Clara Vulliamy

Hay Festival: Clara Vullimay


Today was my first day at the Hay Festival and I have had an amazing time! It has rained a lot- this is Hay!- but nothing has dampened the spirits of all the people attending this wonderful festival.


Clara Vulliamy is a firm favourite of everyone at JAB HQ so I was delighted to find that she was going to be talking about her 'Dotty Detective' series. Dorothy Constance Mae Louise - or Dot as she prefers- is a wonderfully lovely character with many skills. She loves maths, doodling and can suck three super sour sweets- a talent she shares with her creator!


Together with McCluskey the dog and her best friend, Beans, she is one of  the Join the Dots Detectives and loves nothing more than solving a good mystery. Clara showed us all how she draws Dot and McCluskey and the taught us some very useful coding techniques- one of which being the banana code which is shown above! 


Having read us a section of her new book, 'The Holiday' Mystery, everyone settled down to create a code of their own using symbols for letters. All too soon, the session was over and lots of new 'Dotty Detectives' left, feeling very happy and pleased with themselves as Clara praised and commented on each code she saw.


It was a lovely session. Both written and illustrated by Clara, the 'Dotty Detective' books are well worth reading, offering fun stories full of warm friendships and loving family relationships. 


You can read our reviews of other books illustrated by Clara:  'Dixie O'Day in the Fast Lane' here , 'All Mary' here and 'Mango and Bambang The Not a Pig' here.


LONG LIST REVIEW: Mango & Bambang The Not-a-Pig

This is the first in a series of books about Mango Allsorts and Bambang, the Malasyian tapir (not a pig!) she meets. Bambang is lost and alone in the city, frightened by everything when the kind Mango comes to his rescue.  There are four stories about this unusual friendship in this beautiful book.

Amongst shelves full of loud, bright books full of 'issues' and full on adventure, there is something delightfully charming and refreshing about this slightly old-fashioned seeming book with its candy stripes, gentle humour and wonderful illustrations.

Written in a chatty style, 'Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig' makes a perfect read aloud, offering plenty of opportunities for 'doing the voices'! Each story is about 30 pages long, ideal for sharing over two or three sessions, and the wealth of illustrations brings each vividly to life. In places, the lettering plays across the pages, emphasising certain words and phrases.

Mango is a lively, resourceful girl who will appeal to boys as well as girls, just as George-from-the-tree-in-the-park will appeal to girls as well as boys! The warmth of friendship between Mango and Bambang is really touching- sweet and innocent.

He could do anything with Mango. He would do anything for Mango...

This is a read-aloud which offers something just a bit different. A delightful, refreshing story about a beautiful friendship.

Mango and Bambang The Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

Walker Books    ISBN: 978-1406361438


All Mary...

A real trip down memory lane! I used to choose Mary Plain books from the local library on our weekly visits when I was little. The stories have a quaint, old-fashioned feel to them, yet they are just as readable and enjoyable today as ever!

Mary is 'an usual first-class bear' who has a wonderfully egocentric view of the world. Headstrong and cheeky, she is both bear-like and child-like, making her unique and loveable.

  In this adventure, she goes on her first 'svisit' to stay with the Fur Coat Lady, accompanied by the patient and kind Owl Man. Having climbed the four poster bed, fallen asleep in a dumb waiter, gone on a 'pic' without a 'nic' and worn a beautful striped bathing costume, Mary returns to the bear pit at Berne Zoo in Switzerland.

Using her wonderful 'Mary writing', she invites the other bears to a party at the zoo before heading off to London where she enters a show at Earl's Court. She wins (of course!) and returns home triumphant, wearing her rosette with pride.

The up-dated illustrations are just beautiful. Clara Vulliamy has captured Mary's spirit perfectly! The slight tilt of an ear, position of the nose, line of an eyebrow convey so much emotion in each picture, bringing the inimitable Mary to life for a new generation of readers.

This is the second book (I have just bought the first-Mostly Mary- trust me to do things backwards!) in what I hope will be the complete re-imagined works of Gwynedd Rae!

All Mary by Gwynedd Rae, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

Egmont    ISBN: 978-1405281232