Jeremy Strong

Jeremy Strong

Biography

Jeremy Strong was born in Eltham, South East London, on November 18th 1949. He lives in Somerset and is a full-time writer, however previous jobs include: Head Teacher, Teacher, Caretaker, Strawberry Picker and Jam Doughnut Stuffer (yes, really!) His first book, 'Smith's Tail', was published in 1978.

Jeremy Strong's work is characterised by humour and direct child appeal. He thinks his writing has been influenced most of all by Spike Milligan, but also by falling on his head when he was three years old.

He was not allowed to read comics as a child, and consequently discovered The Beano at the formative age of sixteen. Jeremy Strong's ideas come from everywhere - his childhood, his children, over-hearing conversations, something he sees - and he constantly makes notes.

Interview

CARTOON KID

Published by Puffin

January 2011

As a former teacher, Jeremy Strong (author of the Hundred Mile an Hour Dog and Krazy Kow series) has always been interested in getting as many people reading as possible, especially boys.

Strong says, "I try to catch their attention as they become independent readers and having a story that's funny and heavily illustrated is a start. Humour is a very good way to attract readers and get children interested in reading." Letters from parents back this up with many pointing to Krazy Kow as the series that got their child reading, says Strong.

In his new series, Cartoon Kid, a group of children are persuaded by their lively new teacher to think of themselves as 'superheroes'. Casper, the main character, decides to call himself Cartoon Kid as all he can do is draw; his best mate Pete becomes 'Big Feet Pete'. With their other classmates, they set about tackling school bullies and solving problems - often rather incompetently, but it all turns out well in the end.

When it came to writing his new series, Strong was keen that the books should be highly illustrated. He says, "When I was dreaming up the new series, I wanted illustration to be at the heart of the story so when I was creating the characters, it seemed natural that the central character, Casper, could draw and imagine things."

While this story is about 'superpowers', Strong has based the children's special abilities on their frailties so it is grounded in reality - sulky Noella becomes the Incredible Sulk and and Mia, who has lots of hair, becomes Curly-Wurly-Girly, for example. Strong says, "I didn't want the children to have real superpowers because there have been so many stories about that recently."

He has also inserted real facts into the book via the character Sarah Sitterbout, who is the cleverest girl in the school. Strong says, "I hope that the facts sections will appeal to boys who want something that's real. Girls are more catholic in their reading and will pick up almost anything, including books written for boys."

These books are highly illustrated and also include some comic-style pages, where the children's super powers come to the fore. "I enjoyed drawing as a child and loved comics but we weren't allowed any in the house and they were a sought-after item. Both my parents were avid readers though so our house was stuffed with books," says Strong.

"We understood that it was important to grow to love reading and we did. Today people realise that anything that keeps children reading should be encouraged and I'm not particularly elitist about what they read."

Strong met the illustrator, Steve May, early on in the writing process. He says, "I love his dynamic style, it was so suited to the series. We talked about the characters and what I wanted to see in the series.

"When I'm writing the books, I also need to specify what needs to be illustrated for that part of the story. I remember sitting there and talking about the story, and Steve was sketching very rapidly and I realised that my words were coming alive on his drawing pad. There was hardly anything hed drawn that I wanted to change, and many images that I loved, especially the police elephants."

Strong says that writing the stories has been "a lot of fun". "Writing humour isn't easy, and it can be very hard work, but I have enjoyed these books immensely. There will be at least four Cartoon Kid books and I've already finished the second book, which will be published later this year." The next title will be about the same children and the same class.

CAMPAIGN FOR FUN

Publisher Puffin is launching the Campaign for Fun to help mark the launch of Strong's new book. Strong explains, "The idea is to encourage schools and classes of children, or individual children, to explain why they think that their class or school is the funniest.

"They do this on a sheet of A3 paper and they can write or draw anything on that sheet of paper. They can fold it up or stick things on it or do anything they want."

Jeremy Strong will help judge the winning school, which will get a visit from the author and a special prize-giving ceremony.

Strong says the idea came from a lecture he once gave, arguing how important comedy is in children's books and how good it was in getting children into reading. "The Campaign for Fun was borne out of that," he explains. "We hope that by getting children to think of their school as a fun place, we can encourage them to both read and write more.

"The classroom has also become rather serious because of SATs tests and time constraints. Perhaps the Campaign for Fun can bring the idea of fun further up the agenda and remind us all that fun can also be educational? I hope schools will take up the challenge!"

As a former teacher, Jeremy Strong (author of the Hundred Mile an Hour Dog and Krazy Kow series) has always been interested in getting as many people reading as possible, especially boys.

Strong says, "I try to catch their attention as they become independent readers and having a story that's funny and heavily illustrated is a start. Humour is a very good way to attract readers and get children interested in reading." Letters from parents back this up with many pointing to Krazy Kow as the series that got their child reading, says Strong.

In his new series, Cartoon Kid, a group of children are persuaded by their lively new teacher to think of themselves as 'superheroes'. Casper, the main character, decides to call himself Cartoon Kid as all he can do is draw; his best mate Pete becomes 'Big Feet Pete'. With their other classmates, they set about tackling school bullies and solving problems - often rather incompetently, but it all turns out well in the end.

When it came to writing his new series, Strong was keen that the books should be highly illustrated. He says, "When I was dreaming up the new series, I wanted illustration to be at the heart of the story so when I was creating the characters, it seemed natural that the central character, Casper, could draw and imagine things."

While this story is about 'superpowers', Strong has based the children's special abilities on their frailties so it is grounded in reality - sulky Noella becomes the Incredible Sulk and and Mia, who has lots of hair, becomes Curly-Wurly-Girly, for example. Strong says, "I didn't want the children to have real superpowers because there have been so many stories about that recently."

He has also inserted real facts into the book via the character Sarah Sitterbout, who is the cleverest girl in the school. Strong says, "I hope that the facts sections will appeal to boys who want something that's real. Girls are more catholic in their reading and will pick up almost anything, including books written for boys."

These books are highly illustrated and also include some comic-style pages, where the children's super powers come to the fore. "I enjoyed drawing as a child and loved comics but we weren't allowed any in the house and they were a sought-after item. Both my parents were avid readers though so our house was stuffed with books," says Strong.

"We understood that it was important to grow to love reading and we did. Today people realise that anything that keeps children reading should be encouraged and I'm not particularly elitist about what they read."

Strong met the illustrator, Steve May, early on in the writing process. He says, "I love his dynamic style, it was so suited to the series. We talked about the characters and what I wanted to see in the series.

"When I'm writing the books, I also need to specify what needs to be illustrated for that part of the story. I remember sitting there and talking about the story, and Steve was sketching very rapidly and I realised that my words were coming alive on his drawing pad. There was hardly anything hed drawn that I wanted to change, and many images that I loved, especially the police elephants."

Strong says that writing the stories has been "a lot of fun". "Writing humour isn't easy, and it can be very hard work, but I have enjoyed these books immensely. There will be at least four Cartoon Kid books and I've already finished the second book, which will be published later this year." The next title will be about the same children and the same class.

Campaign for Fun

Publisher Puffin is launching the Campaign for Fun to help mark the launch of Strong's new book. Strong explains, "The idea is to encourage schools and classes of children, or individual children, to explain why they think that their class or school is the funniest.

"They do this on a sheet of A3 paper and they can write or draw anything on that sheet of paper. They can fold it up or stick things on it or do anything they want."

Jeremy Strong will help judge the winning school, which will get a visit from the author and a special prize-giving ceremony.

Strong says the idea came from a lecture he once gave, arguing how important comedy is in children's books and how good it was in getting children into reading. "The Campaign for Fun was borne out of that," he explains. "We hope that by getting children to think of their school as a fun place, we can encourage them to both read and write more.

"The classroom has also become rather serious because of SATs tests and time constraints. Perhaps the Campaign for Fun can bring the idea of fun further up the agenda and remind us all that fun can also be educational? I hope schools will take up the challenge!"

Author's Titles