Lauren Child at Big DoG Children's Book Festival

Creator of Charlie and Lola talks Big DoG and book recommendations.

19 March 2024
The Big Dog mascot, a large and fluffy orange dog, from the children's book festival in Dumfries.

Big DoG Children's Book Festival starts this Friday with a weekend of events for children and families. Among well-known names at Big DoG will be former Children’s Laureate, the best-selling author and illustrator Lauren Child. We had a chat with her about her visit and what she will be doing as part of the festival.

Headshot of  Lauren Child.

Tell us about what you will be doing at Big DoG?

I’ve got three events planned with schools, families and an event with the wonderful Scottish illustrator Jill Calder. I’ll be talking about Clarice Bean Smile for middle-grade readers. I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and being in Dumfries as I’ve never been to the Big DoG festival before.

Is it right that this will be the first chance for fans to get hold of the latest Clarice Bean book?

Yes, Clarice Bean Smile is the sixth Clarice Bean novel and it’s actually published at the end of March so people will be able to get hold of it first at Big DoG.

People loved Charlie and Lola - will they be back?

There are plans but it’s all a bit secret at the moment. Watch this space though and we’ll let you know soon. I know there are lots of fans and it’s really fun to see how the characters are loved by young people who remember them from their childhood.

Your last visit to D&G sounded a bit of an adventure, tell us more.

It was in September 2022 when I came up to the Wigtown Book Festival. The trains were cancelled - I think that was happening rather a lot, and everyone had to get off at Dumfries. Eventually, we all got to Wigtown really late in the evening, but it was such a warm welcome and the event in the town hall the next day with the author Viv French was lovely. Sadly, I had to get back for something the next day so I didn’t have time to look around the wonderful book town.

You do a lot to encourage reading - why are stories so important for children?

Books and stories have such an important power to help us feel understood and help us understand others better and our place in the world.

How important are illustrations to your books?

I think illustrations are really important. They are like a kind of visual poetry and often say more without words.

If parents want to find books that are fun, but might help children with some of their worries about life and the world, what would you suggest?

One of my favourites from my own childhood is The 18th Emergency by Betsy Byars. This book made me realise for the first time that people are neither good nor bad, but a mixture of both, that they make sound decisions and poor ones, they behave well and they mess up. The 18th Emergency also taught me that life can be both funny and tragic at the same time.