This new book from Thames & Hudson was originally written in Dutch by Belgian author Matilda Masters, translated by English translator Lorna Dale and illustrated by Louize Perdieus. In this blog Mathilda introduces herself, her writing and the inspiration behind her latest the book.
Who am I? What kind of work do I do? How did I come to write books for children?
‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’
This is my favorite line from Dr Seuss. And the motto I try to live by. After finishing my Masters in Communication I worked in marketing for a while, but the thing I really wanted to do was write. I was lucky enough to find some people who believed in me and let me write articles for their magazines and newspapers. But I wanted more. Then, one beautiful day, a publisher asked me if I would be interested in writing books. I grabbed that chance with both hands and wrote over a hundred books – often as a ghostwriter. Cookbooks, do-it-yourself books, arts-and-crafts books, even a series of thrillers.
And then my dream came true. I handed in a manuscript for a children’s book – a story about a boy who lives in a prison with his aunt who is the prison’s cook – and the publisher loved it. It became a very popular series that won the Children’s Jury Award twice and is nominated a third time. At the same time, I started working on the ‘Seriously Smart’ books.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I am really living my childhood dream. It seems like I steered myself in the direction I chose.
What inspired me to write the book? How did I go about collecting and selecting the information included? What is the experience of having a book translated like?
I have two children – Wannes (27) and Flo (23). They are at an age where they might start thinking about having children of their own. And that worries me. I would love to have grandchildren one day, but I am not happy with the world we are handing over to them. Climate change is an issue that will touch the very core of their being. If we continue in the way we are doing now, our children and grandchildren will face huge consequences.
That worry inspired me to write this book. I was lucky enough to get help from my longtime friend Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA). He helped me find the correct information and supervised the writing. I wanted the information to be 100% correct and undisputable.
The Seriously Smart series has been translated into over 11 languages, but I was thrilled when I heard the book would be translated into English by Thames & Hudson. It is a great honor to be published by such a distinguished publisher. I hope the English version will inspire even more children – and adults! – to take action when it comes to climate and environment.
Did I work with the illustrator? Or was the process of matching text and images done independently?
Louize Perdieus has been illustrating the Seriously Smart books from the start in her unique, remarkable, humoristic and detailed style. Children love the illustrations.
Louize and I work independently, but we stay in continuous contact. She gives me input on things and has very good ideas on certain topics. We are working on a fifth book in the series now. Once in a while we give lectures together in schools or libraries.
What I hope young readers will get out of the book.
I hope ‘123 Seriously Smart Things You Need to Know about the Climate’ is a call to action for children as well as adults. Children who read the Seriously Smart books often tell their parents and teachers about what they learned. If they do that with the facts presented in this book, it might be an eyeopener for adults too.
This book is my tuppence worth to the big problems we are facing… I hope we – as humanity – have enough brains in our head to steer us in the direction we (need to) choose.
123 Seriously Smart Things You Need to Know about the Climate was published by Thames & Hudson on 16th July 2020 and is available to purchase from all good booksellers.
Any opinions expressed may not truly reflect those of the FCBG