Robbie Cheadle –  From Sir Chocolate’s Sweet Adventures to Environmental Advocacy Through Children’s Literature

Exploring Wildlife, Historical Fictions,
and the Creative Journey of a Multifaceted Writer and Illustrator

PHOTO: Robbie Cheadle, author and illustrator, brings wildlife wonders and enchanting tales to life through her children’s books, fostering a love for nature in young minds.”

Robbie Cheadle has published fourteen children’s books and two poetry books. Her work also features in several poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The eleven Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael Cheadle have recently launched a new series of children’s books called Southern African Safari Adventures. The first book, Neema the Misfit Giraffe is now available from Amazon.

What is your favourite book no one else has heard of?

The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast, written by William Plomer and illustrated by Alan Aldridge, is my favourite picture book. I received a hard cover copy of this book as a gift when I was a small girl, and I still have that copy. I also have a new copy that I purchased several years ago for my own children. The poems about the different animals preparing for the ball, the amazing illustrations, and Richard Fitter’s nature notes about each creature, were the inspiration for my own interest in wildlife and nature conservation.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

I read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck for the first time earlier this year. It is one of the most beautifully written and thought-provoking books I’ve ever read, and I will definitely read it again.

What do you read when you are working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

The Sir Chocolate Book series which I write with my son, Michael Cheadle, are first baking books about a little man, Sir Chocolate. Sir Chocolate is constructed of chocolate, and he lives in Chocolate Land, a world where everything is edible. These stories are fantasy for young children, and each story contains a subtle message about nature conservation, kindness, or friendship. Each book also includes recipes and/or fun activities for caregivers to create with children. I illustrate these books with fondant and cake artworks, and these inspire and lead the stories. Influencing books are Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series and her Mr Pink-Whistle series. I loved these books as a young girl and read them all to Michael when he was a child.

From an adult writing perspective, I write historical paranormal fiction, and these are always based on real events and/or ghost stories. When I write historical fiction, I do a huge amount of research and tend to read and/or listen to books about the subject matter. I am currently writing a novel about World War 1, and I have listened to numerous novels set during that period. All Quiet on the Western Front is one example of books I’ve read about WW1.

I don’t actively avoid any reading while I’m writing (which is all the time). I always have one book of poetry, one Indie authored book, and one classic book or novel by a famous author, usually an audio book, on the go at the same time.

What kind of reader were you as a child?

I learned to read at the age of four years old and have never stopped. By the age of ten, I’d read all the children’s books in all our local and school libraries, and I started reading my mom’s adult novels. She was a big fan of Stephen King’s at the time, so I read books like The Shining and The Stand. These books were read secretly behind the couch in the lounge, so my mom isn’t responsible for my reading choices at this age. I can remember being too scared to sleep at night, but that didn’t stop me reading.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading?

I read less science fiction, Westerns, and romances than other genres. I particularly like classic books and have re-read many from my teenage years as well as a significant number of first time reads for me. Examples from my current reading year are Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

What is your current primary focus for your children’s books and poetry?

Currently, I am heavily focused on writing about climate change and the Sixth’s Mass Extinction. I live in South Africa, and my family is fortunate enough to have relatively easy access to several beautiful wildlife reserves, including the Kruger National Park. Two of my three publications this year have been about Southern African wildlife. The first is Lion Scream: Syllabic Poetry About Southern African Wildlife, and the second is Neema the Misfit Giraffe which is about South African giraffes. Both books are aimed at sharing information about wildlife so that people and children are more informed and educated about the wonders of our natural world. I recently discovered a talent for drawing and painting, so I am now including my own charcoal and other drawings and painting in my books. Neema is the first book in a planned series for children about Southern African wildlife. I’ve already started writing and illustrating the next book which is about elephants.

What is your focus for your YA and adult writing?

My primary focus with my adult writing, is to share information about history and war with interested readers. My aim is to include the historical detail in engaging novels that inform people about historical events in an entertaining way.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are baking and cake art, cooking, drawing, painting, reading, writing, and photography. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Society of Environmental Authors and Journalists in the UK.

What inspired you to start writing books?

I have always been a voracious reader, but I never thought I would be a writer and author. I have written poetry all my life, but it was for myself, and I never shared it.

Michael has an auditory processing learning barrier which made learning to read and write harder for him. He demonstrated excellent creativity from a young age, and I took advantage of this trait to encourage him to practice reading and writing. I spent time with him making up stories featuring his own characters and helping him write them down. Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet are Michael’s creations, and he contributes to the storylines and character development. In 2016, I started reading our stories to the children in my Sunday School class and they enjoyed them. One of the other volunteers suggested I submit them to TSL Publications in the UK for publication and so I did. The rest is history.

The blogging community is an encouraging and supportive environment for writers. Other bloggers encouraged me to try my hand at writing for adults and that was how I transitioned to writing short historical and paranormal stories for an adult audience. Over time, the short stories grew longer and to date I have published a YA novel and an adult novel. I am currently editing a collection of adult short stories for publication and working on the first draft of my second adult novel.

What is your favourite social media?

I love blogging. I enjoy interacting with other creatives and reading about their poems, thoughts and ideas. The writing, poetry, and illustrating communities are exceptionally welcoming and helpful which has been an enabler for me. I have learned a lot about publishing, marketing, and all other writing related topics from blogging friends.

PHOTO:  Robbie Cheadle, Author and Illustrator, Bringing Wildlife Wonders to Life Through Words and Art.

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at:

  • Website
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  • Goodreads
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  • TSL Publications
  • Amazon
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