Monday July 28th was World Nature Conservation Day and to celebrate it, I have collaborated with the children’s author Tom Moorhouse and his ‘Blog Tour’.
Tom is the author of The River Singers, which is a gripping adventure featuring a family of water voles who embark on an epic journey to find a new home. Hailed a modern classic, The River Singers was one of The Times Children’s Books of the Year when it published in hardback last year. Now released in paperback, it’s perfect for readers 8 to 12.
For this part of his blog tour, Tom was asked:
The River Singers has been compared to The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down. Tell us how you set about creating your animal characters.
It’s interesting to me that The River Singers has drawn comparisons with both of those books, because to me they are at opposite ends of what I am rapidly coming to think of as “the anthropomorphism scale” (catchy name or what?). I think that some of the similarities between the books are actually outweighed by the differences in what their characters do. Ratty, Badger and Mole wear waistcoats, drive cars, go on picnics and row boats. They face the perils of imprisonment for motoring offences and of having their property annexed by some weasels. So they are essentially humans with a little bit of animal in part, I suspect, to poke fun at some British social stereotypes. In Watership Down the rabbits are rabbits, live in warrens and are subject to all of the brutal realities of life as a rabbit (no picnic, I can tell you). If anything I wanted The River Singers to be even more towards the animal end of the scale than Watership Down, with just enough human in the characters to allow readers to understand them (if they were “pure vole” we wouldn’t care about them…because, well, they’d just squeak, really). So that was what I was aiming for: as accurate a portrait of life as a water vole as possible within the confines of an adventure story.
And here’s a tip from Tom to get kids interested in the great outdoors this summer:
Tip 2: Camping with a campfire. My brother and I took my nephew camping when he was five. We found a campsite with fire pits, pitched our tents, cooked dinner on my camping stove and made S’mores (which I’d never heard of until that point). My nephew spent ages roving around having fun collecting firewood (which was handy for the lazier members of the party) and despite being a bit tired the next day generally loved the experience. I think the fire was the critical component – it kind of tied everything together, because it’s rewarding but needs gentle maintenance. And there’s always something fascinating about fire, however old or young you are…
You can also catch Tom talking about The River Singers in this short clip
To read more about Tom and The River Singers, why not pop over to the other blogs in the blog tour.
Monday 28th July – OUP children’s books blog.
Tuesday 29th July – Smiling Like Sunshine
Wednesday 30th July – Serenity You
Friday 1st August – Library Mice
Saturday 2nd August – My mummies Pennies
Monday 4th August – Madhouse Family Reviews
Tuesday 5th August – Red Peffer
Friday 8th August – Making It Up
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