Bookbug Author Spotlight: Rebecca Cobb

Bookbug's Author Spotlight gives you the chance to learn more about the work of Bookbug Bag authors and illustrators. We're delighted to talk to the wonderful Rebecca Cobb this month, author and illustrator of The SomethingThe Something is currently included our Bookbug Explorer Bag.


What was the inspiration behind The Something?

When I was little, I found a hole in the ground outside. It looked like the sort of hole that an animal had made, so I was sure that it had something living in it. I waited and waited for a long time to see if anything would come out. After a while I got hungry and went to get some Mini Cheddars. I had decided by now that there was most likely a mouse in the hole and a mouse would probably like Mini Cheddars - so I posted one down there for it to eat. Almost at once the Mini Cheddar was pushed back out of the hole by a frog! I have never forgotten my shock and surprise and it taught me that you never know what might be living underground. Even today I am still filled with curiosity whenever I see a hole like that in the earth that might have something down it. 


What’s your top tip for sharing The Something with little ones?

I love children's drawings and they have such brilliant imaginations, so I like to get them to draw a picture of an underground hole with something in it. The ideas and pictures they come up with are always amazing.


What do you hope children and parents/carers will take away from The Something?

A sense of curiosity and wonder about holes in the ground, but also, that it is not a good idea to post Mini Cheddars down them.


The Owl Afraid of the Dark
Which books did you love as a child?

The first book I learnt to read through repetition was The Three Billy Goats Gruff, which I absolutely loved because I was scared, but at the same time fascinated, by the troll under the bridge and I would imagine similar trolls to be lurking close by whenever we were out and about. I also loved Helen Craig’s and Katharine Holabird's books, particularly Angelina Ballerina, and Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s books, especially The Jolly Postman. As I got older my favourites were The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark by Jill Tomlinson and illustrated by Joanne Cole, and Roald Dahl’s books with Quentin Blake’s illustrations.


Is there a book, an author or any other individual who inspired your love of books?

I'm very lucky that I always had access to books as a child, at home, at school and borrowing them from the library and I think that I have always loved books as far back as I can remember. I was probably most inspired to become a picture book illustrator by looking at the work of Brian Wildsmith and John Burningham because their illustrations are utterly beautiful and a pure celebration of colour, drawing and mark making.


Can you recommend 5 other books by different authors or illustrators that families may like to share together if they enjoyed The Something?

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Jon Klassen - which is a very funny book about digging a hole in the ground to find "something spectacular".

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame - for slightly older readers, about the adventures above and below ground of Mole, Ratty, Mr Toad and Badger. I particularly love the edition illustrated by David Roberts.

The Brambley Hedge stories by Jill Barklem - about the lives of the little mice that live in Brambley Hedge. These have lots of lovely cross sections of their houses in the trunks of trees and under the ground.

Time to get out of the Bath, Shirley by John Burningham - where Shirley goes on a watery adventure down the plughole and along the pipes underneath the bath.

Home by Carson Ellis - a beautiful exploration of what home is and how it is different for everyone, including homes in trees, under the sea and underground.


If you could live in any book you’ve written or illustrated which would it be and why?

Probably Aunt Amelia because I think she would be a lot of fun to hang out with. We could eat cakes and ice creams, swing from trees, get paint everywhere, stay up late and generally not worry about rules too much.


Bernard and monster
Is there a picture book you wish you’d written or illustrated?

There are lots and lots but one of my favourites has got to be Not Now Bernard by David McKee. It brilliantly conveys the contrast between adults and children and the different way they experience the world. I am sure everyone can relate to Bernard being ignored by his mum and dad when he has something really important which he has to say immediately. I love the ambiguity of the ending, leaving the reader to choose their own interpretation. The illustrations are bright and bold and full of colour and flat perspective but also contrasting sketchy, scribbly, delicate pencil details and patterns. It is a very funny, clever, beautiful portrayal of the power of a child’s imagination and their relationship with their parents. Also, I would really like some wallpaper with spacemen and rockets on it, just like Bernard has in his bedroom.


Tell us about the view from the office/studio where you work?

At the moment I work in the corner of our bedroom and what I love about sitting at my desk here is that there are two big windows, so it is lovely and light and I can see our garden and the woods above the houses in the distance, which are very pretty and change colour all year round. There are always lots of birds to watch and also my two-year-old, who is quite often pottering around the garden with my husband, digging holes or making muddy puddles with her watering can.


What’s your favourite thing about your local library?

The children's section - I love browsing there with my daughter and seeing her joy at being surrounded by so many books. There is a lovely atmosphere with a comfortable sofa, walls filled with children's artwork and librarians helping children to find books that they think they will enjoy reading next.


Learn more about The Something and all the other lovely books included in our Bookbug Explorer Bag.