Yesterday I reviewed the book Rabs and Ted and the Big Apple by Sally Bennett. Sally Bennett is the author of the kids’ book series, Rabs and Ted. Rabs and Ted are a bear and a rabbit who go on adventures around the world. So far they’ve visited Paris, London, and New York.
I talked to the author, Sally Bennett, a few days ago about her thoughts on kids, travel, kids travel, travel books, and her kids’ travel books. Read about what inspires her and what’s next for Rabs and Ted.
An interview with Saly Bennett
I think the characters are really cute, what made you decide to go with a bear, rabbit, and croissant?
When I was little, my favourite childhood toys were a bunny and a teddy bear, and my mum and I would sometimes sit and make up stories about their adventures to other places around the world.
I was living in Paris when I wrote the first book, and I found there were lots of travel books for adults, but not much at all for children. I really wanted children to also get to know Paris. It’s such a wonderful place. So that’s how the Magical Croissant got into the story and became the way Rabs and Ted got to Paris.
Are the main characters themselves, or the situations they get into, based on real people or events?
All the events are inspired by things I’ve experienced or seen. The New York story was written shortly after a favourite Christmas decoration was broken, so sometimes just a little event inspires a whole story. And my niece’s name is Hannah, so I wanted to include her in the story.
At the Louvre, in Paris, children can go on a treasure hunt, which I think is a wonderful idea to help them discover the art in a fun way. I think children (and adults) always learn best when they’re having fun.
I love how Rabs and Ted travel throughout the city, stopping at well-known sites, and meet people along the way that have a bit of a local flavour. Is it hard to find the balance of keeping the story going, while including that local flavour variety? How do you narrow it down?
No, it’s not hard at all to keep the story going. I think once my imagination starts running, it doesn’t stop! The tricky bit is editing it down. The stories are always far too long on the first draft because each city has an almost endless supply of wonders. I end up narrowing it down by cutting out the places that aren’t as well known or could be a bit confusing.What's next for the traveling duo @RabsandTed? Find out here. Click To Tweet
So far they’ve experienced New York, London, and Paris – what drew you to those cities? AND which do you think is a good destination for first-time young travellers?
Paris was first because I was living there at the time and I love the city. New York came next because I also absolutely love New York. London followed because I have also spent a lot of time there and think it’s a wonderful place to visit, and I was inspired to write it when Princess Charlotte was born.
It’s tough to choose which is the best for first time young travellers. I would say anywhere that has activities especially designed for children to experience and appreciate the culture of the place.
Where do you hope they visit next?
Rabs and Ted are really keen to write about their recent trip to Hawaii next. They had a wonderful time meeting some local turtles, surfing and visiting an active volcano!
Did you travel a lot growing up, and if not, what made you interested in travel?
My first overseas trip was to New Zealand when I was 7 and I really loved it. My parents have always been great travellers, so I got to visit a few great places as a teenager (including Paris), and then really caught the travel bug in my early 20s. I just love seeing new things and experiencing new cultures.
What has been your favorite trip so far and why?
That’s a tough one! I love so many places. I guess I’d have to say my round-world trip that included 17 countries all in the one trip. That was amazing!
What’s your dream destination and why? What books from your childhood inspired you to travel? -OR- What books do you think inspire kids to travel?
I would really love to go on a cruise around the Caribbean, visiting little, hidden islands and meeting the local people and experiencing each culture unique to that island. I’d also like to travel to Papua New Guinea. I hear that it is stunningly beautiful and still very natural.
How did you get started writing kid’s books?
I used to do a lot of writing while working in Communications. And one cold, winter’s day I was sitting at home and my imagination was running off somewhere fun, as often happens, and I guess this time I decided to write it down.
What benefits do you see for young ones to learn more about their world through books?
I think we can learn so much from other people and cultures. Also, getting to know a place through books, children can be inspired to visit those places in real life. I also think travel builds tolerance and respect for others. When you make friends in other parts of the world, you realise that what they wear or eat or the language they speak doesn’t really matter.
What’s next for Rabs and Ted?
Rabs and Ted have recently been travelling around the USA and Australia, keeping a travel diary each day as they go. Go to this page to get their stories about their adventures in California.
They’ve made some fantastic new friends and have visited a lot of new places. They plan to share their diary as soon as they get back from their latest adventure. They have also been writing a series of short bedtime stories, which they’d like to make available as an online subscription. The first one is about their adventures in South America.
Please tell us more about yourself.
Because of my love of travel and languages, I trained as a language teacher in French and German, and so I have also worked in other places, including Paris and Whistler, Canada, where I was a ski instructor. At the moment I am a member of the Australian Women’s Sabre Fencing Team, so a lot of my travel in the last few years has been for training and competitions for fencing, which has taken me all over the world, including some places less frequented by Australians, like Iceland and Russia. So, you see, Rabs and Ted have an enormous amount of stories they are just itching to write.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Sally!