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Interview: Amy Harrop talks about Who Took the Toilet Paper?

Amy Harrop is a teacher, mother, writer and school librarian with a passion for children’s books, particularly picture books with quirky humour and a twist! Amy lives in Te Awamutu, and talks to NZ Booklovers about Who Took the Toilet Paper? IN this picture book, Pa Bear is on the toilet in the woods and – oh no! – he discovers there’s no toilet paper. The question is put out there ... who is responsible for this sad state of affairs?

What inspired you to write Who Took the Toilet Paper?

I was looking for motivation to write a new story and I wanted to write about something funny. I often draw on my own experiences in family situations and thinking back to when my two sisters and I were children. Having a parent stuck in the toilet with no toilet paper and getting annoyed seemed like an amusing situation and was something I could imagine happening in our household. It was fun to think up all the possibilities of what could have happened to it and who was ultimately to blame.

What research was involved?

Mainly just brainstorming all the different ways that toilet paper could have been used! Toilet papercraft is not a hobby I thought I would take up! I always test out my writing on my own family too, to see their reactions and whether the story works.

What was your routine or process when writing this book, and how did you work the illustrator, Jenny Cooper?

I love to write funny rhyming stories and I normally think up the twist at the end before I start writing, so I know where the story is heading. I have quite a busy life with teaching and a family, so I tend to write sporadically or over the holidays. Rhyming involves a great deal of chopping and changing of words, so I aimed to work on one scenario at a time and get that right before moving onto the next. I am so lucky to have been paired with the talented Jenny Cooper by our publisher, Scholastic NZ. I adore her illustrations and couldn't have dreamed up anything as gorgeous as the pictures she has produced. As the publisher usually organises the illustrator, I have not had any personal contact with Jenny. Hopefully we will meet one day soon!

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

This is a brilliant question! I think it might have to be "Stop, Drop and Roll" by Mareko feat. Deceptikonz or if that doesn't work, then probably "Shake it Off!" by Taylor Swift.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this picture book?

I just love the silliness of the whole situation. My favourite parts are Ma Bear worrying about protecting her tea towels and GrandPaw offering up some sandpaper!

Who do you think will enjoy this book?

Children from the ages of three to ten years old will love it and appreciate the humour and the characters. I'm hoping that adults reading it will also have a giggle too. I'm sure it is quite a relatable situation for many families!

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Discovering "Tulip and Doug" by Emma Wood (along with the rest of NZ!). It is such a charming story! Then I actually got to meet Emma at the Storylines Hui earlier in the year and she is just so lovely.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I am currently working on a new manuscript and there are always other ideas in different stages of development. I have experimented with my writing style in a new story which is currently submitted to a publisher for consideration. I have also contributed a short play to an anthology which is planned to be published towards the end of next year. I feel really proud of what I have achieved with my writing so far. As cliché as it is to say, being an author is my dream come true. I hope to continue sharing my stories and giving children a giggle.

Scholastic New Zealand


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