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Last Updated: Thursday March 03 2005 20:06 GMT

Hotseat: Top author Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen
We put your questions to top children's poet and author Michael Rosen to mark World Book Day.

He answered loads of your questions on everything from his inspiration as a writer to his fave people and books.

Sophie, 12, Sheffield - I love all your stories about your family. Don't any of them mind you writing all their embarrassing stories?

Michael: Yes sometimes! But my dad simply says they are lies anyway. I say they are not lies but he likes to say it. My children mostly find it OK.

Rachel, Newton Abbot - Do your children inspire you to write your poems?

Michael: Yes they have done. Now I have two younger ones too - a four year old and a 9 week old. They will inspire me too I am sure.

Philippa, 10, Kent - At my school we are learning about your poem The Go Kart - how long does it take you to write a poem?

Michael: That one took me about two or three weeks. Something like that is about normal.

Stephanie, 10, Essex - I love all your poems - when will you be writing more?

Michael: At the moment I have just finished writing a children's novel called You're Thinking About Tomatoes. It's a follow-up to You're Thinking About Doughnuts. I am thinking about maybe writing another children's book after that, so my poems might be on the backburner for a while.

John, 15, Washington - Do you think children should start reading at a young age?

Michael: I think that children should be read to from a young age, and if they start reading when they're young too then that's fine. And if they don't they generally catch up later.

Monika, 13, High Wycombe - What's your best advice on writing a good poem?

Michael: My best advice is to write about something that matters to you. That does not mean it has to be something very serious or sad - it could be something very funny or very odd or a bit mysterious. As long as it matters to you. That's what I do.

Laura, 12, Kelso - Do you think World Book Day is a good idea?

Michael: Yes I do. I think it gets TV and radio and newspapers talking about books and reading books and writing about books, which sometimes they forget about.

Daniel, 14, Kingswood - If you could be doing any other job other than being an author, what would you be doing?

Michael: I would be inside Dennis Bergkamp passing the ball to Thierry Henry.

Laura, 11 - Do you write your stories on computer or on paper, and why?

Michael: I write on computer if I am at home, but if I am out and about I scribble in notebooks or down the side of newspapers.

Anna, 10, Glasgow - Do you have a hero, and if so, who?

Michael: One of my heroes is a man called William Cuffey. He was man whose parents were slaves and he came from his country in the 1830s and campaigned to get the vote for everybody. But for this he was deported to Tasmania.

Douglas, 11, Edinburgh - Did you enjoy appearing on Mind Games (BBC4) and why have you stopped appearing on it?

Michael: I was very glad to be chosen to be on Mind Games. It was agony though as I could not answer some of the questions. I missed those last few episodes because my wife was having a baby when they were being recorded!

Ash, 11, Clay Cross - I have learnt a lot from your videos and books at school. We used a video that you made to help us with poetry in English - now I know nearly everything about poetry. Do you like helping others in this way?

Michael: I am very glad the video was useful! Thank you very much. I think videos and tapes and live performances are a great way to get into poems. Poems do not just exist on a page.

I love doing live performances. I visit a lot of schools. It's one of the best parts of what I do. It joins up the circle for me - you write a poem, get it published and then reading it out to people and seeing audiences' reaction to it joins up that circle.

Ryan, Enniskillen - What do you think about books that cause worldwide phenomenons like Harry Potter? Have you read them and do you think JK Rowling deserves the credit she has been awarded?

Michael: I have read three of the Potter books. I think what is interesting about Harry Potter books is that adult books reviewers did not think much of the first book, but children flocked to it. And if you write for children you can't argue with that. As an adult you can maybe pick holes in the books but that's irrelevant really. These books appeal to trillions of children so she's obviously getting a lot right.

Summaya, 10, London - You went to the school I go to - Torriano Juniors in London - do you remember it?

Michael: Yes! I often go past your school when I am driving along the Camden Road. I was actually near there yesterday when I was driving to a school on the Finchley Road. In fact, when I was at your school, a boy gave me a present of a cactus which is now on a table outside!

Layla, 13, London - When did you first want to be an author?

Michael: When I was 16. I wanted to write poems like those by DH Lawrence and Carl Sandburg. They were my inspirations.

Rachael, 10, Cottenham- I have a book called Utterly Brilliant Poetry and it has some of your poems in. What is your favourite poem that you wrote in it?

Michael: Chocolate Cake I think.

Jessie, 10, Dundee - I know that you enjoy writing nonsense books but do you like reading them too?

Michael: Yes! I love Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Spike Milligan.

Conor, 10, Chingford - Do you think you are better then Roald Dahl?

Michael: In a word - no! He was completely brilliant!

Magique, 13, London - Do you wish your life was a book? Sometimes I do. Anything can happen in books. If you were to live in a book which one would it be?

Michael: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I would love to be able to tell the hero to shut up and stop being such a bore.

Mary, 9, Birmingham - What's your favourite book?

Michael: A book called Emil and the Detectives.

Leroy - How long does it take you to write your books?

Michael: Well my recent one took, You're Thinking About Tomatoes, took me 20 years! Although I obviously wasn't writing it all that time. I kept going back to it.