Robyn Opie is a children’s author and screenwriter in South Australia. Some of her most recent books include Mr Fixit, Not! and Black Baron. Today she is visiting to tell us about the books she liked to read undercover when she was growing up!
I was born in Port Pirie and lived there until I was thirteen. Port Pirie is a country town about 200 kilometres from Adelaide in South Australia.
During my childhood in Port Pirie, we only had two television channels. I know that’s hard to believe nowadays, when people have dozens, if not hundreds, of channels. In our backyard was an antenna as tall as a skyscraper, which received transmissions from the television stations in Adelaide. On good days, we had five television channels, including three from Adelaide. I made a cubby house on the second level of the antenna. Trust me, these antennas are huge. However, more often than not, all we received from the Adelaide television stations was fuzzy “snow”. Maybe we saw a few grainy figures through the “snow”, if we were lucky.
To cut a long story short, with only two reliable television stations, I had plenty of time to read. In fact, there wasn’t much else to do in the evenings. I have two older brothers but they’d moved to Adelaide to study and work. I felt like an only child. My main company were characters from books. My favourite books were from the Famous Five, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. Probably because I lived in the country, I was in need of great adventures.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved living in the country and wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood.
Most nights, I didn’t have to read after “lights out” because I’d already spent hours reading. But I do remember occasions when I read after “lights out” from the soft glow of the night light in my bed head. When I heard my parents come to bed – they slept in the next room to mine – I’d switch off my night light and pretend to be asleep. My parents read in bed every night. Sometimes I fell asleep while I waited for them to turn off their lights. Other nights, I managed to stay awake and switch on my night light again after my parents were asleep. I hated to leave a great adventure in the middle of trouble. What if the Famous Five were in danger? Or the Hardy Boys? Or Nancy Drew? What would happen to them?
Of course, I’m not encouraging anyone to disobey their parents. But a good book is a good book and is hard to put down.
All these years later, I still read in bed every night. I read fiction and non-fiction, children’s books and adult books. If I couldn’t read, I’d have to resort to going to bed earlier or reading by torch light. Anything, because I’m not happy if I can’t read in bed. And I still love a great adventure. I wonder if the Famous Five, Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew are in danger. Oh no!
© 2010 Robyn Opie
Alphabet Soup magazine has been celebrating the launch of Undercover Readers (our new reviewers club for kids)! If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we had a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day. Tomorrow (29 June 2010) is the last day of the launch, with author Angela Sunde visiting to tell us what SHE liked to read after ‘lights out’.