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Lynley Dodd

Lynley Dodd

Lynley Dodd is New Zealand's bestselling children's author/artist. Her rhyming picture books featuring the irresistible Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki and friends are firm favourites, especially for reading aloud, all over the world.

Born: Rotorua, New Zealand, July 5th 1941
Jobs: Art Teacher
Lives: Tauranga, New Zealand
First Book: My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes, 1974

Lynley Dodd graduated from the Elam School of Art in Auckland with a diploma in Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture. She went on to teach art before taking a break to start a family. She began to work as a freelance illustrator and collaborated with author Eve Sutton on My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes. There was no looking back as Lynley went on to write and illustrate her own books for children. Exuberant artwork and bouncy rhymes come together perfectly in books like Slinky Malinki and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy. As well as being a visual delight, these are some of the most rewarding books for children and adults to read out loud. It comes as no surprise that, as a child, she adored Dr Seuss because of his "crazy sounds and the fact that he took such liberties with the English language." Other favourite authors included A A Milne and the fairy tales of The Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. Today, Lynley is a big fan of Quentin Blake " because of his humour and very clever art work."

"I have 'ideas antennae' sticking out of my head, ready to collect anything that takes my fancy. Funny names and juicy words to roll around the tongue, things I see, things people say and do, programmes on TV, items of news, family happenings etc. I keep an Ideas Book which is a motley collection of bits; lists of words, scraps of drawings, newspaper cuttings, snatches of storyline and verse."

"I work on words and pictures together from the start. As I write, I'm thinking about and planning layout, progression of pages as well as content and composition of each picture. Once story and pictures are planned, I make small 'dummy' books to show what the finished book will be like, with everything in place. Then I paint the final pictures, full size."

"There's a great deal of pleasure in telling a child a story that has the fun of the language as well as the pictures... Some picture-book artists can get very arty and forget what they're setting out to do. They impress the art establishment like mad but not necessarily children."

"A great series." Parents

"The fun is that we all know dogs like this, dogs who peep in rubbish bins, sneak up on unsuspecting cats, sniff round lampposts, wait forlornly for food, roll around, trot in lordly fashion down the road - but scarper at the sight of a tom cat. Dodd's skill has been to capture it all on paper, in words, colour and line." Listener (Australia)

"A delightful and mischievously illustrated book that is great fun to read aloud." Ragdoll and Friends on Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy

"An extremely rich book at many levels." Books For Keeps on The Minister's Cat ABC

"Dodd's pictures are good, but the rhyming verse is even better - delightful to read aloud and soon learned by heart." The Independent on Sunday on Schnitzel von Krumm's Basketwork

"The full power and aura of feline independence, real humour and night-time magic are evoked by vivid illustrations, simple rhyme and splendid language. This really captivated." Books For Keeps on Slinky Malinki

"A real winner." Books For Your Children on Slinky Malinki

"Swinging rhyme and rhythm, with plenty of repetition to anticipate and join in with." Under Five Contact on Sniff-Snuff-Snap!

"The children couldn't wait for the pages to be turned and loved doing the actions or making the noise of each animal." Nursery World on Wake Up Bear

Rotorua, New Zealand, 1941

All of Jane Austen’s work and Winnie the Pooh

There’s far too many to choose from!

Again, there are far too many to choose from!

Some very old books and my piano.

When did you start writing and illustrating?
I began illustrating for various educational publications in 1970. The first picture book I illustrated was My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes, written by Eve Sutton and published in 1973.

The first book I wrote as well as illustrated was The Nickle Nackle Tree, published in 1976. I’ve been writing and illustrating since.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
I keep my eyes and ears open at all times for things which might set me off; funny conversations, newspaper stories, items on TV and radio, things I see and do. Whenever I need to think of an idea for a new book, I look in my ‘Ideas Book’ (see below) some sources of stories: Hairy Maclary’s Bone came from seeing a dog leave a butcher’s shop with a big meaty bone.

Can you give your top 3 tips to becoming a successful author?
1. Keep an ‘ideas’ notebook and jot down things when they come into your head or you’ll forget them. I have a fat ideas book full of scraps of verse, sketches, cuttings etc.
2. Make sure your story has a strong ending and if you are illustrating it as well, make sure the pictures match the words!
3. Don’t be satisfied with second best, keep trying to make your writing or illustrating better and better. If you say “It’ll do” it probably won’t! I sometimes do up to 20 drafts of the words!

Favourite memory?
I have many, but meeting Dr Seuss in 1975 was wonderful.

Favourite place in the world and why?
I haven’t seen enough of it yet to say! Home (in Tauranga) is a pretty special place.

What are your hobbies?
Reading, travel (when I get the chance), crossword puzzles, gardening.

If you hadn’t been a writer what do you think you would have been?
I would have liked to be a musician but I don’t think I would have been good enough!

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