Benji Davies' Top Tips For Bedtime Story Competition Entrants

We were thrilled to have the chance to interview children's author and illustrator, Benji Davies, for our Bedtime Story Competition. Benji's award-winning books are loved by kids around the world and now he shares his secrets with you. Find out how he comes up with his characters, where he finds his ideas and his top tips for Bedtime Story Competition entrants...

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Author Questions

1) How do you come up with an idea for a story?

Ideas for stories come along when you least expect them so you have to have your wits about you. The best thing to do is to keep looking and listening all the time and when something interesting catches your attention - maybe it's a squirrel in the park stealing a sandwich, or the words from a song on the radio, something that fires up your imagination - you must be ready to jot down a few notes or make a sketch. Once you have done that, you have taken the first few steps on the path to creating a great story.

2) How do you come up with your main character?

Characters are so important in stories. Without them, there is nobody to experience the story; nobody's eyes that we can look through to find out what happens in the story. Try drawing people out of a magazine or someone famous from history - then change something about them. Change their clothes, make them taller, give them a different nose, a different job. Gradually they will become a new character. You could even try drawing them as an animal. Think about what they like to eat. Think about where they live. Does it make them more real? Do they have a story to tell?

3) What inspired you to become a writer?

I have been interested in writing and drawing since I was very young. I spent several years working as an animation director and then realised that all the things I loved about that - coming up with characters and settings, making them feel like they are living and breathing, telling their stories - could also be done by writing and illustrating children's books.

4) What do you think makes a great bedtime story?

A great bedtime story is one that leaves you feeling that all is right with the world, that you can happily drift off to sleep. No matter what happens in the story you should be left with a feeling of hope on the final page. It should leave you to go to sleep with a smile.

5) If you could give our young writers one piece of advice what would it be?

Don't be afraid to change your story to make it better. Maybe you need to take a character out or add a new one. Maybe something different needs to happen at the end to make the story work. Whatever you write down first doesn't have to be the final thing - re-write it, make changes, make it better.

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Quick Fire Questions

What's your favourite bedtime story book?

The Little Grey Men by BB

If you could be best friends with anyone from a book, who would it be?

Hazel from from Watership Down.

Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?

I liked the idea of having an imaginary pet dog but I kept forgetting to hold on to his imaginary lead. He ran off.

What's your favourite word?

There are seriously too many good words to pick just one.

What makes a good goody and a bad baddy?

A good goody always does the right thing. A bad baddy is really a good person somewhere inside but they've lost their way.

Who's your best friend? What makes them so good?

My wife Nina is my best friend. We like to hang out with each other and she always listens.

Tell us something we don't know about you...

When I was little I had a guinea pig called Chubby.

To see what makes him so popular, check out our full range of Benji Davies books.

  • BDMNP 3 years +
    3 years +
    • £5.59
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £1.40Save 20.00%
    Noi and his father live in a house by the sea, hisfather works hard as a fisherman and Noi often has only their six cats for company. So when, one day, he finds a baby whale washed up on the beach after a storm, Noi is excited and takes it home to care for it. He tries to keep his new friend a secret, but but there's only so long you can keep a whale in the bath without your dad finding out. Noi is eventually persuaded that the whale has to go back to the sea where it belongs. For Noi, even though he can't keep it, the arrival of the whale changes his life for the better - the perfect gift from one friend to another. Winner of the 2014 inaugural Oscar's First Book Prize in association with the Evening Standard, now in a brand new cased board book format!
    • £5.89
    • RRP £6.99
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    Bizzy Bear's spending the day at Happy Zoo today, working as a zoo ranger. All young readers will love helping him take care of the lions, scrub the crocodile and feed the penguins. A delightful book, with richly detailed scenes and clever novelty elements, that boys and girls alike will want to return to again and again. Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, At the zoo. Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, I see you!
  • WHAL 3 years +
    3 years +
    • £3.99
    • RRP £11.99
    • Save £8.00Save 65.9999999999999982946974341757595539093017578125%
    The Storm Whale in Winter is a beautiful sequel from Benji Davies, the bestselling author and illustrator of Grandad's Island.

    It's winter time and Noi's island is covered in a blanket of snow. Even the sea is icing over. Noi is worried about the little whale he saved last summer - will he be able to survive these cold conditions?

    Little does Noi know that it's the little whale's turn to save him. Full of powerful emotions, this is a celebration of long-lasting friendship.
    • £10.39
    • RRP £12.99
    • Save £2.60Save 20.00%
    After the phenomenal success of The Storm Whale and On Sudden Hill, this new book by Benji Davies deals with the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. Subtly told, this beautifully illustrated book tackles a difficult subject with great sensitivity and depth.
    • £4.89
    • RRP £5.99
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    Bizzy Bear's going on holiday, but he has to take a taxi, then a train, then a plane before he arrives at the beach and can set sail on his boat. Another fun slider book with lots to see and do - perfect for vehicle-mad toddlers everywhere!
  • AILDZ Toddlers
    • £5.89
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £1.10Save 14.99999999999999914734871708787977695465087890625%
    Today Bizzy Bear's helping out at the building site so he puts on his hard hat and gets to work. Help him drive a digger, a bulldozer and a lorry!
  • AKYJC Toddlers
    • £6.89
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £0.10Save 1.0000000000000000621724893790087662637233734130859375%
    Today, Bizzy Bear is packing his ship, hoisting the jolly roger and setting sail on an exciting pirate adventure! All little readers will love helping Bizzy steer his ship, dig for treasure and open the treasure chest.
  • AMCGX Toddlers
    • £5.89
    • RRP £5.99
    • Save £0.10Save 1.0000000000000000710542735760100185871124267578125%
    Today, Bizzy Bear is off in his yellow submarine for an exciting underwater adventure! With clever sliders to push and pull, little readers will love to help him descend into the ocean, avoid the scary octopus on the sunken ship and, finally, discover the hidden treasure. A thrilling book for all fans of Octonauts!Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, Old shipwreck.Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, What's on deck?
  • AMCGY Toddlers
    • £6.89
    • RRP £6.99
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    On a visit to the Dinosaur Wildlife Park, Bizzy Bear discovers some interesting footprints. Where do they lead and to which dinosaur do they belong? Another exciting adventure for the world's most intrepid bear!Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, On the trail.Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, Follow that tail!
  • OSL2 3 years +
    3 years +
    • £3.49
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £3.50Save 50.00%
    From Linda Sarah and Benji Davies - the bestselling and award-winning illustrator of The Storm Whale - On Sudden Hill is a compelling and heart-warming picture book with a warm story of acceptance.

    Best friends Birt and Etho spend their days playing atop Sudden Hill, and love nothing more than creating cardboard contraptions. One day a new boy, Shu, wants to join in. Etho is more than happy to let Shu play, but Birt isn't too sure and is eaten up with jealously when he goes home and refuses to come out and play. That is, until Etho and Shu arrive at his house with the most marvellous contraption so far...

    A charming story that is perfect for teaching children aged 3 and above the important lessons of acceptance, friendship and sharing, On Sudden Hill is, quite simply, beautiful.