Ten years of Dirty Bertie and an interview with David Roberts!

DB_10years_logo 2Prior to taking part in this blog tour the boys and I had not come across David Robert’s gloriously grubby creation, Dirty Bertie, but I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be a pretty permanent fixture in our houe from now on!  It’s ten years this year since the first Dirty Bertie book was published and they’re still as popular as they ever were, with David Roberts’ picture books having been used as the basis for he and Alan MacDonald to go on and develop an extensive series (19 and counting) of longer fiction books.

With C being nearly four (he discourages us from saying ‘three’ now…) and H having turned two not long ago, the picture books we received have been more popular at this stage.  They both roared with laughter at ‘Dirty Bertie‘ and found my squeamish reactions to some of his more disgusting deeds side-splittingly hilarious.  However, ‘Pooh!  Is that you, Bertie?‘ managed to entertain them yet further, with its noisy sound effects and the multitude of different words for ‘parp’ (which is currently their preferred choice).

H is a sucker for any book that makes noise and C is at the age where even the hint of anything subversive is just awesome.  Over and above all that though, they both love a character that jumps out and grabs them and draws them into the story and Dirty Bertie does just that.  At the moment, neither of the boys have any especially horrible habits (though I’m under no illusion things will always be this way) but they relished the opportunity to live that life through Dirty Bertie and his antics.

His creator – David Roberts – is a formidable talent in our eyes and the boys are big fans of his work, so we were honoured to be able to fire a few questions at him about Dirty Bertie – and a few other things besides 🙂

David Roberts (image courtesy of Lynn Roberts)

David Roberts (image courtesy of Lynn Roberts) 

1)  We love all the dirty things that Bertie gets up to – did you ever get told off for doing any of those things?
Absolutely not! I didn’t do any dirty things…not ever…well apart from trumping at the dinner table and maybe occasionally picking my nose and eating the odd chocolate that fell on the floor….yes I did get told off. But I never ate my own bogeys or anybody else’s for that matter.
2)  What do you think is the dirtiest, messiest, yuckiest thing that Dirty Bertie has ever done?
I think it has to be eating snot! Sometimes I can’t believe I actually wrote that and it makes me feel sick every time I read it!
3)  Have you ever made a mud pie?  Did you eat it afterwards?
Oh yes I did make mud pie,s but no I didn’t eat it afterwards.
4)  What is your favourite insect?  Why?
Bumble Bee because they bumble about, they look like they would make a nice pet.
5)  What was your favourite book as a child and why did you like it?
A Hole Is To Dig by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak. I liked it because it was very simple and it has lovely line drawings in it and as I wasn’t very good at reading as a child I especially liked that there wasn’t very many words.
6)  We really like drawing but at the moment our favourite thing to do is collage (we are ALL about the glue!).  Do you like experimenting with other methods of creating art?  Other than drawing, do you have a favourite?
I think drawing is probably my favourite though I have tried making things with clay and I absolutely love knitting and sewing.
7)  You must get a wide range of reactions from children (and adults) when sharing your Dirty Bertie stories out loud with a group.  Are there any that really stand out for you?
On the whole I get a lovely response from children and adults in that we all like to be appalled by Bertie’s yuckiness. I do remember two little girls once in the front row, like two old ladies absolutely unimpressed and expressionless and disgraced by it’s childishness. I’ve only ever made one child cry. Often children love to show me how much they like to pick their nose and some occasionally do me the honour of eating the bogey right there in front of me!
8)  Often parents will, with the best of intentions, direct their children towards books about subjects that they themselves enjoy.  This isn’t always a bad thing, but I have to remind myself that it’s important to let the boys make their own choices too (and if I’m honest, I wouldn’t always choose to read about bogies 😉 )  Did you deliberately create a character that might appeal more to children than adults?
I never considered Bertie’s appeal when I wrote the books, whether he would appeal to girls, boys or adults. My focus was purely on the character himself.
9)  How does the collaborative process work for the longer Dirty Bertie books, where Alan MacDonald writes the text?
Alan comes up with some story ideas with the publisher and writes the text in full then sends it to me and I work out what the illustrations should be. At first I involved myself in building a world for Bertie, who his friends are, the house he lives in, the school and teachers but now I leave all of that to Alan because he knows the character as well as I do.
10)  We’ve read lots of the other books you’ve done and ‘Iggy Peck, Architect’ is a particular favourite.  I read it out loud with my son’s pre-school class on World Book Day this year and then the children all built buildings and bridges out of different materials (the most popular challenge was to make a tower from spaghetti and marshmallows!).  Do you have a favourite among the many books you’ve worked on?  Have you got any upcoming books that you’re particularly excited about?
It would be difficult to choose a favourite. I’m really lucky to be able to work with amazing authors who allow me to interpret their imaginations. Iggy Peck was a delight and Andrea Beatty is a wonderful person. We have a sequel to Iggy which will be out later this year which I am very excited about called ‘Rosie Revere, Engineer’. I also have a new book with Julia Donaldson that I’m currently working on, a book just completed written by Peter Bentley called ‘Those Magnificent Sheep in Their Flying Machine’, and very exciting ongoing projects with Sally Gardner, author of the ‘Wings & Co’ series.
The 19th book in the Dirty Berties series is out now!
Toothy!‘, by David Roberts and written by Alan MacDonald (published by Stripes Publishing).
Visit the sites below to see the other stops Dirty Bertie made on his birthday blog tour:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: