FAR-REACH­ING

SCHOOLS EVENT Monthly event to high­light words Brian Blessed at Bev­er­ley LitFest

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - BOOKS -

KNOWN prin­ci­pally as the cre­ator of Char­lie and Lola – a se­ries of hugely pop­u­lar chil­dren’s pic­ture books as well as a BAFTA-win­ning CBee­bies an­i­mated TV show – writer and il­lus­tra­tor Lau­ren Child, who ap­pears at Ryedale Book Fes­ti­val next week­end, has writ­ten and/or il­lus­trated more than thirty books.

In fact, Child’s char­ac­ter Clarice Bean – a thought­ful, slightly put-upon mid­dle child in a bois­ter­ous fam­ily (who also has a se­ries of books of her own) – was her first pub­lished cre­ation, but it was the ar­rival of cute brother and sis­ter Char­lie and Lola in I Will Not Ever NEVER Eat a Tomato 15 years ago that her­alded Child’s big break.

It won her the pres­ti­gious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000. Quirky, imag­i­na­tive, hu­mor­ous and beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated, the Char­lie and Lola books quickly be­came bed­time story favourites for chil­dren and par­ents alike, then came the TV se­ries and a global phe­nom­e­non was born. The books have sold in their mil­lions world­wide and have been trans­lated into 19 lan­guages.

This month sees the pub­li­ca­tion of the first Char­lie and Lola book in five years, One Thing, a charm­ing pic­ture book about the joy of math­e­mat­ics, but Child hasn’t been rest­ing on her lau­rels in the mean­time. She is in­cred­i­bly pro­lific – aside from Char­lie and Lola, the Clarice Bean se­ries and nu­mer­ous pic­ture books, more re­cently she has been work­ing on a six-book deal of young adult de­tec­tive thrillers fea­tur­ing 13-year-old code-breaker and spe­cial agent Ruby Red­fort.

Child at­tributes her drive partly to the fact that she was into her thir­ties be­fore suc­cess came. “Orig­i­nally it was some­thing as sim­ple as the fact that I came to it rea­son­ably late,” she says. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my work­ing life. A lot of my friends seemed to know what they wanted to do from quite early on and I think that fo­cussed me, es­pe­cially when it started to take off.

“Although it was more grad­ual than peo­ple imag­ine. I got suc­cess with my first book and I think that just made me think ‘why not stick with it and see what hap­pens’. You are en­joy­ing it, you need to re­ally work hard and it will al­low you to do other things. I started to say yes to pretty much ev­ery­thing. I loved do­ing it and I wanted to experiment with dif­fer­ent styles of writ­ing and draw­ing.”

The ge­n­e­sis of the Ruby Red­fort books is un­usual – Ruby was first re­ferred to in the Clarice Bean se­ries as Clarice’s favourite fic­tional char­ac­ter.

“I kept get­ting all these letters from chil­dren ask­ing if the books were real,” says Child. So she de­cided to write them.

“It is a lovely way to make a book, although it is also slightly daunt­ing be­cause you want the sto­ries to be what the chil­dren want to read.” Writ­ing the books has kept her oc­cu­pied since 2011 – she has one more to de­liver which she is about to start work on – and it has been, she says, an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence but not with­out its chal­lenges. “I have loved it but it’s also agony be­cause they are very plot­ted,” she says. “I would love to write more for older chil­dren but prob­a­bly not crime for a while.”

She has been de­lighted to get back to Char­lie and Lola af­ter a five-year gap. “I have re­ally missed il­lus­tra­tion,” she says.

“As much as I love writ­ing, if I had to choose one or the other, I would find it hard. I find il­lus­trat­ing very calm­ing. You en­ter a dif­fer­ent world – it al­lows me to com­pletely for­get ev­ery­thing else that’s go­ing on.

“And I think hav­ing had the break it has made me be­come a bet­ter il­lus­tra­tor.”

Char­lie and Lola’s One Thing is pub­lished this week by Or­chard Books, £11.99; The Ruby Red­fort books are pub­lished by Harper Collins. Lau­ren Child is at Ryedale Book Fes­ti­val on Oc­to­ber 11 at 3.30pm, tick­ets £10 from www.ryedale­book­fes­ti­val. HAL­I­FAX’S Square Chapel for the arts presents a packed evening of po­etry, spo­ken word and sto­ry­telling ev­ery month.

If you are an es­tab­lished artist or just be­gin­ning there will be an open mic ses­sion as part of the evening’s events. Word­play takes place monthly, with the next on Oc­to­ber 8, at Square Chapel Cen­tre for Arts in Hal­i­fax and for tick­ets call the box of­fice on 01422 349422. To register for am open mic slot email word­[email protected] ONE of Bri­tain’s most well-loved ac­tors will be tak­ing part in the Bev­er­ley Literature Fes­ti­val.

Brian Blessed grew up in the com­mu­nity of Mexbor­ough in South York­shire. Train­ing at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre School, he has ap­peared in a mix­ture of parts over the years, in­clud­ing The Avengers, Flash Gor­don as well as many Shake­spearean roles. Blessed ap­pears at East Rid­ing Theatre on Oc­to­ber 9. For tick­ets call the box of­fice on 01482 392699.

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