The Bolds with Julian Clary and David Roberts

Published on: 05 May 2016 Author: Julian Clary and David Roberts

The team behind The Bolds books, Julian Clary and David Roberts talk about working together, their favourite funny books and their favourite funny experiences.

Julian Clary and his dogs

How does writing funny scenes for children compare to writing comedy for adults? Are there things you write differently for children? And what's the best thing about writing for children?

Julian Clary: Writing for children is a liberating experience for me. Having spent 30 years being decidedly adult, I can at last find my inner child and give it free rein. I find that my imagination is used much more and of course there's much less innuendo.

Making children laugh is a great joy and the need for right to triumph over wrong means the world you create can be a just and kind one, which is not always the case in the real world.

What's the best thing about illustrating books for children?

David Roberts: I think it's the imagination of the author that I find the most exciting part. It's such a privilege to be given the chance to read a story and then imagine the pictures that should tell that story. It's so exciting, exploring the imagination of someone else and seeing where their ideas can take your own imagination.

I also love using the things I see around me to create the worlds I draw, like fashion and textiles and patterns and architecture and art and furniture and landscape.

David Roberts and the books

David, what is it like working with Julian?

DR: I was always a fan of Julian Clary. I love his humour, I used to love watching him on television and I've loved reading his books. He's so naughty! Doing events together is hilarious - I never know what he's going to say next!

It's been great illustrating for him. The characters in The Bolds have his voice all over them and it's been so much fun bringing some of his personality in to the drawings. Just wait till you see Fifi the French poodle in The Bolds to the Rescue! Some of her outfits have more than a hint of Julian about them!

And Julian, what is it like working with David?

JC: David Roberts adds so much to the text once I've written it. He brings everything to life with great attention to detail. I can spend ages looking at his illustrations, finding new things to make me laugh. Somehow he makes a tall tale very believable.

Julian Clary

What are your top three favourite funny children's books and why?

DR: The first is my favourite book ever, of all time! It's an old book called A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss with pictures by Maurice Sendak. It's a collection of little vignettes in pen and ink, with captions that kids have said. So it only has short lines of text (this was perfect for me as I was not such a strong reader as a child ...I'm still not really!)

Things like 'The world is so you have something to stand on' or 'Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough'. And the best one, 'Mud is to jump in and slide in and yell doodleedoodleedoo doodleedoodleedoo-oo'!

The second would be I Didn't Do My Homework Because... by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud. It has lots of hilarious imaginative excuses from a boy about why he didn't do his homework!

And the third would be anything by wonderful Jeanne Willis. I think she's a genius when it comes to writing funny books!

What's the funniest thing that has ever happened to you?

JC: I was in a supermarket once, in the frozen food aisle. An elderly woman leant in to the freezer to pick up some peas and then toppled in head first! Just her legs were left waggling in the air. When I'd finished laughing I helped to pull her out.

DR: Well, I don't think I've ever laughed as much as when my great uncle Bill, who was deaf, let rip a humungous trump at the dinner table on Christmas Day.

Obviously he couldn't hear it and just carried on regardless, eating his turkey and sprouts, but the rest of the family were shaking with suppressed laughter with tears running down our faces. He must have wondered what on earth was wrong with us all!

Or there's the time when I was in Paris with my friend Julia. She tried to speak French and said 'Parlez vous Ponglais?' instead of 'Parlez vous Anglais?' That was funny enough until we wondered was it like saying 'Do you speak Pinglish?'...I still laugh about that now!

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