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A bucketful of rescued baby rabbits, a woodland of tall trees, ripples on a pond, the roots of an upturned tree and puffy clouds… and that, says children’s writer and illustrator Debi Gliori, is what triggered the idea for her latest storybook.

We went to see her at this year’s Morley Literature Festival, West Yorkshire (watch your back, Ilkley!) Before reading The Scariest Thing of All (about a little rabbit called Pip who nurtures a long list of things to worry about), Debi spoke about how, where and why she works.

I was particularly interested in the role that the outdoors and nature play in her creative process. ‘When I’m stuck for ideas, I go out for a walk in the woods,’ she said. ‘That’s often when I get my best ideas.’


Here are some other things I learned about Debi:

  • she hates television
  • she was an only child
  • she has five children
  • she wants children to know that achievement is down to practice, failure, perseverance and then more practice, showing us samples of her own ‘rubbish’ drawings and stories
  • she plays the violin with her eyes shut (look for the little rabbit fiddler in the book – that’s her)
  • she works in a shed
  • librarians in America tried to get one of her books banned (Polar Bolero, about a bear that lives in a fridge) because they thought that children might try to climb in their fridges (you couldn’t make it up, could you?)
  • photographs of her family keep her productive: ‘I’m a mother first and foremost, and a writer and illustrator second. The photos remind me that the whole time I’m working, I’m taking time away from my family, and that really helps focus the mind.’
  • the book is, a bit, about her.

If you’re wondering about what happens to Pip and his list of worries, well, you’ll have to get the book, won’t you?

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