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Lauren Child will be speaking at this year's Hastings Storytelling Festival

Lauren Child will be speaking at this year’s Hastings Storytelling Festival

Lauren Child to speak at this year’s Storytelling Festival in Hastings

The well known children’s book author and new Children’s Laureate Lauren Child will be speaking at the Hastings Storytelling Festival this year. HOT’s youngest journalist, teenager Esme Needham, sent her some questions about her books and the importance of reading and writing for children and young people.

I loved reading your books as a child. My favourite was The Princess and the Pea. Do you have a favourite out of your books? If so, why?
– Clarice Bean launched me as a writer, so she is especially close to me. I decided to
write something that really appealed to me and was partly made up of memories
from my childhood. I also love Hubert Horatio Bartle-Bobton Trent. He is so resilient and resourceful and surprisingly well adjusted.

Clarice Bean is a character who is close to Lauren Child's heart.

A lot of your books, especially the Ruby Redfort series, have strong, interesting female characters in the lead. Do you think it’s important for girls to have role models like this growing up?
– Absolutely. Ruby Redfort was originally written as Clarice Bean’s hero and I very much wanted to write about a character who would inspire Clarice. I wrote about a girl who is courageous and brave and clever and not just some kind of sidekick. I remember reading Pippi Longstocking, and it had nothing to do with her being a girl – but you saw a very strong, funny, clever person who happens to be a girl, and that
meant a lot to me as a child.

I remember Cressida Cowell saying once that her daughter inspired one of her characters. Are there any people in particular who inspire you when you’re thinking of ideas?
– I spend a lot of time looking out of windows, just watching the world go by and the
people I see often inform my work. Details that stand out or stick in my mind, a
particular hat or an interesting walk. I listen to people talking a lot, too. It’s about fine-tuning your ears and eyes to the details. Inspiration is everywhere.

Nearly a third of libraries in East Sussex are being threatened with closure at the moment. How important do you think libraries are for young people growing up in the twenty-first century?
– Tremendously important. Often the library is a child’s first or only access to a book. There are many children who don’t have any access to books and they can’t get
them at school because a lot of schools don’t have libraries. If we truly value literacy, we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to read and to try different books until they find the ones that really excite them.

Another of Lauren Child's books featuring Clarice Bean

Another of Lauren Child’s books featuring Clarice Bean.

Which books did you read growing up? You’ve said that Ruby Redfort is the sort of person you’d like to be. Which characters did you want to be growing up?
– One favourite was Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden (by Frances Hodgson Burnett). She is initially very hard to like – rude, selfish, spoilt but she is tenacious and curious too and these strengths are what lead her to find the garden and nurture it back to life. As a young girl, reading about someone who doesn’t need everyone’s approval was really liberating. Pippi Longstocking (a character in stories by Astrid Lindgren) is a kind, generous, fun, clever character. She doesn’t really care what people think about her and I loved and admired her for that.

I think one of the things that draws children to your books is that they never patronise children in the same way that some children’s books do. They’re really relatable. What do you think it is about your books that makes them so accessible and sympathetic to children?
– I can’t say exactly what it is that makes children engage with my stories. Mostly I’m
writing for myself and not everyone is going to enjoy or like what I do. You can’t try to please everyone, you’re trying to please individuals and hopefully, if I like it, I might pick up a few on the way who will enjoy it too. Children have a world you can’t enter as an adult. In it, small things can be unexpectedly significant. I suppose I wanted to pick up on the things that adults barely notice but really matter to children, to show things from the child’s perspective. They see themselves and their concerns reflected.

Lauren Child's latest book in the Charlie and Lola series, A Dog With Nice Ears.

Lauren Child’s latest book in the Charlie and Lola series, A Dog With Nice Ears.

What advice would you give to young people who would like to be writers?
– Writing and illustrating are all about observing, so take the trouble to be sit quietly and notice things – the little details, like how a person puts a sentence together or their laugh- as these are what make a character believable. If I’m drawing somebody, the way they cross their legs tells me something about them. Observations are so important. Have a go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right the first time. And read! You research writing styles and illustration styles by looking at and reading other people’s works and not by imitating it.

Lauren Child will be at the White Rock Theatre
on Thursday 9 November at 5pm.
You can book tickets at the White Rock Theatre website
or call 01424 462288 to book.

For more about Hastings Storytelling Festival follow these links:
Hastings Storytelling Festival is coming to town
Benjamin Zephaniah at Hastings Storytelling Festival

Posted 16:03 Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 In: Literature

Also in: Literature

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