Welcome to my stop on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ ‘Children’s Book Award.’ I’m hosting a piece from nominated author, Andrew Sanders, about how it feels have his book ‘Where has all the Cake Gone?’ nominated this year.
As a children’s book author, seeing my latest book, Where Has All the Cake Gone? get shortlisted for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups
Children’s Book Award really is the highlight of my career. It means the world to me, for one very important reason: it’s voted for by kids.
Almost every other award in the world is handed out by adults. And there’s a problem with that: adults are idiots.
Adults paint walls beige. Adults pretend to like olives. Adults never talk about which dinosaur is the best dinosaur. (It’s Allosaurus, by the way.)
Kids don’t do any of that rubbish. They’ll tell you your wall looks a stupid colour, your olives taste of bum and that pterodactyls are actually the best dinos ever. Kids are insightful, hard to please and honest, which means if you create something that they like then you must really be doing something right.
And that’s why it makes me so happy to know that Where Has All the Cake Gone? has been recognised by the wonderful children that are a part of the Children’s Book Award.
Cake was actually a very unusual story for me to write. I normally spend days and weeks and months writing and rewriting my stories, but Cake was special because it came to me in a very short 20-minute spell in a wonderful Italian café named Pomas in my hometown of Beverley.
My normal process is to sit around, think of stuff that makes me laugh, eat biscuits and then write down whatever words appear in my head.
It might sound easy, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you go into your brain, hunting for the right words, only to find they’re playing hide and seek with you. Sometimes you come up with stuff that makes you laugh out loud, but everyone else just thinks is plain weird. And sometimes you run out of biscuits.
When I wrote Where Has All the Cake Gone? I was lucky enough not to experience any of these problems. In fact, I’d just watched two different videos that really inspired me: one was a very funny comedy sketch by an old-fashioned TV show called Monty Python, and another was a clip of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street called ‘I Dance Myself to Sleep.’
Both of these start off with normal situations, that gradually become a little bit silly, then very silly and then take reality and bash it on the head with a dose of silly that’s the size of a planet.
And so I decided to write something that followed the same path. I took a simple starting point of a missing cake, and wondered just how far and how silly I could push the story. I sat in the café, sipped coffee (which grown ups also pretend to like, even though we don’t) and added penguins, kangaroos, marmalade and snowball fights as the story grew and grew and grew.
I based it on the loving relationship I had with my own dad as a kid. I drew on some experience of eating my brother’s orange Aero bar from when I was five. And I thought about what I’d do if I really did get caught up in a snowball fight with a bunch of kangaroos on a French mountain top.
After 20 minutes I had something that made me laugh out loud when I read it back to myself, and I figured that was a very good sign. (I remember waitress giving me a funny look, but I’m pretty sure she was wearing a lot of beige and chewing on an olive, so I decided it was best to ignore her anyway.)
And so that was how I wrote Where Has All the Cake Gone?
And you’ll be pleased to know that afterwards, I went and ate even more biscuits.
Thank you, Andrew, for sharing that piece with us. And you’re right – children are the most honest judges! Wishing you and all the other nominees the very best of luck.
Make sure you take a look at the other nominated titles then cast your vote HERE.