JN Junior special with Ivor Baddiel – and enter our young writers’ competition!

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JN Junior special with Ivor Baddiel – and enter our young writers’ competition!

Whether it's books, comics, magazines, TV, or anything else that uses words, top writer Ivor Baddiel reveals his nifty tips and answers some of our young readers' questions!

This month’s JN Junior is a little bit different. Actually, it’s a little bit special. It’s all about writing, whether that’s books, comics, magazines, for TV, or anything! And who better to talk (sorry, write!) about it than fantastic author and script writer Ivor Baddiel?

Ivor has written for TV shows including X Factor, The Voice, I’m a Celebrity and Dancing on Ice. He has created scripts for many celebrities and even for a royal wedding show. Ivor – like his younger brother David – is also the author of children’s books, including the brilliant Britain’s Biggest Star… is Dad? and Britain’s Smartest Kid… On Ice (out next year).

And here are a couple of fun facts about Ivor:

Before he became a writer, Ivor was a primary school teacher.

And… he didn’t read his first book until he was 18!

But I’ll let him tell you about that!

How I got Into Writing (by Ivor)

Ivor Baddiel

“Comics were the only things I read when I was young – The Beano, Dandy and – my favourite – Asterix. I didn’t really start reading books until I was 18.

“By then, I was studying and wanted to be a psychologist, but when my brother started doing comedy, I started writing jokes. Then I sent an article to a magazine, which got published, so I wrote for magazines for a while. I was working part-time as a teacher at this point, but eventually I was hired to work on a TV show (Light Lunch) and became a full-time writer.

“Incredibly, that was nearly 25 years ago and I’m still writing now. In that time, as well as working on a lot of TV shows, I’ve also written 19 books.”

Ask Ivor!

Joshua Lewis, age 10

Joshua Lewis, age 10

“Which author inspired you to write and at what age did you write your first book?”

“It wasn’t really an author, it was a comedian, or rather comedians – the likes of Nick Hancock, Bob Mills, Arthur Smith and my brother. I saw them and thought, ‘I’m not a performer, but I think I could write jokes,’ and so that’s what I did and it went from there. I wrote my first book when I was 35.”

Sadie and Charlotte Sprei, age eight

“Where did you get the idea for your first book and how long did it take you to write?”

Sadie and Charlotte Sprei, age eight

“My first book was non-fiction and it was a football encyclopaedia for children called Ultimate Football. It came from my love of football and took about three months to write. My first fiction book was called Cock-a-Doodle-Quack-Quack. It’s a picture book for three- to four-year-olds and it came about after my wife said to me, ‘What about a story where a young cockerel on a farm knows he has to wake everyone up, but doesn’t know what to say?’ It probably only took a week or so to write a first draft, but there were many other drafts after that, so it took considerably longer. When books have very few words, every word is even more precious, so they need to be given a lot of thought.”

Peter Showman, age six

Peter Showman, age six 

“How do you think of the pictures for your stories?”

“I don’t. Together with the editor, we choose some scenes from the book and then they get sent to an illustrator. They then do some rough drawings, on which I give feedback and then they are finished off for
the book.”

Ivor’s Top Three Writing Tips:

Tell yourself that no one is watching. I still do this today. If I’m stuck, I remind myself that no one is watching and that it doesn’t matter what I write. It helps to unstick my mind and start writing again, and if what I write is rubbish, I can just delete it and no one will ever see it. It’s obvious, but it really does help when I tell myself that.

Everyone is creative. I really believe this, but sometimes people have difficulty finding that creativity in their brains and getting it out. One way to maybe do that is by using lateral thinking problems. These are problems where the answer is not logical and involves thinking a little differently. This could possibly help you find your creativity.

Here is an example.

Ivor Baddiel

Three worms – Mummy, Daddy and Baby worm – are crawling along the ground separately. They come to a big mound of earth and all crawl in separately. They go through it separately and come out separately. They crawl on and then baby worm turns round, looks at the mound of earth and says, “oh look, two holes.”

How come?*

*Baby worm can’t count

Write how you want to write. A lot of people write the way they think they should write or try to write in the style of someone else. Eventually you have to find your own style and write things in your own ‘voice’.

The best way to do that is just to practice by writing.

Ivor’s three best kids’ reads for December

His Dark Materials  by Philip Pullman

This trilogy is for slightly older children, but it is incredible.
Amazing storytelling, brilliantly written and a fantastic idea.

His Dark Materials  by Philip Pullman


The Boy Who Got Accidentally Famous by David Baddiel

Okay, I’m biased here, but my brother is a great writer and his books are really funny and have really exciting and captivating plots.

The Boy Who Got Accidentally Famous by David Baddiel


Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child

These picture books were favourites of my children, Ruby, 21, and Art, 17, when they were little. They’re funny, quirky, have really strong and likeable characters and are wonderfully illustrated.

Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child

PJ Library’s Picks for books about grandparents and their grandchildren

L’Dor V’Dor With PJ Library

Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. They pass down tradition and heritage through the values they’ve taught their children and the family history they share with future generations. PJ Library is proud to send out stories celebrating Jewish grandparents, as well as supporting resources to help families with their grandchildren’s
Jewish journeys.

Bagels from Benny

Bagels from Benny

While working in his grandfather’s bakery, Benny learns the joys of giving and receiving, caring and gratitude in this beautiful award-winning story.

My Grandfather’s Coat

Grandfather made himself a coat when he left Russia and came to a new land, and now it’s wearing out. What do you think he’ll do? (Hint: he doesn’t throw it out!) Warning: this book has made many adults blink away some tears…

First Rain

When Abby moves with her family to Israel, she misses her grandmother and remembers the fun they had with each other. Writing to each other helps keep their bond strong, but it doesn’t beat them getting to splash about and celebrate Israel’s first autumn rain dressed as ‘yellow ducks’!

Eighth Menorah

Eighth Menorah

Sam loves celebrating Chanukah with his family and especially his grandma. But when his class makes menorahs, he’s worried as his family already have so many. He comes up with a plan so this new menorah has the best home ever.

Tea with Zayde

Teatime with Grandpa is always fun! Lucky for this little one, he’s never far away, either – thanks to the miracle of the digital age.

To sign up children aged eight and under for a free monthly Jewish book, visit www.pjlibrary.org.uk


Young Writers Competition: WIN £100 of Amazon Vouchers

Jewish News, in partnership with Ivor Baddiel, Pajes and PJ Library, is inviting young writers to write about their grandparents and what they
have learned from them.

To enter the competition, you will need to submit up to 300 words in the form of a poem, a wordle, a short story (fiction or non-fiction), fun facts, a song, an interview, a letter, a tribute, straight prose or a comic strip – whatever you feel like, as long as it uses words! You can include photos and pictures, too, if you want.

Once you have completed your entry, please email it to:  candicekrieger@googlemail.com with your name and age clearly displayed.

The closing date is Thursday 6 January.

The competition is open to all primary school and secondary school children,  and will be split into two categories:  Seven to 10 years old and 11 to 16 years old.

One winner from each category will be selected by a judging panel made up of Ivor Baddiel and representatives from Jewish News, Pajes and PJ Library. Each winner will receive a £100 Amazon voucher.

The Baddiel family

Ivor Baddiel said: “My grandmother made the best cauliflower soup in the world – I’ve never tasted anything else like it. This is a fantastic chance to celebrate our grandparents as well as giving them the chance to kvell at how brilliant their wonderful grandchildren are at writing.”

Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Pajes, says:  “This is a wonderful initiative, connecting our youth with their heritage and encouraging budding authors to turn stories from our past into lessons for our future.
I am sure we will be receiving some submissions of the highest quality and I can’t wait to read them.”

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