This month we are thrilled to welcome Konnie Huq, creator of the brilliantly funny Cookie series, as our Guest Editor.
Just published, Cookie and the Most Mysterious Mystery in the World is the third book in the series, blending fun fiction, jokes and activities with fascinating STEM facts. This time, science-mad Cookie uses her coding skills to solve the mystery of Jake's mum's admirer and to decipher who is hacking the school website.
The three books in the Cookie series have been a great hit with our Reader Review Panel. Amatullah Khatun, aged 10, wrote - "I was surprised to read Cookie's gran comes from Bangladesh because my gran does too. This is the first time I've read about a Bangladeshi character. I loved looking at the illustrations, especially the speech bubbles, cute unicorns and all the animals. On the cover I admired the doodles and the little details. I can’t believe they were drawn by the author. This is perfect for fans of 'Diary of a wimpy kid' and 'Dork Diaries'."
We grabbed the opportunity to ask Konnie a bit more about her award-winning series.....
Cookie is such a lovable and funny character - and she is absolutely science-mad. Do you think Cookie will encourage kids, and perhaps especially girls, to find the fun in STEM subjects?
I really hope Cookie can achieve that! We have a dearth of young people entering STEM professions in the UK and I really think the earlier kids are introduced to STEM the better.
The illustrations, which you draw yourself, are an essential element of the Cookie books adding to the humour of the stories brilliantly. Does the artwork come first, or the text?
The text definitely comes first and originally the book wasn’t going to have illustrations but they seemed an easier way to show Cookie’s tangents, thoughts and flights of fancy than text.
The style and pace of the Cookie books appeal to kids who might not normally be keen readers. Was this important to you?
It was very important to me to try and make the book a ‘gateway book’ for reluctant readers which was why humour, comic illustrations and the activities were included. Any methods that can get kids into reading can only be a good thing.
The latest Cookie story - Cookie and the Most Mysterious Mystery in the World - has kept the LoveReading4Kids office laughing. It is just as funny, fresh and smart as the preceding two. Where do you find your inspiration for the storylines - and is it hard to keep the jokes coming?
The storylines are all loosely based on things that have happened to me in some way, shape or form. The jokes write themselves as they are mainly things Cookie would think in the situations she finds herself.
We can imagine Cookie with her own tv series and we were excited to hear there are plans for a Cookie show in production. Can you tell us more?!
The style will probably be live action as opposed to animation. It will hopefully be pacey, immersive and very funny.
Can we rewind to your school days...would you have been winning the science competition and vying for a place on Brainbusters tv quiz?
I probably wouldn’t have won the science competition! The only thing I ever won when younger was a tour of the kitchens at McDonalds when I went to a birthday there once.
Did young Konnie have a love of reading?
I was a reluctant reader til I picked up what I call my gateway book one rainy break time at school. It was Superfudge by Judy Blume, the first book I devoured cover to cover without any pictures and written how I felt grown up books were written. When reluctant readers find the books that speak to them it can be a game changer.
I really loved Anne of Green Gables. It was great to see a strong female protagonist back then.
What was the most fun thing you did as a presenter on Blue Peter?
I really loved travelling to all the different places and countries my job took me to, meeting different people, experiencing different cultures and experiences.
And the most challenging or scary?
Paragliding was scary before launch but awesome after, so breathtaking. Feeding sharks in a chainmail suit should have been scary but I loved it!! Repairing wind turbines was pretty challenging as they are so high.
One in three of all books sold is a children's book yet children's books only get 4% of review space in the media. Why do you think this is - and what can be done?
It is really sad but the importance of what children are subjected to in the primary and early secondary years is never given the credence it should be. Yet this is what will shape the adults of tomorrow and therefore the future of our nation. Adults are too preoccupied with putting themselves first often!!
What does LoveReading4Kids mean to you?
It means a lot to have such a great initiative. Reading for kids is so important and studies show kids that read go further in life. Reading gives altruism and allows people to feel for others. If we have a nation of young readers today we have a bright future tomorrow.
Thanks Konnie, lastly can you leave us with some top tips for budding young writers?
If you find it hard to know what to write about, find subjects that interest you and that you can to relate to. Make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and end. Conflict, dilemma, twists or turns in the middle will help make a story interesting.