Interview with Jake Uwland
Jake Uwland is a primary school teacher in Melbourne, Australia who writes children's picture story books. We have conducted an interview with him.
Why did you choose to be a children's picture storybook publisher? What is your upcoming book about?
I chose to start writing children's picture story books because I have always loved reading them myself and I wanted to be able to make people as happy as I feel when I read them. I've always wanted to write my own picture story book for children and being a teacher, I now have a greater understanding of their importance in developing a child's love of reading as well as presenting ideas and life experiences to children in an engaging way.
My upcoming story called 'The Unhappy Dragon' is about a dragon named Ash who is left alone at the playground when the children refuse to play with him because he is different to them. Then Tom arrives at the playground and decides to help Ash and show the other children that just because Ash is different to them, it doesn't mean they need to be afraid of him and not play with him. The children and Ash are all able to then play together and enjoy the playground together.
Which were your best ever classic books to read? How many times have you read it?
My favourite books to read when I was growing up were always the Mr McGee books by Pamela Allen. I loved the character and the things that he did whether funnier or not. I have read them over and over countless times. Mr MCGee and the Blackberry Jam would have to be my favourite though. I still have all of those books and they are in my classroom for my kids to read.
Now that you write your own stories, what is this 'energising' feeling you get when you read to your readers everyday?
When I'm reading a picture story book to people, be it my own story or someone else's, I'm looking at the expression and the body language of my listeners as it tells me so much about the book. When I can see them focused on each picture and page and really engaged in the story, I know that I or the person who wrote it has created an idea that is so exciting and interesting that the readers just can't get enough of it and it's a very powerful and rewarding feeling to get about your work. It's this feeling of making people happy and enthused about your story that gives me motivation to keep on creating ideas and stories that I think will give that reaction again.
What kind of stories do you think fascinates the young and imaginative minds?
Stories that fascinate young and imaginative minds don't always have to be stories with far fetched ideas or set on the moon, I believe that stories which children can relate to themselves and that provide similarities to their own lives, engage their imagination just as much as a story about monsters on Mars for example. All picture story books evoke imagination and thinking within the reader so its important that you choose a theme and idea that you know your readers will relate to and want to read about. That's how you keep them fascinated.
Who is your personal favourite Children Books writer/author?
My favourite children's picture book author is Oliver Jeffers. I love his stories and how there are links between his stories via the characters. His ideas are creative yet also simple for his young readers to follow and enjoy and they are always targeted at creating an emotional link with his readers. His book 'Stuck' is one of my favourites. The kids at school love his work too, I tend to read them often!
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