‘The 1970s were a very long time ago!’
The famous children’s writer unleashes a softly spoken barb and it lodges in the breast of every festival goer who can remember buying proper Curly Wurlies (is that the correct plural?– help – maybe Wurlys looks better) and watching great TV like Banana Splits and White Horses chiz mone drone. Is rubbish dubbing better than subtitles from Italian? Oh dear, promised Dovegrey I would not mention The Leopard’s shortcomings any more except where they are properly relevant.
Back to the renowned author of the Clarice Bean books and Charlie and Lola.
When Dovegreyreader asked me to check out some of the children’s events at the festival she apologised and bribed me with a seat on her sofa near Edmund de Waal. ‘’I know it’s a busman’s holiday, she wheedled, but I’d really like to report on the Literary Provision for Young Minds and you are just the person to help me out here……..’ (translation...buzz around the children's bit would you Angela)
Even I am not immune to flattery, so despite it being my day off we happily settled back in our chairs to hear fascinating details about Lauren Child’s inspirations and the creative process which brings all her characters to life. Clarice Bean was the first thing she wrote where she ignored the advice of publishers and trusted her own instincts. Wanting to come up with an idea for an animation, she visualised the story like a comic strip, where the text and pictures are interrelated. That is why each page is so different from the one before. Anyone in the adult audience who had mistakenly thought that writing books for children was somehow easier, or different, was made to think again. We also heard about the little girl Lauren Child saw on a train years ago who was the ‘real’ Lola, and what an engaging description it was.
The children in the audience asked the most interesting and perceptive questions, as children do, and one lucky little girl won a Ruby Redfort T Shirt inscribed ‘ bored beyond belief’ and no, it wasn’t referring to an Abba tribute band but the redoubtable Ruby herself, who has a number of pithy catchphrases. Linda would have loved this for herself, to wear at screenings of The Leopard (oops!), but after I had earlier tried to wrest a gold inflatable Hermes horse balloon from a Fed Up Dad who had to carry it everywhere, we thought we would get thrown out if there was another such incident.
Needless to say the longest ever queue at the book signing tent snaked round and round the walled garden and the Lauren Child section looked like it had been consumed by the book eating dragon from the mural in the Round Room.
I looked at Lauren’s Princess and the Pea (where the illustrations were painstakingly constructed in 3D to make it look like the interior of a doll’s house) and thought of my confusion, when very little, upon hearing this story. Being a child of the 1970s, the only peas I had experience of were marrowfat processed peas out of a tin, and I simply could not understand how such a pea could be felt through that many mattresses and feather beds.
Even a princess must have squashed that soft and soggy pea flat, surely?