short story competition - win pounds 2,000

Ian Beck, the children's author and illustrator, and his son Laurence, aged 12, discuss books with Jenny Gilbert
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Ian I'd love to be able to say that my two boys are massive readers, that they get the same pleasure from books as I got. But I can't. There comes an age when boys don't read. It's a universal problem. Children's publishers are always trying to tackle it. Publishing itself is mainly run by women and most children's authors are women, which makes the problem harder to treat. It's a question of exciting boys enough to want to read, and competing with computer games and football. Reading is seen to be uncool, and peer-group pressure is strong.

Scholastic's Point Horror books are reviled by some, but they're a serious attempt to keep children reading, and boys seem to like them. I've tried all sorts of other tactics. Just recently it's been introducing adult books. I read them Jurassic Park after seeing the film, and now we're on the sequel. They recognise that there's a lot in the book that's not in the film. It's more complex, more interesting. But of course there are no special effects or big noises, you have to make those in your head.

Reading magazines is also a way in. I buy Premiere magazine and we read film reviews and talk about why some narratives work and some don't. I want him to be critical, not just receptive. And I've read him factual books about things that interest him, like animation. I even read his games mags with him. It's smuggling in reading under the guise of getting information.

When my boys were youngers they enjoyed CS Lewis and Tolkein, but getting them to read anything now that has a sense of wonder and enchantment, that's difficult. I suspect that cinema creates a huge expectation of noise and excitement. And they don't see reading as having that power, though I believe it does. Of course, if you had an 18 certificate on books like you have on films, they'd be fighting to read them.

Laurence I'm reading this book called Projections 5. I'm really interested in Nick Park and animation films. It has an interview which shows Nick Park storyboarding his film The Wrong Trousers. I've done some of my own storyboards, at home in my room. And at the moment I'm trying to do an animation of The Teddy Robber, one of my dad's books. It's what I want to do when I'm older.

The only fiction books I like are Jurassic Park and Point Horror. They're exciting and gory... they're fun to read. And some are quick to read as well, like Nightmare Hall, and The Witness. Jurassic Park used a lot of scientific words, but my dad helped me to understand some of the words. It's all about DNA extracts and stuff like that.

I used to like reading Greek myths at school. They're weird. There's a film from 1963 I really like called Jason and the Argonauts, and it's got some animation in it of these skeletons having a fight. In Projections 5 there's an interview with the man who did it.

I have made some of my storyboards move. I made up a story about a dragon called Kipper, a nice, friendly dragon who liked shoes. His shoes got really scuffed up, and he found a gold piece in his porridge so he could buy some new ones. I made the models in Plasticine and filmed it with a video camera. But the movement's really jumpy because I needed more moves per frame

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