Helen Cooper

Helen Cooper is an author and illustrator whose books have won lots of awards including the Kate Greenaway Medal - twice. She also writes and illustrates Chapter Books and sometimes writes Picture Books in collaboration with other illustrators.
Helen Cooper

What was your favourite childhood book and why?

My favourite book depends on my mood – I can never choose only one. But here are some I returned to again and again. Brian Wildsmith’s Nursery Rhymes, for their colour and the rhythm of the words; and Susan Cooper’s magical Dark is Rising sequence.

Which of your own books is your favourite and why?

This is hard too, but I’ll pick Pumpkin Soup because I am interested in all the very different ways that people think and how we can learn to get along.  In Pumpkin Soup, a Cat, a Duck, and a Squirrel learn how to understand each other and work together instead of fighting. I loved painting the autumnal scenes. I love drawing trees, and insects, and round things like pumpkins, and the cooking pots, and the cabin, so the illustrations were great fun for me too.

Why do you choose to read?

I grew up in a very rural part of the North of England. It was cold and dark in the winter and it rained a great deal. There was no wi-fi, no way of watching films, and the TV was tiny with only two channels and even those only worked when the clouds were the right shape. But I did have books. Reading became my escape route. Once I discovered I could visit other worlds and find out more about other people in the pages of a book I was hooked on stories for life.

Later I taught myself how to write and draw, mostly from reading books I found in my local library. By that I mean I did not go to university to learn how to do it. I would not recommend learning everything that way: it was hard work and I missed out on some fun, but the fact remains that you can find out how to do almost anything if you can read. So never think reading isn’t important – it will change your life. It still changes my life every day.