The best way to enter into a child’s heart is by conveying things in the simplest of ways. And when it comes to literature, the Australian author Leigh Hobbs’s children’s books are described as working on a number of levels and could be seen as gently subversive. The author was in Chennai as part of the Australia Fest celebration, where he visited schools for outreach programmes. Leigh works across a wide range of artistic mediums but is best known for his children’s books he has written and illustrated, featuring Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig, Mr Badger and Mr Chicken.
“I am glad to come to Chennai and meet children and talk about the importance of reading in today’s digital age. It’s every parents’ and teachers’ duty to engage children with good books. Kids have a short attention span and while browsing on the internet they tend to switch from one topic to another. But when you read a book, there is a huge commitment and it will help children to concentrate better,” he says.
An art teacher for 25 years, Leigh focusses on character study in his books.
“I don’t like writing about serious issues. My books are about relationships, friendships and love. Children are naturally creative, inventive and imaginative. We need to keep that imagination alive and flourishing as long as possible. Unlike an adult, who have to fight various challenges, a child doesn’t have to bother about any responsibilities. So we need to catch them young and inculcate reading skills,” the author tells DTNext.
A children’s author should be responsible towards children. “Authors should be genuine while they pen children’s books. I am not saying they should write about morals and values. But they can definitely convey these ideas in an engaging way,” shares the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016-17.
The character Mr Chicken of Mr Chicken Lands on London and Mr Chicken Goes to Paris is one of his favourites and Leigh is planning to write a book titled, Mr Chicken Comes to India.