Are you a fan of author Holly Webb? After writing more than 100 books for children, this prolific author is a firm favourite with young readers. Find out more about Holly, how she got started and her incredibly popular children’s books here:
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A Profile of Author Holly Webb
How Holly Webb Got Started as a Writer
Holly was born and grew up in south-east London, but spent a lot of time on the Suffolk coast. At about ten, Holly fell in love with stories from Ancient Greek myths, which led to studying Latin and Greek, and eventually to reading Classics at university.
Webb hadn’t planned on becoming a writer when she started to draft her first series, The Triplets. She says, “I was working as an editor at Scholastic and we brain-stormed this new series called The Triplets. I didn’t want to hand over the characters I had drafted to someone else to develop so I decided to write the books myself.”
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Starting to Write
That was in 2003. Later, she began to write animal stories for Stripes Publishing. She believes the success of the stories is because they are not just told from the human character’s perspective, the feelings of the cat or dog are there too.
She says. “I enjoy building the story from the perspective of the child and the animal and showing how their relationship grows. Children also enjoy following how an animal might think.”
Holly Webb is a quiet success story. Her books, which include titles like Buttons the Runaway Puppy and Lost in the Snow with appealing small animals on the covers, have sold in their thousands to young animal-lovers, especially girls.
Holly Webb’s Series Based on Cats & Dogs
Holly Webb launched another series, My Naughty Little Puppy, which focuses on main girl and dog characters, a girl called Ellie and a Jack Russell terrier. The books include a strong boy character, the brother.
The series only has cats and dogs, not other kinds of pets, because dogs and cats have a higher level of independence which helps in terms of the adventures they have. Webb adds, “I also think that there is more bonding goes on with a cat or dog, so they are easier to write about.”
Each book sets up a problem, such as the dog or cat getting lost or needing a home, and the child and animal set about resolving it.
“These books describe the kinds of responsibilities that come with owning a pet,” says Webb, “but it is also about the fun involved with having pets – that’s the main thing. My children were in hysterics when they found the cat asleep in the recycling box the other day. Pets just become a huge part of the family.”
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About Holly Webb’s Family
Webb is married with three children, including twins. As a child, her own introduction to pets began with a cat, Rosie. Later, they got two dogs including an English bull terrier called Alice, which Webb built a firm relationship with.
“She got older and grumpier at the time I was a grumpy teenager, so we kind of suited each other,” she says. “The main thing that made her grumpy was that she hated sand and we lived by the sea – she was a city dog really.”
Webb also got her own gerbils and when one died, her father bought a replacement without checking whether it was a boy or girl. “A few weeks later they had babies. We put up a notice to give them away and the local snake shop contacted us to ask if they could feed the gerbils to their snakes. We said ‘no’.”
Probably thanks to Rosie’s grumpy character, Webb always believed that animals had strong views and feelings about what was going on in the world around them and that has helped to shape her stories today. “I felt that my animals thought about things that happened and had their own stories about what was going on.”
Finding something that appeals to children
Webb’s books are aimed at early readers aged five years plus and have helped turn many children into ‘readers’ thanks to appealing stories and the fact that there are several of them – once a child is confident with one book, they can move onto the next.
As a parent, Webb knows how important it is to find something that appeals to children who might find learning to read hard work. She says, “A friend introduced my six year old son to the Rainbow Magic books and he became obsessed with them and they helped turn him into a reader because I didn’t always have the time to read him the next chapter – he had to read it for himself. Now he’s moved on to Roald Dahl.
“I don’t think you should worry about what your child is reading, as long as they are reading. You could get them started by reading websites and gradually introduce other things – just be pleased they are reading anything at all.” They also make regular trips to the library as a family.
Another huge influence for children is for them to see their own parents reading and enjoying reading, says Webb. “Then they don’t see it as something difficult that is only done at school.”
Now living in Reading with her husband, three sons and at least 1 cat at a time, Holly runs a Girl Guide group.
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Does your child have a favourite Holly Webb book? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!