Julie Andrews and Daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, on Children's Books and 'Granny Jules'

Filed under: Books for Kids, Celeb News & Interviews

Julie Andrews and Daughter

Emma Walton Hamilton and Julie Andrews attend their book signing of "A Very Fairy Princess" in New York City. Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Julie Andrews -- actually, that's Dame Julie Andrews to you -- and her eldest daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton (from her first marriage to Tony Walton), have two new children's books out now, "Little Bo in Italy" and "The Very Fairy Princess."

The mother-daughter team has co-authored 20 children's books, six of which have been on The New York Times Best-Seller List. Hamilton, who turns 48 at the end of the month, is the mother of Sam, 14, and Hope, 7. The publishing powerhouses recently spoke to ParentDish about their literary relationship.

ParentDish: So, you're old hands at this.

Emma Walton Hamilton: We are actually, over 20 books.

Julie Andrews: You mean writing or doing interviews? (Laughs).

PD: Do you have short hand between each other?

JA: I think we speak a bit of short hand. We actually finish each others' sentences when we're writing. We say, "God, there we go again!"

PD: Do you have any disagreements?
EWH: Not really. We've been very fortunate. We weren't sure in the beginning if it was going to work or not. I think we were both pleasantly surprised by how seamless the process was, mostly because we started and continued to work from a huge base of respect.

JA: We actually have very different strengths.

EWH: Mom tends to come up with the ideas, the broad strokes.

JA: The flights of fancy.

EWH: I'm much more about the nuts and bolts, the structure.

PD: How did the "Dumpy the Dumptruck" series originate?
EWH: That was inspired by my son, Sam, because he was such a truck fanatic. At the time, I was having trouble finding material that had characters; most of the stuff out there was nonfiction.

JA: And I had just been asked by a publisher if I had anything for very small children and I said, "Ooh, let me think about it," and I asked Emma, if she had to go to a library and find the perfect book for Sam what would it be? And she said, "Mum it would have to be a book about trucks and tractors and I just can't find any. All the ones out there are practical, none with a little theme."

PD: Tell me about "The Very Fairy Princess."
EWH: It's very much modeled after my little girl who is the ultimate fairy princess.

JA: But also a huge tomboy and independent.

EWH: Yes, but nevertheless dressed in pink with a crown.

JA: That particular series is an affirmation of who you are.

EWH: And letting your authenticity shine through.

PD: Emma, you wrote a book about raising bookworms.
EWH: The main focus I wrote about is preserving the joy for older kids of reading because so much of the reading they are assigned in school has the feeling of a duty or a chore. My son loves reading nonfiction and humor, so we try to find as many opportunities to support his reading with joyful experiences. He's a big baseball fan, so I'm always buying him baseball memoirs.

PD: Emma, your mom is a living legend. I know you love her, but was it difficult growing up with such a famous mother?
EWH: I think there were a few occasions where I felt protective of her.

JA: I think I had as many problems as Emma did. I really do enjoy meeting people, but when you have one day to take your daughter shopping for school clothes and you want to spend quality time together, that's when I used to think, "Ooh, I wish we could just be invisible."

EWH: Funnily enough, I always remember saying, "When you come to school for a meeting, please don't dress up," and you were only too happy to oblige.

JA: It's funny because Amy (my other daughter) would say, "Mum, when you come to school would you please wear your ball gown?"

PD: Emma, do your kids realize how famous their grandmother is?
EWH: She really is just Grandma, Granny Jules. Sam has always known, but because his passion has always been nonfiction, his level of interest in the films was always fairly marginal. But my daughter is fascinated, she's seen "The Sound of Music," "Mary Poppins" and "The Princess Diaries."

JA: Has she? "The Sound of Music?"

EWH: Yes, she loves musicals, but I think she's particularly interested that Granny Jules sings.

PD: Julie, my dad, who passed away, was English and completely adored you. He always told my mum there was one person he'd leave her for, and it was you.
JA: Oooh, how dear! Where was he from in England?

PD: London. He was Cockney. He thought you were an English rose.

JA: I come from such humble beginnings. If only he'd known.

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