Lollies 2023: Illustrator of the Year Shortlist Q&A

Hear from the creators of our superbly silly titles in the Illustrator of the Year Shortlist for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2023!

Lollies 2023: Finding the funniest books!

We sat down with Liz Pichon (LP), author and illustrator of the Tom Gates series and Dapo Adeola (DP), illustrator of We’re Going to Find the Monster! and My Dad is a Grizzly Bear to ask them all about her shortlisted works, and why funny books are so important.

Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2023! How does it feel to have your work recognised by the judges?

LP: I’m extremely happy! All the other authors and illustrators are brilliant too, so being in their company is very special. So a big thanks to the judges and The Lollies.

DP: I’m very honoured to be up for Illustrator of the Year. It’s a bit surprising to be honest because I don’t quite see my work as the “funny haha” type, but I’m really glad people seem to get some joy from it lol.

Why do you think funny books are important?

LP: Funny books get children reading for PLEASURE and who doesn’t like a good laugh?

DP: Because there are more than enough books out about serious things. Not only should there be balance, but laughter and humour is just as important in literature for all ages.

Can you tell us more about your books?

LP: My main character is a boy called Tom Gates, who likes drawing, doodling and annoying his grumpy sister Delia. Tom is based on me when I was a kid. He gets easily distracted by caramel wafers and wishes he had a dog. Luckily his best friend and next door neighbour has a dog called Rooster, so that helps. The books are packed with funny drawings and lots of different fonts to help tell the stories. I like to write about small funny details of school and family life. I like to think my books helped to start a whole genre of middle grade books with lots of pictures in them.

DP: I don’t have a particular book on the shortlist as I’m up for Illustrator of the Year, but my journey so far has been short and pretty full of awesome moments.

Why should children vote for you?

LP: If they voted for me I would do a SPECTACULAR celebratory doodle, be unbelievably jolly, perky and LEAP in the air while doing some impressive joyous dancing. But don’t let that put you off voting. We want EVERYONE to get involved and take part.

DP: Honestly, I don’t know lol. Can I say “because I want to win?” I can’t think of a reason other than because they like my work. So if you do enjoy my work, then please throw me a vote.

What would you say to anyone hoping to one day write or illustrate their own book?

LP: Keep reading, keep drawing and writing your own stories. So many authors I know took a long time to get published, if you really want to do it, don’t give up! Write about things that interest you, finish your stories off and then read them aloud. Keep a diary too – it’s a great way to get into the habit of writing every day and you will forget things. A diary helps you to remember stuff with dates.

DP: It’s the BEST thing you’ll ever do, so start TODAY. Experiment a lot. There’s no such thing as a bad drawing or text, only lessons you’ll hopefully learn from and grow. Enjoy the journey.

Don’t forget to read the shortlisted books and vote for your favourites!

Cast your vote

Liz Pichon

Liz Pichon

Liz Pichon is best known as the illustrator and author of the Number One bestselling Tom Gates books which have won many awards including the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, a Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and a Blue Peter Award.

Liz started her career in the music industry as an album cover designer before becoming illustrator and author of many picture books, Tom Gates, and middle-grade adventure, Shoe Wars.

As well as being a celebrated illustrator, Liz writes the songs and stars in the award-winning The Brilliant World of Tom Gates TV series which features animation, makes and doodles. She also hosts ‘Tremendous Tales with Liz Pichon’ podcast where she interviews top children’s illustrators and authors for a family audience.

Liz is dyslexic and talks about how comics got her were her gateway into reading. Now her own highly-illustrated books are widely credited with getting children reading – even struggling readers. Liz lives in Brighton.

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Dapo Adeola

Dapo Adeola

Dapo Adeola is an award-winning illustrator and designer who creates characters and images that challenge expectations around race and gender in a fun and upbeat way. He is the co-creator and illustrator of bestselling picture book Look Up! – winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the number 1 debut picture book of 2019.

London born and bred but of Nigerian heritage, when he’s not busy cooking up new characters and adventures you can find Dapo running illustration and character design workshops with children or organising events to help highlight the possibilities of a career in illustration to underrepresented members of the Black diaspora.

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Steven Lenton

Steven Lenton

Steven hails from Cheshire and now works from his studio in Brighton, creating an array of charming characters for his books.

Best known for illustrating Shifty McGifty series, written by Tracey Corderoy, he has illustrated many lovely books and wrote his first picture book with Nosy Crow, Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights.

Steven also loves to visit schools, festivals and bookshops, encouraging and inspiring his audience to draw, giggle and create! He is also a children’s book blogger – just search for his name on YouTube. More information about him and his work can be found at

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Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Sue Hendra grew up in Wimbledon and has always loved making up stories and drawing pictures. Her favourite book as a child was Mr Silly. She graduated from Brighton University in 1994 and has been creating picture books ever since. In 2006 she met Paul Linnet and could instantly see that she’d met a fellow nitwit who liked talking nonsense. They went on to create many bestselling books together, working in a small room in their house in Brighton. Sue loves swimming, and can swim up and down for a very long time. Her favourite book is still Mr Silly.

Paul Linnet was born in Brighton and grew up in the Midlands, reading Tintin and playing classic 80s video games, before becoming obsessed with scribbling, writing, guitars and motorcycles. He studied Graphic Design at Derby University, and later moved back to Brighton where he met Sue Hendra. They made up a story about a fish with fingers and then a slug with a doughnut for a shell, and now no one can stop them from writing more and more frankly ridiculous books. They live in Brighton – and Paul still loves scribbling, writing, guitars and motorcycles.

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