PICTURES: Andy Griffiths in town

ILLUSTRATION: Andy Griffiths shows children a "catanary" (a cat crossed with a canary). Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

ILLUSTRATION: Andy Griffiths shows children a "catanary" (a cat crossed with a canary). Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

"HOW many people have ever turned their cat into a bird?"

"Me, me, I have," yelled numerous excited children.

Tightly packed into the Bendigo Town Hall, with smiling parents chuckling up the back, children responded to author Andy Griffiths with enthusiasm.

The best way to make a "catanary" (a cat crossed with a canary), he said, was to paint it yellow and then "launch it gently off the roof of the house". 

Hundreds of children erupted with laughter.

Andy Griffiths has always had an interest in entertaining children with silly stories.

"I’m trying to get them to believe something that’s utterly impossible and it’s like a game in a way," he said.

"I love the way their minds work and how they haven’t quite figured out what’s real and what’s not real and it's a very creative space to play in."

He's popular with boys and girls alike, despite their different interests.

"Boys are often more reluctant because they don’t want to be seen as being sissy. Real men in this culture are out there chopping, kicking and punching and to be seen reading a book is a bit passive."

I love the way their minds work and how they haven’t quite figured out what’s real and what’s not real. - Andy Griffiths

He said the key to his success with boy readers was that they could read his stories and still have their "manhood in tact". 

Griffiths was in town as part of the State Library of Victoria's High Road to Reading Program.

Manager of children and family services at Bendigo Library Tammy Higgs said the program gave libraries around Victoria the chance to apply to host an author of their choice.

Ms Higgs said they applied for Andy Griffiths not thinking they would get him, but were stoked when they did.

Apart from comical chatter with his audience, Griffiths also used the event to test upcoming material on the children.

Griffiths' wife, Jill Griffiths, is also his editor.

"It's nice to see children so excited about reading," Mrs Griffiths said.

Before and after the event children lined up with their books written by Griffiths for him to sign.

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