Today we are thrilled to welcome Rachael Davis into #TheRealm to talk about her life as a children’s writer and her new book I AM NOT A PRINCE, which is illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher!
Favourite memory of reading?
I’m cheating on the first question, as it isn’t precisely a “reading” memory… My favourite memory of storytelling is my grandad making up bedtime adventures based on Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Listening to my grandad, I fell in love with stories and also creating stories. I like to think some of his creative imagination genes passed on to me and he’s a part of the books I write.
Favourite book as a child?
This is a tricky one because there are so many options! My favourite picture book was The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr – a classic! I remember looking out my window hoping the tiger would come and visit me. I have no idea how many times my mum read it to me, but it must be at least… 893,485,487 times! As I got a little older, I listened to a lot of audio books. I loved The Bed and Breakfast Girl by Jacqueline Wilson. Growing up in a low-income single-parent family, I really related to Jacqueline’s books that showcased different types of families and social class.
Favourite book as a teenager?
Hands down Old Magic by Marianne Curley. Kate lives with her magical grandmother and meets Jarrod who possesses curious powers and a deadly family curse. Travelling back through time, Kate and Jarrod go on a dangerous adventure to realise their true potential. I loved the magic, the dual narrative, the voice, the atmosphere – everything. I still have my original copy – it’s a little weathered because I’ve read it so many times!
Book that made you cry?
This could be a long list because I cry a lot! A recent one that sticks out in my mind is Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers. I was in my thirties, having bought it for my little girl. Reading it was an incredibly emotional moment – for the first time in my life, I truly saw myself reflected in a book and it brought me to tears – representation really does matter!
What are you reading now?
I’m glad you asked! I’m reading a fabulous new debut middle grade that is coming out in June 2022, Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tọlá Okogwu. Onyeka has a lot of hair – the kind that makes strangers stop in the street. She’s always felt insecure about her vibrant curls, until she makes an important discovery: she can control her hair with her mind! I’m three chapters in and hooked already!
Tell us about your books and work!
I write uplifting inclusive children’s books from reading scheme books to middle grade, both fiction and non-fiction. My debut picture book, I am NOT a Prince, illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher, is an inclusive twisted fairy tale that challenges gender stereotypes and encourages children to be proud to be themselves.
On a misty lagoon in a fairy tale land, young frogs wait patiently to be turned into magical princes. When Hopp sets out on a journey to find their true self, everyone assumes the little frog is destined to be a prince . . . how could such a strong, brave, and kind frog be anything else? But all it takes is one understanding new friend to help Hopp undergo a magical transformation that causes a positive change to ripple all across the lagoon…
One children’s book you’re looking forward to reading?
I am beyond excited to read Joyful Joyful, an illustrated anthology celebrating Black joy in a kaleidoscope of different ways, curated by Dapo Adeola with a foreword from Patrice Lawrence. It’s coming out in autumn 2022 and the line-up of writers is mouth-watering, including: Malorie Blackman, Dorothy Koomson, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, and Jeffrey Boakye to name a few!