Puppets, paints and superpowers with Polly Dunbar

When it comes to bedtime stories, they don't get much better than the books of multi-award winning author and illustrator Polly Dunbar. Her 'Tilly' book series is so well-loved that it's been turned into a BBC cartoon, the wonderful 'Penguin' is way up in our picture book hall of fame, and her latest offering 'A Lion for a Lion' has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making. Polly has that rare gift of making books and illustrations that kids want to look at over and over again, and that parents genuinely enjoy re-reading to their childrenAll this, and she has a superpower that means NO MORE TIDYING. Seriously, we'll have whatever Polly's having please.

Barnes Children’s Literature Festival: What would you be doing if you weren’t an amazing illustrator and author?

Polly Dunbar: My favourite thing to do, aside from illustrating, is making puppets and putting on shows. I think making things, whatever they are is good for the soul. If I could do something entirely different I’d like to sing and dance. I do both very badly I’m afraid. The characters in my book often dance, so maybe they’re doing it for me.

BCLF: What’s the best thing about what you do?

PD: I’m very lucky to make books as a job, here are some of the reasons:

I get to stay at home and draw all day, I could stay in my pyjamas if I wanted to.

I get to stare out of the window and think really hard (and call it work).

I get to invent characters and share them with children.

It’s the best feeling when a new book arrives in the post.

BCLF: What is your favourite word?

PD: Paint!

BCLF: What’s your greatest fear?

PD: I’m scared of heights. I recently visited a castle to do some research for an illustration. I walked all around the ramparts and was so scared I really wanted to slither along on my belly.

BCLF: What is your hidden talent?

PD: My thumb wiggles when I write, apparently I hold my pencil all wrong but I’ve learnt to live with that.

BCLF: What is your superpower?

PD: I’m able to find things in a big messy studio just by hovering my hands above the mess until I find what I need. It’s a very useful super power, it saves me tidying up.

BCLF: Who is your favourite literary villain?

PD: Am I allowed to choose my own character? I’ve just written a book about a rather devilish Lion, it’s called ‘A Lion is a Lion‘. He’s ever so polite (and very good at singing and dancing) but but don’t be fooled – he has very sharp teeth.

BCLF: You’re the fantasy festival programmer. Who would you love to see come to Barnes?

PD: Tolstoy and Doctor Seuss in Conversation, please.

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