Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Cowell's Cuddly Stories Grew out of Childhood Summers Away from TV ; One of Writer's Popular Books Is Adapted for Stage by Gruffalo Producers and Brings Emily Brown's Old Grey Rabbit to the Lowry for Half Term Holidays

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Cowell's Cuddly Stories Grew out of Childhood Summers Away from TV ; One of Writer's Popular Books Is Adapted for Stage by Gruffalo Producers and Brings Emily Brown's Old Grey Rabbit to the Lowry for Half Term Holidays

Article excerpt

SINCE day one, Cressida Cowell's life has been about contrasts. Each year she swapped life in London for summers spent on an uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, where - with no electricity, and no houses or shops there to power anyway - Cressida drifted off into imagination.

Now famous for her How to Train Your Dragon and Emily Brown series of children's books, Cressida had no reason to believe those early writings might be the start of a career. But she did know it would be, even then.

"When I was about nine, I entered a writing competition run by the National Gallery, and I won the nine and under category. That had an effect, even when I was nine," she says.

"My mother was a painter, but my family were largely in the business world. You do have to have a lot of self belief to think, 'This is a career I can do'. It's not easy; there isn't a clear route.

"If you want to be a doctor you go to medical school, but there's no such thing as author school!

"I do a lot of talking in schools now and I love doing that because you can go to children and say, 'This is something you can do; once upon a time I was just like you'."

At school, Cressida was a daydreamer; her school reports are testament to her "disorganised" nature.

Her fondness for storytelling, though, led her to read English (including Norse and Anglo Saxon literature) at university, then study an MA in narrative illustration.

Her Dragon books (she's working on book 12 now) have been turned into major motion pictures, but it's one title in her Emily Brown series that brings her to The Lowry this half term, as Emily Brown And The Thing is transferred to stage as part of the Salford and Trafford Family Arts Festival.

Adapted by Tall Stories (the creators of the popular Gruffalo stage play), Emily Brown And The Thing follows the adventures of Emily and her old grey rabbit, Stanley, as they discover a 'thing' outside their window that's weeping for its lost 'cuddly"' Emily and Stanley must puzzle out what will really console the thing so that everyone can get some sleep. …

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