Sally Gardner is the author and illustrator of picture books including The Fairy Catalogue, The Glass Heart and The Book of Princesses. She also illustrated the Polly books by Francesca Thomas, and is the creator of the Magical Children series, which feature unconfident children who blossom when they are gifted with magical powers.
Sally's work is characterised by her uniquely wonderful and witty imagination and her exquisite illustrations. She was a theatre designer for many years and this is reflected in the collage effect of much of her artwork.
Sally lives in London with her twin daughters and son.
Sally Gardner on Sally Gardner
"I had a horrible childhood. I was dyslexic and didn't learn to read until I was 14. I was expelled from or asked to leave almost every school I ever went to and was written off educationally. I ended up in an extraordinary school for 'maladjusted' children - the kind of place that wouldn't be allowed to exist now. The first book I ever read was Wuthering Heights. Before that I had been stuck on Janet and John for years. They are the only books I would ever like to burn!
When I was 16, the doors of my life opened and I discovered I was good at something. I got a scholarship and First Class Honours degree in art. So I proved them all wrong. In fact after trailing behind for so many years, I suddenly found myself ahead of my contemporaries. I became a theatre designer and had my first West End show when I was 22. I love the theatre. I never fitted in at school, but the theatre was full of misfits - wonderful!
When I had children I decided to try something new. Books are just like the theatre. I suppose they really are the best form of theatre. The real magic of the book lies after the adults have gone and it is just the child and the book. The most exciting event in my life was getting my first book - The Little Nut Tree - published.
I write for the child just like me - the child stuck on Janet and John. Getting from small to being grown-up is probably the hardest journey in life - it certainly was for me."
What is your favourite book?
For children: Orlando and The Little Prince
For adults: The English Patient and Le Grand Meaulnes
Where do you get your ideas?
From within me. It is almost as if I have a satellite dish on top of my head. The ideas are hazy at first and take a while to really click into place.
What is your favourite place?
I love London. I really do. It is a magical, secret place. You think you know it and then you discover something new.
What are your favourite pastimes?
I love my garden, the theatre, museums, and having coffee at nice cafes.
What makes you cross?
People not listening to children. Injustices towards children make my blood boil.