I love Lauren Child’s books about Charlie and Lola. Really, really love them. When I first saw I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, I was impressed by the particular comic style. The illustrations put me off at first, but I found that they were an acquired taste, like blue cheese or Curb Your Enthusiasm. After I got over the big eyes and pieced-together scenes, I found myself a true fan of the artistic interpretation and how it complements the text.
Then one day I’m minding my own business, and what should come on the Disney Channel but Charlie and Lola! These kids had made the big time with their own short animated series. You can imagine my trepidation given that the show is from Disney, home of such horrors as Pooh Adore-ables and really too many other travesties to children’s literature to name. But, as it turns out, the Charlie and Lola episodes are great. Most preschooler shows these days look like they were put together by the Committee of Important Lessons for Children (so that parents will feel better about their kids watching TV, and therefore we can plug the related toys, books, and clothes). But Charlie and Lola is just clever, funny, and entertaining. What a concept.
When a new Lauren Child book, But Excuse Me That Is My Book, came to my library, I brought it home to read to my seven-year-old. She seemed to be strangely familiar with the story. As it turns out, she had already seen the Charlie and Lola show from this book. Or, more accurately, this book was made from the show. Now the characters have come full circle. First a few books, then a few shows, and now books from the shows.
But you won’t see me complaining this time, because these books are good. How good? School Library Journal Best Books of 2006 good, where it’s listed along with other tops of the year like Lilly’s Big Day and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Moon.
But Excuse Me That Is My Book tells the story of Lola’s need to find her favorite book at the library, her heartbreak when it’s not there, and Charlie’s assistance in finding her something new. It’s spot-on perfect.
But you know, this post was supposed to be about Winter is My Favorite and My Best, which is also extremely very good, being the story of Charlie and Lola waiting for snow, playing in snow, and talking about snow. Okay, the book reads better than that. Imagine it with characters who entertain and amuse you.
But the best things about these books besides the clever writing, incredible illustration, and comic style is that you almost have to read them with a British accent. Especially after having seen the shows, it would be hard to resist. I know I’ve just made my British readers cringe, but maybe this version will win you over. Here’s an excerpt from Lauren Child’s But Excuse Me That Is My Book, as performed by the MotherReader players.