I chatted to Sangeeta Bhadra, author of Sam’s Pet Temper, about books from her childhood, inspiration and taking Sam into schools.
You mentioned that a lot of your favourite books as a child were British ones. Can you remember any that you particularly loved? What was it about these books that really spoke to you?
So many of the great children’s books are British that it’s no surprise they’re some of my favourites. I loved going on adventures with Paddington Bear and Pooh Bear, with Alice and Peter Pan, and journeying to Narnia. My fondest memories belong to Beatrix Potter, probably because I was very young when I first met Squirrel Nutkin and the rest of her characters.
I adore Roald Dahl. Matilda is a very special book for me; I remember reading the words, ‘books transported her into new worlds’, and understanding at that moment why I loved reading so much. Also, the books I loved appealed to me because the writers didn’t speak down to children and didn’t feel the need to educate. They simply told their stories.
How did the idea for Sam’s Pet Temper come to you and why was it a story you wanted to tell?
I’m often asked whether I had temper tantrums as a child (no, never) or if I researched the topic before getting started (again, no). I didn’t plan on writing a book on this topic at all. I consider Sam’s Pet Temper to be a gift, really. I was working on another story at the time when the idea just came to me – ‘But it’s not my fault, it’s my Temper!’ ‘Well, control your Temper!’ My head was so full of this story that I dropped what I was doing and got the first draft down in one sitting. I honestly have no idea why I chose the name Sam.
The main challenge with the story was to sneak in the ‘moral’ without being didactic. Books with overt lessons did not appeal to me when I was a child so I was especially careful to avoid this.
What has the response been like taking the book into schools and libraries in Canada? What do you think is the impact of author visits on children?
The response has been very positive so far. Writing is a lonely, although fulfilling, process. Through readings and school and library visits, a writer is able to get a sense of how their work is being received – and with children’s books especially, your audience will be very honest about what they think!
On the other side, author visits are wonderful experiences for children, and can be quite inspirational. I loved books and enjoyed creative writing, but it took an author visit to my school at age eight to fuel my ambition of being an author myself when I grew up. I think I must have realized then that regular people had written the books I read, which opened up possibilities for me to dream about.
What’s next for you? Any other books in the pipeline?
I have several projects in the works at the moment that I can not wait to share…
Speaking of sharing, here’s a link to a fantastic Sam’s Pet Temper activity sheet: Draw Your Temper activity