Monday 20 February 2017

One Day Without Us

My family is originally from the Middle East.  I came to Britain at the age of 2.  I don't remember living anywhere else, and I've been a British citizen for a long time – but I will always be a migrant, and if I have children, they will be second-generation migrants.

If you look carefully, you'll see that my books all tend to be about migrants.  In Varjak Paw, Varjak's family came from Mesopotamia; in Phoenix, Bixa's family are refugees from a war.  I wrote more about my background and how it shaped my writing in this Guardian article.

Today, February 20 2017, One Day Without Us asks us to celebrate contributions made to the UK by migrants and people descended from migrants.  So today, I'd like to celebrate British children's writers and illustrators who came from migrant backgrounds.  It's an incomplete list – but look how many wonderful books it includes.  How different would British childhood be without their contributions?

Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Judith Kerr (born 1923)

Eva Ibbotson (1925-2010)

Jan Pieńkowski (born 1936)

Jamila Gavin (born 1941)

Michael Rosen (born 1946)

Floella Benjamin (born 1949)

John Agard (born 1949)

Grace Nichols (born 1950)

Francesca Simon (born 1955)

Meg Rosoff (born 1956)

Axel Scheffler (born 1957)

Jonathan Meres (born 1958)

Benjamin Zephaniah (born 1958)

Malorie Blackman (born 1962)

Catherine Johnson (born 1962)

Candy Gourlay (born 1962)

Alex Wheatle (born 1963)

Sita Brahmachari (born 1966)

SF Said (born 1967)

Patrice Lawrence
 (born 1967)

Sara Fanelli (born 1969)

GR Gemin

Sarwat Chadda

Bali Rai (born 1971)

Patrick Ness (born 1971)

Sarah McIntyre (born 1975)

Na'ima B. Robert (born 1977)

Robin Stevens (born 1988)

Joseph Coelho

Kiran Millwood Hargrave (born 1990)

Taran Matharu (born 1990)

Muhammad Khan

Sunday 19 February 2017

Author Visits: Highfield Primary

I'd like to say a very big thank you to David Wilson and Poet In Residence Cheryl Moskowitz for inviting me to Highfield Primary School, and an even bigger thank you to all the fantastic young readers I met there when I visited last month!

It was a pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about writing and books, and it was inspiring for me as a writer to see the huge enthusiasm for reading in this school.  Quite a lot of them had read Varjak Paw already, and so they had some brilliant questions for me!

Three of the students – Mark, Lewis and Samir (in the photo with me above) – had even written a poem about Varjak Paw!  I was delighted when they gave me a copy, and I'm honoured to post it here.

If anyone from Highfield would like to ask me any more questions, or to say anything about the visit or my books – just leave me a comment below!