CRESSIDA Cowell is a myth maker, an environmentalist, a creative thinker and a writer.

As an author she was been the inspiration for a generation of children who grow up with her 12 books connected to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’.

And she is back in the world of magic with her latest book The Wizards of Once, which is published by Hodder Children’s Books.

While others read to know they are not alone, Cressida sees books as powerful tools in teaching children about the power of their imaginations and in the words from to Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, show them ‘This is what books can do’.

While others would view film or television as the be all and end all of entertainment, Cressida said: “Books are a thinking medium.

“Film and television are emotional mediums.

“Writing books make people think, they make you imagine the world you are reading about.

“By reading children can learn a way in which they can be original, more intelligent and more creative.

“Where as film and television are bossy and tell you what to feel, writing leaves it up to you. Children can use their own imaginations.”

The moment Cressida realised she wanted to be a writer was from reading the book The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones to her brother, sister and cousins while on holiday in the Shetland Isles.

Reading aloud is something which Cressida places a lot of weight upon as she believes it helps children remember.

Somerset County Gazette:

Explaining this she said: “As a parent you should read to children as long as you can and well beyond a period when your child can read for themselves.

“Reading to children is part of what I grew up with and the stories my parents read to me when I was a child are the stories I remember the most.

“In my books I like them to read about a dad who cries or a mum who laughs. It is a way for children and parents enjoying books together.

“It was while reading aloud I first realised I wanted to write books as the effect they can have on you is special.”

As an author, Cressida burst into the literary world with her book How to Train a Dragon.

She said when she wrote the book she had not long given birth to her first child and said ‘How to Train your Dragon’ could be called ‘How to train your child’.

Cressida said: “I think I have learnt a great deal about myself from writing.

“I have learnt about being a parent and ‘How to Train your Dragon’ is a book which is all about being a parent “There is Hiccup who is trying to bring up Toothless and Stoic is trying to bring up Hiccup.

Somerset County Gazette:

“It is all about relationships and how being a parent teaches you empathy.

“I am writing about relationships and I think we can learn a great deal from children.”

Cressida’s new book The Wizards of Once takes root in her two favourite topics myth and magic.

This book has been five years in the making, with Cressida collecting notes and drawings in her book she called ‘The Spelling Book’.

Indeed Cressida was collecting and writing down information for this new book long before she had finished writing the How to train your Dragon books.

She said:”I wanted the magic in The Wizard of Once to be not just good but I wanted it to be better and more exciting than How to train your Dragon.

The world of The Wizard of Once is set in the South Downs and takes in many of the locations which Cressida went to as a child.

Somerset County Gazette:

These would include the villages of Singleton and Charlton, Trundle Hill (where there is an iron age settlement), Levin Down and Kingley Vale.

Kingley Vale is a wood where there are yew trees which are more than 2,000 years old which means they started growing when Christ was born.

For Cressida these are places which become more magical as she explained about Arthur Rackham, who illustrated the Peter Pan stories and lived in this very area.

One of the most notable things about this new novel is it has illustrations.

Illustrations can and do lift a book even higher, think of the sketches by Boz in the word of Charles Dickens, which are equally as memorable as the words.

Having novels for adults with illustrations, (not just those for children), is something which Cressida is very keen to see happen.

She feels illustrations help give a better picture to the readers and are very enjoyable.

Magic and especially myths are something which Cressida enjoys.

The Sword in the Stone by T H White is one book in which a fantasy world is portrayed and one which she would be tempted to believe is true.

Somerset County Gazette:

She said: “I love myths and my books are stuffed full of myths.

“I love mythical stories and especially the Arthurian myths. I like to believe there is something to them as we still do not know. King Arthur is treated like a real person.

“There is a lot of myths due to the landscape where people tried to explain how did that item get here like Stonehenge.”

The magic and myths of books for Cressida as we have seen is very important.

She is like a grown up version of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird.

The quote which she mentioned about learning comes when Atticus Finch is talking to Scout who says: “First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

The delight for kids is to read some of Cressida’s books and walk around in her magic.

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell is published by Hachette Children’s Group · Hardback · 388 pages · ISBN 1444936700.