Fifi Kuo

What books did you read when you were a child?
I loved picture books and read The Snowman by Raymond Briggs over and over again - even though it has no text, I could sit with it for hours, pouring over each picture. I also loved Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Hermione in Harry Potter.

What is the best thing about reading?
You can have adventures and experiences and explore other worlds - without going anywhere in real life.

What is your all-time favourite book?
The Snowman. I have four editions of it with different covers, including an anniversary one. I also love the Harry Potter series, which I’ve read about six times!

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I think this is to try and understand what their children are thinking. Books are like bridges between people and we can use them as paths to walk into someone else’s mind and increase understanding through empathy.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
About 50% I think. I find it hard to write in English as it’s not my first language. I feel much more confident when I write in Mandarin. My high school Chinese teacher was inspirational and I’m very grateful to her.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I don’t have any children of my own but I would recommend parents read The Snowman - talk through the pictures and describe the story. Also Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwartz, Lost and Found and The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers.

Fifi is originally from Taiwan where she did a BA in Landscape Architecture Design. She followed this a little while later with an MA in Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. Since graduating, she has won Bronze in the Macmillan Prize, merit in the iJungle Illustration Awards and has also been shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019, the Cambridgeshire Libraries’ Read it Again picture book award and the AOI Worlds Illustration Award. She has an eye for humour and characterisation and loves to observe people. When not people watching, she likes to watch her hamster and drink Japanese green tea lattes. She likes the rain because it reminds her of the UK, and talks to herself when she draws!

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