Little M sat down for a chat...with Anne Fine
Anne Fine was the second Children’s Laureate from 2001-2003. Little M caught up with her at this year's announcement for the eighth laureate, Malorie Blackman.
Little M: Can you remember what your favourite book or series was when you were a child?
Anne Fine: When I was seven, it was definitely Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books. I adored them. When I was about 9, it was Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge. They were school stories; I loved them. When I was about eleven it was William books by Richmal Crompton. I adored those and I did remember who my favourites were – but it did change as I got older.
Little M: Did you like reading as a child?
Anne Fine: I read all the time. Because my mum had triplets when I was three and was just overwhelmed with work, I went to infant school really early. I just learned to read along with everybody else. They were five and learning to read with phonics and I was three and went along with them. So I’ve always read. And also, when you come from a big family, reading’s a lovely escape so I read all the time.
Little M: What’s your opinion on closures of libraries?
Anne Fine: It’s disgraceful. I think it’s the act of an absolutely barbaric government to sit by and watch, pretending it’s nothing to do with them, and allow local authorities to do it. I think that the government is disgraced by its attitude to the closure of closures. It’s utterly, utterly shameful.
Little M: What is your favourite novel you have written?
Anne Fine: I have two favourites. For younger children, I’m tremendously fond of How To Write Really Badly. I just think it’s funny and I like it. And The Angel of Nitshill Road. Those two together are my favourites for younger children. And for older children, one of my favourites is The Book of the Banshee.
(PS. Anne mentioned another title too but it got stolen by the sound of the wind and Little M couldn’t hear it!).
Little M: What did you do as a laureate?
Anne Fine: I started the My Home Library website, which is still running and has over 200 free downloadable bookplates for children to build their own home libraries with secondhand books where you can cover up the name of the last person who owned it and it’s new to you. I did work for blind children and raised £30 000 to start off an interleaved Braille picture book scheme that Clear Vision is still doing. They’ve got a lending library of interleaved Braille picture books for families with blind parents who want to read to their children or blind children who want to read to their parents. They’ve got thousands in the library now so I’m very proud of that. I did three poetry collections, I did 5o talks. I never stopped. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I spent two years and I didn’t write a thing! When I finished, it was just bliss to be writing again.