Q and A with Lauren Child

(78 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Jun-10 13:49:08

We are delighted that award winning author, Lauren Child is joining us on Mumsnet to answer questions from you and your children. Lauren is celebrating 10 Years of Charlie and Lola and an exhibition of original artwork from the original Charlie and Lola picture books runs from 10th June to 1 July at the Illustration Cupboard Gallery in London.
Post a question to Lauren before the end of Sunday 13th June and you will enter a draw to win a signed collector's slip-case edition of I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato which is on sale at the exhibition. Lauren's answers will be linked to from this page by Wednesday 23rd June.

FromGirders Tue 08-Jun-10 13:55:44

Ooh, how exciting! Love Charlie and Lola, even though my two are a little past it now, but we're on to Pippi Longstocking grin.
Lauren, I love your artwork, and have copied you (a little bit) using photos from magazines or that we've taken in the children's collages, and using lots of different styles and textures in the backgrounds. (I'm a CM, we do lots of Big Pictures). It really gives the picture a depth that you can't get with just drawing.
Um, that's it, now question really, just a bit of fawning. I suppose I could ask where you get the inspiration for your artwork, particularly the backgrounds? You could practically copyright the style of heart you do, and the patterns you use on the wallpaper and bedclothes etc (oops, maybe you have already blush).

No questions, but just a big, warm thank you smile

My dc are 6 and 8 and still love Charlie and Lola. And the dvds help them keeping up their English (we are not in the UK anymore)

CaptainNancy Tue 08-Jun-10 14:13:36

Oooooooh... <<marks place>>

edam Tue 08-Jun-10 14:15:46

love Charlie and Lola, thank you so much! Fantastic from an artwork/design point of view as well as the story (I work in magazine publishing).

Is it true that you used to work for Damian Hurst? What was he like? Am imagining some grim Victorian factory owner who uses artists as slaves to churn out 'his' art but that is possibly a tad unfair... grin

And is it right that you use the same technique - having done the original work, you now use other people to do the drawing and writing?

bamboo Tue 08-Jun-10 14:21:35

How exciting smile!

dd and me and her dad would love to know if you have any more Clarice Bean books planned? We love them and have read them many times over

LoveBeing34 Tue 08-Jun-10 14:28:39

Hello, dd and i love charlie and lola.

My question is what advice do you have for someone who has an idea for a children's book?

insertexpletive Tue 08-Jun-10 14:58:16

Hi Lauren

Charlie and Lola are HUGE in my house – the books appeal as much to my three year old son as they do my five year old daughter… not many books in the book shelf have such broad appeal.
I love the fact that Charlie and Lola live in a flat and that they have a diverse group of friends too.

My dc both come out with phrases and language regularly from the books “I will not ever, never…” “I am extremely…” “I am absolutely…” etc, etc.

I am sure you have been asked many times before, but where did you get your inspiration; for plot, characters and language?


Katz Tue 08-Jun-10 15:26:04

Charlie and Lola are loved in our household too, and my girls loved the Lauren Child exhibit which was in the Western Park Museum in Sheffield last year.

Katz Tue 08-Jun-10 15:27:13

meant to ask a question, as part of the exhibit there were charlie and lola dressing ups to play with - are there any plans to bring out dressing up costumes to buy?

Do you have any control over the merchandise? I would love to see more stuff that is not very pink. DS used to have a blue Charlie snakes and ladder t-shirt and he loved it but all I can find now is pink Lola clothes. Boys like C&L too!

We went to see the play at the weekend and we loved it, DS was totally mesmerised with it.

animula Tue 08-Jun-10 15:57:43

Huge fans here, too. I know it sounds a bit precious, but ds (now 12) read your picture books and asked questions about their post-modern flagging-up of typeface, and materiality, while dd (7) just loves to copy your style.

Which brings me to the question ...

Q: Have you considered doing a child's guide to Art? I can't imagine anyone who'd do it better, and can just see how you would do that, with your cut and paste, semi-ironic but spot-on style. And you are gifted at multi-level entry.

Sorry, I know this post will make everyone's toes curl - but that's what happens if you send your dc to school in E. London. I blame the teachers and the other children ... . grin

And btw, have just bought Clarice Bean for dd and am sooo pleased there's a good female lead ... .

MrsKitty Tue 08-Jun-10 15:57:57

Was going to ask exactly the same as Pfft grin

What play? Where?!

<<goes off to google>>

House full of Charlie & Lola fans here! Can't wait!

etchasketch Tue 08-Jun-10 16:28:21

I love the illustrations for Charlie and Lola/Clarice Bean and also for the Pippi Longstocking book.

Could I ask:

What was your route to ending up with a career in illustration and do you have any tips for anyone who would like to pursue a career in this field? I am currently an art teacher but would love to know how to go about childrens book illustration!

Thank you!

bamboo Tue 08-Jun-10 16:30:27

animula, have you seen this book illustrated by Lauren Child?

I only came across it earlier today on Lauren's website - I'd never heard of it before.

Tootiredforgodtyping Tue 08-Jun-10 16:59:54

I'd like to ask Lauren why she stopped writing Charlie and Lola so quickly, and had them written as a franchise, and was she disappointed from the drop of quality from her original books.

SomeGuy Tue 08-Jun-10 17:14:45

I would echo what Tootired says - the few Charlie and Lola originals are great, could you please write some more, as the TV cash-in books are terrible.

chimchar Tue 08-Jun-10 17:19:07

i saw your exhibition in cardiff museum.

it was fab! it was great to see all of the actual little sets that had been photographed for your various books.

i hadn't realised that you had done so many books!! the story behind and about the pesky rat made me well up.

wanted to say thank you for being so talented!!

would you ever consider writing or illustrating books for teenagers who don't like to read?? your style is so easy and friendly...i know of many who would enjoy your work.


MickyLee Tue 08-Jun-10 17:22:55

Lauren Thank you Thank you Thank you.. due to you my DD speaks wonderfully. She always uses lovely long words. We love your books and the subjects of the stories. In fact i have just read 4 Charlie and Lola books half an hour ago.

SpringHeeledJack Tue 08-Jun-10 17:23:33

Lauren- we leeeeeeerve you. We especially love Clarice Bean

CB was the first book DS ever read For Fun (ie not because I/his teacher was breathing down his neck)

And DD is Clarice Bean. She draws watches on her wrist smile

MrsKitty - there is a Best Bestest Play touring at the moment, 2D characters controlled by actors - really good. They take a couple of stories, incorporate bits from other stories and use things like bubbles and paper butterflies falling from the ceiling.

OnlyWantsOne Tue 08-Jun-10 18:41:24

My DD and I (DD is called Lola) LOVE Charlie and Lola...

My question is, how did you choose the names for the characters, specifically, Lola...

Missybaby Tue 08-Jun-10 18:54:30

Dear Lauren,

I absolutely LOVE Charlie and Lola and thank you for bringing them into our lives but i have to point out one thing where Charlie and Lola went wrong for us! My little girl always ate everything given to her until one day she watched I will Not Ever Eat a Tomato and she decided that very same day to start saying no to anything that had tomatoes in! So, it might be good for those who are already fussy, but in our case, it changed her into a fussy girl who realised that people can and do say no to food! I've not let my younger daughter watch that episode just in case!

But anyway, to my question: I've always wondered if the voices for Charlie & Lola really are children or if they are adults playing the parts of children and you have either changed their voices using some technical can-do or if they just can speak like that anyway. Also, if they are children, then what happens if they grow up and their voices change??

gothicmama Tue 08-Jun-10 19:04:02

My question is from dd who asks what gave you the idea for all your characters?
DD says thanks for all the pleasure your books have given here,my question is are ther any plans to illustrate any books for an older audience smile

MrsKitty Tue 08-Jun-10 19:47:01

missybaby According to the Lauren Child exhibition (which I also saw in Cardiff, Chimchar <<waves>>) the voices are actually children, which I think is pretty great.

Thanks for info pfft have emailed the production company to see if they'll be coming over to South Wales at all <<crossing fingers>>

Missy - they are children, Lola seems to change voice actors more often than Charlie - she has been played by sisters as well. The girl who does Lotta also does a bird on 3rd and Bird!

MrsKitty Tue 08-Jun-10 19:57:32

OOh - I knew I recognised that voice from somewhere - Lotta must be Rudy on 3rd&Bird?

CoupleofKooks Tue 08-Jun-10 20:07:48

Hello Lauren, I just wanted to say that I love the way your fairytale heroines are often brunettes. After the total Disneyfication of these stories, it seems quite subversive to have a dark-haired Cinderella!

I think our favourite is Beware of the Storybook Wolves. Which is your favourite out of all your books?

Yes Kitty I think so.

babster Tue 08-Jun-10 20:30:38

My eldest adores Clarice Bean and named two of our chickens Clarice and Betty She would like to know, why did you name the dog Cement?

MummynotMammy Tue 08-Jun-10 20:39:26

I love your exhibition at Seven Stories in Newcastle. My 4 year old loves dressing up as Lola in the dressy up clothes that they have!

My questions are regarding a comment in the exhibition about the children who voice the characters. You said you didn't want to use actors, and auditioned hundreds before choosing Maisy (i think) for Lola. she was obviously very young. how does she learn the lines? does it need dozens of "takes"? what did you do as she got older and her voice changed?

VerityBrulee Tue 08-Jun-10 20:51:43

Lauren, you have been an inspiration to me wink

Sidge Tue 08-Jun-10 20:56:25

I just want to add my voice, we love the Charlie and Lola books here - I have 3 girls and they all enjoy the stories and illustrations, even DD1 who's 11!!

We also have the fabulous 'My Uncle is a Hunkle' which I love.

I'd like to ask - are parents deliberately AWOL in your books? Is there a reason for this? Does it make the characters more independent and so capable of more creative play and socialisation?

pixierara Tue 08-Jun-10 21:11:42

ooooohhhh - I am so extremely happy that you are coming to answer our questions!!!! We are all MASSIVE fans (none more so than me)

Who/what inspires you?
Who is your favourite character and why?

ChippyMinton Tue 08-Jun-10 22:29:00


DD(6) and I are reading your illustrated version of Pippi Longstocking at the moment. Pippi was my hero when I was younger, and I thrilled to introduce her to DD with your gorgeous artwork. DD would like to know if you have plans to illustrate any more of the Pippi books?

venetianred Tue 08-Jun-10 22:32:54

My daughter and I are both crazy about Charlie and Lola, and now we have 'The Big Bad Book' which is just oozing creativity and fabulousness. Thank you Lauren. I went to the exhibition (in Manchester) and saw that you had to sleep on your friends sofas until you made it big - hats off to your lovely friends.

My daughter (4 yrs) is Lola personified and we often say that she is having a 'lola moment'...and she replies 'I am not Lola' in just the same way that Lola would have.

I too feel that the 'I won't eat a Tomato' book, sadly did more harm than good, but otherwise your stories are just overflowing with mind expanding ideas, and good ideas for me about new games etc.

Just this afternoon we saw the one about 'Games for Wet Days' and I think I will do some things like that next winter.

You should put together a wonderful game or two. I think they would be FAR more exciting than some of the 'oh dear how tragically dull' games by Disney.

Many thanks.

BertieBotts Wed 09-Jun-10 00:57:56

What we really want to know, is what are Charlie and Lola's mum and dad like? We had a loooong thread about it on here a while ago - does anyone else remember it? grin

I remember that thread BertieBotts!

Parents being AWOL is fairly typical of cartoons, Charlie Brown springs to mind, and yet we've developed a morbid curiosity for charlie and lola parents (and the grandparents) smile.
We want to know if they wear Birkies.

animula Wed 09-Jun-10 10:04:24

bamboo - thank you. smile No, I hadn't come across it - will do some tracking down now.

YunoYurbubson Wed 09-Jun-10 10:50:58

4yo dd says "Hello Lauren, do you like tomatoes?"

Also, I loved 'Who Wants to be a Poodle' and dd loves 'reading' it to herself.

Gorgeous books!
3 year old dd is a big fan of Charlie and Lola and I especially love the illustrations.
I wonder if you were subliminally influenced by Mary, Mungo and Midge, as the flat C&L live in reminds me of their groovy 70's apartment block?

mogmum Wed 09-Jun-10 12:59:44

My dd who is 6 loves Charlie and Lola and has just recently discovered Clarice Bean and loves Herb.
To be honest dh and I are also fans as well so would love this chance to say thank-you

domesticslattern Wed 09-Jun-10 15:42:00

Lauren, we love your books in the slattern household. Thank you for writing them, they have brought us much happiness.

However, I have one MAJOR gripe which is that my DD (2.5), who worships Lola above all things, frequently will not do anything until we telephone two dancing dogs to ask their permission.

So, my question is, how do you feel about the fact that up and down the country parents are wrestling with small children who now will not eat tomatoes or who are not sleepy and who will not go to bed etc. because of your books? Can you hear the wailing up and down the country? grin Please can you write some with a fantastically compliant and non-questioning and obedient Lola in? smile smile That would distinctly help me. Thank you.

Missybaby Wed 09-Jun-10 18:54:17

So glad I am not the only one with the Tomato Problem! grin

And thanks MrsKitty & PtMagicDragon for info re. the voices smile

charlieandlola Wed 09-Jun-10 18:59:43

OOh,lots of people on here saying they love me !


can you tell from my MN name that I am a fan?
Loved the exhibition when it came to Cardiff - seeingn the fabric was the best bit for me, and the real life kitchen <swoon>

What is your favourite biscuit ?

teafortwo Wed 09-Jun-10 22:31:00

"Do you like pink milk?"

Big kisses from my daughter, Milk (aged 4 yrs 1 month)

I really enjoy the series on TV, espically Marv and Lotta. I am an aspiring children's writer with ideas for a TV series and children's books. I have tried to get an agent, tried to find a publisher ....and then tried some more. I know your work is lovely and maybe that is the secret of your success but how do you get your foot in the door of children's writing; any tips, please?

frigatebird Thu 10-Jun-10 13:39:00

Hello Lauren, DH's friend wants to know, is it true that you signed an appallingly one-sided deal on the franchising and licensing of Charlie and Lola and so didn't make much cash out of it? Cos by rights you ought to be a squillionaire, if only based on the amount of Charlie and Lola products, books, DVDs, clothing, toys etc in our household alone.

Sorry if this is a rude question. There's so many issues around writers and artists and the ££££ in the world of children's licensing. So I was just wondering...

[BTW My MIL is a children's writer who also Didn't Make As Much Money As She Might Have have due to signing crappy deals]

thereistheball Thu 10-Jun-10 14:23:11

Hello Lauren. We love Charlie and Lola, and drink pink milk as a special treat (I did buy food colouring but DD seems just as happy with a pink cup).

DD had a similar reaction to tomatoes as missybaby's after seeing I Will Not Ever... though it doesn't sound quite as extreme. My question is, to what extent are your books written for parents/with parents in mind?

Looking forward to introducing Clarice Bean soon...

TheMysticMasseuse Thu 10-Jun-10 20:34:06

Dear Lauren, I don't have questions, just wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for producing such a sassy heroine (I am speaking about Lola, of course!).

I have two girls (4 and 2) and we all love C&L. I love that Lola never wears pink, that she's adventurous and questioning, that she's funny and witty and completely herself. And Charlie, well, Charlie has the patience of a saint and we love him too, of course.

There is so much in the books, the typeface, the texturing, the angular drawing, the creative language- it's all really, really lovely.

I took dd1 to see the Charlie and Lola show at the Hampstead Theatre last december and it was a magical day.

So, once again, thanks, and I look forward to "graduating" to Clarice Bean.

TheMysticMasseuse Thu 10-Jun-10 20:38:58

PS I forgot to add that dd2 (who's just turned 2) loves all characters but has a special fondness for Sizzles- he just cracks her up

I personally love Soren Lorensen

GraceK Thu 10-Jun-10 22:27:54

Just like to say how much we love Charlie & Lola too - one of the few books / programmes that DH & I actually enjoy & find funny.

The original books are the best but the programmes are good in that they cover most of the events our 3-year old has had to face including the death of a pet (poor Nibbles). We also like the fact that the non-visible adults aren't idiots (such as in Peppa Pig "silly Daddy").

We also love 'the Storybook Wolves' too.

Lawm01 Fri 11-Jun-10 08:43:55

Ooh, We're so excited!
We're HUGE C&L fans - can't get enough of them. Our set top box is full with C&L programmes, so much so that we can't fit any 'grown up' recordings on it!!!
Lauren - there seems to be a scandanavian influence to C&L - from some of the names (Soren Lorenson etc), the style of living (flat) and a few other clues we've noticed. Is there a scandanavian link?
Our LO (2yrs) had a C&L birthday party where, instead of a cake, Daddy spent hours making up a giant C&L cake board which we then covered in cupcakes.
Must go now, have to get onto the internet to find these plays, tours, games etc that everyone has mentioned before me - I feel like I've missed out on a whole secret world of C&L!

TheOldestCat Fri 11-Jun-10 10:50:26

Hi Lauren

Thank you for your fab books - DD loves Charlie&Lola, Clarice Bean, Pesky Rat, Storybook Wolves, The Princess and the Pea - and so do I (and DH too!). We did read her '...Tomato' too early though, leading to a boycott of said fruit before she had ever tried one, but hey grin

DH's question is 'would you ever consider a spin-off series (book or telly) for some of your minor characters? We love Bat Cat, Space Family Hudson and Pirate Squidbones and would definitely like to read more about them'.


SylvanianFamily Fri 11-Jun-10 17:28:18

Um, can I join the queue of admirers?

FWIW, I can report that the tomato book caused no ill effects in our household. In fact, I once catered a birthday party inspired from that book (i.e. fish fingers, mash, peas - and of course tomatoes) - which was a lot of fun.

And I raise my hat to Charlie for being a great role model of sibling supportiveness.

lunavix Fri 11-Jun-10 20:46:37

I can only agree with everyone else, C&L is beloved in our house with my 6yo ds and 3yo dd loving it, and sometimes seeming a little too close to C&L at times

My question - you've covered lots of different topics with the C&L books specifically (a firm favourite here is the recycling book with pull out tree!) - would you consider a C&L recipe book? My dd would adore it

Downdog Fri 11-Jun-10 21:50:08

Hi Lauren,

My 2.5 year old was given a bag of C&L books for Christmas - we read 2 a night, most nights, for the last 4 months. She is a huge fan.

The design of the flat Charlie & Lola live in, many of your fabrics and the artwork in general looks quite Scandinavian to me, though the text seems very English. Is there a Scandinavian influence to your art?

Downdog Fri 11-Jun-10 21:51:53

I should add that your illustrations are such a delight I'm still enjoying them too

treacletart Sat 12-Jun-10 16:23:51

Echo everyone here. Loving all your work and wish I was as clever and stylish you! We're particularly fond of your Polly Borland collaborations especially Goldilocks - any plans for any more? Also think Hubert Horatio seems hugely under-rated.

Now, some suggestions....my dd (and I) would really enjoy a Lauren Child fashion and home range. N.B. I don't want pictures of Lola on them I want super cool clothes like Lola's. Similarly interior textiles and papers too... I'd also like some replica pink milk glasses and curly straws (really hard to find)... I could go on...

Hi Louren,

I'd just like to say that my 5 year old daughter and I agree that Charlie and Lola is our favourate and our best. wink

I have written a few childrens storys for my daughter and dream that one day they will become published. Is there any advice you could give me to help me on my way?

My daughter asked me to write her another story the other day, so I asked her what she'd like it to be about and she said "A little girl called Lola and a big boy called Charlie."
She sure knows quality when she hears it.
I think I'll have to pay another visit to waterstones.

Thank you for inspiering a love of books in my daughter. Your books are the now the tattiest books in my daughters bookcase, they are very well loved.

dinkystinky Sat 12-Jun-10 22:15:33

Hi Lauren

DS1 is a huge C&L fan (and has been for over 2 years now) and his little brother seems to be fascinated by it too. Its amazing to find a programme that a 1 year old and 4 year old can both watch and enjoy. For what its worth, DS1 also went from a tomato fan to a tomato refusnik after reading I will not ever never eat a tomato - we're only just managing to persuade him to eat them again a year or so later - which led to Lola being called a Bad Influence in our house.
Charlie was - and still is - the model big brother we refer to when trying to persuade DS1 to be patient when his little brother is being trying.

My question is what childrens books do you still remember fondly from your childhood? And do you think these shaped your writing in any way?

Really just want to say thank you as we are also big C&L fans in our house. My DS loves it - green drops now go down a treat.

I read that you based Lola on a little girl you saw on a train in Denmark - I was wondering if anyone has ever written to you asking if their daughter was Lola ie I was travelling on a train in [year] and sent you photos - also would you like to meet that little girl now to see how she has grown up?

I also think (I am sure I read you also said) that it is interesting that she is out there not realising she inspired the character of Lola.

thislittlesisterlola Sun 13-Jun-10 20:09:30

Hi Lauren, obviously we love C&L here- hence the name!
As someone who has studied children's literature, I wonder did you find the writing of the books came easily to you or did you get writer's block? If so do you have any tips in overcoming it?

Fairygodmother1 Sun 13-Jun-10 22:08:18

Hi Lauren, My niece & I love Charlie & Lola (her fish are named after them, she had an imaginary friend like lola when she was about 3 & would like me to kname any daughters I may have Lola!)

My question is, What books have influenced you, both as a child & as an adult? Both my niece & I are total book worms!

Downdog Mon 14-Jun-10 17:09:00

where is/was Lauren? Did I miss something?

YunoYurbubson Tue 15-Jun-10 13:57:29

I'm wondering too.

bamboo Tue 15-Jun-10 15:41:50

By RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Jun-10 13:49:08

"Lauren's answers will be linked to from this page by Wednesday 23rd June."

It's not a live webchat so we'll have to wait until 23rd or so for answers, I assume smile.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Jun-10 17:54:28

Well spotted Bamboo smile. This is a Q and A rather than a live webchat. We've sent the questions over to Lauren today and we'll post a link on here to the archived Q and A session.

AlaskaNebraska Tue 15-Jun-10 17:55:41

Lauren my BOYS loved the Clarice Bean novels. Can you do a more boyish cover. WE loved robert whatsisface. and callmemol.

Did oyu make it american in style on purpose - were you channelling Bewitched?

pugsandseals Tue 22-Jun-10 18:00:43

A bit late I know, but PLEASE ask Lauren if she will write some more Clarice Bean books!!!!! Ours have been read so many times they're falling apart!!!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 23-Jun-10 12:56:00

Just to let you know that Lauren's answers will be posted up on the site early next week.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 29-Jun-10 12:12:24

Lauren has answered your questions - you can see the full archive here.

Many thanks to Lauren and all those who sent in questions and congratulations to Missybaby who is the winner of our comp and has won a signed collector's slip-case edition of I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato.

thislittlesisterlola Tue 29-Jun-10 12:51:27

What a lovely Q & A

Im gutted dp wont let me have a charlie! I've got a week to talk him round

FolornHope Tue 29-Jun-10 15:09:09

IM GUTTED she didnt asnwer mine

FolornHope Tue 29-Jun-10 15:10:30

By AlaskaNebraska Tue 15-Jun-10 17:55:41
Lauren my BOYS loved the Clarice Bean novels. Can you do a more boyish cover. WE loved robert whatsisface. and callmemol.

Did oyu make it american in style on purpose - were you channelling Bewitched?

Oh I missed the answers to this - how lovely! (and Lauren answered my question smile)

Missybaby Wed 14-Jul-10 21:37:23

OMG, I won?!!!! Fantastic! (Will I be letting my DDs read it though????) grin

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