This week, we speak with children's book creator Matt Cosgrove, and give you a chance to WIN a Scholastic book pack.
Matt Cosgrove is the very talented author and illustrator behind the Macca the Alpaca series. His musical masterpiece, Alpacas with Maracas was chosen as the official story for National Simultaneous Storytime 2019, which saw 1,138,889 Australian and Kiwi kids reading the book, and now his brand-new title, Macca's Makeover is about to take the world by storm.
Here, Matt describes some great children's books and shares his experiences as an author, illustrator, parent and all-round rock star.
Apart from alpacas, what do you think makes a great picture book, Matt?
Alpacas definitely help, but I think a great picture book happens when there's a harmony between the words and images. When those two separate elements magically combine, they somehow create a wondrous entity, greater than the individual parts.
How did you come up with the idea for your first alpaca book, Macca the Alpaca?
I wish I could say that I was raised by alpacas in the mountains of Peru or that my imaginary childhood friend was an alpaca, but it's nothing that compelling!
A few years ago, I was at the Sydney Royal Easter Show with my family and we saw alpacas and llamas in the animal pavilion. I was immediately struck with the realisation that they would make great characters in a picture book. They were so unique and had such personality. The story flowed really quickly and easily after that moment, which isn't always the case!
What's the funniest or most heart-warming thing a young reader has ever said to you about your work?
It's always lovely when the little ones storm the stage after a reading and want to give a heartfelt hug. Young readers are so enthusiastic! It makes me laugh when they proclaim, "I love you, Matt Cosgrove!" They always say my full name and I momentarily feel like a rock star – although I'm definitely not!
What book do you never, ever, ever get tired of reading to your kids?
When my children were younger, I loved the humour and energy of Green eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. The way the text builds frenetically and increases in absurdity meant we never tired of reading it.
Now that my children are older, we're up to our third read-through of Wonder by R.J. Palacio and it is still as engaging and powerful as the first time.
Apart from Macca's Makeover, what are three new books you'd recommend for preschoolers?
A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas is just beautiful and has an important message about the power of quietness in this loud world we live in.
I can't wait to read Meerkat Splash by Aura Parker. I love her picture books, Twig and Cocoon, so I'm looking forward to this new one with meerkats. Yay!
Also, Bad Crab – which is written by Amelia McInerney and illustrated by Philip Bunting – looks fantastic. Amelia debuted with The Book Chook and Philip created Mopoke, so I'm excited about the crabby new book from this dynamic creative duo!
You've worked with the legendary children's book authors, Jackie French and Glenda Millard. What secrets did they share about writing for kids?
The thing that struck me about both of those incredible writers was their imagination, their love of language and how they always write with the reader in mind. And they just keep on writing! I hope I can do the same in my career.
Apart from global domination, what book-related endeavour would you like to achieve in the next decade?
Global domination sounds awesome, but ultimately, I hope I can just keep making a variety of children's books – and that kids still want to read them!
We're sure they will, Matt, and thanks for getting so many children reading already.
To learn more about Matt Cosgrove, visit Scholastic The Store and you can buy all his books at places like Scholastic, Dymocks, Kmart, Target, BIG W and Booktopia.
WIN a Matt Cosgrove book pack!
Thanks to Scholastic, we have three book packs to give away, each pack contains a copy of:
- Macca's Makeover
- Macca the Alpaca
- A Stack of Alpacas
- Alpacas with Maracas
- Macca's Christmas Crackers
To enter, just tell us in 25 words or less what your child LOVES about Matt Cosgrove's books.
Email your answer to email@example.com by Friday, 11 September.