Saturday, May 25, 2013

Maisy creator Lucy Cousin

Weekend Bonus: Meet Children's Book Illustrator and Author: Lucy Cousin

Above: Interviewed by Natur + Kultur ForlagMaisy image by Lucy Cousin

Yes, you must know Maisy Mouse, don't you? (or maybe you know her by the name Mimi, Molly... Pina...?) I had the chance to meet Lucy Cousin, creator and illustrator of Maisy, yesterday. Cousin has more than 30 million books in print world wide and arrived in Stockholm to participate in The Picture Book Festival (click here) at Junibacken, this weekend (May 25 - 26), where she will lead a book making workshop, among other Maisy related things. If you have Maisy-aged fans in your house and are in Stockholm, this sounds like so much fun!

Meeting Cousin under a Pippi Longstocking-inspired tent felt very appropriate when she went on to share that she had been a tomboy as a child and that it was important to her that Maisy didn't dress in stereotypical pink. Cousins expanded on this to say that she reveled in mail from boys who thought Maisy was a boy. She delights in the fact that both boys and girls can identify with Maisy. I feel that Swedish National Children's Book Treasure, Pippi, would welcome Maisy with open arms.

Interestingly, we learned that Cousin's first draft of Maisy wasn't a mouse at all; but, a person.
After Cousin's editors asked her to consider drawing an animal character, she returned to her drawing board and tried many different animals until one day, she drew a white mouse. When she drew this white mouse, she just knew that this would be the main character: Maisy. Cousin explained that she knew without question "just how Maisy, the mouse, would walk and talk; she knew who she'd be friends with and even the kind of car Maisy, the mouse, would drive." I love hearing the creative story behind the creation, do you, too? (click here)

In addition to being a warm, friendly and engaged creative, Cousin shared details of her daily life and education. In her fifth year of art school, Cousin won a prize in a children's book competition. The book that won the competition was the first book she'd created using uncharacteristic primary colors, rather than the typical black and white colors she had preferred her first 5 years of school. Although, now her books are very colorful, the black lines in her work set a distinct tone and atmosphere creating a very Cousin-worlds. Cousin went on to state that she lives on a farm outside of London with her 4 children and husband and that her daily routine was to wake up, take care of the laundry, feed the chickens, have breakfast, take the kids to school and to absolutely, positively start working by 9:30 AM on the dot, blocking everything else out. Cousin said that she's very disciplined about writing while the children are away at school and for years, she doubts her children even understand that she worked and that although she works tenaciously all day, she breaks for "many, many, many cups of tea."

Did you know that Maisy had different names around the world? The question was asked about Maisy's different international names. Cousin explained that names and naming were one of the most difficult aspects of her work. After initially choosing the names of the character herself, she trusts the international publishing companies, who publish Maisy around the world, to choose a locally appropriate equivalent name for Maisy. I always wondered how Maisy could be known here as Molly. In fact, our children know her as Maisy in English, Molly in Swedish and Mimi in French.

Meeting open Lucy Cousin was so nice that my coffee grew cold, my sandwich remained untouched, I didn't even think to ask for a photo to be taken with her, a book to be signed or personal advise about the world of children's publishing; although I could see that she was ready to do this with others. Lucy Cousin is very much like the characters in her books, easy, happy, accessible and someone who's very easy to enjoy.  Lucy, I hope your weekend in Stockholm's been lovely. Could Maisy possibly ride off on a Swedish Dalahast in her future? Their colors would work together beautifully. 

I extend a special thank you to Alexia Jaldung of educational upgrades (a sponsor of the Picture Book Festival/Bildbokerfestival), for inviting me to share this lovely breakfast with you and for the opportunity to meet Lucy Cousin.

Something you might like: (click on links below)


  1. Dear Gina
    It's Mausi here! The german word for mouse is Maus.
    Always interesting to read about the creators from lovely children books. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dear Natalie, "Danke schon!" Maus? That's interesting and makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. Thanks for this a post:) in Poland we call her Maisy as well:) but it's really good to know sth more about the author. We (I mean me and my kids) love Maisy.I remember the first wallpaper in our son's room was Maisy Mouse:))))We also are crazy (and still and I think I am more than my kids:) about Charlie&Lola:)

    1. That's so interesting she's Maisy in Poland. Thank you for sharing. I think you're very lucky to have Maisy aged kids! Happy Monday.

  3. Mimi la souri in France!


Thank you!