A letter to readers from David Almond, about My Dad's a Birdman
Most of my work has been for older children, but one of the joys of being a
children's writer is the variety of possible forms: long novels, short novels,
chapter books, picture books, poetry, plays... The children's book world is a
place of great creativity and experimentation, and I like to keep moving
forward, to take up new challenges.
My Dad's a Birdman began life as a play commissioned by the Young Vic
Theatre, in London. I started doodling and scribbling, and images of wings and
flying were everywhere on the page. Jackie Crow appeared, strapping homemade
wings to his back, and his daughter, Lizzie, and dumpy Auntie Doreen with her
dumplings, and Mr. Mint and Mr. Poop, and pretty soon there was a Great Human
Bird Competition going on, and the script was leaping and flying into life. I
loved writing for a younger audience, loved the process of collaborating with a
director, a designer, a company of actors.
After, I put the script in a drawer, but the story stayed with me, and soon I
found myself scribbling again: An ordinary spring morning at 12 Lark
Lane... Within four days, I had the first draft. It helped to imagine my
eight-year-old daughter, Freya, as reader, and to begin to think of it as an
illustrated book. The right artist would bring her or his own vision to the
story, just as my collaborators in the theatre had done before. But which
artist? "Polly Dunbar!" the publisher said, and since I already knew Polly's
wonderful work, I crossed my fingers. Now I can no longer imagine my story
There is some darkness in My Dad's a Birdman, of course, but I think I
found a way to make the story joyous, optimistic, life-affirming.
I'm proud of it, and when I look at it, with Polly's lovely leaping
illustrations, it makes me feel very happy.
I do hope you enjoy it.
All best wishes,