Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Eating Books is Not a Good Idea by Jackie French

When I was little I chewed books. Then I learned that stories were more exciting than they tasted.

If you’re reading this you are already part of the worldwide community of book lovers. We read in the bath. We read in bed. If we’re bored we remember the book we were reading, or imagine new one. For a book lover, a daydream is a book that hasn’t been shaped and refined to put onto a page and between the covers.

TV can give us a picture and the sound, but you can’t smell the sea in a movie; feel the lash of the spray as the tsunami surges towards you; taste the coolness of water as you crawl out of the desert. Every book I write is a partnership with the reader. Readers create 90% of a book - the author just puts down the words. The world you feel you are part of will always be richer than TV.

When I was ten Emily of New Moon, by L. M. Montgomery taught me that a girl could make a living as a writer, even if parents and teachers said she couldn’t. When I was eleven Seal Morning by Rowena Farre showed me a life with wild animals as friends, growing my own vegetables, watching the land around me. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay gave me a vision of a good life, living in a tree with pudding for dinner and good conversation of an evening.

I don’t quite live in a tree today, but there are trees around, and wombats instead of seals. Today books give me the hope that what is bad can be changed; that humans are essentially good, and that life can be good. And when it isn’t, books are a comfort, too.

About the Author

Jackie French worked out how to make a living from two of the things she loves best: wombats and writing books*. She lives in the Araluen Valley in NSW.  Her books include Hitler's Daughter, Pennies for Hitler, The Girl from Snowy River,  Diary of a Wombat and Dinosaurs Love Cheese. Not all of them contain wombats.

Jackie has won more than 70 awards  and shortlistings in Australia and internationally, including the Children's Book Council Book of the Year for Younger Readers for Hitler's Daughter, which also won the UK WOW award; NSW Premier's History Award for The Night They Stormed Eureka, many kid's choice awards.  For a full list of awards and prizes and lots of information about Jackie's books, see Jackie's website at

* And apples. And mooching about the bush. 


  1. Love this lyrical post - it galvanised me, reminding me why I do what I do, and how much hope and comfort books have always provided. Can't think of a time when I wasn't lost, miserable, aching, that I didn't find solace in my favourite books. Particularly in the bath.

    Plus you reminded me of Emily of New Moon. I used to love that.

  2. Thanks, Jackie.

    I think that people are mostly good too but, when it all gets a bit hard, there's nothing like escaping into a good book. Three of my favourites are:

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
    The Lorax by Dr Seuss

    ("At the far end of town where the grickle grass grows, and the wind smells slow and sour as it blows, and no birds ever sing excepting old crows, is the street of the lifted Lorax")

    I love that books can be familiar and fresh at the same time.