Jean Ure

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Once when I was little my dad said he had a surprise for me. “Look what I’ve found! A real humpty dumpty!”

And there it was, sitting on the edge of the table. A hard-boiled egg with a smiley face painted on it and two little legs made from strips of wire. As I recall it even had little feet. I did so want to keep it! But my mum seemed to think that was not such a good idea, so we took a photo, instead, and I showed all my friends at school and pretended it was a real Egg with Legs. Maybe some of them even believed me. We were only very tiny.

Somewhere over the years the photograph disappeared, but I have always remembered it. It was always there, at the back of my mind, waiting to be put into a story. Writers’ minds are full of clutter. We probably wouldn’t be writers if they weren’t. Ideas don’t come out of nowhere!

Jean Ure

You can read more about this title and other titles from the new Ignite series here.

I had my first book published while I was still at school and have been writing ever since! I live in a very old house (built 1690) in south London with my husband and our family of rescued dogs and cats.


When I’m not writing I enjoy reading, listening to music, walking the dogs, cuddling the cats, and answering emails – especially ones from readers. My readers are a really great bunch. They tell me which of my books they like best, they help me find names for my characters, they discuss possible titles, and they give me lots of ideas. 


I also occasionally visit schools to talk about writing, although now we have so many animals to take care of I no longer travel the length and breadth of the country. Nine animals do take a lot of looking after - but I wouldn’t be without a single one of them!  

Q&A with Jean Ure

What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?

I enjoy the challenge, just now and then, of having to decide exactly what it is I want to say and then saying it as simply and as clearly as possible.

 

What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?

I’ve never been a struggling reader – reading was one of the things I could always do, unlike maths, which I can’t do even today – so I’m not really sure what challenges a struggling reader would face. However, I’m a writer, and so I use my imagination, and as I write I think to myself, “Would this be clear to someone who finds reading difficult?” “Is this word too difficult and is there another which would do just as well?” “Can I simplify sentence structure and still maintain an acceptable standard of writing?”    



What is your favourite type of character to create?

Usually a girl, but sometimes a boy, who in either case think for themselves and don’t just accept things without question. This can sometimes lead them into trouble with grown ups!

 

What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that High Interest appeal that really engages young readers?

Again, not being a young reader I have to use my imagination and ask myself questions. “Would a young reader engage with these characters?” “Would this scenario appeal to young readers?” “Is this beyond the range of a young person’s experience?” After that, I just have to trust to my instincts.

 

What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?

I don’t know! But I have had several letters from parents thanking both me and the publishers for getting previously reluctant or struggling readers into books.


Can you give us any teasers of what to expect from Eggs on Legs?

Go and look in the garden, or your school playground. See if you can find any little egg things running around.


What are the major themes of your work?

I like to explore what goes on in families, and the relationships between friends.

 

What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?

I don’t place any controls: I try to use the best words for the job. If a reading professional queries some of my vocabulary as being too difficult it is up to me to find alternatives which satisfy both writer and potential reader. 


What is your favourite children’s book?

Winnie the Pooh!


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?

The best advice, always, is to READ AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. All authors start off as readers. And they never stop!

   

Eggs on Legs