How Children’s Books Come (And the Job of the Writer)

What can I say?

When I was 2 — long, long ago, back in the time of caves, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and parents left children in cars — my sister (a fresh plumpy newborn) and I were left in the back of our Humber car while our parents popped out — just for a second.

When they left us, I was sitting on the back seat, and my sister was in the carrycot.

When they came back, I was in the carrycot and my sister was on the floor.

So it was only a matter of time before I took further revenge on my three little sisters . . . and wrote a shocking exposé.

It’s called How To Be A Baby By Me The Big Sister.

Actually, when I say I wrote it — that’s not strictly true. I started out writing it, but then this six-year old self-appointed baby expert narrator Big Sister totally took over. And she’s been writing them ever since. (She has three books out now.)

She said things and I wrote them down. I am just the scribe, really.

How To Be A Baby By Me The Big Sister is filled with helpful advice and tips and all the reasons why it’s better not to be a baby (you don’t know if you are a boy or a girl, you don’t read books you eat them; you don’t carry a backpack you go in one, stuff like that). Though by the end she can’t help it, she has to admit it is actually sometimes quite nice being a baby because everyone hugs and kisses you — and having a baby brother isn’t always awful because they get bigger and then you can play with them.

Her second book is called: How To Get Married By Me The Bride and in it the self-appointed bridal expert addresses the finer points of pulling off the perfect wedding (outfits you can wear, who is suitable to marry, who isn’t so suitable) and now she turns her attention to the job market and here comes everything you need to ace the interview, and land the perfect job in this handy manual — How To Get a Job By Me The Boss.

It is packed with all kinds of helpful advice and tips. She is very thorough and covers all kinds of jobs: large ones (like “President of the World”) and small ones (like “Balloon Holder”) and even includes some startling revelations. For instance, how very disappointing to read: “Sitting in your chair eating cookies” is NOT a job. (I wanted that job. Is it really NOT a job? Are you sure?) The Boss even does a sample interview — and helps you conduct yourself appropriately, advising on what is appropriate to bring to the interview (your resume) and what isn’t (your whole family; your gerbils) and what is good to do during an interview and what isn’t (sit on the boss’s lap).

She is highly encouraging and helpful in everything. In fact, she has so much wisdom to impart that even grown ups are reading her books now — Brides and Grooms to be are picking up tips from How to Get Married By Me The Bride and anyone newly looking for work — or who doesn’t yet know what they want to be when they grow up will probably learn a great deal from How To Get A Job By Me The Boss.

I know I did.

(She hasn’t told me yet if she has another book coming — if I have a job as her scribe. But that doesn’t matter. For now I have plenty to do. First of all, I’ve got to go to my chair and sit in it and eat some cookies.)


Illustrations by Sue Heap. Published by Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

Sally will read from How To Be A Baby By Me The Big Sister and How To Get A Job By Me The Boss during her talk at our National Conference this September. Visit the event page to learn more and register.

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