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Live webchat with Dear Zoo author Rod Campbell - 19 Sept 1-2pm

(56 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 05-Sep-12 12:26:26

To celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the much loved classic Dear Zoo we are doing a live webchat with its author Rod Campbell. Over 5 million copies of the books have been sold to date.

Rod has been making children’s books for over 30 years and is also the creator of the popular pre-school character Buster. Ingeniously simple, with touches of gentle humour, Rod’s books are loved all over the world by children, parents and teachers alike.

If you'd like to know more about Rod and his work, about reading with small children (and indeed writing for small children) do add your questions to the thread. We also have a signed copy of the gorgeous new touch-and-feel version of Dear Zoo to give away to the author of Rod's favourite question!

We're also running a SECOND (don't say we don't spoil you) competition to win Dear Zoo goody bags.

whenim64 Wed 05-Sep-12 12:51:47

Oh, my grandchildren all loved 'Dear Zoo'. We spent hours reading it again and again, most recently to twin boys shouting in stereo 'send it back!' when the next unsuitable zoo pet arrived. smile

grannyactivist Wed 05-Sep-12 23:34:49

This is such a timely thread; I accompanied my daughter today as she took my grandson for his developmental check up. He entered the room and immediately his little face lit up with a great big grin as he spotted a familiar book and said; 'Oh good, Dear Zoo, it's my favourite'! It was the very first book I bought him and he absolutely loves it. So thank you Rod Campbell.
I can't think of a genuine question, so I shall look forward to buying the new book.
Btw my grandson is also very fond of Buster and a book about Buster's potty training would have been handy a couple of weeks ago - any chance of writing one for when the next grandchild comes along?

grannyactivist Wed 05-Sep-12 23:35:30

Just realised that I did ask a question after all! confused

barbarab Wed 12-Sep-12 16:12:04

Hello Rod - when you wrote Dear Zoo did you have any idea that it would become such an enduring classic?

What do you think is the secret of its success?

milliesmum Wed 12-Sep-12 16:12:50

We love Dear Zoo! Was there anything specific that helped you to come up with the idea?

minerva Wed 12-Sep-12 16:15:10

I have just seen this and it;s prompted me to add my very first post on the forums. Hope I'm doing it right

Dear Zoo like so many children's books is gloriously simple. Do you spend your life explaining to people that writing books for small children isn't as easy as you make it look?

bakergran Thu 13-Sep-12 14:21:03

Hi Rod - we love your book! What's your favourite animal? (doesn't have to be in a zoo!)

whenim64 Thu 13-Sep-12 14:38:16

Rod, how do you decide who will illustrate your books? My grandchildren pick their books according to the pictures, whereas I go for the overall look of the book, particularly how sturdy it looks! grin

gillybob Thu 13-Sep-12 16:49:05

Hi Rod

My three grandchildren all adore Dear Zoo. The eldest two know it by heart and the littlest one is learning to love it too. My question to you is this:

How did you decide which animals should "be sent" ? Why did you choose a camel for instance and not a tiger or a zebra?

Incidentally my young grandsons current favourite is the giraffe (which he says while stretching his neck) and both my grandaughters love the "Ooo ooo ooo" Monkey !!

Gally Sun 16-Sep-12 20:21:37

I hadn't heard of Dear Zoo until this weekend when visiting my 2 year old grandson; at 5 this morning shock he arrived on my bed with Dear Zoo and insisted I read it. What fun and what a lovely 'simple' tale; I couldn't stop him from pressing the animal noises and repeating them himself - thus waking up his 1 year old brother. Dog and frog were favourite. It just shows that small children are totally happy with a plain, no-nonsense book, with wonderful pictures and animal noises. Do you 'try out' your stories on small people as you write and do you take their advice?

nanaej Sun 16-Sep-12 21:01:30

Hi, I have used your book so many times! As a teacher with children in nursery classes & (repeatedly!) with my grandchildren who have all loved it. I have also used it with older children when helping them to try to write a book for young children. Not as easy as it looks! I have bought several copies over the years for gifts too.

It works well on different levels..littlies love lifting the flaps and the repetition but as they get older the possibility of a pet giraffe or lion is an exciting and silly idea which is so appealing and very funny.

My elder granddaughter is still hopeful she may one day have a puppy and is now nagging me to get one..I blame you as she has all the answers to my reasons not to have one... it's not too big, too scary, too tall etc!! Thank you for lots of fun and for helping so many young children enjoy books.

GrannyBusy Wed 19-Sep-12 10:05:34

Hi Rod
My dgs love Dear Zoo - the flaps are all cello taped to the hilt.
What was your favourite book when growing up?
What do you think of all the franchising/merchandising of book characters - e.g. Gruffalo trunkis? Would you consider it?

Banbury Wed 19-Sep-12 10:09:45

What's the secret to writing books for children?

Some of the best books (like yours!) appear to be so simple, but there's a magic quality to them that grabs millions of children.... what do you think that magic ingredient is?

Nanette Wed 19-Sep-12 10:40:46

How did you get started as a children's author? And what advice would you give to someone else who would like to follow in your footsteps?

louli Wed 19-Sep-12 10:42:18

My GC are big fans of the Buster books. Which of your books do you like best and why?

Grannyruth Wed 19-Sep-12 11:51:47

Do you find that children today enjoy picture books as much as they did when Dear Zoo was first published, given that there's so much else to distract them these days - more telly, computer games etc? Do you think kids' attention spans are shorter - and if so do you take that into account when you're writing?

damealice Wed 19-Sep-12 11:54:32

Do you write with a particular child in mind?

Sweetheart Wed 19-Sep-12 12:11:53

You write books for babies as well as young children. What's the best age to introduce a baby to picture books?

MRS Wed 19-Sep-12 12:14:04

Do you illustrate all your books yourself? Did you go to art school, and if you did, was it helpful?

Kathgran Wed 19-Sep-12 12:17:21

Have you ever thought of writing for adults too? Or is that a completely different skill?

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 19-Sep-12 12:58:53

We're delighted that Rod is here and he's ready - so off we go.

scribblegranny Wed 19-Sep-12 13:01:37

Small children love books with flaps, though I've always loathed them (they get torn!) Do you think it's important for very young children to be able to touch books and get a physical sensation from them?

RodCampbell Wed 19-Sep-12 13:02:27


Hello Rod - when you wrote Dear Zoo did you have any idea that it would become such an enduring classic?

What do you think is the secret of its success?

No, not at all. And I'm still amazed that it's so popular 30 years later.

As for the secret of its success: that's a difficult question to answer. I think small children love lifting the flaps to find the animals and they can do this over and over again and still enjoy it, unlike adults who get bored rather quickly. The story has a logic they understand and the ending is rather satisfying.

The rhyming text means that they can quickly join in and enjoy the whole experience.

sofasogood Wed 19-Sep-12 13:03:18

Ebooks for children have really taken off in the last year. How do you think digital publishing will affect children's books? Will they become more like animations? sad