This week, it is my pleasure to introduce you to author Wenda Shurety as she discusses her new picture book Eva’s Imagination. I especially enjoy Wenda’s book for its focus on imagination, something I consider very important to encourage in young children. Without imagination, we are unable to see beyond what is and have little chance of progress being made.
Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.
About Eva’s Imagination
Eva doesn’t know what an imagination is. With the help of her dog Chops, Eva goes on a hunt to find it. Eva’s Imagination is a delightful story about the power of the imagination that aims to inspire young children to find adventure in their surroundings rather than from screens.
Now let’s meet Wenda.
Welcome to readilearn, Wenda.
Thank you for inviting me.
Wenda, Eva’s Imagination is your first picture book for children. What gave you the idea for this story?
The opening was inspired by my daughter, Belinda, who often announces she’s bored. It made me think back to my childhood when my mother would say, ‘How can you be bored? Go and use your imagination.’ My sisters and I would run off and create fantastic adventures often inspired by Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree stories. Off we’d travel to all sorts of magical places; Marshmallow land, Underwater land…
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I first felt the stir about ten years ago which grew when I started reading picture books to my daughter.
Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?
I write in our study, preferably in silence (although I can cope with the occasional dog snore!).
What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?
Both, although I’m such a slow typist and often have to grab a pen and paper to get my ideas down quickly.
When do you write?
Usually when my daughter is at school.
Do you think of the story in your head before you write it?
Yes. I’m a very visual person and imagine the main character acting out the story before it is converted into text.
What do you like best about Eva’s Imagination?
Two things make this book extra special. The Illustrator (Karen Erasmus) has a daughter called Eva – I didn’t know that when I chose the name; and I named Chops after my dog Charlotte (a.k.a. Charlie Chops) who passed away just before the book was published. It’s lovely that she lives on in Eva’s Imagination.
Do you like the way Karen Erasmus has illustrated your story?
Absolutely! I wondered how she was going to illustrate a child imagining a forest or a mountain etc. I think she portrayed that beautifully, helping children understand what an imagination is and what it can do.
How did you feel when you wrote Eva’s Imagination?
Like a child again! Basically, I imagined I was a young child going through my childhood home. I tried to see the rooms and furniture how they might see it.
How do you hope readers will feel?
Inspired to go on their own adventures around their home or playground.
How would you like teachers to present Eva’s Imagination to children?
Maybe teachers could ask the children what an imagination is. Many children are not sure thus Eva’s Imagination could help them understand the meaning of the word and, like Eva, realise they can use it whenever they want to create adventures.
After I’ve read Eva’s Imagination at schools, I often show the children a pencil and ask them what else it could be. We have fun using our imagination to come up with all sorts of ideas: a wand, a paddle pop stick, a moustache, a flute, and even a dead snake! Or we travel on a magic carpet to see what land our imagination will take us to.
Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?
Children could discuss the different ways they use their imagination (e.g. writing stories, inventing games, working out a problem). A creative imagination is vital for the development of skills such as decision making, visualisation, problem solving and empathy. As Albert Einstein said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.‘ Having been a research scientist, a mum and a children’s author, I know a creative imagination goes a long way.
Do you have any advice for children as writers?
Let your imagination take you places that no-one would think possible!
What is your favourite picture book?
Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson. I love how she explored imagination, loss, memory and family. I felt quite emotional the first time I read it to my daughter.
Who is your favourite children’s author? What do you like about his or her work?
My favourite is Peter Carnavas and my nine-year-old daughter agrees. We love his picture books: Jessica’s Box, The Last Tree in the City and The Children Who Loved Books. They all have an important message – given gently and with plenty of heart. His chapter book, The Elephant is such a beautiful story too and encourages understanding and empathy in everyone.
Thank you, Wenda, for sharing these insights about your picture book Eva’s Imagination and your writing process. We wish you success.
Thanks for having me.
Find out more about Wenda Shurety on her website: www.wendashurety.com
Or connect with her on social media:
Eva’s Imagination can be purchased from the publisher New Frontier Publishing.
Free downloadable teacher notes are also available on the site.
This interview is now available free, in a ready-to-print format, in Literacy Resources Author Spotlight — Wenda Shurety. The information may be displayed in your classroom or included in a class book about authors and illustrators.
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