Today my 8 year old daughter Poppy is taking over my blog to celebrate World Book Day. She’s been reading her latest favourite book all week and she LOVES it! It’s called OLIVER & THE SEAWIGS by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre. It’s the story of little Oliver, whose parents are intrepid explorers and go mysteriously missing, and it’s Oliver’s job to find them, along with weird and wonderful characters such as Mr Culpeper the grumpy albatross and Iris the blue-haired mermaid.
Poppy loves the book so much, she’s chosen to dress up as Oliver for World Book Day, with tweed cap, fisherman’s jumper, a rope and mermaid!
And she came up with a few questions to ask the authors and those lovely folk Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre answered them for her, along with some fantastic pictures.
Here we go with Poppy’s first official author interview…
I’m really pleased that you enjoyed Oliver and the Seawigs! I hope your Oliver costume is going well for World Book Day. I think Sarah slightly based Oliver on pictures of me when I was your age.
Philip as a lad.
My parents used to take me and my sister off on long holidays to Wales and Scotland in their camper van. (The camper van was kind of where we got the idea for the Explorermobile in the book.)
The original Explorermobile.
Here are some answers to your questions:
 Where did you get the name Mr Culpeper from?
I can’t remember! I think that as soon as we thought of a grumpy albatross we just knew that his name should be Mr Culpeper. Maybe it’s because it sounds a bit like ‘peppery’ and suggests that he’s a bit bad-tempered.
Mr Culpeper the grumpy albatross.
 Who is your favourite character in this book?
I think I like Iris best, but it’s hard to say, because I’m fond of all of them.
Sarah at work sketching Iris the mermaid.
 What is your favourite book that you have ever written?
Probably Oliver and the Seawigs, but also Cakes in Space and the next one, Pugs of the Frozen North. Writing stories with Sarah McIntyre is a lot of fun!
 How did you decide what Oliver was going to look like and what he was going to wear?
The cap came from a picture of Philip, when he was Oliver’s age! And he wears a similar one now, although it’s a bit more tweedy. There’s a picture at the end of the book of Philip sitting on the shore, sketching, and that’s how I imagine little Philip, who often carried a notebook. Oliver wears very practical clothing because he’s used to exploring all sorts of landscape.
That’s great you’re dressing up as Oliver for World Book Day! I hope you tweet us a photo.
Poppy in an action pose as Oliver with Iris the mermaid.
 Do you plan your pictures around the writing or do the pictures come first?
A bit of both. We did some drawings as we brainstormed the story. Then Philip used what we’d talked about to write the words, and we presented those to the publisher, along with some drawings I’d done. Here are some early drawings, of the Thurlestone and of Stacey De Lacey:
These helped us get the contract, but they never actually appeared in the book. And here’s an early sketch of Iris:
Philip also illustrates books sometimes, so it’s wonderful to make stories with someone who understands how pictures work and what goes into them.
McIntyre & Reeve at work…
 Which is your favourite picture that you have drawn in this book?
That’s tricky! I like so many for different reasons. But this one of the sea monkeys popping out of the seaweed makes me laugh. They’re such cheeky little critters.
So there you go. A MASSIVE THANK YOU to Sarah and Philip for answering Poppy’s questions so beautifully. I’m full of admiration for the talent and imagination of these two author-illustrators and delighted that Poppy and I have discovered their wonderful work. We’ve also got Cakes in Space:
and can’t wait for Pugs of the Frozen North, coming in September 2015:
You can find Sarah & Philip on social media:
and on their brilliant websites:
So do check out all their other marvellous books too.
And a very Happy World Book Day to you all!!
Love from Poppy and her Mum xxx