel. They’re all about things that children find difficult or things that they need a little help with.

Sometimes, these books are funny, like Cleo the Completely Fine Camel, when she’s pretending she’s completely fine when she’s not, and sometimes they’re a little sad, like Sunny and the Birds, when Sunny wants his dad to stop missing his homeland, but I think, or rather, I hope, that they all share a little of the same magic: the unique power that picture books have to make our little people feel better.

 

 the friendship bench

 

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WENDY MEDDOUR is a Doctor of English Literature and an internationally successful and award-winning children’s writer.

Her debut children’s book, A Hen in the Wardrobe, was selected as one of the Guardian’s ‘Best 50 diverse Children’s Books since the 1950s’. Wendy is also the author of several picture books, including the highly acclaimed Lubna and Pebble. Wendy also teaches Creative Writing at Exeter University.

Wendy’s latest picture book Sunny and the Birds is available online and in all good bookshops.


 

Purchase Sunny and the Birds  from Amazon or BookShop.org.

We also have more children’s books about emotional literacy on our booklists, for further ideas for picturebooks to help children understand their emotions.

Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

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