Chrissie Sains on An Alien in the Jam Factory and illustrated chapter books for younger readers

An Alien in the Jam Factory by Chrissie Sains. Book cover and author photo.


This month our Parakeet subscribers are getting inventive with An Alien in the Jam Factory by Chrissie Sains. This book has it all - aliens, jam, doughnuts, snails, one dastardly and very dodgy villain, and one brilliant kid fizzing with ideas that will save the day! We were immediately inspired by young inventor Scooter and his alien buddy Fizzbee, who team up to save Scooter’s book of inventions from Daffy Dodgy and her guinea pig sidekick. It’s a hilarious adventure, brilliantly illustrated by Jenny Taylor. We quizzed author Chrissie Sains on what inspired the book and which illustrated chapter books for younger readers she thinks you should read next:

What inspired you to write An Alien in the Jam Factory?

It all started with a jam tart. My daughter held it up and commented that it looked like a little flying saucer. We began to imagine what it would be like if a tiny alien crash landed on earth and flew around in a jam tart. From that moment, the story idea was born! 

Are any of the characters inspired by real people?

Yes! Scooter was inspired by my goddaughter, Abigail who, like Scooter, has cerebral palsy. She’s very determined like Scooter too, though there are also lots of differences between them!

Abigail came up with the Hand-Bots invention. When she was asked what invention she would make, her answer was that she would make robotic helping hands to help her pick things up and so I included this in the book.

Which of Scooter’s inventions is your favourite and why?

I would really love to try Cherry Candy Floss Jam - cherry sweets are always my favourite and a jam as light as candy floss? Absolute winner!

I would also love to be able to recreate his Brussels sprout battery that powers the whole factory - wouldn’t it be amazing if we could really create a sustainable power source like that?

We love Jenny Taylor’s illustrations! Do they depict the characters and setting as you imagined them?

I love Jenny’s illustrations too - she’s such an incredible talent! The first time I saw her sample character artwork for An Alien in the Jam Factory, I knew we were on the same wavelength. It was like she’d looked at the pictures inside my head and then created an even better version in her illustrations! She often adds lots of lovely (and very funny) details of her own too. I love it when she’s got her hands on the text and sprinkled it with her magic!

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I write in lots of places; the library, my local cafe, even my daughters’ treehouse! My favourite is probably sitting at the kitchen table early in the morning when the house is quiet and cosy.

Why did you choose to write books for children?

Because kids books are the best books! 

I still really enjoy reading kids books too, especially when they’re a bit silly and make me giggle. I love that being a kids author means that I get to visit schools and chat with kids about books. I recently attended a book idea brainstorm and it was so much fun - kids have the best ideas!

What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved all books by Roald Dahl. I wasn’t always a keen reader, but Roald Dahl changed that. I discovered that books could be funny, that villains could be thrilling, that it was ok to make up completely new words! It opened my eyes to the fun side of reading (and writing) and changed my attitude to reading.

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

Oh there are so many to choose from! Some of my current favourites include:

The Accidental Diary of Bug by Jen Carney

Space Detectives by Mark Powers

Harley Hitch by Vashti Hardy

Anisha, Accidental Detective by Serena Patel

Copies of An Alien in the Jam Factory along with our bespoke activity pack are now available for individual purchase here. 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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