Animator, musician, dad, and award-winning author of has just published another fantastic book – Did You Hear a Monster? We were lucky enough to get to chat to him about his work. What did you want to be when you grew up? How do you come up with the char
Start a Christmas tradition of taking silly family photos. You could turn them into Christmas cards, frame them each year, or put them in the family album. Here are a few ideas –
Everyone pull a face (surprised, overjoyed, shocked, cheesy) and make up a funny caption.
Arrange everyone by height – you’ll be surprised at how this changes every year.
Make a human pyramid, a chorus line, or strike your best pose.
Dress up and re-enact the nativity scene.
Love-bomb a stranger with homemade biscuits and include them in the photo.
Gift baking to local hospital staff, firemen, or police and Facebook a photo with them.
It's Not a Monster, It's Me, Raymond Mcgrath,
A scientist of almost any kind. When I was very young I wanted to dig up bones. As I got older I wanted to be a vet, and then a horticulturalist. I am still fascinated by biology and natural history. I honestly don't know how to answer this one. It's different for all my stories. Sometimes the characters are the catalysts for a story, and I write the story for, and around, them. Other times I come up with a situation that I insert characters into. Ultimately, the process is very organic.
I find I don't worry as much about how a character looks at the outset because I'm more concerned about its character traits. Sometimes this is visual – but sometimes it's not. Most often I find that it's less about their appearance and more about how they act, feel, and react to the story and the other characters around them. I was at a birthday party for a friend’s young daughter. The two sisters were playing on a bunk bed – the eldest on the top and the youngest underneath. The eldest was poking her head over the edge of the bunk and roaring like a dragon. The youngest was underneath and giggling her head off. Then, the eldest accidentally roared a little too loud and appeared a little too suddenly that it frightened her sister, and she began to cry. The eldest was very concerned and tried to console her. "Don't worry," she said. “It’s not a monster, it’s just me."
Initially I thought the story would be about two girls playing make believe. But then I began thinking about how people can be quick to judge on looks, before finding out who someone really is. People can surprise (and sometimes not surprise) you with who they really are. And that’s how the book unfolded.
Do you get your kids to critique your books?
Yes, sometimes. My children are tricky as critics because if they're not in the mood, they'll completely switch off. By the same token, if they love something – they love it. I tend to show them what I've done and see what happens, but they can be brutally honest and I have to be prepared for the worst! If they had their way, I'd only be allowed to make pink books about unicorns and princesses. Often though, I am very surprised at what they notice and how they react. Ultimately, I am trying to introduce them to new ideas, not ones they are already familiar with – in the hope I might make a new favourite for them.
Why kids' books?
I don't write kids’ books specifically – I simply create things I like to make. I love words, pictures, characters, stories and ideas – not necessarily one more than the others. I love how they can work together to give depth and personality to each other and how they can be simple yet complex. It just so happens that there are things called picture books, and that's a perfect fit for some of my creative whims. My songs are the same. I write songs that I like the melodies of, and it just so happens that my children, and others, seem to like them too.