Emily Child is an actor and writer. Her writing comes by letting her own childhood memories grow wild and turn into stories for littler people.

Emily Child

Child grew up in Johannesburg and moved to Cape Town to study Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She is a full-time actress and daydreamer. If she is not working on stage or in film, she says she "can be found looking out of windows, wondering".

Child’s first book, Jeff and George and the Totem Pole, was published in 2014 by Penguin Books and illustrated by Julia Anastasopoulos.

Her debut Imagnary House picture book, Lucy & Mum’s Shoes (illustrated by Warwick Kay), is based on a very real obsession with the sound of things and a wish that humans didn’t rush the process of growing up.

Listen to Your Diddalum is her latest publication with Imagnary House, illustrated by the imaginative Maria Lebedeva, which explores feelings for children in the most incredible way. 

Her upcoming Imagnary House titles include: Jeff and George and the Totem Pole (second edition), and more yet to be announced.

Lucy and mum's shoes

An Interview with Emily Child

1. When did you start writing?

I have been imagining since I was a child but only really started writing in my early twenties. I found it calming in busy or stressful times.

2. Why do you write children’s books?

I am a hopeless daydreamer and I love the way this genre allows me to share my often bizarre ideas. Also, my thoughts just seem to come out that way! When I feel the need to write something, it always ends up as some kind of rhyme or with a childlike twist.

I hope that children (and adults) engage with their own sense of wonder and are encouraged to see (and in Lucy’s case-hear) the world a little differently through my stories.

3. What is the power behind a story? 

When a child reads a story with a parent or a friend, they share the experience of an event. They meet a new person, creature and friend. They share a focused period of time in which the sole purpose is to be together and to discover. They are physically close and turn pages together. They are allowed a moment in a busy day to engage with their curiosity. This experience, to me, is powerful because it allows us to recognise and value the need to know and learn and feel differently, in the world, each day.

4. Where did Lucy and Mum’s Shoes originate from?

I spent a lot of time as a child, trying on my mum’s shoes and dreaming about the adventures I would go on whilst wearing them. I imagined seeing the world as a “grown-up” and wondered what I looked like from all the way up there. Now, I am wearing the same shoes of hers that I tried on then, as an adult, and I am almost sad that they fit. Growing up happened so quickly! 

I think there is a lot of pressure on children from competitive parents to be the best, smartest and most “advanced for their age.” They are sometimes encouraged to grow up before they are ready to, and children start to want that for themselves.

This story came from reminiscing about the happiness I felt when dreaming of a “high-heeled” existence but then realising that there is nothing better than living and dancing and climbing in your own shoes, however small they may be.