With a unique ability to see the world through a child’s eyes, the aptly named author and illustrator Lauren Child is one of the most influential and innovative writers of her generation. Her creations include the popular picture book series Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean as well as the Ruby Redfort books for older readers.
In 2017 she was announced as the new Waterstones' Children's Laureate, declaring that her aim will be to forge 'stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design.'
Clarice Bean’s hugely boring day takes an unexpected turn when she meets a dog that simply won’t scram in this new, heartwarming adventure from the former Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child.
Charlie and Lola
Meet Lola, she’s five and she knows just what she likes (like her imaginary best friend Soren Lorensen, her toy Foxie and her big brother Charlie) and what she doesn’t like (like bedtime, spiders and most especially tomatoes).
Ruby Redfort’s parents are not the brightest buttons in the box, which is perhaps why they don’t know that they’re ordinary daughter is actually a genius, gadget-laden, code-cracking spy working for a secret organisation called SPECTRUM.
Other Picture Books
Upside-down fairytales, pesky rodents, big bad books and more.
Brought up in Marlborough, Wiltshire, Lauren Child once harboured dreams of a career making and selling her own lampshades. Whilst that didn’t quite work out as planned, the fabric she collected in the process instead made its way into the backgrounds for her strikingly original children’s book illustrations and so a very different dream began.
Child wrote her first children’s book, Clarice Bean, That’s Me, in 1989 but it wasn’t until five years later that a publisher’s agent (Francesca Dow, then at Orchard Books) took a chance on Child’s work, commenting later, "I was struck by its freshness and originality, but I knew it was a risk." It was risk that paid off, with Child’s books striking a chord, one reviewer calling her work, "the result of a unique chemical reaction between a glorious sense of style and a smartly original take on real life."
Clarice Bean, described by one critic as looking, endearingly, like a ‘pensive lollipop’ went on to become the hero of a hugely popular series; establishing Child’s trademark style combining block colours, cut-out and collage backgrounds that included mixed fabric patterns and photographs to create bold, visually distinctive stories appealing to children and adults alike.
I Can Do Anything That's Everything All on My Own
It was a style Child employed again for her second book, That Pesky Rat and for the phenomenally popular picture book series, Charlie and Lola, beginning with I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, which went on to become a global television brand and won the author the Kate Greenaway Medal. Based on a real girl called Lola who Child met on a train, the series about a singular, strong-willed little girl called Lola and her long-suffering brother Charlie (along with imaginary friend Soren Lorenson) made use of the author’s distinctive child-like fonts and made up children’s language to express thoughts that not only appeal to children, but also sound like them.
Since then Child has worked extensively across children’s publishing, expanding an idea based on Clarice Bean’s favourite reading books into an actual series for older readers starting with Look Into My Eyes. Starring Ruby Redfort, a genius super-sleuth, the series has been described as ‘Hitchcock for kids’ and Child has commented that the inspiration came from "watching Seventies cop shows and early Jodie Foster films."
Waterstones Children's Laureate
Made an MBE for her services for literature, Child has also worked as a Unesco Artist for Peace and worked both independently and in collaboration to create some of the most eye-catching, new illustrated editions of classic works of children’s literature including Pippi Longstocking as well as brand new versions of fairytales such as The Princess and the Pea and Beware the Storybook Wolves. In 2017 she was announced as the new Waterstones' Children's Laureate, announcing that her aim will be to forge "stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design."
Ultimately Child’s greatest strength is her uncanny ability to understand how children see and understand the world. ‘There is always this big debate about what children should read’ she says, "as if there are right and wrong books, when actually the important thing is to get a child to enjoy reading in the first place… Reading should be about escape, relaxation and enjoyment."
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