Laura Wood on The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hall and illustrated chapter books for kids

The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hall by Laura Wood. Book cover and author photograph.


The book we’ve sent our Parakeet subscribers this month is a magical, heart-warming tale packed with fun, imagination, and an important message about facing your fears. We love the theatrical setting and the superb cast of creative characters - both human and animal! Plus, it gave us the perfect excuse to put together a whole host of theatre-inspired activities. Here author Laura Wood tells us about writing the book during lockdown and which other illustrated chapter books she would recommend you read next.

What inspired you to write The Animals of Madame Malone’s Music Hall?

I wrote it not long after the theatres first shut their doors due to covid and I felt so strongly that I wanted to write something that celebrated theatres and the way they bring people and communities together. This book became about saving two different theatres, and it grew out of that idea.

Are any of the characters inspired by real people (or animals!)?

Ha! Not really, although Callie, with her stage fright and nerves is definitely based partly on me!

Who is your favourite character in the book (human or animal) and why?

I love them all! I think my favourite is Gary the grumpy hedgehog with a heart of gold. 

Is there a particular message you would like readers to glean from the book?

That it's good to try new things, even if they scare you, that being scared or anxious is absolutely normal and that you can talk about it, and that if you care about things you should fight to protect them.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I like to write in cafes. I enjoy all the noise and the hustle and bustle... and the tea and cake!

Why did you choose to write books for children?

Because it's so much fun! Because children ask the best questions and have the best sense of humour, and because the books you read as a child become a part of you in a way that no other books can - what a privilege to be a part of that.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I had so many! Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, Matilda, The Babysitter's Club books, anything by Judy Blume. I would read anything I could get my hands on.

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

Noodle the Doodle by Jonathan Meres, Sequin and Stitch by Laura Dockrill, and the Amelia Fang books by Laura Ellen Anderson.

Copies of The Animals of Madam Malone's Music Hall 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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