This year we have been delighted to help distribute books from the Marcus Rashford Book Club to children at our partner schools, in partnership with Macmillan Children's Books. Tom Percival, author of the hugely popular 'Silas and the Marvellous Misfits' - the second of the Marcus Rashford Book Club books - kindly agreed to be interviewed by Magic Breakfast. Here's his interview. Thank you Tom!

Your book has been distributed to children growing up in disadvantaged areas, what was your experience growing up?

I had what you might call an unconventional childhood. We lived in a caravan for several years when I was little and never had much money, so I know what it’s like to feel at a disadvantage because of that. Equally, my mum always made sure that I had plenty of love, support and crucially LOTS of books from the mobile library!

Not only that but I always had all the drawing equipment that I needed because my uncle was a designer and used to post me all his old pens and drawing equipment when it wasn’t quite good enough for professional use any more.

Did you attend a breakfast club?

There wasn’t anything like that at my school, but I did receive free school meals which at the time was something that some kids would take the mickey out of. Thankfully, that sort of attitude seems to have vanished over the years (along with a lot of other unpleasant 1980’s attitudes!). You’ve got to love progress!

Were you passionate about reading as a child?

YES! I was a voracious reader! I loved the mobile library that used to stop half a mile or so from the caravan. I used to walk down there with my little pink library card holder, feeling a huge sense of excitement about what book I might read next. I read all sorts as a kid—from fantasy epics like the Lord of the Rings to comedy capers like The Bunjee Venture and even books that would probably get classed as Young Adult now, like The Devil on the Road by Robert Westall. All these books had a profound effect on my development and the kind of work that I like to create now.

What do you love about being a children’s author?

Well, firstly, I just love making things up! I’ve always had a very vivid imagination and writing a book is a bit like reading one—you get to live in these other worlds and meet people who never existed. And also there’s the fact that you might become a part of someone’s reading journey. There are SO many books that I loved as a child, which I still remember now. If a child were to read one of my books now and look back on it fondly when they’ve grown up, then I’d feel like I’d done my job!

This book shows children the joy of being themselves. What do you most like writing about?

There’s no one thing that I like writing about. I want each book I write to have a purpose, and a reason for existing. I am very interested in relationships and emotional challenges and struggles. So, without wanting to sound too grand, I suppose ‘the human condition’ pretty much sums up what I’m interested in, but with magic, excitement and a some laughs along the way!

How did you get involved in the Marcus Rashford Book Club?

I challenged Marcus to a keepy-up competition, and he said that if I won then he would include my book in the book club. Naturally I won, and the rest is history!

Actually, that is a complete lie! As anyone who knew me at school will tell you—I am awful at football. The rather less interesting truth is that Marcus selected my book as a possible contender, the publishers asked if I wanted to be a part of the book club and I very quickly said, “Yes, please!”

What would you say to children who feel they have fewer opportunities than their peers?

I would say that life is a journey. It doesn’t matter where you start, you can ALWAYS get to wherever you want to go in the end. Of course, it’s easier to have a head start, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve whatever you set your mind to—it might just take a bit longer and be a bit harder.

Now, of course that isn’t fair and in an ideal world, we would all have the same opportunities, but we all have to make the best of what we have and try not to look sideways at what other people might have, after all, they’re all on their own personal journey’s too, and might have their own challenges that you know nothing about.

So, whilst it’s fine to acknowledge that your journey might in some ways harder than other peoples, it doesn’t help to dwell too much on that. Just focus on what you want to achieve and keep on going!

What about budding authors out there, any tips?

I would firstly say, ‘write about excites you’. If you feel genuinely enthused about what you’re writing, then the people reading your work will feel it.

‘Encouraging children to find joy in, and celebrate, their differences is so powerful in today's society. Tom inspires this mindset in the most fun, engaging, action-packed way.’
Marcus Rashford.

You can find out more about Tom Percival HERE

You can read more about the Marcus Rashford Book Club HERE