The Laugh Out Loud book awards were set up to celebrate all that is funny in children’s books. Such a vital aspect of children’s literature and certainly one of our most popular sections in the library. Funny is how we can engage children with reading. So combine funny with illustrated and you’re onto a winner, especially when created by the fantastic Sophy Henn, author and illustrator of the Bad Nana series of books published by Harper Collins, the first of which, Older Not Wiser is nominated for the Lollies 2020.
Containing three short stories telling of Bad Nana exploits, this book is absolutely hilarious. One of those that everyone will enjoy from the adult reading to the child listening. Bad Nana has attitude, style, brains and bolsh, yet she is kindness personified, and that’s pretty much perfect right. Sophy Henn has hit the mark with everything in these books. The illustrations are bright and bold and add an extra element of fun and enjoyment making them ideal for young beginner readers, breaking up the text so they’re less daunting.
You take those early readers from school, they serve a purpose for sure when learning to read, but compare them to this sort of book which is packed with entertainment, humour and fresh illustrations and you give children something which just a pure joy to read over and over and will show them what reading is really all about! Every child will want their own naughty nana after reading this.
And to give you a real insight into the books, I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Sophy Henn onto Bookmonsters for a little Q&A so settle into your big armchair, grab some sherbet lemons and a cuppa tea…
1. Bad Nana is the most creative yet also recognisable character I’ve come across. Wonderfully naughty yet also good. What inspired this fab nana? Dare I ask if she is based on anyone you know?
WOW! Thank you very much! Bad Nana actually started life as a comic strip character in a comic I made for my daughter. I really liked the idea of having a Nana with a real sense of fun, who was out and about and loved to play pranks on people (though importantly she only uses her powers for good!). You know if you or I played pranks on people we would get into big trouble, but no one is going to tell a Nana off, so I could have her getting up to all sorts! Then when she became a whole book I decided her granddaughter, Jeanie, would be best person to tell these stories as she is going to find Bad Nana’s shenanigans hilarious and we all know when you remove boring grown ups from the equation and have older people and children in cahoots, heaps of fun is inevitable!!!!
Bad Nana isn’t based on anyone I know, but a lot of Nana’s bring their grandchildren to events and whisper to me that they are Bad Nanas, which is AWESOME!!! And really, Bad Nana is the nana I want to be! I have already started collecting whoopee cushions…..pppppffffffffffsstttttttt!
2. Sophy, you are best known for your picture books. How was the transition to illustrated chapter books? Where there any particular challenges to this?
Well, there were more words for starters. And more pictures! I won’t lie, I initially found the whole thing a little daunting, but once I found Jeanie’s voice ( I think of my daughter and her friends chatting away in the back of the car when I used to drive them about to help me with that) things almost took care of themselves!!! I mean I still had to think of situations and beginnings and endings and whatnot, but once I knew my characters and their voices I could just enjoy our adventures!
And these books are still the lovely combo of words and images, which I am used to with picture books, so you can have them working together or both telling slightly different stories which leaves lots of room for potential LOLs.
3. Your latest book Bad Nana, That’s Snow Business has just been released. What can we expect from her latest stories? And do you have plans for anymore Nana adventures?
OOOooooooh well there’s a bit of a twist in That’s Snow Business….the Winter Wonderland Variety Show is happening in Jeanie’s town and everyone is invited to audition. The town fully embraces this opportunity and audition day in the Town Hall is very busy. Jeanie and her friends have an act that they put together with the help of Bad Nana and her show biz experience. But this isn’t the the last we see of Bad Nana’s show biz past, as both she and her old friend Bobby Trulove (he was in panto with Sir Ian Mckellen apparently) take their turn on the stage. BUT OH NO…does the spotlight turn them a bit giddy? Will Bad Nana and Bobby Trulove go a bit razzle dazzle crazy?Can Jeanie and her friends get the show back on the road? And what about the SNOW? There’s only one way to find out…
And I would LOVE to write more Bad Nana stories, she’s like a lovely, funny friend I get to hang out with when I am writing her adventures. And I’ve got that army of naughty nanas to keep building!
4. Where do you do your work, does anything in your surroundings inspire you in particular?
I do have a room I tend to work in, but because of bobbing about to lots of literary festivals, schools and bookshops I also work a lot on the train! My surroundings don’t impact too much on what I am working on as it’s all going on in my head, but I do need tea, that’s non negotiable. And one day I think I would like to work in front of a window that looks out to the sea, that would be nice. Or in a treehouse, that would be really nice.
5. You have been creating children’s books s for a while now, every one fantastic. What inspired you to become a writer and illustrator in the first place? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Thank you AGAIN! You are very kind! I have been doing this for about six years now and it has been a wonderful, fun packed whirlwind! In all honesty it was my daughter who inspired me to do this as when she was born I rediscovered picture books. We visited bookshops, libraries, I reclaimed some of my childhood books and I realised how much I loved that combination of a few words and a strong image which, when combined, create so much more than the sum of their parts. And then I realised how similar it was to the advertising work I had done and even the greetings card design I was doing and I thought, what if……
6. And finally, every Nana has a purse full of useful goodies. What 3 things would you have in your perfect Nana handbag?
Lemon Sherbets….All these things are actually in my handbag right now. Mwahahahahhahhaaaaaaa!
What a fantastic set of answers from Sophy, thank you so much! And good luck on the Lollies.
To find out more about the Lollies check out the website here where you can vote for your favourite funny book, and please do check out the rest of the blog tour to find out more about the other books nominated. Voting closes on December 13th. https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/lollies
Thank you for reading this rather bad Book Monster review.Image