Peter Bunzl

What books did you read when you were a child?
When I was a child my favourite book was The Witches by Roald Dahl. It’s a deliciously scary adventure, with fabulous illustrations by Quentin Blake. I re-read it recently and found it was still a tale perfectly told.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Probably Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak - because you get to go on a wild rumpus and still be home in time for tea. Plus I love the drawings of the Wild Things - they are so vivid and alive, and apparently were based on Maurice’s relatives!

What is the best thing about reading?
Reading takes you to worlds you couldn’t possibly imagine. You meet new characters, get to know them as friends, and travel with them to different times and places full of magic and mystery, while never leaving your comfy chair. Who wouldn’t love that?

What is your all-time favourite book?
This is such a difficult question… there are so many. I recently read I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith for the first time and it shot right onto my list of top ten favourite books.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
I don’t have children myself, but I have a lot of nephews and neices who are very chatty! I think parents should talk to their kids about everything. Read to them, tell them stories, explain things they don’t understand. Tell them about your life and involve them in everything around them. Answer their why? questions. Give congratulations when they do something well, or even when they don’t quite think they did it well enough. And, most vitally, listen and be supportive when they want to tell you something that’s important to them.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Neither of my parents are writers but they were enthusiastic about anything creative I did. My dad kept the poems and books that I wrote when I was young in a big folder. He still has them and, at the time, was really proud of each and every one. My mum is an artist and she encouraged me to use my imagination to produce unique images and illustrations with their own stories. She always took my art seriously, and valued ideas and creative thinking over working in a specific subscribed way, which was how skills were sometimes taught at school. They both encouraged me to question everything and come up with my own answers and that’s what writing and all art is about.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
When I go round to see my nephews and neices and it’s their bedtime I sometimes get to read them a bedtime story. That’s fun because they know the stories much better than I do and tell me off if I skip a bit or get something wrong, or even if I do a voice they think is wrong for the character! The last book we read together was The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers.

Peter Bunzl grew up in London and lives there with his partner Michael. After studying animation at the NFTS, he worked on two BAFTA winning cartoon series (Yoko! Jakamoko! Toto! and The Secret Show) and wrote and directed several fantastical shorts for children. Cogheart is his debut children’s novel, out now.

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