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Q&A with Children's author Giles Andreae

(39 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 31-Mar-11 11:48:34

To celebrate the launch of his new series of thirteen books, World of Happy, children's author and illustrator Giles Andreae is joining us this week to answer your questions.

Giles is author of many children's classics including Mumsnet Best award winner, Pants, Giraffes Can't Dance, Rumble in the Jungle and The Lion Who Wanted Love, which won the Red House Best picture book in 1998. He is also the creator of the bestselling brands Purple Ronnie and The Interesting Thoughts of Edward Monkton.

Giles dreamed up Purple Ronnie when he was having treatment for cancer in his twenties. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma just before he sat his finals and the treatment he had for it means he is now infertile. He's since married and had four children who were all conceived via IVF. World of Happy, was created after a period of chronic depression which completely crippled Giles for about eighteen months. The series launches on April 4th and incorporates thirteen books, each one introducing a different animal dealing with a different emotion such as love, happiness, courage, trust, manners and teamwork. Giles brings to life dancing hippos, knitting gorillas and belching sharks in a series that will be loved by both children and adults.

As an exclusive offer, Egmont is offering mumsnetters the whole set of World of Happy for just £25, which is less than half price. Just visit and enter the code P11-WOHMUM

Send your questions to Giles before the end of day on Tuesday 5th April and we'll link to the answers from this thread shortly after. To find out more about World of Happy, please visit

cairnterrier Fri 15-Apr-11 13:40:42

He answered my question!!!! grin


NancyMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Apr-11 12:19:08

Thanks for waiting! You can now read Giles' answers to your questions here

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Apr-11 09:19:03

Thanks so much for all your questions which have now been forwarded on to Giles. We'll be linking to his answers from this thread asap.

Valpollicella Wed 06-Apr-11 00:14:38

I just wanted to say that Giraffes Can't Dance is such a beautiful book. Thank you!

My question (and I am very sorry if this is a bit of a crap one/brings up bad times. Feel free to ignore if so) is, do you think adversity/mortality/ etc can sometimes bring about a state where you use the talents you have to show that, day to day, the world can be a remarkable place to live, even in the simplest ways?

Did it afford you a freedom, almost in a 'Seriously, I am VERY ill, please do look at the joy that surrounds most of us, that we don't really recognise' kind of way?

<dammit, am 10 mins past deadline>

Frimblypoo Tue 05-Apr-11 21:09:41

My amazing Dad is currently fighting Burkitt's Lymphoma (and we're going to win). Is there anything in particular that helped you get through chemo? All top tips are gratefully received.

PS Pants is our all time favourite battered book

reemnafie Tue 05-Apr-11 11:52:41

My daughter and I love "There's a house inside my mummy". I'm a journalist, any tips on how to write that well Courses maybe?

flyingheart Tue 05-Apr-11 11:42:23

Well the first message disappeared so I wrote a second one, only to find the first reappear - well...hey, repetition is a good thing!

flyingheart Tue 05-Apr-11 11:38:40

Hello to the lovely Mr Andreae! I taught your son FA at AH in Year 2 - Miss P here! My favourite book of yours is PANTS - Do you remember the book the class wrote called HATS that was based on your book? I read a lot to my 5 month old daughter and must buy a copy of PANTS to add to her ever expanding library. Love to FA x

flyingheart Tue 05-Apr-11 11:24:04

Hello to the lovely Mr Andreae! I taught your son FA at AH in Year 2 - Miss P here!! My favourite book is PANTS - do you remember the book the class wrote called HATS that we based on your book? I have always loved your books, poems and illustrations. I read to my five month old little girl a lot and must go out and get her a copy of Pants! Love to FA x

JemimaMop Tue 05-Apr-11 09:44:59

Following on from DS1's question I was preparing a story for my nursery class and realised that the book was also written by you! It is Rumble in The Jungle, but translated into Welsh.

Which led me to wonder... Do you think that the stories stay the same once they have been translated or do you think that they change slightly? Do you have any input in the translation process, eg making sure that the original story isn't changed too much?

Mum2U Tue 05-Apr-11 09:34:31

Love the Purple Ronnie cards - not read any of the books yet but will look out for them for my daughter.

I've been through panic attacks with depression and got through with learning calming measures through TM but paid £250 at time to learn it - felt it was last resort for me. But with hindsight an exploitative price. Others can learn exactly same meditation style via Paul Wilson's The Calm Technique - loads on Amazon for 1p plus postage. Got through it all without medication.

Float tanks are good too - tried one in Clapham - laugh at AbFabs Edina in float tank episode. Laughter is good for climbing out of depression. Force yourself to watch funny programmes.

Glad you climbed out of it. Think the article in The Times about that period of your life helped others.

Any plans to write a book on how you were affected and came through?

Apologies if you have already written one.

JemimaMop Mon 04-Apr-11 19:48:23

Hi Giles.

DS1 is 8 and is currently reading Billy Bonkers. He would like to know:

1. Did you base the character of Billy Bonkers on a real person that you know?

2. Do the illustrations of Billy by Nick Sharrat look exactly as you imagined Billy when you wrote the story?

Thank you!

LuckyWeKeptTheCot Mon 04-Apr-11 17:17:13

You wrote brilliantly about depression - it helped me explain a similar period in my own lucky life. I always think the speech from Hamlet, quoted to the wolves by Withnail sums it up beautifully "I have of late,—but wherefore I know not,—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory... etc" Does that sound familiar (as a feeling) to you?

PS Do you see much of David Cameron now he's PM? I like the guy, but must be hard to keep up with your mates in his job, it's hard enough just becoming a parent!

elkiedee Mon 04-Apr-11 12:18:24

Do you and your family use your own local library?

We enjoy Giraffes Can't Dance and dp read the kids The Chimpanzees of Happytown last night.

kizzie Mon 04-Apr-11 09:59:12

Hi Giles - i just wanted to thank you for being so honest about the period of depression you went through. You wrote about it so beautifully and I showed the newspaper article to a number of close family members as I felt it really helped to explain what it is really like.

Im so glad you came through the other side :-)

mychildrenarebarmy Mon 04-Apr-11 09:44:42

We love 'chimpanzees of happytown' and at the moment as part of a story sack swap with 9 other home educating families are loving 'giraffes can't dance'. We have also realy enjoyed 'there's a house inside my Mummy' (which I han't noticed was by you until reading so on this thread!).

A lot of authors have a very similar style for all of their books. Yours seem quite varied. Is that deliberate?

ohfuschia Mon 04-Apr-11 01:04:39

Myself and my son love 'Giraffes Can't Dance' and 'Commotion In The Ocean' but the one that has to be read every night at the moment is 'Keep Love In Your Heart Little One' - the other stories he has change but for a while now he always wants us to finish on that one. I picked it up in the library but didn't realise it was you as it seemed such a different 'style' - it lead me to google you and to articles related to your depression and 'World of Happy' - will be very interested to see these and hope they are a great success as you seem a very genuine person.

What I would like to know is whether 'Keep Love In Your Heart' is out of print as I have tried to get hold of a copy in several places, and if so if it would be likely to be printed again. If not I will go for a second hand copy as they are available - this library one has been renewed 14 times already and I suppose ought to go back at some point!

Thanks very much for all your lovely books.

SmethwickBelle Sun 03-Apr-11 20:29:16

"There's a House Inside My Mummy" moves me so much I cry every time I see the bleedin' cover and the "new" baby has been here for 16 months! A heartfelt thank you for a brilliant book.

Oh and a question - who are your favourite children's authors?, Could be either from your own childhood or books your children may have.

Jammygal Sat 02-Apr-11 21:15:17

I have written a children's book (without illustrations) but don't know how to take it further....any tips???? Thanks

P.S. I love 'wear them when it's sunny pants' ;)

MikeRotch Sat 02-Apr-11 07:59:27

I saw your pic and tbh if I had seen that during 10 years if reading your books there would have been an extra frisson. ;)

Willabywallaby Sat 02-Apr-11 07:54:16

I just want to say how much we love your books, I was very excited when I realised you were Purple Ronnie from my youth, and now I get to read more of you to my children.

A little similar to an above question but how do you go about writing a rhyme. Does the rhyme come first and then the 2 lines, or do you get the rhythm and fit the words in. Or is it sent from outer space?

Looking forward to the new books!

FWmum Fri 01-Apr-11 22:50:07

I was interested (and sorry) to read that you had suffered from serious depression. I wondered what it was you felt triggered your episode, how you coped and what helped you to recover? Has it changed the way you write?

MrsTittleMouse Fri 01-Apr-11 22:38:06

We love "Giraffes Can't Dance" too. I know it off by heart.

Do you have any say in the illustrators that are used for your books? How do you feel when you see the end results?

Sorry, I know that this is bad form but I have another question - why did you start writing for children? What drew you to it?

CrystalStair Fri 01-Apr-11 16:58:15

Hello, we all loved There's a House Inside my Mummy. Unfortunately it looks as if it's still there but everyone's moved out. And many years ago we had lunch together (I was very young press assistant in my first job at Hodder). You were at school with a friend of mine. Degrees of separation and all that. So hello and thanks for your great books.

cheekeymonkey Fri 01-Apr-11 15:00:57

Ah Giles, know you from Statics days. Many laughs in Portugal. I have a 4yr old DD now, she loves your stories.

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