Donna David is a West Midlands based children’s author who we spotted in the audience at our Bookfest earlier this year, and when we learned she had a new book out this month we were keen to help spread the word about it.

Oh No, Bobo! is the story of a little orangutan on the search for the perfect pillow to fall asleep on. He plucks a feather here and a tuft of hair there but this upsets his jungle friends. When Elsie the elephant enthusiastically strokes Bobo in an effort to cheer him up, it is now Bobo who gets very upset. He didn’t ask for a cuddle or want Elsie to get so close. With a little bit of help from Elsie’s Dad, Bobo and Elsie go on to learn about the importance of asking permission – even when just trying to be kind.

With its bold and appealing illustrations, Oh No, Bobo! is a sweet and gentle story about personal space and being considerate. It offers a quiet and sympathetic way to have an important (and topical) discussion with the youngest of children.

To learn a little more about the author of Oh No, Bobo! FOLIO asked Donna if she would share with us a selection of books that have been key in her life, books which helped her become a reader, and a writer. Here are the books she chose, along with her comments about them:

Stig of the Dump – Clive King (illustrated by Edward Ardizzone)
“This is one of the first books I ever remember reading at school. According to my mum, I read voraciously from a very young age but we didn’t own a huge amount of books. We were regulars at the library though and I feel incredibly lucky to have lived within walking distance of our local library.”

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
“I read Jane Eyre at GCSE and again for my English A Level. Then, when I got to university, I read it again as part of my degree. You’d think I’d be sick of it by now but I’m not at all. I must have read it over thirty times and I can still pluck a Jane Eyre quote out of thin air!”

Mucky Duck – Sally Grindley and Neal Layton
“My daughter had this book for her first birthday and we LOVED it. She called it ‘Muh Duh’ and would ask for it most days. It’s about a little boy called Oliver and his friend, Mucky Duck. I could relate so much to the poor parents who cleaned everything up, only for Oliver and Mucky Duck to create a mess almost instantly!”

Once – Morris Gleitzman
“All three of my children read this book in Year 6 and, despite being very different characters, they all adored it. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I read it myself. I couldn’t put it down! I was so affected by it. Morris Gleitzman doesn’t shy away from the atrocities of the Holocaust and I was blown away by how he could convey something so horrific but still make it suitable for his ten-year-old readers. Gleitzman’s skill is phenomenal and it made me want to write for children.”

Never Tickle a Tiger – Pamela Butchart and Marc Boutavant
“After realising I wanted to write for children, I threw myself into reading across the age groups, from picture books right up to Young Adult. When I read ‘Never Tickle a Tiger’, I knew that I wanted to write for 3-6 year olds. You can be incredibly playful with language and no idea is too bonkers!”

Julian Is a Mermaid – Jessica Love
“This is my favourite picture book of 2019. The illustrations are beautiful and the story telling goes much deeper than the words on the page. It tells the story of a little boy who wants to dress up as a mermaid, and the love and acceptance he gets from his grandma. ‘Julian is a Mermaid’ showed me that picture books can convey subtle and gentle (but important) messages to very young children. I wrote ‘Oh No, Bobo!’ in response to the #MeToo movement and ‘Julian is a Mermaid’ showed me that there was space for books like this.”

All these books are in the Birmingham Libraries catalogue, and you can borrow an eBook version of Jane Eyre via Libby, if you have a Birmingham Libraries membership card.

Find out more about Donna on her website https://www.donnadavidauthor.com/ or follow her on Twitter @donnamdavid.

Oh No, Bobo!‘s illustrator is Laura Watkins. You can find out more about her on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/watkinsillustrations/ or her website https://watkinsprints.co.uk/about/

Thank you Donna!

An interview with author Donna David
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