Bookbug Author Spotlight: Lynne Rickards

Never Bite a Tiger on the Nose by Lynne Rickards and Eilidh Muldoon
Category: Bookbug

Bookbug's Author Spotlight gives you the chance to learn more about the work of authors, publishers and illustrators connected to the Bookbug programme. This month, Lynne Rickards, author of Pink! and Harris the Hero answers some questions about her work. Lynne's latest book, Never Bite a Tiger on the Nose, will be included in the 2015/16 Bookbug Pirate bag. The book was developed as part of a Writer in Residence programme with Home Start in Fife. Lynne worked with a group of mums to create a picture book with a healthy eating message. You can find out more about Lynne's work on her website. 


Tell us a bit more about your work

I’m a children’s writer with an irresistible urge to rhyme. I blame all the Dr Seuss stories I read as a kid. I then discovered Shel Silverstein when I had my own children, and that was it. I was hooked. 

Lynne Rickards

Where do you get your inspiration?

As they grew up, my two kids provided plenty of subject matter for books. Bedtime battles, sibling rivalry, fussy eating, endless pet demands, you name it! I also delved into my own childhood for memories of my best and worst teachers, and the misery of Sports Day. One book was inspired when a new neighbour moved in next door whose name was Clementine. That just had to be a crocodile! Another story was born when my daughter made a tiny book for her toys. She drew a penguin on the cover and a one-word title, Pink! Now my kids are quite grown up, so I have to work my imagination a little harder.

What inspired Never Bite a Tiger on the Nose?

This was a book with a mission. I took on the exciting challenge of working with a group of mums to collaborate on a story that would be fun but also get across a healthy eating message. We had a great time playing with food, looking at other foodie picture books and thinking up silly scenarios for our story. I had a grand time, and I hope Bookbug readers will enjoy the finished book as much as we enjoyed writing it! 

What’s your top tip for sharing Never Bite a Tiger with little ones?

I would say don’t be afraid to get this book messy! It should be read at snack time when you can try some orange, carrot, banana, melon and kiwi, just like in the book!

Which books did you love as a child?

I learned my alphabet with the Dr Seuss ABC and started reading with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Later I remember getting all of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline books (also rhyming) out of the library. I loved H.A. Rey’s Curious George series (pictured), mostly because that little monkey was so clever and cute!

Curious George Illustration

What’s your top tip for budding authors or illustrators?

Spend some time in the children’s section of a library or bookshop and really look at how a picture book is put together. Count the spreads, consider how the story flows, and look at how the text and illustrations complement each other. The more you research successful picture books, the better equipped you will be to create one.

What are you currently working on?

I have several projects on the go. I’ve been writing simple stories for an International Reader Series with a cross-cultural audience. I’ve been asked by Hopscotch Theatre Company to write another musical for young children. I’m working on a sequel to my puffin stories for Floris Books. I’ve sent my Patron of Reading school (Comely Park Primary in Falkirk) an Easter writing challenge, so I’m looking forward to reading what the pupils come up with. And I’m always on the lookout for my next picture book idea…

Which piece of your work are you most proud of?

I’m delighted that Pink!, which started out as a picture book, has become a musical that employs three actors, a director, a choreographer and a musical director whenever it goes on tour around Scottish nurseries and primary schools. It carries an important message about diversity, tolerance and self-respect, so I hope it is having a positive effect in schools up and down the country.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always loved drawing my own stories and was a keen artist growing up, so in fact what I wanted to be was an illustrator! I went to Art School in Toronto and did illustrate one book, but I found it very hard work and decided to continue my studies in French Literature and Museum Studies instead. Had I not done that, I would never have come to Scotland and become a children’s writer. It’s funny how things turn out!

What are you reading just now?

I have been enjoying the BBC series Wolf Hall so much that I was inspired to read the book (rather late, I know.) I have Wolf Hall on my Kindle, which makes it easier to read, as the paper version is as big as a brick! I read every chance I get as I’m keen to keep up with events on screen. It’s a real pleasure to read Hilary Mantel’s excellent work with all the actors’ faces and voices coming to life for me on the page.

Discover more of Lynne's favourite picture books over on her blog. Read the first in our Bookbug Author Spotlight blogs with Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar author Emily MacKenzie.