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A chance to chat with our Guest Editor, Lauren Child MBE

Welcome Lauren Child, award-winning author, illustrator, former Children's Laureate, creator of some of our most adored literary characters - and our Guest Editor this month. 

Lauren Child is one of our most talented and original author/illustrators and her brilliant, lifelike characters have been companions to children for over 20 years. Her first picture books, I Want a Pet and Clarice Bean - That's Me, were published in 1999 and the following year she won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato - gem of a book. Her stories of Charlie & Lola, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort are sold in their millions across the world, in 19 different languages, all illustrated in her wonderfully unique style. She became the 10th Waterstones Children's Laureate in 2017-2019, is a UNESCO Artist for Peace and a Trustee of the House of Illustration - and in 2009 was awarded an MBE for services to literature.

Find out more about this celebrated and accomplished author/illustrator, her role as Children's Laureate and as a UNESCO Artist for Peace and her current creative projects.  

Many children will identify with Chirton and Myrtle, the characters in your most recent book, The Goody; one is labelled the good, polite, well-behaved one and the other is the naughty, disruptive one. It's funny but heart-warming, and subtly carries a message to allow children to be themselves. Are your stories written with both children and adults in mind? 

Yes, they are written with anybody in mind really. I don’t think very much about who is going to read them while I’m writing. I write about things that I’m interested in and hope they’ll be interesting to others.

Charlie and Lola is a brilliantly successful and much-loved series. Were the characters inspired by real life children - and did you have an imaginary friend yourself? 

Visually Lola is based on the look of a girl that I saw on a train whilst I was travelling in Denmark years ago. That is why the characters feel Scandinavian. They are very much based on remembering what it was like to grow up in a family of siblings as I had two sisters. Charlie is loosely inspired by my older sister. I didn’t have an imaginary friend but Soren Lorensen was the imaginary friend of my friend when I was young. She named him Soren Lorensen. 

Well it is a brilliant name for an imaginary friend!  Lola famously said she would NOT EVER NEVER EAT A TOMATO! Are there any foods that you won't eat?

I don’t like yoghurt and sultanas. 

What do you feel was your lasting legacy from your tenure as the Waterstones Children's Laureate?

I can’t really say myself what my legacy might be, all I know is that the experience was important for me. I became so much aware that there are many really interesting people working creatively with children. I met so many people who were utterly focused on making things creatively better for children and I met a great many children who had a real hunger for this.

You have illustrated a number of Pippi Longstocking stories - were you a fan of Astrid Lindgren when you were a child? 

I discovered Pippi Longstocking when I was eight or nine and found her completely inspiring, an entirely free spirit. She is truly independent; no adults in charge and just a pet monkey and a horse for company. And she is strong, so strong, she has nothing to fear. I became obsessed with her and wanted to be her. She represented pure freedom and an escape from conventional thinking. She quickly became one of my childhood heroes.

What does your role as a UNESCO Artist for Peace entail?

In the early days I travelled to countries visiting projects run by Unesco’s Education for Children in Need division. We published a special edition of That Pesky Rat which raised money but also I’ve tried to look for creative ways of engaging and listening. A project called My Life is a Story was launched asking children to share their stories and connecting children all over the world.

It's easy to see what a creative person you are through your lively illustrations and imaginative stories but 2020 and lockdown has encouraged many people to develop and explore their creative side. Have you discovered, or rediscovered, any new creative pastimes this year?

I don’t think it has really been about discovering anything new for me but I have realised more than ever how important the arts are to people – music, drama, painting and writing seem to be more important now than ever. Personally I’ve been playing the piano. 


Lauren's most recent book is The Goody, a "clever and amusing tale will prompt plenty of discussion about behaviour and fairness and it absolutely defends the rights of the child to be themselves and not just our vision of them". Read our full review and download an extract from the book here.

Lauren has also illustrated this gorgeous gift edition of Pippi Longstocking Goes Aboard, written by Astrid Lindgren - the perfect Christmas present!

As our Guest Editor, Lauren has given us five brilliant children's books to recommend to all our readers, and we showcase a selection of her books.

Comments (48)

Christine M - 26th January 2021

My youngest is currently loving reading Pippi Longstocking, and my children and I all have such fond memories of bonding over reading the wonderful adventures of Charlie & Lola together at bedtimes. Your books have really inspired me to begin my own journey writing children's stories ... I just wish I had your unique talent to illustrate them so beautifully myself, too! x

Rebecca B - 4th January 2021

I absolutely adored Pippi Longstocking too and wanted to be like her - so much so that I wore long stockings to school and started sleeping upside down on my bed! My question for Lauren would be to ask (or rather plead) for another series of Ruby Redfort books. Although they did culminate in an incredbible ending, I'd love to see Ruby back for more adventures. I loved those stories more than any others!!!

Maureen F - 4th January 2021

Lovely and interesting read.

Caroline J R - 4th January 2021

We love Charlie & Lola

Jeanette L - 4th January 2021

These look like lovely books my daughter and son would love them

Charlotte C - 4th January 2021

My two love the Charlie and Lola series! CAn't wait to read the new release

Debra W - 4th January 2021

This Book looks great

Susan B - 4th January 2021

An enlightening read - though I was slightly distracted and amused to read that Lauren won't eat sultanas as I won't, either. A very down to earth but incredibly talented person.

Rod C - 4th January 2021

My sons love reading Charlie & Lola stories!

Marion P - 4th January 2021

Love your books and Charlie and Lola have been a firm favourite with all the children in our family looking forward to riding miore

Gill M - 3rd January 2021

How wonderful. I was a huuuuuge Pippi fan growing up too and I love that my son discovered her through Lauren's illustrations.

Jennifer R - 3rd January 2021

It's great to learn more about how Charlie & Lola came about, my eldest daughter is 18 and she was a big fan. I've since watched my younger children enjoy the show, I think it's great too! x

Ellen S - 3rd January 2021

Really great read! Thanks

lynn n - 3rd January 2021

Looks a great book to share with my grandchildren!

Michael O - 3rd January 2021

Lovely interview.

Christine L - 1st January 2021

Great interview, we love Charlie and Lola

susan w - 1st January 2021

It must be wonderful to be able to visualise another author's characters so clearly. Lauren Child is so good at highlighting exactly the right characteristics.

Bridie I - 1st January 2021

My niece loves me reading your books to her, brings back memories for me too.

Sheila S - 1st January 2021

My grandchildren love these books. I am so pleased that their joy of reading continues in this digital age.

Leah T - 31st December 2020

My grandkids were mesmerised by Charlie & Lola, so engaging.

Debbie E - 27th December 2020

Lovely books. My boys have enjoyed them over the years.

Rosalind W - 21st December 2020

So lovely to hear about the origins of Charlie and Lola. The new book sounds really good.

Les W - 21st December 2020

I look forward to the end of lockdown when I can return to reading to my grandson and by then helping him with his reading and by then helping him with his reading.

Laura C - 20th December 2020

We love picture books. They are an amazing tool for opening up a child's imagination!

melanie w - 20th December 2020

The children just love Lola and so do I!

Anthony W - 16th December 2020

My grandkids love these books great author!!!

Marion G - 15th December 2020

The Goody sounds like a fabulous read. My grandchildren are fans of Charlie and Lola.

Jacqui G - 5th December 2020

Charlie and Lola are very popular in my g'children's house.

Marion T - 4th December 2020

I am very very totally really pleased to see this book Charlie

Matthew J - 4th December 2020

Thank you

Kath V - 4th December 2020

really interesting to read, thank you

Ruth H - 1st December 2020

Looks like a great bedtime read xx

fiona w - 29th November 2020

my children love charlie and lola, so they will probably love the new book

amy f - 29th November 2020

Your books are great

Nur S - 29th November 2020

As a child I watched Pippi Longstocking and loved the character. I also watched and read Charlie and Lola series both the my children and currently to my grandchildren. I look forward to seeing and reading Pippa Longstocking by Lauren Child.

Catherine S - 29th November 2020

That was interesting, thank you. We love Charlie and Lola!

Jo B - 28th November 2020

What a great way to start the conversation

Kelly D - 23rd November 2020

love the way Lauren Child illustrates Pippi Longstocking books and love Charlie and Lola books for children too

Kieran W - 22nd November 2020

My children love Charlie & Lola

MARIA R - 21st November 2020

we always love your books

Jenny M - 21st November 2020

I love the sound of this book, it is very hard to try and get a child to be themselves and not copy your actions. My daughter would love this book

Pippa A - 21st November 2020

Fascinating read. We're all huge fans of Lauren's here.

Sally C - 21st November 2020

Charlie and Lola are fabulous!

Susie W - 20th November 2020

Pippa Longstocking was a big favourite of mine too!

kathleen m - 19th November 2020

Pippi Longstocking was the first book my mother bought for us. I’ve never forgotten it and made sure all my children and grandchildren read it too. It has a special place in my memories

Denise D - 19th November 2020

Very interesting to learn who you based Lola on.

Laura C - 18th November 2020

My children love Lauren Child’s Charlie & Lola

Dawn S - 18th November 2020

Books are a great way to put across important messages to children and enable you to have a conversation about issues they may be facing in an informal casual way x

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