Sophy Henn is an award-winning picture book author and illustrator with a master’s in illustration from the University of Brighton. She is the creator of the much-loved Bad Nana series, the Pom Pom series, the Ted board book series, and the nonfiction titles Lifesize and Lifesize Dinosaurs, among others. Her debut picture book Where Bear? was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Sophy was the World Book Day Illustrator in 2015 and 2016.
We coaught up with Sophy who told us about her latest book in the Pizazz series, her inspirations, and advice for aspiring writers.
Please tell us about your latest novel, Pizazz Vs the New Kid!
Pizazz Vs The New Kid is the second instalment in the Pizazz series.
Pizazz is a reluctant superhero from a family of superheroes and while they all whizz about happily saving the world, Pizazz isn’t actually quite so sure she wants to be SUPER super. There are MANY reasons for this, such as always getting called away for missions in the middle of fun things, having to wear the same superhero costume ALL THE TIME, and having the MOST EMBARRASSING superpower EVER! *eye roll* It is so embarrassing I don’t think I should tell you.
As with most of my books, it was inspired by my daughter. Not that she is Pizazz exactly, but Pizazz was a character in a little comic strip in a comic I made for her (and my MA final project) when she was about 7/8 years old. The idea was to flip the perky, can-do, sensible girl superhero idea on its head and wonder what it would be like if she just found the whole thing, well, a bit annoying! And then seeing how she combines her ‘normal’ life with her ‘super’ life, trying to balance fitting-in and standing out all while wearing a full-length cape with her name written across the back. SUPER!
They are all illustrated fiction books with added comic strips and you might have guessed I have a lot of fun writing and illustrating them.
Pizazz Vs The New Kid sees our reluctant hero pitted against the brand new superhero in school in a Super-Off, which is orchestrated by Pizazz’s nemesis in the normal world, Serena, the most popular girl in school. How will our plucky, yet reluctant, superhero fare? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out!
What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
As I write for children, nearly everything I write is inspired by something I have witnessed my daughter or one of her friends experience. I think the takeaways would ideally be empowerment and reassurance. Whether it’s about the power to make the immediate world around them a nicer place or reassuring them that getting the grumps happens to everyone or inspiring an army of naughty grandmas or letting young girls know that despite the constant pressure they face they really don’t have to be super ALL THE TIME, I hope the reader walks away from my books feeling a little lighter.
What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Keep going! The part where you get your idea is a lovely and exciting moment, enjoy it, because getting the whole book written and illustrated takes time, patience and grim determination, not to mention many, many edits/cups of tea. But it’s definitely worth it. I promise.