Michelle Robinson is an author of picture books, from Somerset, England.
There’s a Lion in my Cornflakes (with illustrations by Jim Field) was published July 2014 by Bloomsbury. It’s one of those amazing stories you feel like you were born knowing, but are only now reading for the first time.
Said the Mudwaffler… ‘A laugh-out-loud ROARRRING success – making cereal boxes fun again!’
After spotting a promotion almost too good to be true on a cereal box – FREE LION – JUST SAVE 100 COUPONS – two brothers spend a whole year’s worth of pocket money buying ‘umpteen’ boxes and AGES cutting out all of the coupons. As a result mum makes them eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and tea everyday, and worse still; no more pocket money until they’ve eaten them all! But they don’t mind. It’s worth it to get a FREE LION.
They wait all week… watching as everyone else in the street receives their lion, until finally, their delivery arrives. But there’s a slight problem, it seems the company have completely run out of lions and have substituted a grizzly bear instead!
Following a series of complaint letters… the brother’s home begins to resemble a zoo as Mr Flaky (the cereal company) sends more and more hilariously characterised substitutes!
Every detail has been thought out to deliver this really entertaining story. I remember well the excitement at opening a cereal box, eager to find out which free gift would be inside. They don’t give away things like that anymore (and never as amazing as a LION!), but this book brings everything that was so fantastic about that time and wraps it up into 32 pages of fun.
Jim Field’s illustrations are a perfect match for Michelle Robinson’s words. He brings her fun-filled words to life in such a richly detailed way. It’s the expressions that really stand out to me – this book is packed full of them: boredom, excitement, anger, annoyance and total hilarity. The grizzly bear is my favourite character, take a look at his face on the pages he features – pure genius (especially the car scene). The book has a great colour palette, with themed pages that really hit the mark. My favourite illustration is this one…
There surely must be another Robinson / Field collaboration soon?!
The Mudwaffler’s stamp is all over this…
Now, it’s WAFFLE time! Michelle Robinson joins us for a Q&A…
What inspires your stories?
Anything and everything. Usually something from real life with a healthy dollop of the surreal thrown in. No matter how fantastical a story is, if there’s truth at the heart of it, it can work. Vivian French (@fivekingdoms) taught me that. She’s absolutely wonderful.
What are you currently working on (any sneak peek news!?)?
All sorts. I always have lots of different stories on the go at any one time, all at various stages of completion. So some will be new ideas I’m just starting to play with, then there will be almost finished drafts that need a bit of tinkering before my agent submits them to publishers, plus any editing work on stories that are currently being illustrated and prepared for publication. I have six new picture books coming out in 2016, including something completely out-of-this-world with those marvellous people at Puffin. That’s your one and only clue, my lips are sealed.
What is your favourite thing to write about?
I’m very fickle. Whatever I’m currently writing about is usually my favourite and my best. I tend to finish a draft and think “OH MY GIDDY AUNT THIS IS THE BEST BOOK ANYONE’S EVER WRITTEN” …then I hit ‘send’, and the fear and self loathing kicks in. I’m really excited about ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting’, which David Roberts illustrated for Bloomsbury and will come out in February 2016. It’s based on my real experiences in Canada, took a bit of research and was a hoot to write. But I’m equally excited to write about underwear – ‘Odd Socks’, my first book with Rebecca Ashdown for Andersen Press, comes out around the same time and I love it.
Who (or what) are your influences?
There are loads. Mother Nature, A.A. Milne, Edward Lear, Looney Tunes, Monty Python, Beethoven, The Beatles, the Imagination Movers, plus my dad who is always making up very silly rhymes and songs. The ten years I spent as a copywriter also defined my style, especially the time I spent working in radio. My work tends to be pretty snappy and is always written with reading aloud in mind.
Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?
Buy books from independent book stores and use your local library. Support the industry that, in time, will support you. Fill your shelves with books, and look forward to the time when yours are sitting alongside them. Focus, keep at it and if you really want it, you’ll get there.
and three for fun…
What are three words that best describe you?
Wonderland Dormouse impersonator.
What is your favourite word?
If you could share a cuppa with anyone (alive or dead), anywhere, who would it be and where would you go?
I’d go to the TV room in the old folks’ home with Future Me and try and get some idea of what life’s really all about. I’m sure she’d tell me to worry less about getting the housework done and spend more time playing with my kids. Either that or she’d just babble incoherently about fairies.
Many thanks to Michelle!
Swamp Hugs! Till the next time…