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Memoirs

Short films on DVD are windows into the creative act, writes Huw Thomas.

Each DVD in this thoughtful series gives authors time to talk about their work. However, the focus is on the crafts of writing and illustrating.

Similarly, the biographical material is mainly there as part of the exploration of the creative act. The result is a resource which will inspire children's creativity.

Another strength of the DVDs is the quality of interviewing by a group of children, who manage to inject confidence and chattiness into the task. Add interesting locations and the result is a set of relaxed encounters with a genuinely likeable group of people.

The films are as different as their subjects. Jacqueline Wilson (above left) is at home enthusing about promoting reading, whereas Nicholas Allan is out for fun, trying to visit the Queen (she of the knickers).

The Anholts take us on a tour of their seaside shop and Anthony Browne (above) heads straight for the park and the gorillas.

The series would have benefited from a critical eye at the editing stage.

Anne Fine (above right)rambles on a bit for a child audience; Jane Ray's illustration session is a little too long.

Yet their very scrappiness is almost part of their charm, allowing hidden gems to surface - Nicholas Allen's family links to Mahler and Freud, Jacqueline Wilson's collection of typewriters and Jane Ray's Dad chatting about the time she got her head stuck in the banisters.

The DVDs are good value, especially if you buy the set and use it as the focus of a book week.

Huw Thomas is head of Emmaus Primary, Sheffield.

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