Children's Laureate Anthony Browne answers your questions

(66 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 26-Jul-10 18:20:33

Children's Laureate, author and illustrator Anthony Browne is joining us on Mumsnet this week for a Q and A session. We're inviting you and your children to send in questions to Anthony over the coming week. He'll be bobbing in each day to answer as many of your questions as poss.

With almost 40 titles to his name, including classics such as My Dad and My Mum, Willy the Wimp and Gorilla Anthony has just launched a new book Play The Shape Game in aid of the children's Charity Rainbow Trust. The book is based on the game where you transform a random shape into something recognisable and includes illustrations from over 45 artists, illustrators and celebrities, including Quentin Blake, Harry Hill, Ian McEwan and Shirley Hughes. The original artwork is currently being auctioned with all proceeds also going to Rainbow Trust. So if you fancy a bit of original artwork, check the online auction.

Send in your question - or your child's question to Anthony before next Sunday (1st August) and you'll be entered into a draw to win a copy of 'Play The Shape Game' duly signed by Anthony.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 26-Jul-10 18:31:42

My DD (aged 7) would like to know which is your favourite book of all the books you have written so far? She has studied your books at school and her favourite is Willy the Wimp smile

Hassled Mon 26-Jul-10 19:10:02

Yay! I LOVE Gorilla - still force the DCs to listen to me read it even though they're way too old now. And we love the shape thing - have had a go with our own (so far some sort of military alien theme seems the most popular).

All I need to do now is think of a question.

mrsruffallo Mon 26-Jul-10 19:14:32

My 7 yr old dd has a question too. She would like to ask why you write such sad stories.

I love the way you write in such a simple yet sensitive and intelligent way, even though we all sobbed at Gorilla

What message do you hope your books bring to children?

CoupleofKooks Mon 26-Jul-10 19:28:33

Oh wonderful, my ds1 (7) has just discovered your books and is crazy about them. Looking forward to reading the new book.

He would like to know which books you enjoy reading yourself (children's or adult's)?

He also says he would like to hear what you think about the King Kong story. He gets very het up about it, because he thinks it is so unfair how King Kong was treated!

Thank you in advance.

BelligerentGhoul Mon 26-Jul-10 19:30:51

Oh wow - I love you, Anthony Browne!

My question is -

I have been on a couple of courses for secondary school teachers recently, where they have suggested using your books for secondary aged pupils to analyse. What do you think of this?

BessieBoots Mon 26-Jul-10 19:55:32

Anthony Browne! What a legend! We LOVE your books here (we have one that's translated into Welsh and my eldest loves it!)

I saw the shape thing for the Rainbow Trust in the weekend papers, it looks brilliant. My question is, when you received the artwork created around the shapes from the various celebs, did you read into them? (like "Oooooh that Harry Hill must have a dark alter ego to draw that").

(That might be the stupidest question anyone has ever asked on mumsnet. Apologies.)

grin Mon 26-Jul-10 21:43:59

Do you ever get to see children experience your books? If so, what's it like for you? It is an entertainment in itself watching a class of children explore one of your pictures, makes me feel fizzy (as my son says) just listening to them.

belledechocolatefluffybunny Mon 26-Jul-10 22:07:32

I'm just wondering how you manage to find someone to publish your books?

Easywriter Mon 26-Jul-10 22:28:14

Anthony, your work is fantastic and brings our family a lot of joy. We love both the stories and your illustrations.

Certain theme's crop up constantly in your work but why are gorilla's such a constant in both your stories and illustrations? Also, why do trilby hats feature so often?

This isn't strictly an orignal Easywriter question, but it was one put to me by my 6 year old daughter this morning and I couldn't offer her an answer.
We were reading a copy of "Voices in the Park" which I'd never encountered before whilst waiting for our food in Endcliffe Park cafe!
Excellent story by the way. My DD's were outraged by the way the "twit" spoke to her son and her dog. I was too!

corblimeymadam Tue 27-Jul-10 10:32:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WowOoo Tue 27-Jul-10 14:35:22

We love your books in our house.

There's a darkness to some of your books.My son calls some of them a bit spooky and not too fluffy! (and this is why he loves them) Why is this? Do you think this is important for children?

ByWhoseStandards Tue 27-Jul-10 16:20:05

Hello Anthony. You are a big favourite in our house at the moment thanks to Me and You - my son is hyperlexic and it is great for communication as he has to supply his own narrative for some of it. I also got out of him that he doesn't like it when my husband and I chatter away when we're walking together and we promised to talk to him instead!

I've got loads of questions I could ask but this is the one I am most curious about:

what do you think of current trends in picture books publishing/the picture book market? What's positive in your eyes, and what's negative, and what would you like to see more of?

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:43:19

Hi everyone, thanks for all your questions. I'm really looking forward to answering as many as I can over the next week.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:44:46

mrsruffallo - Thank you for telling me that you love the way I write.

I’m sorry that your 7 year old thinks my stories are sad. I like to think that there is a suggestion of hope at the end of Gorilla – perhaps an indication that the father has begun to change in his attitude towards Hannah. I don’t want to write stories that end sadly but try to offer some hope at the end of each book.

AlaskaNebraska Tue 27-Jul-10 16:45:20

has anyone asked if you OWN a dressing gown like dad has?

Sherlockbell Tue 27-Jul-10 16:45:55

My father had a child (she is four) with his new partner and I found myself engaged in watching children's stories & programmes on dvd/tv like in the night garden and dora the explorer. I thought I was going mad when I tried to create my own childrens story: The Story of Soozie Kelpie and her friends. Nicknamed Soozie Seaweed, Soozie loves seaweed because of the health benifits and has a sustainable lifestyle in the idealistic village she inhabits. Soozy grew up with Alfred the Angler, (who catches fish in a sustainable way) Bernie the Baker (who bakes fish pies), and Evan the Ecologist (who is on a sabatical from research in the Galapagos Institute). Soozie and her friends and the people she grew up with are Eco-Warriors holding strong moral positions on the subject of food waste. How does this kibbutz style idealistic village fit into a children's story or animation? And have you ever attended the London Children's Film festival Mr Browne?

Your truly,
Cian Bell, 23 years, citizen of old Edinburgh and soon to be patron of Edinburgh Book Festival 2010.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:47:13

Annmumsnet - It’s always difficult to pick one favourite , but certainly Willy the Wimp is one of them. I also would include Willy the Dreamer, Gorilla, Changes, The Tunnel, Voices in the Park, Hansel and Gretel and Into the Forest. (That’s quite a lot I’m afraid.)

AlaskaNebraska Tue 27-Jul-10 16:47:41

have just remmebered the WIlly and the football one! (sorry boys are older now)
oh my GOD, my dad read that to my sport mad middle son for EVER
so sad in a way.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:49:38

Hi Coupleofkooks - I still enjoy Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and a new one, Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan.

I agree that it’s very unfair how King Kong was treated, but I think it’s a fascinating story about how we can sometimes behave very badly towards anyone or anything that seems different to us.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:50:36

Belligerentghoul - I’m delighted that my books are used in secondary schools. One of the messages I want to give as Children’s Laureate is that picture books aren’t just for very young children – they’re for everyone.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:51:40

Bessieboots - I think it’s a very good question. Seeing how someone transforms an abstract shape can sometimes tell us quite a lot about that person.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:54:24

Hi Grin - Usually it’s a wonderful experience watching a class of children explore one of my books. It reminds me why I enjoy making the books I do.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:58:16

Easywriter - Well gorillas are fascinating creatures to draw, and they are so much like us (but not quite). They also remind me of my Dad who was a big, physical man who encouraged my brother and I to play physical sports like rugby, boxing, football and cricket. But he would also spend time with us drawing and writing poems. And that’s a bit like gorillas – they’re big and powerful and physical too, but also gentle and sensitive.

As for trilby hats, I’m not sure I’ve featured them so often, but of course the woman’s trilby hat certainly features a lot in Voices in the Park. I used it in many of the illustrations to show how Charles felt a bit dominated by his Mum.

AnthonyBrowne Tue 27-Jul-10 16:59:59

Belledechocolate...It’s quite easy for me to get published now because I’ve been doing it a long time and publishers know my work. Many younger writers and illustrators use an agent to find them a publisher. You can find a list of Children’s Book agents in the Writers and Artist’s Yearbook which you can find at your local library.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now