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Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy: Webchat with mother and daughter / author and illustrator of Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane - Tuesday 17 September, 1-2pm

(91 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-Sep-13 11:31:02

To coincide with the publication of their first collaboration, we're delighted that author Shirley Hughes and her daughter, illustrator Clara Vulliamy will be joining us tomorrow lunchtime (Tuesday 17 September between 1 and 2pm) to answer your questions.

Shirley has written and illustrated more than 200 children's books and is one of the best-loved writers for children. She has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and has been awarded the OBE for her distinguished service to children's literature. In 2007, Dogger was voted the UK's favourite Kate Greenaway Medal-winning book of all time. Clara's much loved picture books include Lucky Wish Moue and Martha and the Bunny Brothers.

Their latest creation is the first in the new Dixie O'Day series. Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane is a gorgeous book perfectly pitched at new readers, with a chapter for each night of the week as well as wonderful illustrations, maps, character introductions and even a Q&A with Dixie himself.

Join Clara and Shirley tomorrow at 1pm or post them a question in advance.

Willemdefoeismine Mon 16-Sep-13 13:28:31

Firstly, I saw the first Dixie O'Day book reviewed in The Sunday Times and thought that the series will fill a significant gap in the new readers' book market. So that's brilliant - a bit late for my two, but hopefully it will make the transition from big, colourful picture books to 'proper' reading books just that bit easier for young children - I know my DD (now nearly 8) is a fluent reader but still finds densely-texted, thick, picture-less reading books less than appealing!

Clara and Shirley, have you long considered working together and what exactly was the catalyst for undertaking this fabulous joint venture?

Bethanybunny Mon 16-Sep-13 18:27:45

A question to Clara, from my daughter Bethany:

I am 5 and I really liked reading 'Martha and the bunny brothers'. The best bit was the bunny club. I've got 'Hop into Bedtime' as well and I used to have it lots of times for my bedtime story. I want to ask how do you make all the books? Do you think of the story first and then draw the pictures?

Pawprint Mon 16-Sep-13 18:48:31

Shirley, you illustrated my mum's first book, around 1980. Can't say more without outing myself, but just wanted to say we all loved your amazing illustrations. Clue - it was about two witches called Gladys and Victoria

SconeInSixtySeconds Mon 16-Sep-13 21:04:57

Shirley may I just say how much I love Dogger? I remember watching you talk about it on TV when I was quite young on that programme with Dick King Smith (was it Rub A Tub Dub?) and I have read it to ragged shreds to my own dc.

The line "and then Bella did something very kind" never fails to reduce me to tears and I am old enough to know better

Thank you thank you. flowers

Merrylegs Mon 16-Sep-13 21:43:50

Yes yes. That is my favourite bit too! (Apart from the page that says DOGGER! when we all cheer like crazy) Although actually Bella didn't like the teddy much with its starey eyes, so I wonder quite how alturistic her good deed was? Clara, did you have a Dogger when you were little? I really hope you did.

Lynne73 Mon 16-Sep-13 22:19:27

I have loved reading Shirley's books to my two children; they have become firm favourites over the years, especially "Dogger". Just like in the story, we lost a much-loved toy which was thankfully found in our local park after a frantic torch-lit search!
Did this happen to Shirley's own child/ren? Is this what inspired her to write "Dogger"?
Thank you for your wonderful books; your portrayal of family life and its little details are so accurate and very gentle.

MacaYoniandCheese Mon 16-Sep-13 22:21:47

Wow! I'm a HUGE fan of both of you and I had NO idea you were mother and daughter!

The Alfie books, Dogger and the beautifully illustrated 'My Naughty Little Sister' books have always been my go-to books at the end of the frantic dinner-bath-bed hour in my house and Clara, your lovely Milly Molly Mandy illustrations have made my children into life-long fans. Shirley, I particularly appreciate your honest portrayal of mothers...I often think of Alfie's mum, who is always calm and level-headed in fraught situations, when I encounter my own parenting trouble spots grin.

gwenniebee Mon 16-Sep-13 22:26:53

We just love Alfie, Lucy, Tom, Molly, Dave, Bella... and the myriad others in my house. I have already enjoyed reading some of the stories to my 14 month old daughter and can't wait for her to be a bit bigger so she will sit still while we read them together.

Shirley, to me your books seem wonderfully timeless, but I wonder if you feel the stories or their themes have changed over the years you have been writing?

Thank you for so many years of enjoyment.

RedLentil Mon 16-Sep-13 23:22:50

'Do you want to be an Alfie or a Bernard?' is a question that has got us through some tricky moments in this family.
Thank you for being such an important part of some very happy years.

tethersend Mon 16-Sep-13 23:27:17

Shirley, thanks for everything.

I named DD2 after you smile

BadSeedsAddict Tue 17-Sep-13 07:01:45

We love Dogger, so much; I read my copy, from when I was tiny, to my children, and we like to find Dave's family and the children in fancy dress, in the bird's eye picture of the school fair. We love Bella and Dave.

I love Helpers, too; the babies talking to each other, Sue with her toy hospital, and the best bit for me was always when the older children get the baby bathed and into her nightie. It looks just like my little sister used to smile

BangOn Tue 17-Sep-13 07:03:17

Shirley, your books were such a big part of my childhood, growing up in the 1980s, & now feature heavily in my own children's book collection. Thank you so very much for the timeless illustrations & the understated, beautiful stories.

my own personal favourite is 'Lucy & Tom's Christmas' - or perhaps 'Moving Molly' - it's pretty difficult to choose! DD2 is crazy about 'Up & Up' - She keeps asking when she'll be able to fly!

My question is: whereabouts in London are most of your books set? I've been trying to guess for many years now!

BadSeedsAddict Tue 17-Sep-13 07:04:15

(Posted before I'd finished!) - just wanted to say, so many thanks, for filling my childhood with these brilliantly-drawn characters. I am enjoying them all over again now and will no doubt be reading them to my grandchildren, in years to come.

Merrylegs Tue 17-Sep-13 08:40:05

(We always award first prize in the fancy dress competition to In the News because it looks so homemade and like (mum) made the most effort, although I do have a soft spot for the uncomfortable looking dalek. I spent many a school fete fancy dress competition in a cardboard box. Usually as 'birthday present'. With no arm holes.)

marshmallowpies Tue 17-Sep-13 08:54:50

I'm another one here who has a little cry every time Bella does that kind thing.

My other favourite is Lucy & Tom's Christmas - I love all the details of the build-up of Christmas (hiding presents, making a Nativity scene) - reading it never fails to make me feel 'Christmassy'.

And yet it also conveys that Christmas Day itself is sometimes a bit of an anti-climax - I always get sniffly at the page where Grandpa takes Tom out for a sunset walk by himself when he has a meltdown. I wish I could remember more of the Christmases when my grandparents were still alive, but this book takes me back there for a moment.

My daughter loves Lucy & Tom's ABC - especially the pages with cats, dogs & ducks on!

Rooners Tue 17-Sep-13 09:15:57

Wow - I'm in awe at getting to ask a question but can't think of anything to ask!

Just, that the Naughty Little Sister books were very special to me when I was small, and I can't think of a world without your pictures in it! smile


Choccheesecake Tue 17-Sep-13 10:11:41

Hello Shirley and Clara - I adore my mum but I can't imagine working with her. What was it like for you two?

waikikamookau Tue 17-Sep-13 10:44:41

love Shirley Hughes stories, and the illustrations which totally make the stories come alive,
read to my now teens. as mentioned lucy and tom's Christmas and the alfie stories.

clara are you intentionally being very different to your mum in your style? and are you expecting and presumably you are being compared to your mother's style?

Treadlightly Tue 17-Sep-13 11:01:46

Hello Shirley and Clara!
I just wanted to say I love Dogger!
I use it in class a lot and it's a real struggle to remain composed when Bella does a very nice thing!

clare21 Tue 17-Sep-13 11:12:06

Hello Shirley and Clara
I'm really intrigued by the colour palate you used, how and why did you decide to go for red and black? The book is full of detail lifted straight from the 1950s - like Lou-Ella's sunglasses, the petrol pumps - me and my mum particularly loved all of this. Why did you choose that time to set the book in?

loubie2013 Tue 17-Sep-13 11:39:17

Hello Clara and Shirley,

Dixie O'Day is a wonderful book. I especially like the story with it's fast-paced race, the illustrations (Dixie and Percy are adorable!) and the design of the book. It looks beautiful, very classy and of another era!

Where did the inspiration for Dixie and Percy come from?

RollerSkateKate Tue 17-Sep-13 11:45:12

Hi Shirley,

I loved the Alfie stories as a child and my daughter (4) is now being read them! She loves 'Alfie lends a hand' even though she is horrified at Bernard's behaviour at his birthday party!

Your illustrations are beautiful and capture such a nostalgic time, are you planning an exhibitions soon?

LynSharp Tue 17-Sep-13 11:46:32

Hi Shirley and Clara

I'm a massive fan - thank you for all the happy hours we've spent reading your books!

I wanted to ask about the fact that this book is for slightly older children than your normal picture books. Why did you decide to do this? What's different (and important) about writing and illustrating for this age group?


mignonette Tue 17-Sep-13 11:47:08

Hello to you both-

The trifle stealing scene in 'My Naughty Little Sister' where Bad Harry aids her in eating most of it up before the party starts is responsible for my life long aversion to trifle.

How gifted and vivid a writer you are to have such a profound effect nearly 40 years on from my first reading of!

I just wanted to thank you for so many years of reading enjoyment from myself and my two (now grown) children.

Oh and could you, would you resurrect that naughty little sister w/ some further adventures?

From a Naughty big sister!

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