Sue Graves’ Children’s Stories That Challenge Perceptions
Sue Graves is the author of many children’s books, including ‘Sir Kevin and the Challenges’ and ‘Hubert Shrubb Takes Charge’. Once a primary teacher, Sue is now a full time author of children’s books, having over two hundred books published and sold over the UK and across the world in countries such as Jamaica, Australia, Egypt and Poland. This includes a collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays for young children as well as for SEN young people up to the age of 19.
Sue told us that her stories are often influenced by trivial things, such as a name or someone with eccentricities. Whilst perceived as simple, this often creates personal links in her children’s books. The most difficult aspect of writing for children for Sue is to keep the story attractive to the targeted age group and to include things that will appeal and resonate with that group. Though of course, Sue finds the process rewarding; she says “it’s wonderful to get feedback from children via the publishers. It’s always great to hear that a story you have written has given enjoyment”.
‘Sir Kevin and the Challenges’ is the first of two of Sue Graves’ best children’s books: When Sir Kevin graduates from Knight School, he is very keen to find a job where he can do lots of brave and knightly deeds. One day, he spots an advertisement in the newspaper inviting knights to apply for the post of King’s Champion Knight. Sir Kevin is certain that this is the perfect job for him and decides to apply for it. However, he soon discovers that actually getting the job is going to be far harder than he ever imagined.
Another one of Sue’s works is ‘Hubert Shrubb Takes Charge’: When Hubert Shrubb has to leave his expensive prep school to go to the local village school, he feels that his world has collapsed. His new headteacher, Mr Cogsworthy, seems to be as mad as a box of frogs and the kids take delight in mocking Hubert’s posh ways. The only ray of sunshine is Miss Lamb, his teacher. One day, however, the children learn that she must leave the school and everyone is upset, none more so than Hubert. He decides it’s time to show his amazing leadership skills and save Miss Lamb. However, he soon discovers this is much harder than he thought…
Sue told us that she does not explicitly include a message or lesson for children to learn from the books, though they often contain implicit messages such as standing up for others, being brave, being resourceful and determined and keeping a sense of humour! She also told us details about the books that you wouldn’t find out from picking the books up in the shop and just reading the blurb…
“Sir Kevin examines the status of the ‘underdog’ and how, with determination and self belief, you can overcome most difficulties. Hubert Shrubb highlights the importance of not judging people too quickly, if at all. For as Hubert finds out, the most surprising people can have inspiring qualities. It also stresses the importance of doing the right thing and having the courage of your convictions”.
The process of finding an idea for a children’s story and creating it is probably more complicated than most people choose to believe. Sue’s technique is to see a story as a series of spreads. It is easier to work such books so that text and artwork are balanced, something very important when encouraging a young reader. For older children, Sue always writes a detailed outline first to ensure that the characters mesh well with each other.
Both ‘Sir Kevin and the Challenges’ and ‘Hubert Shrubb Takes Charge’ have been received well by readers and reviewers. Take a look at some reviews below.
“Hubert is a good example to kids everywhere. He was determined to save his teacher’s job. I highly recommend this book not just for the home but for classroom teaching.” – Amazon review for ‘Hubert Shrubb Takes Charge’.
“Will Sir Kevin get the job? That’s for you to find out. I really enjoyed reading this book and I know boys and girls will find this an interesting read.” – Amazon review for ‘Sir Kevin and the Challenges’.