Knife and Packer
What books did you read when you were a child?
Packer: Like most kids Roald Dahl was always huge in my house but I also loved Professor Brainstorm by Norman Hunter, Nicholas by Sempe and Goscinny and the original Flat Stanley. I think I liked anything with a bit of humour in it and those were all hilarious.
Knife: I loved TinTin and Asterix but The Hobbit made a big impression. Also a couple of picture books: Old Winkle and the Seagulls by Elizabeth & Gerald Rose and Borka the Goose with No Feathers by John Burningham.
If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Packer: I would have to be Obelix from the Asterix series. Superhuman strength and all the roast boar you can eat - fun and tasty!
Knife: Bilbo Baggins! What an adventure he went on: trolls, goblins, dwarves, a wizard, a dragon, a magic ring...
What is the best thing about reading?
Packer: I love being transported to different places and seeing the world through different eyes. And of course lots of laughing.
Knife: The way ones imagination can be fired by a story that holds you in its grip. There’s nothing like it!
What is your all-time favourite book?
Packer: That is such a hard question - when I was five it was Mr Tickle and when I was seven it was anything by Roald Dahl. But for pure excitement the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis simply blew me away (even if it wasn’t that funny!).
Knife: Ooh that’s a tough one. Mr Uppity still makes me laugh out loud. It might just be an old one called The Forest of Boland Light Railway by a chap who signed himself “B.B.”
Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills
Packer: In my experience writing is good. We always get our kids to keep a diary/scrap book on holiday, writing about experiences and sticking in bus tickets and postcards etc. It’s a great way to talk about the day and discuss our favourite bits.
Knife: Writing and drawing are so important. Invent a crazy cartoon strip or just do some mad doodles. Buy a big roll of lining paper that you can get in a decorating shop, roll it out and get going. And it doesn’t matter if you “can’t draw” – we all can.
How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Packer: Very big. Primarily by getting me to read. When you are constantly immersed in great books you can’t help but want to write yourself.
Knife: A major part – there were always books of all kinds at home. My mum even worked in the local library!
How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Packer: In our world full of alternatives you’ve just got to try to encourage your children to connect with books’ core strengths. No other entertainment form allows you to enter another world on your own terms - powered by words and your own imagination. Dr Seuss’s entire collection are the stand out read aloud books for me.
Knife: Keep prodding books at them – or prodding them with a book, either way, there are so many distractions these days. The Mister Men books are still great to read aloud – and we’ve recently discovered Edward Gorey’s fantastic illustrations for Edward Lear’s nonsense stories.
Author-illustrator duo, Knife (Duncan McCoshan) and Packer (Jem Packer), have written and illustrated over 40 books for children including Fleabag Monkeyface and Badly Drawn Beth.
Read more author interviews here.