Our new book Oliver and the Seawigs is about an adventure at sea, so maybe that’s why a lot of the books we thought of are about the seaside, sea voyages, or islands. Or maybe it’s just something to do with our memories of lazing on beaches with books and comics in the summer holidays!
Comics are a great way to get children reading. We both grew up reading Asterix, Tintin and Calvin and Hobbes, but there are some really good new children’s comic stories around at the moment, such as The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs by Gary Northfield, a funny and charming book about the adventures of a gang of little dinosaurs (with a fantastic underwater bit) and The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz.
Also, The Phoenix comic is published weekly, and packed with great strips by such people as Jamie Smart and Neill Cameron. Jamie is also the author of the brilliant Find Chaffy puzzle books, and a collection of his Fish-Head Steve comic strips has just been published as part of the excellent DFC Library collection. (Fish Head Steve counts as seaside-themed because the hero has a fish instead of a head!)
Dave Shelton is another of the Phoenix/DFC comics artists - check out his Good Dog, Bad Dog collection, which has just come out in paperback. He has just published his first novel: A Boy And A Bear In A Boat is one of the best and most original children’s novels of recent years. It’s all about a boy setting off in a boat captained by a huge, friendly bear. They’re on a long sea journey, and we don’t really know where they’re going - and neither does the bear, it seems. There are storms, sea monsters, and a Very Dangerous Sandwich, and it’s both funny and serious. There are some wonderful illustrations, but Dave Shelton’s writing is beautiful, too.
We both love Geraldine McCaughrean’s books. She tells great stories in wonderful words, and we don’t think she’s ever written a book that isn’t brilliant. Her latest is called The Positively Last Performance, and it’s a about the ghosts who haunt a run-down theatre in a seaside town. It’s funny, clever and touching, with a twist which made us gasp: perfect summer reading. And we both love her dark and dangerous tale of Antarctic exploration, The White Darkness. There’s nothing like reading about endless snowfields when the temperature soars!
Gerald Durrell’s My Family And Other Animals is a lovely, summery read; the true story of his eccentric family and his magical childhood on the island of Corfu. It’s packed with strange animals and even stranger humans, and very funny. It also features the best name for a boat ever: the Bootle Bumtrinket.
For older readers, Jonathan L. Howard’s Katya’s World is a gripping piece of aquatic YA science fiction, set among the submarines and floating platforms on a far-off ocean planet called Russalka, and features a tough, quick-thinking, very believable heroine.
Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre is out on 9 September, published by OUP Children's Books.