WHAT BOOK would children’s author David McKee take to a desert island?
- David McKee is currently reading The Big Art Book by Phaidon or a biography
- He said he would probably take Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings on a desert island
- Children’s author said he didn’t have many books growing up by had storytellers
. . . are you reading now?
I don’t read a lot these days but I find I’m dipping in and out of art books as I try to paint: something like a biography of Marquet or The Big Art Book by Phaidon.
I look at things that I know and love — old favourites like Basquiat, Buffet and the rest, or artists that I don’t know.
I’m not reading a book without pictures at the moment!
I’ve always been like that. Reading time is writing or drawing time and I’d prefer to be producing it than absorbing it.
I tell people to read more than they write but I don’t follow my own advice these days!
Children’s author David McKee penned the Elmer The Elephant series.
. . . would you take to a desert island?
If I’ve got to take one book I’d probably take Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings or The Hobbit.
When I first read The Hobbit I thought ‘this is a book I’d love to illustrate’, it was so visual.
I love the magic and the world of those books. I’d like to think I’d illustrate whilst I was there, but I think survival might take over. I’d probably be too influenced by the images in the films now anyway.
The book was recommended to me by a plumber back in the 1970s. When I said I’d never heard of it he said: ‘You lucky devil, you’ve got all that to come.’ I thought that was such a lovely sentiment.
Celebrate Elmer Day tomorrow with free activities at elmerday.co.uk. David said he was surrounded by storytellers as a child
Swallows And Amazons books by Arthur Ransome
. . . first gave you the reading bug?
Our home didn’t have many books when I was growing up, but what we had was storytellers — our teachers and my mother, who was a real storyteller. Everywhere there seemed to be storytellers.
As far as books were concerned, they came later. That was during World War II, when I remember reading one of the Swallows And Amazons books by Arthur Ransome — I discovered it in the library, and it not only got me reading but got me hooked on the library.
. . . left you cold?
There have been a few — the first time I can remember not actually finishing a book I was pretty young, and it was a life story of Jesus written in such a way it made me cry too much.
I said to my mother I couldn’t finish it, as it was too sad. I suppose I knew the end anyway.
Even to this day I don’t like anything too sad, I get too involved.
These days I’m quite happy not to finish a book — you’ve only got so much time so use it reading something you love.
David Mckee is the author of the Elmer The Elephant series. Celebrate Elmer Day tomorrow with free activities at elmerday.co.uk. A 40th Anniversary Edition of his book, Not Now Bernard, is published on June 4, £6.99.