British Columbia

New book honours the child's imagination, says author Bill Richardson

Former CBC host and author Bill Richardson chats with CBC's The Early Edition about music, his favourite childhood tunes, and writing for children.

Former CBC host's new children's book, The Alphabet Thief, comes out next month

Bill Richardson's new book The Alphabet Thief is about honouring a child's imagination. (House of Anansi)

Writing for children returns former CBC radio host and writer Bill Richardson to what he remembers as a magical time.

"Stories that you tell for that age group simply appeal to me," he told CBC's The Early Edition.

"It takes me back as well to that time when I was 10 and 11 ... when I was beginning my own big journey of discovery when I still had a foot in the other camp, when the life of a child's imagination was still active. Those are really potent years ... It's honouring that time."

Richardson's new book The Alphabet Thief comes out next month. He describes it as Ovid's Metamorphoses for children.

"The idea is there's a thief that goes through the night and she steals the letters one by one. As she takes them, words change and the objects change as well. It's about transformation," he explained.

At this point in his life, Richardson said it's fun to revisit the powerful works of literature, music and art that he discovered in his childhood, including the Douglas Moore children's opera The Emperor's New Clothes. The Early Edition was able to surprise him with a sample of the music:

Early Edition surprises Bill Richardson with a blast from the past

7 years ago
Duration 0:40
Watch The Early Edition crew find Richardson's favourite childhood tune from Douglas Moore’s children’s opera, The Emperor's New Clothes

"I listened to this thing obsessively as a kid. I hadn't heard it — I'm 61 now — I hadn't heard it for over 50 years. I found it on YouTube. The way that it sent me ricocheting down the long hallway of years was just astonishing to me," he said.

The Alphabet Thief is illustrated by Vancouver-based Roxanna Bikadoroff and will be released on March 1, 2017.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Bill Richardson on childhood and his new children's book