COVER STORY

Books for the young are full of won­der­ful life lessons. De­but chil­dren’s au­thor Mi­randa Hart picks her per­sonal favourites PHO­TO­GRAPHS Rachell Smith

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Co­me­dian-turned-au­thor Mi­randa Hart on the chil­dren's books that still perk up her book­shelves an adult

In Septem­ber last year, I suc­cumbed to that old back-to -school feel­ing. I left school over 25 years ago but I can still get the dreaded sense of the free­dom and light­ness of sum­mer end­ing, and life some­how be­com­ing more of a drudge as we head into the darker skies of au­tumn. I was also em­bark­ing on an ex­cit­ing new writ­ing project: my first chil­dren’s book. Writ­ing is a lovely job in many ways but it can be iso­lat­ing (fun of­fice chats are me talk­ing to my dog about whether 10.30am is too early to stop for lunch).

So that sense of go­ing back to work on my own, with a blank doc­u­ment on my lap­top, fu­elled a rather low mood. And when a low mood sinks in, you find your­self al­most rev­el­ling in the aw­ful world news and feel­ing self-pity­ing about the tini­est things. (I went into a fury sim­ply be­cause I couldn’t find a Biro I had only just used – why do they do that?!)

It’s easy to spi­ral into see­ing just the neg­a­tive around us and then quite sim­ply not smiling. I think we all have days when we just want to hole up, can­cel friends and co­coon in a du­vet. I found that noth­ing could prompt an up­ward turn to my mouth – not even a cheeky dol­lop of ice cream with my favourite com­edy, Mod­ern Fam­ily, or watch­ing my dog run as fast as she could to catch a squir­rel and crash into a tree trunk look­ing slightly em­bar­rassed (yes, not even a clas­sic YouTube-wor­thy an­i­mal mishap).

In this glum state, it struck me how there are so many peo­ple in the world for whom there is gen­uinely very lit­tle, if any­thing, to smile about. And they are of­ten the ones who keep do­ing so, who put on a brave face, stay­ing cheery de­spite ev­ery­thing. Yet here I was, down in the dumps be­cause of an un­nec­es­sary post-sum­mer bout of the blues.

‘Snap out of it, Hart,’ I thought. Iron­i­cally I had re­cently writ­ten a book called Mi­randa’s Daily Dose of Such Fun, about the im­por­tance of en­joy­ing a mo­ment of fun ev­ery day, hav­ing re­searched how a smile has a pos­i­tive ef­fect

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