I am a freelance artist manager and classical music project manager, and I live in Hull with my nearly 3-year old son, my husband, and our cat. My son and I love reading together; he asks for stories first thing in the morning, often throughout the day, and always has several at bed time. He has just started to want to read them himself and can recite lots back to me, with a very funny way of skipping over the bits he can’t remember!
What is your son’s favourite book?
My son loves all the books by Julia Donaldson; I think The Gruffalo is his favourite but he is also extremely fond of Room on the Broom and Stick Man. I think the poetry really appeals to him, and he is fascinated by the details. In The Gruffalo he likes to look ahead a few pages to where the Gruffalo appears, and says “Look, a Gruffalo!” and I say “No, it can’t be, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo”… and then he squeals with joy when the Gruffalo finally appears (and I am proved wrong)!
Which book do you most like reading to them and why?
I absolutely love We found a hat by Jon Klassen. It is a very minimalist book with beautiful illustrations that carry a great deal of meaning in just a glance. The story is about two tortoises that find a single hat, both agree it looks good on them, but that it wouldn’t be fair if one had a hat and the other didn’t. They then go to sleep; one drops off, contented with the decision, but the other one eyes up the hat and starts to sneak back for it. The sleeping tortoise then says they are having a dream in which they both have hats together. The sneaking tortoise leaves the hat where it is and comes back to sleep with its partner. To me it says that we are at our happiest together and that our imaginations are more important than physical things, which is a message I am very happy to be passing on to my son.
What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I had lots of books about children called Katie! My favourite as a young child was Katie and the Smallest Bear by Ruth McCarthy, and there was also one called Katy’s Kit Car by Robin Lawrie, which (my mother has told me since) was a detailed account of building a car from scratch, which I loved but she found completely boring! My all-time favourite children’s book, though, is Winnie the Pooh. That holds incredible sentimental value for me, and I recently read a passage from it at my mum’s funeral.
What do you look for when shopping for a new book for your son?
Ideally gentle, thought-provoking content that helps him with big feelings that he might encounter. This helps to counter-balance what his priorities are in a book purchase: the presence of Thomas the Tank Engine.
What would you like to see more of in kids’ books today?
Really good language – I’ve got a few books of my son’s that have some awful grammar in them! I think a wide range of tones is a brilliant thing, but I have noticed the difference in how much my son likes books that are really well-written and have a sense of poetry (either in being actual poetry or really beautiful prose).
Polyphony Arts is a classical music artist and project management organisation. I founded it in early 2018, when I went freelance in order to have more flexibility and choice over my work, and to enable myself to spend the right amount of time with my young family. Since then, my client base has more than tripled, I have developed a remote team, and the range of projects I take on has developed in truly inspiring ways. I work with a wide range of projects and artists, but specialise in projects with inclusivity at the heart, and in working with parents on overcoming the challenges of managing freelance musical careers alongside family life. I feel very lucky to be working with such wonderful people and projects.