To mark Children’s Book Week and on the release of the first instalment of her new series The Peski Kids: The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach, R. A. Spratt shares with readers six books that have inspired her.
Six books that have inspired me . . .
Words | R. A. Spratt
Hating Alison Ashley– Robin Klein is brilliant at writing humour and pathos. This book shows that you don’t need epic historical themes to craft a beautiful, subtle portrait of how hard it is just to be ten years old.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes– I know you probably think this is an adult book, but it’s really not. The stories are simple (usually only one plot twist), there’s action, very little emotional depth (no icky romance or tortured ambition) and best of all – the stories are short. It’s a great way to introduce young readers to old fashioned language (an easier jumping off point than Dickens).
The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy is the benchmark standard I aspire to as a comedy writer. It isn’t just full of brilliant jokes, it is also overflowing with wonderful ideas.
Anne of Green Gables– Anne Shirley is a fantastic character. We all know that adults are complicated, but it’s easily forgotten that children can be complicated too. There is so much pressure to make books appeal to the mainstream by simplifying everything, but this book demonstrates that incredibly intelligent, articulate and bookish characters are more interesting. You want a lead character with lots to say.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Okay, now I’m going to contradict myself because Huckleberry is not articulate or bookish. They say this book is like a road movie because it is literally a linear journey. I set a lot of store by this as a story structure. I often think to myself is my story moving forward and does this moment make sense relative to previous moment. If it does, that is all I need. Plotting should look complicated but be emotionally simple.
Garfield – I was a reluctant reader and I learned to read through the Garfield bumper book I was given one Christmas. The international popularity of cat videos on the internet shows us that there are universal truths about the humour of cats that speak to all our souls.
R.A. Spratt is the author of The Peski Kids, Friday Barnes and The Adventures of Nanny Piggins. In her previous life she was a television writer. Unlike the Peski kids, R.A. Spratt never fights with her brother, but only because he moved to Hong Kong to get away from her. R.A. lives in Bowral, NSW, where she has three chickens, two goldfish and a dog. She also has a husband and two daughters.
Image by Jackie Spratt