Our author of the week is Dominique Valente!
This week, you can get lost in the world of Starfell! Listen to an audiobook of the first in the series, Willow Moss and the Lost Day and watch an exclusive video with the author to find out more about the books and her best writing advice. You can also discover Dominique's favourite children's stories and read a Q&A about books and reading.
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Watch the video
Dominique Valente's recommended reads
The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold
There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least that’s what April has been told. Until she meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home and she is determined to save him. Beautiful, heart-breaking and hopeful in equal measure, an important novel for our times.
The Train to Impossible Places by P.G. Bell, illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino
One magical night Suzy’s life changes when she discovers a train roaring through her house, defying the rules of space and time! It’s the Impossible Postal Express – the fastest mail train in this universe, and she’s about to become its first new volunteer in years (once they discover she’s a stowaway, of course) and deal with the fact that she’s accidentally set a powerful sorceress after them. Laugh-out-loud funny, clever, and utterly charming.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Arrietty Clock lives with her family deep beneath the floorboards. They are borrowers, taking what they need from the humans – small things they would never notice. Her family has one rule – never show yourself to a human, because they cannot be trusted. But one day, she is seen … by a boy. A timeless classic that is smart, funny and wildly inventive.
Q&A with Dominique Valente
If you could be a storybook character, who would you be?
Silky the elf from Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. I’d have the recipe to the honey-filled ‘pop biscuits’ she makes, and get to live in that wondrous forest inside a magical tree, where I could go on adventures to all the strange new lands that visited the very top. I’d always have a good-hair day and have interesting, though odd, friends nearby (which are the best kind, really).
What is the best thing about reading?
I think the best thing is the escape. It’s like a portal to a wonderful world – one that you build in your own mind, and where you get to experience lots of exciting things such as riding a dragon, standing up to a bully, falling in love or experiencing another world – all from the comfort of your couch or bed!
What is your all-time favourite book?
This IS hard as I have so many favourites from Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce to Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree which made me fall in love with the magic of reading. But I’d have to say Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery sits warmest in my heart as no character has ever felt so alive to me as her. I felt that I identified with her so strongly as a child. She’s sensitive, moved by nature and often prone to flights of fancy, and daydreaming. Yet, she’s also stubborn and has a quick temper that can get her into trouble. She felt very real, as did the beautiful setting in the fictional town of Avonlea and all its wondrous characters in Prince Edward Island.
What can you do to get better at reading?
I love this question! Here are some of my top tips:
- I’ve found that making it a habit has helped. Give yourself a time to read everyday – maybe it’s just a page before bed or when you wake up with your glass of water or tea. Or make it fun with a daily bubble bath.
- Listening to audiobooks is great too. You can listen as you go on a walk, when you’re in the car or even when you’re doing other things like cleaning, which makes the tasks so much nicer. It helps me read more than one book at a time as I usually have a physical book and an audiobook on the go most days.
- Social media is a big attention seeker and often though you might want to do something else – like read – it ends up sucking you in instead. So, in order to combat this I disable push notifications, including email alerts, and put my phone out of reach whenever I want to read.
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