So, dear Reader, this is a rather special post – Primrose and I got to meet one of our heroines of the bedtime story world this week and were rendered utterly starstruck. For as long as Primrose has been able to hold a pencil, she has been desperate to write her own stories. Amongst a mix of Enid Blyton, Frog and Toad and all the old fairy tales including an ancient Ladybird book of mine of The Goose Girl, Primrose’s love of quirky characters and twists on traditional tales has definitely been inspired by the author and illustrator, Lauren Child. So imagine when I told Primrose that we were going to meet her “IN REAL LIFE”, to coin a Primrose phrase.
The National Trust’s Mottisfont in Hampshire are hosting a retrospective of Lauren’s work – The Art of Lauren Child: Adventures with Charlie and Lola and Friends running from 18 July – 6 September to mark the 15 year anniversary of the first Charlie and Lola book to be published, I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato. Author and illustrator, Lauren Child MBE, has such an amazing back catalogue of children’s books which has been loved and devoured across the world and is probably best known for her delightful brother and sister creation, doting brother Charlie and his picklish little sister (small and very funny), Lola. Lauren seems to have that uncanny knack for being able to slip into the shoes of children we’ve met, grown up with or perhaps even given birth to. Perhaps it’s her talent for telling it like it is from a child’s perspective that has seen her works adored by children and adults alike.
With a selection of never before seen items including some of Lauren’s sketchbooks, the exhibition hosts 50 original art works from Lauren’s own personal collection and gives a wonderful insight into the process from sketchbook to published work. This is a chance to get up close and personal with some of the objects that have served to inspire Lauren’s fabulous and well known stories, such as Lola’s pink milk glass, childhood pyjamas and the truly amazing and wonderfully detailed original sets which were created for Lauren’s retelling of The Princess and the Pea on which she collaborated with Polly Borland.
“I think with Clarice (Bean) I wrote and then I drew and it was almost like creating a graphic novel. Now I tend to write and then draw. Often people think that everything is done on computer but it really isn’t,” Lauren shared. “You find things in the photo album which you think might work – so I know exactly where these photos are from as I put together the collages. They become more than just drawings.”
The exhibition also offers a chance for Charlie and Lola fans to catch a sneak preview of illustrations from Lauren’s latest book, entitled One Thing, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Charlie and Lola, which will be published this autumn.
Lauren on One Thing: “I wanted to show sums in a really beautiful way – there’s something about the visual beauty of numbers. It’s a story about Charlie and Lola’s mum telling them that they can have one thing and that bargaining thing that happens with children. As soon as you say one thing, they immediately start negotiating. It’s a game I play most days with my daughter. I wanted to write about the fun of counting and that home truth.’
Alongside the exhibition, Lauren has helped the team at Mottisfont to create a fantastic creative play trail around the house and grounds – perfect for all ages and a chance to go on a real adventure with Charlie and Lola and their friends. A great day out for the summer hols! For details of the exhibition and adventure trail, take a look here.
Meeting the lady herself, Primrose got to ask all her questions. What inspired you to write Charlie and Lola? How do you create the stories and illustrations? We had a fab chat about Lola’s invisible friend Soren Lorensen, Lauren’s favourite character Clarice Bean and creating alter egos that you’d like to be and our huge amount of love for That Pesky Rat. Perhaps the best bit of all was Primrose showing Lauren her own story which she had written and illustrated – A Bad Spell for the Little Fairy. I shall be eternally grateful to Lauren for making Primrose’s YEAR and for taking the time to talk to her and read her story. I honestly couldn’t think of a better literary role model and source of creative inspiration for my little writer – a memory that will be treasured forever.
This exhibition is a MUST SEE for anyone who has cherished and enjoyed reading Lauren Child’s books and there’s something for all the family to enjoy as well as going on your own adventures with Charlie and Lola and Friends at Mottisfont during the summer holidays.
So on that note, dear Reader, to mark the opening of The Art of Lauren Child: Adventures with Charlie and Lola and Friends at the National Trust’s Mottisfont this summer, the lovely people at National Trust London and South East have given me 5 FAMILY DAY PASSES to give away to lucky entrants. All you have to do is to ‘like’ @MottisfontNT on Twitter (or their Facebook page if you’re not on Twitter) and then write a comment here on this post, telling me which Lauren Child book is your favourite and why. Entries will close at 5pm on THURSDAY 23RD JULY. The National Trust LSE lot will help pick the winning answers so don’t forget to leave me an email address or Twitter handle in the comment box too so that I can contact you if you’ve won.
I’d love to take my 15 year old daughter. She is book mad and doing art and design at school. She still has I will never ever eat a tomato. But of course we all know kids do! Because moon squirters are my favourite.
Even I love this book as it captures the seeing food in a different angle and it’s beautifully written.
Thanks so much for entering Julie – still LOVE that one too. Sounds like the exhibition would be right up your daughter’s street!
I would love to bring my grandson here to share the experience & see how the stories came to life.
Favourite? I will never eat a tomato (Greenaway winner)
A classic! Thanks so much for coming over and entering. Good luck!
I bought The Princess and the Pea for my daughter because I loved the story as a child. It is a beautifully crafted book – would love to see the exhibition. How exciting to meet her!
Our favourite character, however, is Sizzles!
Big fans of Sizzles too in this house! Have you read about Trixie in Who wants to be a poodle? Lauren really was lovely and such an interesting person to talk to. Thanks for entering Sarah. x
My kids (agreed 5 and 7) love The Princess and the Pea. The artwork is astounding, and the story itself is beautifully reimagined. The humour is great, and the multi layered vocabulary has kept them interested enough for many, many readings. 🙂
One of our favourites too Graham – the sets at the exhibition are such a wonderful piece of art in themselves! Thanks for entering.
Oh how amazing! We have a good collection of Charlie & Zlola adventures and we love The Wobbly Tooth which we have done the parts for tonight. I told the part of Lotta & Marv and my daughter Millie (6) played Lola & Charlie. Just love listening, watching, reading, the collection. Adore Lola! X
We love Lola too! Thanks for visiting the blog and entering the competition – good luck!
Charlie and Lola are FIFTEEN? *scrabbles around kitchen trying to find out where the time went!*
I know!!! I couldn’t believe it either! WHERE has the time gone? I remember reading it to lots and lots of school children before Margot became Margot. xx
Hard to chose a favourite that isn’t Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, as it’s SUCH a classic. But the Wobbly Tooth one makes Dimples laugh- she is angrily waiting for a tooth to wobble so that she can get a doggy. As you do.
LOVE that! You never know what the fairy might bring!!! Thanks for entering the competition Kelly – good luck! xx
What a great competition! My favourite it Beware of the Storybook Wolves, because it’s cheeky, and makes my daughter cover her eyes every time we read it (even though she requests it a LOT). firstname.lastname@example.org @NellHeshram
We love Herb in that one too – a frequent book request in our house! Thanks so much for entering the comp. Good luck!
What an amazing day. We love all her books but especially Charlie and Lola. Wish we were closer, I’d love to see her work
It really was a fabulous day – Lauren was so lovely to Primrose. Thanks so much for popping over to the blog.
‘That Pesky Rat’ has long been a family favourite in our house! Amusing and witty, fabulous illustrations and a heart-warming story. We would love to visit the exhibition.
One of our favourites too! Thank you so much for visiting the blog – good luck!
My twitter handle is @curlycampbell
We loved Charlie and Lola in our home too. My lad is now 15 and I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato was a favourite story. It became a book he enjoyed reading to himself. He does eat tomatoes but Will Not Ever Never Eat A Mushroom.
How wonderful to meet someone like Lauren Child, Primrose must find her inspirational I am sure I would.
Once again a wonderful blog.
Ah thanks so much Clare. It really was a wonderful day for both of us. xxx
‘I am not sleepy and I will not go to bed’. A family favourite – a reflection on my boys inherited ability to party maybe?! Love the way Lauren’s quirky style translates across the generations & genders. A true talent.
She really is a true talent. When you see her sketches, collages and sets first hand, you get such a sense of just how much detail goes into each book. Thanks for visiting – good luck!
I have such fond memories of reading Charlie and Lola stories to Grace. I really love them all but one of my favourites is ‘Snow is my Favourite and my Best’. The fun that Lola has making snow dogs and snow angels. That and the wobbly tooth story were requested time and again by Grace.
I still can’t believe it is 15 years since the first Charlie and Lola was published! Amazing how these books have become such bedtime favourites to so many many children. Thanks so much for coming over and commenting Vic. Good luck!
my daughter loves Beware of the Storybook Wolves, its a favourite in our house 🙂
A very good choice Michelle! Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog.
My 3yrs old son LOVES Charlie and Lola and we have the music book (name escapes me0 that was donated from a friend that we read almost every night so he can push the buttons. He laughs when Lola does which is very cute. Must seek out the other books and add to Santas list!
They are all brilliant! Our 3 year old loves Slightly Invisible which is a Charlie and Lola book about Soren Lorenson. Good luck Natalie and thanks so much for entering the competition.
Me and my six year old and one year old adore her books, they have such lovely illustrations and tell wonderful stories with wonderful morals that the kids appreciate. My two would say they love Charlie and Lola the best, but I am fond of ‘That Pesky Rat’, all really lovely books. My children would be over the moon if we could go 🙂
@savvybunny – my twitter handle
We love That Pesky Rat too! Thank you so much for entering! Good luck.
My three boys and I love ‘The Princess and the Pea’ very much, but we also have a soft spot for all the Charlie and Lola books as my eldest is a Charlie and one of his best friends since birth is a Lola! (We secretly hope they’ll get married and play the ‘Charlie and Lola’ theme tune as they walk down the aisle ).
I’m originally from Hampshire and am bringing the boys down in a couple of weeks to stay with my dad. We were hoping to take them to Mottisfont for this exhibition and to visit the place itself, as my wonderful late mum took part in a performance of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ there and I’d love to share that memory with the boys. I am also (along with the boys) a teeeeeeeny bit obsessed with children’s books, so the Lauren Child exhibition makes it an even more special reason to visit.
Thanks so much for sharing this on competition and hooray for your fab blog – I’m so pleased to have discovered it! X
Ooh, and my Twitter handle is @storyseekersuk
What a LOVELY think to say! I’m glad you discovered me too! Love the story of your Charlie and Lola – so very sweet. Mottisfont has such special memories for you – I do hope that you win one of the passes. Good luck!
Thank you ALL so much for entering the competition – watch out for an email soon from Mottisfont if you’re one of the lucky winners!
we love i will never ever eat a tomato
My teenage (14) daughter was a huge Charlie and Lola fan and my two year old is just starting to take an interest in the show although I think his sister secretly likes to still watch it. I loved listening to my daughter reading the Clarice Bean books.
So upset to have missed the deadline. Me and my girls just love Lauren child books. We started with Charlie and Lola, then moved to Carice Bean and now we have started on Ruby Redfort. But I must admit my favourites are still Charlie and Lola … which one is hard to say….. Invisible because it’s so funny! I would love to go to the exhibition but it’s a little far for us.
Lauren ACTUAL Child. What a cool celebrity new-BFF! 😀