OH. MY. GOSH. Not often do you come across a book that Has It All, but James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy have collaborated on something truly special here and we cannot find a single thing not to love about it.
There are circus tricks:
More importantly than any of that though (and we don’t say that lightly), there are two adorable characters who find happiness when they find each other. James’ writing is just perfect and uses all the right words in all the right places so that you instantly feel as though you are also best friends with Bubble and Squeak and you’re rooting for them both from the start. We’ve raved about Clara’s pictures before and will do so again, but they have a timeless appeal that will never be out of style. She makes it all look so simple, but there are delightful details on each and every page and everything about the illustrations just makes us beam with glee. Bravo for beautiful Bubble and super Squeak!
Now you’re whipped up into an excited raspberry ripple of a frenzy, get ready to meet the enormously clever and incredibly lovely people who created this gorgeous story. We were lucky enough to have a chance to ask a few questions of Clara and James and their answers clearly show how much fun they had making the book, how much they enjoyed working together and how tolerant they are of the slightly unusual questions that C and H came up with (because not everyone wants to talk about whale sharks…)
Here’s what Clara said:
1) We like blue, purple and red depending on our mood, but sometimes we really like green, too. You used our favourite colours a lot in this book and that’s one of the reasons we love it so much 🙂 What is your favourite colour?
I like ALL colours, and colours that look good next to each other make me smile too (like orange and purple), but the absolute best for me – in all it’s different shades and tints – is blue.
2) What felt-tips (note from Mummy: or other materials) do you use to make your pictures?
I use lots of different things – pencils, coloured pencils, pens and gluing on bits of patterned paper and buttons and fabric, and best of all lots of delicious watercolour paints. I love squeezing them out onto the palette, and thinking how much I love my job.
Oh and I once painted with REAL JAM…
(Our jaws are dropping here – painting… and jam… TOGETHER?!?!? Genius.)
3) We love food (pretty much all kinds, though we particularly like cheese and cake) and we really enjoy looking out for all the pictures of it in this book. What is your favourite sort of food to eat? What is your favourite sort of food to draw?
I’m so glad you like the food in this book! Bubble must keep eating a lot, to keep her beautiful shape nice and round. I love to eat simple things like toast and crumpets, but they are so boring to draw. That’s why in books I draw lots of fancy cakes and ice cream sundaes – impossibly huge with a strawberry on top!
4) What does your favourite hat look like? (Mummy: We particularly like Bubble’s range of marvellous millinery!)
I don’t even own a hat – how sad is that! But if I did it would be a small one that perched on the side of my head, with lots of little felt birds and flowers and fruit on it.
5) What is your favourite animal to draw?
All my favourite animals to draw are in this book somewhere… as well as mice and elephants of course, I do love to draw bears and guinea pigs… oh and sausage dogs!
How fun it would be to buy an ice lolly or souvenir from a sausage dog like Yo-yo!
(Our verdict? More fun than using a whole tub of glue to make a picture! High praise indeed. )
6) Do your pictures sometimes go wrong when you draw them? How do you make them go right?
There’s no such thing as a wrong drawing, it’s just on it’s journey to being right. If I need to throw away a drawing or rub something out I try not to worry. Sometimes I go off and do something else for a bit, and then come back for a fresh start.
7) Have you ever seen a mouse or an elephant in real life? Have you ever seen a whale shark?
I have seen a mouse, and just the other day I saw baby elephants at the zoo, which was the sweetest thing ever. But I’ve never seen a whale shark – are they very fierce?
C says that whale sharks don’t use their teeth for biting so they’re definitely not the fiercest type of shark. Phew.
8) What sort of tricks would you do if you were in the circus?
I’d fly up high on a daisy trapeze – just like Bubble!
9) Do you think Bubble and Squeak will always be best friends?
Oh YES! Just like me and James.
10) What is your favourite book to read at the moment?
At the moment I am reading Pirates ‘n’ Pistols by Chris Mould. It’s VERY exciting, a bit too scary for bedtime though…
11) What was your favourite book to read when you were little?
My favourite book was Babar. It is perfection in a green suit and bowler, I love it still.
12) The pictures and words combine so beautifully to create Bubble and Squeak’s relationship and to convey their feelings throughout the story (I held back a sniffle and a small tear on more than one occasion). Are you able to put into words how you worked together with James to do this, or is just one of those indefinable ‘magic moments’? (Mummy wrote this question!)
It IS a magical thing. I just couldn’t believe my luck and had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming when James wrote this wonderful story – and it was for ME! Trying to describe it too closely would be like sitting on a meringue and squashing it and I wouldn’t want to do that. But I will just say that because James is also an illustrator and I am also a writer we have an extra layer of empathy – in fact you can’t really see the join.
And here’s what James said:
Yes, both. But not together at the same time. We sometimes have had mice in our house. Especially if we leave cheese lying around. But we never get elephants. Perhaps if we left strawberry bon bons lying around, we’d get elephants too. I have never seen a whale shark, but would like to very much. I’ve seen killer whales.
C wants to add here that sometimes killer whales can be known as orcas. No further comment though, it seems.
WIN A COPY OF ‘BUBBLE AND SQUEAK’
If you’d like to win one of THREE copies of this brilliant book, simply leave a comment at the end of this post. You can enter more than once by sharing this giveaway post on your Facebook page or blog, or by tweeting about it. You can copy and paste the following text if that makes it easier:
You must leave a separate comment after this post for each entry for them to count. Comments must be posted by midnight on Thursday, 16th May, 2013 and I will pick the winner at 10am on Friday, 17th May, 2013 (UK time). The winners will be chosen at random, using http://www.random.org and I will contact them after the draw for their address (you must live in the UK to enter) to pass on to Orchard Books, who will send out the prize. I will also post the winners’ names on here. Good luck!
This competition ended at 10am on Friday 17th May, 2013. The lucky winners were Anne Booth, Grace Sandford and Helen. Many thanks to all who entered!
Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.