‘Irish illustrators are on fire at the moment’

Ahead of the Rebels and Rulebreakers Children’s Books Ireland Conference, which takes place this weekend, we asked some of the participants about which books rocked their world

SARAH CROSSAN is the author of The Weight of Water and dystopian young adult series Breathe .
When you were younger, was there a book that changed completely how you saw writing?

It was when I was about 13 and read Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for the first time that I realised how powerful poetry can be. I was moved by the words and sometimes, when I wasn't sure what the words meant, by the sounds of the words in my mouth and the rhythm of the language. I always saw his plays as dynamic, and the writing was fresh and groundbreaking.

What’s been the most innovative work for young readers that you’ve seen in the past five years?

Irish illustrators are on fire at the moment. The work of Oliver Jeffers, Niamh Sharkey, and Chris Haughton appeals to young children as well as the adults. The storytelling is funny and heartwarming, and the illustration is understated yet so bold and sincere one cannot help but be moved by it.
Sarah Crossan will speak at the conference on Sunday at 10.35am


JOHN BOYNE is the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and other titles for children and adults.

What book changed how you saw the rules of writing? The Silver Sword by Ian Seraillier. I read it when I was about 10 and before that most of my reading had been the standard Enid Blyton-type books. But The Silver Sword was different: a novel about war and the horrors of the Nazi era, where the young protagonists had to be older than their years simply to survive. A novel which showed me how history could be used as a backdrop to examine the human condition in a considered way.

What's been the most innovative work for young readers in the past five years ? The series of picture books for young children by my friend Oliver Jeffers, from How To Catch a Star in 2004 to This Moose Belongs To Me this year . His artwork combines wit, intelligence and extraordinary originality while his words manage to blend great emotion with humour. These books are for anyone who appreciates fine storytelling and innovative illustration.

John Boyne is in conversation with Robert Dunbar on Saturday at 1.30pm

ALAN NOLAN is a graphic novelist , author of The Big Brea k Detectives series with O'Brien Press.

What book changed completely how you saw the rules of writing? It wa s a comic more than a book . When I was a nipper, my Auntie May bought me issue two of the sci-fi comic 2000AD and my mind was blown by the fantastic (and fantastical) stories and illustrations, and most of all by the mighty Judge Dredd.

What's been the most innovative work for young readers in the past five years? I love the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems. In Gerald and Piggie, W illems has created two utterly believable characters that work brilliantly together, creating complicated dilemmas and drama with simple language, and his clean illustrations are so expressive and full of life, sass and attitude.

Alan Nolan will take part in a panel discussion with Sarah McIntyre and Rory McConville on Saturday at 2.30pm

ALEX T SMITH is the author of the Claude the Dog series.

What book changed completely how you saw the rules of writing? I think it was discovering the Eloise books by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight as an adult . The books are written and illustrated with so much fun and energy, and the text and images work perfectly together. They made me realise the importance of really knowing your characters and how that helps to bring a book to life.

What's been the most innovative work for young readers in the past five years? I think some of the apps that are out there are very innovative. I've recently been working with the fantastic Me Books, who create interactive story time apps where the book is narrated by an actor or you can record your own recordings .
Alex Smith will speak at the conference on Saturday at 3.45pm.

CHRIS JUDGE is the creator of The Lonely Beast, The Brave Beast and The Great Explorer .

What book changed how you saw the rules of writing? When I discovered Tintin, it completely changed my view on children's books, especially Tintin in Tibet , and they led me into the world of comics as I graduated from picture books. There is one book that has always stayed with me, though, called The Monster at the End of This Book. The idea was such a simple one but it completely changes the way a book usually functions. Every page turn destroys Grover's (from Sesame Street ) efforts to stop the reader from getting to the end of the book. There is such a unique power and thrill for readers, which I haven't seen the likes of since.

What's been the most innovative work for young readers in the past five years? I am a huge fan of Jon Klassen's books, especially his two Hat books. His take on picture books is so simple but refreshing and funny. It's a joy to watch the look of shock on children's faces when they reach the punchline at the end . I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with after The Dark ( with Lemony Snicket), which was also a beautiful book.
Chris Judge will take part in the Edge of the Page session on Sunday at 11.30am.Jon Klassen will also speak at the conference on Sunday at 3.45pm. All events are at the Light House Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin