Zoe Greaves

Interviews by Zoe Greaves

Clare Morpurgo on Penguin Paperbacks

Penguin paperbacks were a publishing revolution: lightweight, affordable editions that brought high-quality fiction and non-fiction to all. Clare Morpurgo, daughter of the Penguin Books founder Allen Lane, discusses the five Penguins that she loved most as a young reader—and why it’s down to her that her father never published The Hobbit.

Michael Morpurgo on His Novels

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey behind the scenes of five of his own books. He talks about his convictions as a writer and how he weaves fiction out of truths—experiences, accidents, history and memories—and why getting lost is often the best way to make a remarkable discovery.

Children’s Picture Books, recommended by Kate Milner

Kate Milner, winner of the prestigious Klaus Flugge Prize, discusses some of the trailblazing illustrators that have inspired her own career. She heralds artists whose imaginative works have given us some of the most exuberant storytelling for children over the last 50 years.

The best books on Trees For Younger Readers, recommended by Neal Layton

Award-winning author and illustrator Neal Layton is passionate about the natural world—especially trees. Among his five recommendations are trees that provide raw materials for building, food and profit; trees that are perfect for climbing; lofty enchanted trees full of adventure; and small yet perfect Christmas trees. Each has a story to tell.

The Best Coming-of-Age Novels About Sisters, recommended by Laura Wood

Coming-of-age stories unfold at the point at which a young person goes out into the world – full of potential and change. Siblings, at this important crossroad, also have to establish themselves outside of their relationship to each other. Author Laura Wood recommends five of her favourite novels that explore the intense, sometimes destructive, relationships that exist between sisters.

The best books on Political Engagement For Teens, recommended by Adrienne Kisner

Are you a teenager who is furious about the way the world seems to be going? Do you feel powerless and overwhelmed? Author Adrienne Kisner recommends five really good books that will inspire and inform teens and young adults, giving them the tools to get involved in activism, to understand politics—and to change the world.

The best books on Pets For Young Kids, recommended by Catherine Rayner

Feathered, scaly or furry, children form powerful and enriching bonds with their pets. If you don’t have room in your house (or lifestyle) for a multitude of birds and beasts—you can always read about them in books! Catherine Rayner, one of the UK’s leading creators of children’s picture books and devoted animal lover, recommends her favourite illustrated picture books celebrating pets.

The Best Viking History Books for Kids, selected by Janina Ramirez

Celebrated Anglo-Saxonist and art historian Janina Ramirez has written her first book for children: a Viking mystery with a fearless young heroine, Alva – both detective and shield-maiden. Here, Dr Ramirez recommends five superb history books to help young readers get an in-depth understanding of this exciting and often misunderstood era.

The Best Graphic Novels for Eight Year Olds, selected by Helen

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?” Eight-year-old Helen feels the same. Here she tells us why reading graphic novels is fun, relaxing and definitely not for babies – and recommends her current five favourites.

Favourite Kids’ Books, recommended by Klaus Flugge

Since founding Andersen Press in 1976, Klaus Flugge has published some of the most well-known and best-loved names in the world of children’s books– he has launched the careers of some of our best-loved picture book illustrators, from Quentin Blake and Chris Riddell to David McKee, Tony Ross, Michael Foreman and Emma Chichester Clark. Here he expounds on his favourite books and why laughter is his favourite subject.

The best books on Grandparents and Grandchildren, recommended by Joseph Coelho

Acclaimed poet, Joseph Coelho, recommends five of the best kids’ books that celebrate the magical bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. Positive intergenerational relationships have very real health benefits for the whole family! So get yourself settled on a comfy chair with a grandchild and take some time to enjoy sharing these delightful stories.

Best Football Books for Kids and Young Adults, recommended by Dave Cousins

As World Cup fever builds to irresistible levels, there is no better time to get kids reading by presenting them with a few books about ‘the beautiful game.’ Award-winning children’s author and self-confessed football fanatic, Dave Cousins, recommends five fantastic football books for kids and young adults.

Fierce Girls in Tween Fiction, recommended by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Books like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls popularise the many different ways women and girls can be strong, and as strong as they need to be. Award-winning children’s author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, talks us through some of her favourite strong female characters in children’s fiction.

Cressida Cowell on Magical Stories for Kids

From wizards to alchemy and fairies to folklore, Cressida Cowell reveals the magical stories that were most important to her as a child (and which she now delights in sharing with her own children), and her own inspirations for writing about magic and magical worlds today.

Best Environmental Books for Kids, selected by Georgina Stevens

What are the best books to engage and educate young kids about the environment? Environmentalist and author Georgina Stevens has some ideas. She recommends her favourite environment books for kids, as well as a few websites that will help teach them (and their families) how to make a difference.

Books about the Weather for Kids, recommended by Tim Hopgood

Children have almost universal responses to different kinds of weather: kicking fallen leaves in autumn, splashing in puddles in the rain, catching snowflakes on tongues when it snows. We talk to author and illustrator Tim Hopgood about the weather as an inspiration for children’s books.

The best books on Elves, recommended by Igreth the Elf

Elves are often misunderstood or misrepresented over the Christmas period – Christmas cracker jokes have never been kind to these tiny heroes of the festive season. Here Igreth the Elf, great-great-great-grandson of Ilbereth the Elf, sets the record straight and introduces five children’s books that celebrate the extraordinary contribution these diminutive creatures make to Christmas itself.

Rachel Hickman recommends the best Novels Set in Wild Places

Rachel Hickman, co-founder of Chicken House Publishing and author of One Silver Summer selects books with wild settings that have appeal to older children. She discusses how a strong use of nature adds drama and meaning to a narrative, and the way that setting can become another character in a story entirely.

Children’s Books About Relationships, recommended by Jean Webb

Children’s literature research is one of the most dynamic fields of literary criticism today, says Jean Webb, professor of international children’s literature at the University of Worcester. She picks five books from around the world that shed light on ‘childhood and relationships.’

Books Drawn From Myth and Fairy Tale, recommended by Alan Lee

Alan Lee, illustrator of such classics as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, talks to Five Books about his favourite stories drawn from myth and fairy tale, what they mean to him, and how important it is for young readers today to experience these ancient stories.

Gill Lewis on Children’s Books About the Refugee Crisis

How can parents even begin to explain the refugee crisis to children and young adults? Here, award-winning children’s author Gill Lewis shares her selection of vital primers – from simple picture books to challenging graphic novels – and discusses the role of ‘informed storytelling’ in describing this fraught and fragile human experience

Best Books About Dads, recommended by Paul Howard

Depictions of fathers in children’s books have leapt forward in recent years, says illustrator Paul Howard. He talks us through his favourite visions of modern dads in books, from the ultimate macho man to fathers at their most vulnerable.

Jon Burgerman on the best Playful Books for Children

Whatever your age, play is how we test ideas, define rules and see if they hold. New York-based artist and author Jon Burgerman talks to Five Books about his favourite titles that encourage kids to have fun and be playful, without worry or fear of failure, and simply enjoy the limitless possibilities of imagination.

Funny Books for Kids, recommended by Elys Dolan

Elys Dolan, author of Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory and rising star of the picture book world, on the funniest illustrated books for reading at bedtime—and why children’s characters needn’t always set good moral examples.

The best books on Teenage Mental Health, recommended by Rae Earl

Every generation has its own minefield to negotiate in order to reach adulthood. Author Rae Earl discusses five books that explore a range of mental health issues that some teenagers may face, and many adults have faced, while on this difficult journey.

The best books on Human Imperfection, recommended by Henry Normal

Poet, writer and Bafta winning TV and film producer, Henry Normal, talks about his experiences bringing up his autistic son, the need for acceptance and why we should all embrace our human imperfections. Along the way he recommends five books that inspired him as a young man and continue to inspire him today.