February 19th, 2010

reviewers' day

Today I spent the morning at a Reviewers' Event for Write Away, organised by my fab friend Nikki Gamble and hosted by Walker Books in their lovely headquarters. (Let me just say, their caterer makes the best brownies ever.) I sat very still and listened attentively for the first couple talks, but then I started to fidget, even though the other talks were fascinating, so I stayed focused by keeping my hands busy drawing pictures of the speakers.

(I didn't draw Anthony Browne but you can see the sketch I made of him a couple weeks ago here.) I've written some reviews for Write Away and I really like doing it, partly to add to its great educational database, but partly because when I have to write a review, I pay way more attention to the book than if I was just reading if for myself. Reading a book critically and having to think why a book works and doesn't work is such great training for making my own books. Generally, if I don't hugely like a book straight away, I don't bother looking at the rest of it, and this forces me to ask myself why I don't like certain books, which is also good training. But it can also be hugely awkward if I really hate someone's book and I suspect I might at some point end up in the pub with that person or their editor. Reviewing books brings up a lot of dilemmas like that.
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