June 7th, 2021

A-Z of Artists

Letter L: Lauren and Natalia O'Hara

This week focusing on letter L in our A-Z we bring you the incredibly talented duo Lauren and Natalia O’Hara. Lauren illustrates and Natalia writes the stories. Together they have created The Bandit Queen, a glorious picture book written in exquisite verse that is funny, tells a good story and is linguistically exciting, while the accompanying illustrations are playful and a delight to the eye.

Book of the Week: The Bandit Queen

written by Natalia O’Hara, and illustrated by Lauren O’Hara

"O Bandit Queen!" the bandits cried.
Little horror! Poison weed!
We'll give you everything a queen could ever need..."

The bandits give their queen treasure, tigers, mischief and mayhem. But sometimes a little girl needs something more… A beautiful book about finding family in unexpected places.

Authors in focus

Natalia O'Hara

Natalia O’Hara is a children’s author. She was born in the North of England to a Czech mother and an English father. As a child Natalia loved books, but couldn’t read until high school due to dyslexia. She studied English at Oxford and Cambridge, and has worked as a journalist, a script developer and a travel writer in five countries. Natalia has written two books, Hortense and the Shadow and The Bandit Queen, both illustrated by her younger sister Lauren. She lives in London.

Lauren O'Hara

Lauren O’Hara is an illustrator. As a child she loved reading fairytales, painting insects and listening to her grandmother’s stories. She studied Art and Illustration at Kingston University and then designed window displays and props for films. Lauren’s career as an illustrator began when her sister Natalia suggested they work together on a picture book, which became Hortense and the Shadow. As well as two books with Natalia, she illustrated Madame Badobedah by author Sophie Dahl. She lives in a converted church in Dublin with her partner and their cat Ida.

Watch this reading of The Bandit Queen


The Bandits’ Song

Have a go at writing a new verse for the Bandits’ song. First, we need to get to know the rhythm and rhyme scheme of each verse. To find the rhythm of the poem, count the number of syllables (beats) in each line:

Then, identify which words are rhyming words:

*Bad and brag are near rhymes, where the sounds are similar but not identical.

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes at the end of the lines. Lines that rhyme with each other should be named with the same letter:

Now that you are familiar with the structure of the poem, have a go at writing your own verse. For example:

Make a Model School

This activity requires adult supervision!

You will need:

  • 2 cereal boxes
  • Paint/felt tips/crayons
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Plain paper
  • Play figures (e.g. Lego or Playmobil)

What to do:

Step 1
Undo the cereal boxes to create two flat pieces of card.

Step 2
Reconstruct one of the boxes so that the plain card is on the outside. Tape the two flaps of the box together at the top, to make a roof.

Step 3
ASK AN ADULT to cut around three sides of the front of the box, to create a flap which opens. Use the ruler to draw windows and a door on the front of the box.

Step 4
On a piece of paper, draw pictures for each floor onto paper and stick it inside the box.

Step 5
Using the other cereal box, cut two sections of card which are 2cm wider than the width of the box. Fold each edge to create two flaps. Glue the flaps to the inside of the box to create three floors.

Your school is now complete! If you have any play figures, use them to act out different scenes from the story.

We’d love to see your poems and model schools! To send us your work to display in our gallery use the link below, or upload to twitter with the hashtag #BookshowA-Z.

Email us your work for our gallery

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