Writer in Residence: Smriti Halls

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer or Illustrator in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books.

Our current Writer Residence is Smriti Halls. In the role, Smriti will concentrate on using books to help children navigate tricky times and new experiences, whether that’s transitioning back to school after lockdown, solving friendship difficulties, getting to know a new sibling or thinking about some of the challenges that face our world.

Smriti Halls is an award-winning, critically acclaimed children’s author, published in more than 30 languages worldwide. Her books include #1 bestseller I Love You Night and Day, I’m Sticking with You, Elephant in My Kitchen and The Little Island. With a cast of characters as varied as mischievous monsters and disgruntled geese, she explores relationship and identity; the personal and the political; how it feels to be in your own skin — and in someone else’s. Her books, often fast-paced and funny or lyrical and tender, are always full of heart and hope and speak to the child in all of us,

Her forthcoming picture book Rain Before Rainbows (illustrated by David Litchfield) has been made available ahead of publication in partnership with Save the Children as a free e-book to support their work with families most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Smriti works widely with children and adults in schools, libraries, festivals, bookshops and prisons to bring a love of reading and stories to the widest possible audience. She lives in London and is also published as Smriti Prasadam-Halls. 

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Speaking about being appointed as BookTrust's Writer in Residence, Smriti says:

'I am honoured and excited to be joining Booktrust as Writer in Residence from Sept 2020- March 2021. I have long admired the essential work that Booktrust does to get books into the hands of the very youngest readers, to engage parents, teachers and carers to build young readers and to effect positive change in the book world. It is a tremendous privilege to be part of the charity in this way.

I begin my residency during a period of uncertainty and transition for us all – a time when we have never needed books more. As a reader and a writer, I believe utterly in the power of books and stories to transform lives, to build bridges, to rebuild hearts, to give us the emotional language to negotiate the trickiest of situations and to bring hope and change in the world. In my role as writer in residence I’ll be encouraging us all, both children and adults, to find new, meaningful and resonant ways of engaging with books and bringing them to life… helping the words leap off the page and right into our lives… and helping us to inspire a new generation of children to find their books for life.'

Hello from Smriti

Features from our Writer in Residence

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Books by Smriti Halls

Elephant in My Kitchen!

Author: Smriti Halls Illustrator: Ella Okstad

A young boy is rather perturbed when he discovers an elephant in his kitchen, munching her way through the chocolate biscuits. What's she doing there and how can he get rid of her?  The important environmental message of this book is delivered in an accessible manner, and children are sure to delight in the cheeky animal antics.

Read more about Elephant in My Kitchen!

I'm Sticking With You

Author: Smriti Halls Illustrator: Steve Small

Bear and Squirrel are best friends - but Squirrel feels like she needs a bit of space of her own. This adorable rhyming book about the ups and downs of friendship is pitched perfectly for 3-5 year olds who may be negotiating new friendships.

Read more about I'm Sticking With You

The Little Island

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Robert Starling

The message here is that compassion for others and strength in togetherness is what makes us thrive. The Little Island may raise as many questions as it answers, but that’s precisely why global ideas should be introduced to children at such a young age.  

Read more about The Little Island

Don’t Make Me Cross

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Angie Rozelaar

Little Monster claims to be sweet, but is proving to be anything but! Children will love the naughty monster snatching presents and hogging sweets, and parents will delight in reminding them not to be like Little Monster if they don’t want to end up feeling silly! 

Read more about Don’t Make Me Cross

How Big is our Baby

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Britta Teckentrup

This marvellous non-fiction book, aimed at soon-to-be siblings, charts the month-by-month development of an unborn baby in the womb. Warm, cheerful illustrations depict different genders, ethnicities and family set-ups, giving it broad appeal. 

Read more about How Big is our Baby

Pairs! In the Garden

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Laura Scobie

This busy, colourful book flows with fun, rhyming text that is great for reading aloud. The detailed illustrations can be used to help identify many types of bugs, colours and flowers, making it a great learning tool for early readers.

Read more about Pairs! In the Garden

The Ways of the Wolf

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Jonathan Woodward

A big, stunning hardback that pays tribute to a misunderstood animal: the wolf. There's a nice middle-ground, conservational message here that the wolf is just looking to survive, like everything else – including us.

Read more about The Ways of the Wolf

Two Can

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Ben Javens

Maybe playing together is better because two can have twice as much fun as one! This is an adorable book about letting others join in your games - and each page has hidden details that young readers will love to discover.

Read more about Two Can

I Wish I Were a Pirate

Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls Illustrator: Sarah Ward

A wonderfully chunky, rhyming board book about pirates, with exciting things to spot on every page, thanks to the colourful and jolly illustrations. An ideal book for even the youngest toddler to enjoy.

Read more about I Wish I Were a Pirate

Previous Writers in Residence

Previous writers to take up the post include Matt Haig, Laura Dockrill, Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell and Patrick Ness – see what fun things they all got up to during their time in residence.

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