Story time: the five childrens books every adult should read

Childrens books explore hope, fear, failure and love. Katherine Rundell on how the best of them can ignite the imagination of all readers, whatever their age I have been writing childrens fiction for more than 10 years now, and still I would hesitate to define it; it is a slippery, various, quicksilver thing. But I do know, with more certainty than I usually feel about anything, what it is not: it is not exclusively for children. When I write, I write for two people, myself, age 12, and myself, now, and the book has to satisfy two distinct but connected appetites. My 12-year-old self wanted autonomy, peril, justice, food and above all a kind of density of atmosphere into which …

Ali Smith: Toni Morrisons writing changes my life every time I read it

The novelist on Muriel Spark, Katherine Mansfield and learning to read with the Beatles The books I am currently readingVolume 1 of a really good new collection of Katherine Mansfields letters, still in manuscript; Isabel Colegates Orlando trilogy; a tiny book of Camuss speeches called Create Dangerously; and Arundhati Roys new essay collection, Toni Morrisons The Bluest Eye but all of her writing does this every time and her profound understanding of what books do and what theyre for. The book I wish Id writtenThis changes by the week, month, day. Right now its Namwali Serpells The Old Drift, her debut novel and a sprawling lifeforce, a history of Zambia partly told by mosquitoes. The book that influenced my writingLewis …

All aboard the Bob Dylan express! How Rolling Thunder revved round America

When Dylan chanced upon a huge Roma gathering in France, he was transfixed and formed his own travelling supergroup. As Martin Scorsese brings its ragtag magic to screens, we hitch a ride back to 75 In May 1975, his marriage breaking up, Bob Dylan spent six weeks in the south of France. His host, an artist named David Oppenheim, had recently provided a painting for the back cover of Blood on the Tracks, an album of seemingly confessional songs that had taken Dylan back to the top of the charts. Critics acclaimed its songs as evidence that, after almost a decade of straying from the straight and narrow, he was prepared once again to bare his soul. But Dylan, as …

Natalie Portman criticises ‘creepy’ Moby over ‘disturbing’ account of friendship

Musician says in memoir the pair dated, but Portman disputes account, saying my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me Natalie Portman has criticised Moby for a very disturbing account of their friendship in his new memoir she told Harpers Bazaar. He said I was 20; I definitely wasnt. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact-checking from him or his publisher it almost feels deliberate. The book has their first meeting dated as early September 1999, which would have made Portman who was born in June 1981 18. She added: That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasnt the case. There are many …

Judith Kerr: I like drinking dregs of whisky from the night before

The author of The Tiger Who Came To Tea on guilty pleasures, escaping Nazi Germany and wanting to be famous Born in Berlin, Kerr, 95, fled the Nazis in 1933 and settled in England at the age of 12. She studied at the Central School of Art and Design and worked as a BBC scriptwriter. In 1968 she published her first picture book, To Tea. Her other titles include The Curse The School Rabbit, at festival on 1 June. She is a widow, has two children and lives in London. When were you happiest?When I received my scholarship to art school in 1945. What is your greatest fear?Not being able to work. Which living person do you most admire, and …