Clare Zinkin (from MinervaReads): Book Recommendations and Q&A

Clare Zinkin is a book blogger, a writer, an editor and a children’s reading consultant..

She was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

1 – Which books did you most enjoy as a child?

I can think of a few seminal books that influenced me as a child. The first would have to be The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl. I was quite a quiet child, but I sympathised greatly with the anger of the protagonist. She possesses the ability to change things with her magic finger – which is triggered by her anger. I really wanted to have that magic power to change the world. As I got older, I realised that I didn’t have a magic power, but I could use my anger and transform it into action – I have done this by things like campaigning for road safety and playground facilities in my local area.

I also loved Winnie the Pooh stories by AA Milne. This is because I remember it being read aloud to me by my father, who would do wonderfully diverse voices for all the different voices. This made books come alive for me and showed me their power. The third book that massively influenced me was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It showed me how novels can conjure such defined rounded characters – how a book could make you cry – and take you into an entirely different time and place.

2 – Which books have had the greatest impact on you life? In what ways?

That is such a difficult question! To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which showed me how to tell a great story and give social commentary at the same time. The Great Gatsby, which taught me that you can’t always trust the person telling the story, but perhaps most influential was Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which finally motivated me to finish writing my own novel.

3 – How many books do you read every year?

I couldn’t possible count. In an average week I probably read one adult book, two children’s novels, and a few picture books. Sometimes though I read an entire novel in a day.

4 – Where do you do most of your reading?

I read everywhere. I always carry a book, and have been known to read whilst walking down the street. Other favourite places – at my desk, on a train, during breakfast, in bed, and lying on the sofa.


Visit Clare’s blog, MinervaReads or follow her on Twitter.

Books Recommended By Book Bloggers

The BFG: Facts About the Roald Dahl Book

Here are some facts about Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

  • BFG is an acronym for Big Friendly Giant.
  • The BFG was first published by Jonathan Cape in 1982.

  • The book was illustrated by Quentin Blake.
  • Roald Dahl dedicated the book to his daughter, Olivia, who died of in 1962 at the age of 7.
  • The book was turned into an animated TV movie in 1989. David Jason voiced the BFG.
  • In 2016, Stephen Spielberg directed a live-action movie adaptation starring Mark Rylance as the BFG.
  •  The character BFG first appeared in Danny, the Champion of the World as a character in a bedtime story told to Danny by his father.
  • In the first drafts of the story, the character of Sophie was called Jody. He changed the name, naming the character after his grand-daughter, Sophie Dahl.

  • The language spoken by the BFG is called gobblefunk. Roald Dahl created more than 200 words and phrases for the BFG to say.
  • Roald Dahl liked The BFG more than most of his other books.
  • The BFG’s shoes were based on Norwegian sandals worn by Roald Dahl.
  • It is thought that the BFG character was partly inspired by Roald Dahl’s builder, Wally Saunders.
  • The BFG has been adapted for the stage by David Wood.
  • The book has sold more than 35 million copies.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Facts About the Roald Dahl Book

Here are some facts about Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published by Alfred A. Knopf in the US in 1964. The first UK edition was published by George Allen & Unwin in 1967.

  • Roald Dahl loved chocolate and, as a child,  he used to receive packages from Cadbury for him to taste and then give them his opinions about the new chocolate bars.
  • In the UK version of the book, Charlie Bucket finds a 50p coin in the snow. In the US version, he finds a $1 bill.
  • J. K. Rowling named Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as one of her ten books every child should read.
  • The book has twice been made into a movie. In 1971, with the title Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder played the role of Willy Wonka. In 2005, Tim Burton directed another movie based on the book, starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket. There are many differences between the film versions and the Roald Dahl book itself.
  • The book has also been adapted for the stage on numerous occasions, been turned into a radio play, been the subject of several video games, and the inspiration for a 2006 ride at Alton Towers.
  • The completed first draft of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was much longer then the final version of the book. Several scenes were removed and many characters were changed or left out completely.

  • Some of the children who never appeared in the finished book are: Wilbur Rice, Tommy Troutbeck, Miranda Mary Piker, Augustus Pottle, Elivira Entwhistle, Clarence Crump and Bertie Upside.
  • Several rooms and sweets of the chocolate factory only appear in the early drafts of the book. These are: Spotty Powder (a sweet that gives you spots for a few hours so that you can get the day off school), The Vanilla Fudge Room, The Warming Candy Room and The Children’s-Delight Room.
  • The book sold 10,000 copies in the US in its first week of release.
  •  The Ooompa-Loompas were called Whipple-Scrumpets in one oft he book’s early drafts.
  • Quaker Oats released the Wonka Bar to coincide with the release of the 1971 film.
  • A sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released in 1972.It was called Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Roald Dahl started to write the third book in the series, Charlie in the White House, but is wasn’t completed before his death in 1990.
  • The story grew from a bedtime story Roald Dahl told his eldest children, Tess and Olivia.
  • Willy Wonka was originally named Mr. Ritchie.
  • It is believed that Roald Dahl threw out the very first draft of the book after his nephew told him it was rubbish.
  • Roald Dahl wanted Maurice Sendak to illustrate the book, but he was too busy. The book ended up being illustrated by Quentin Blake.

Roald Dahl Fancy Dress: Charlie Bucket Costume

Charlie Bucket is the main character in the Roald Dahl classics, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

If you’re are looking for a simple World Book Day costume or Roald Dahl Day costume, Charlie Bucket is a really good choice. It’s fairly simple to put together your own Charlie Bucket outfit. Simply wear old fashioned-looking clothes, such as a drab, dark-coloured stripey or checked top and plain trousers.

Make a golden ticket (just like the one Charlie Bucket found in his Wonka Bar in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and you’re done! If you’re feeling creative, you could also make the Wonka Bar, too.

Charlie Bucket Costume Ideas
(Image Source)

You can also buy Charlie Bucket costumes.

Click the link below.

Boys Charlie Bucket Costume

Quentin Blake: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Quentin Blake.

  • Quentin Blake is an English writer of children’s books, and an illustrator. He has illustrated several books for children by the popular writer, Roald Dahl, and has won several awards.
  • He was born in Kent in 1932 and had his first drawing was published when he was only 16.

  • He studied English literature at Cambridge before working at London’s Royal College of Art for over 20 years.
  • Quentin Blake has illustrated over 300 books, including over 30 he has written himself.
  • In 1974, he illustrated the first book by Dr. Seuss that Seuss didn’t illustrate himself.
  • As well as illustrating fiction, he has illustrated books about poetry, healthy living and cooking. He has supplied drawings for several classic novels, including and edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • He has also designed store logos and postage stamps, and drawn on the side of buses. He has presented the children’s programme Jackanory and is patron of several charities.
  • One of his biggest projects was a large mural on a disused building near St. Pancras station in London. The mural was designed to greet passengers arriving in London by train.
  • Quentin Blake has been an exhibition curator since the 1990s, working in the British Library and a museum in Paris. He has also created works for British and French hospitals.
  • Quentin Blake has supported the Campaign for Drawing since its creation in 2000. The charity’s goal is to encourage everyone to draw, and other patrons include artists Gerald Scarfe and David Hockney.
  • In his spare time, Blake enjoys giving talks, reading, bird watching and cycling.
  • He owns a home in France and sometimes tries to read books written in French.
  • Blake was awarded the CBE in 2005, and was knighted for his services in 2013. He has won several other awards, including the 1980 Kate Greenaway award for best children’s book illustration.