Carrie Sellon on Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions and illustrated chapter books for kids

Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions by Carrie Sellon. Book cover and author photo.

The book we've sent our Parakeet subscribers this month is a hilarious and heart-warming story about friendship, magic and pizza - what's not to love?! Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions is laugh-out-loud funny and packed with brilliant illustrations by Sarah Horne, but Pete's story is also poignant and thought-provoking. For all those reasons it makes perfect family reading and an easy pick for our Parakeet boxes. We are delighted that author Carrie Sellon has agree to answer our questions about what inspired the book, the magical potions she invented for it, and which illustrated chapter books for kids she recommends you read next.

What inspired you to write Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions?

During lockdown we built a pizza oven in the garden and started eating a LOT of pizzas. The kids soon got bored of the usual toppings so we experimented with all sorts: fried banana and chilli, prawn and cashew nuts, roasted carrots and cinnamon. It got me thinking – what if chilli could make you breathe fire? What if prawns could turn you into a mermaid? I started scribbling down notes for a picture book, then I wrote a bit more, and suddenly I’d written thirty thousand words.

Which potion pizza would you most like to try and why?

It’s got to be a Pizza Pan (a pizza that can make you fly). I could nip off to a tropical island whenever it rained, and it would save all that queuing at airports.

Which of the potions do you think would be the most useful – and which could do the most harm?

I think the Intelligence potion would be the most useful - passing tests, doing crosswords, solving the climate crisis. The Glow potion, as Pete and Anna discover, is not to be messed with. Useful for starting a camp fire though.

What animal do you think the animal potion would turn you into?

The Animal potion turns you into your spirit animal. I like to think it would turn me into a dog - I love a good walk, curling up on the sofa with a log fire and stealing food from my children’s plates when they’re not looking.

What do you think is the most important lesson Pete learns?

Not to be scared of the outside world.

Why did you choose to create books for this age group?

I was a huge bookworm when I was this age. I remember getting lost in other worlds, knocking on the back of wardrobes, desperate to find Narnia. I remember rereading books for comfort, over and over again. I remember devouring Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Diana Wynne Jones. Children of this age have a sense of wonder about the world. They’re full of curiosity and hope. If one child gets as lost in my book as I used to get, I’ll die happy!

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I’ve got a desk in our sitting room – great when the children are at school, not so great when they’re watching TV. My window looks out onto the chickens so I spend quite a lot of time with my feet up on the window sill, gazing at Bluebell and Snowy, hoping they’ll impart wisdom and ideas.

Which other illustrated chapter books for younger readers would you recommend our subscribers read next?

So many! Here are a selection: 

The Thames and Tide Club: The Secret City by Katya Balen (first one just out).

The Boy who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd.

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Ruling the World by Louie Stowell.

The Ghost Scouts series by Taylor Dolan.

The Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson

Witch Wars by Sibéal Pounder. 

The Monster Doughnuts series by Gianna Pollero.

Copies of our Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!



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