Tony Mitton was born in North Africa. At the age of nine he came to England and attended a State boarding school in Suffolk. He gained an English Literature degree from Cambridge University. After a spell of secondary school teaching, he moved to the primary sector where he taught for about 20 years. He is now a full-time writer and visits schools, libraries and festivals to perform his work.
Tony is a prolific writer. His first book of poems, Plum, sold well to great reviews. The Red and White Spotted Handkerchief won a silver award at the 2000 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. The Tale of Tales was shortlisted for the CLPE (Centre in Literacy for Primary Education) poetry award in 2004. It didn't win but he was asked to be a judge in 2005 with Valerie Bloom and again in 2006 with Valerie and Roger McGough. In 2005 his verse picture book with Guy Parker-Rees, Spookyrumpus, won The Sheffield Children's Book Award, The Dundee City of Discovery Picture Book Award and The Portsmouth Picture Book award. His comic rap narrative book, Royal Raps (illus. Martin Chatterton), won the Nottinghamshire Children's Book Award in 1996.
His latest book of poems, My Hat and all That, is a retrospective compilation of poems from previous collections, now mostly out of print. His latest verse picture book, again with Guy Parker-Rees, is All Afloat on Noah's Boat.
Tony's work is very much in the English tradition of children's poetry. He is particularly good at connecting with younger children without being patronising. His poems range from whimsical reflections upon the ordinary to zany and surreal observations about life. They are always well-crafted and, showing the mark of a true poet, have the knack of saying more than is at first obvious.
On the subject of writing and publishing children's poetry, Tony says: “I've masses of material for a new collection like Plum and have had so for so long now that I've almost stopped writing poems. I've put together a new narrative collection (my own, not an anthology) which may make it out in about a year or so. But my poetry publisher, David Fickling, runs quite a small, select list. And he's very particular about what he's prepared to publish. More generally, the sales of poetry books are rather paltry, so publishers overall are not in a hurry to publish them. Since my verse picture books do much better, those are the things that several publishers keep me busy with. I'd like to maintain my poetry output, but children's publishing is uninterested in solo poetry collections at present. No-one encourages me to write poems any more, whereas I have one publisher, Orchard Books, who are really keen to use my verse picture book texts. So those are the pies I end up baking. At least I have a valid outlet for my lyrical energy. I love writing verse picture books and they involve real craft and challenging collaboration with editors and art teams. So I can't complain, really, I guess.”
Tony lives in a small house in the middle of Cambridge with his wife, his son and a cat called Tiggy. His daughter has grown up and left home.
All Afloat On Noah’s Boat, Orchard Books, Faversham, 2006
My Hat and All That, Corgi Yearling, London 2006
The Tale of Tales (A narrative collection.), David Fickling Books, Oxford, 2004
Riddledy Piggledy, David Fickling Books, Oxford, 2004
Once Upon A Tide (Verse picture Book), David Fickling Books, Oxford, 2004
Spookyrumpus, Orchard Books, Faversham, 2004
Down By The Cool Of The Pool, Orchard Books, Faversham, 2001
Fluff and Other Stuff, Orchard Books, Faversham, 2001
Pip, Scholastic, London, 2001
The Red & White Spotted Handkerchief, Scholastic, London, 2000
Plum, Scholastic, London, 1998
The Seal Hunter, Scholastic, London 1998
Tony Mitton talks about writing – and offers advice to young writers.