On Diana Wynne Jones, Julia Donaldson and Polly Dunbar

The world is full of news at the minute. You can’t sit down without hearing something new on the radio/TV/Twitter, which makes you want to stand up again.

The big news of the children’s book world is the loss of Diana Wynne Jones. When I first met my agent, her office was full of Howl’s Moving Castle and Studio Ghibli memorabilia. I was awestruck, as she’d recently travelled to Japan with Diana to meet Miyazaki. It seems such a slight thing, and she’d never have known it, but without Diana Wynne Jones, I wouldn’t have picked my agent, and the yetis may never have happened. So here’s me raising a drink in memory of a true great of the children’s book world.

Next on to Julia Donaldson, and the piece in the Guardian where she explains why she thinks ebooks are a bad idea for children. She says that: “if everyone just says yes to there being an ebook of everything, there is a danger they could take over.”

To think digital is not already taking over is a real mistake. You only have to look at the music industry and note how badly CD sales are faring to see that publishers have no choice but to embrace technology.

There’s no going back to an age where paper is the best medium for words, we left that long ago, and in all honesty, you can’t, and won’t, stop children picking up phones/iPads/laptops and using them. My 16mth daughter is already captivated by our phones. She’ll be coding by the age of four and reading ebooks by the age of 5.

I don’t believe all books should be retrofitted to work on digital devices, but new work should definitely look to the future and embrace its possibilities and potential. It’s exciting what might come out of it. And picture books look beautiful on a backlit screen.

And while we’re on the subject of picture books, Polly Dunbar has made a wonderful online picture book about writing a picture book. Just lovely (and digital).

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