Bookbug Author Spotlight: Michelle Robinson
Bookbug's Author Spotlight gives you the chance to learn more about the work of authors, illustrators, and publishers connected to the Bookbug programme. This month we shine the spotlight on Michelle Robinson, author of the perfect bedtime story, Goodnight Tractor. Goodnight Tractor is currently included in our Bookbug Explorer Bag.
What inspired you to start writing/ illustrating for children?
I thought about how rubbish it would be to live my life without attempting to achieve my dreams. My dream was to become an author and nothing was stopping me apart from laziness! So I started writing stories in my spare time. I would get to work two hours early each day to write. I still work really hard and don't like to waste time in front of the TV when I could be writing.
What’s your top tip for sharing Goodnight Tractor with little ones?
The more you share Goodnight Tractor the more your child will start 'reading' it themselves. The repetition and rhythm make it an easy story for children to pick up quickly. You can have even more fun beyond the book with free colouring sheets and even an audio game to play along with on my website - it's really fun to imagine you're driving a tractor!
What do you hope children will take away from Goodnight Tractor?
I hope they'll enjoy some special time in the lap of a loved one. When they've finished reading, perhaps they'll both have found a gentle, soothing book that they'll love returning to again and again.
Books meant being read to by my parents and that was always special
Which books did you love as a child?
All of them! Books meant being read to by my parents and that was always special. For five or ten minutes mum or dad would be all mine. I loved the way they read. Dad would do all the voices, mum did this funny lip smacking thing between sentences. The world stopped when they read me stories. We couldn't afford many books so we used the library a lot. My favourite stories were the ones my dad made up about a caveman called Og.
What is your favourite memory from childhood?
Whenever the field behind our house was ploughed, I'd spend hours trudging across it looking for treasure. Bits of clay pipe, broken pottery, old hobnails... I made my own museum of archaeological finds. Great fun.
If you could live in any book you’ve written or illustrated, which would it be and why?
What a brilliant question. I think I want to inhabit all of them in some way, which is probably why I dream them up in the first place. How about Goodnight Princess? I've always been the least graceful, least elegant, least girly girl I know. I'd love to be a princess just for one day.
Are there any lessons that your parents taught you that will always stick in your head?
My dad always told me I could achieve anything I wanted as long as I worked hard enough.
Is there a picture book you wish you’d written or illustrated?
There are so many. Each Peach Pear Plum by the Ahlbergs is the one I'll pick today (see image, left).
What do you think is the secret to a successful picture book?
I think the secret is just that - it's a secret! There's some kind of chemistry that goes on between the words and pictures in the very best picture books. You can try and put your finger on what's so good about a successful book, but it's really hard to pinpoint. I suspect it's actually magic.
Is there a book, an author or any other individual who inspired your love of books?
I changed schools when I was about six years old and was intrigued by a girl who always had a Famous Five book by Enid Blyton on the go. I started reading the series too and quickly got the reading bug. I also made a brilliantly bookish best friend.
What do you enjoy doing other than writing/illustrating children’s books?
I like making up fun craft activities with my children (we just made some crazy Christmas decorations using old clothes pegs and cotton wool). I try and dedicate as much time as I can to voluntary work in my local community. I particularly love working with my local school where I'm Patron of Reading. We're currently trying to totally revamp the school library, it's really exciting.
What’s your favourite thing about your local library?
The librarians - they're brilliant. They're so helpful and there's something reassuring about seeing the same faces every time we visit. The library really is at the heart of our community in Frome. If you spend a good amount of time in any library you'll see just how hard librarians work, helping people with all sorts of enquiries - not just about books!
If you have received a Bookbug Explorer Bag but haven't read Goodnight Tractor yet, you can watch one family sharing this story on our Bookbug webpages for inspiration. You can also watch one mum and her son sharing the book in Gaelic.