Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Win an I Am Bear Goody Bag and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

This is Bear! He was bare. Now he's wearing ... purple hair? His favourite thing is playing tricks. He makes trouble just for kicks! Check out Bear before he's gone. Rhyme along - come on!

If there's trouble, one thing is certain: Bear was there. In (and out) of his outrageous purple outfit, Bear can do anything – steal honey from the bees, do magic tricks, steal doughnuts from a police officer, and annoy a certain pesky squirrel. This hilarious picture book debut of actor Ben Bailey Smith (aka rapper Doc Brown) and artist Sav Akyuz will be sure to keep your little mischief-makers in stitches.

WIN

Here at Walker HQ we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the launch of I Am Bear than by tucking into a cheeky box of delicious doughnuts (Bear's favourite!) - and we got some for you too! We have a Krispy Kreme gift card to give away with an I Am Bear goody bag, including a copy of the book, a poster, stickers and activities. Three runners up will get an I Am Bear poster. To enter, just email competitions@walker.co.uk with 'I Am Bear' in the subject line before 31st January 2017. Terms and conditions apply.


Join in the fun and download these free I Am Bear activity sheets and pick up a copy of Am Bear at your local bookshop.

Check out the videos below to rap along with Bear and go behind the scenes with the makers, Ben and Sav!






"Fun, smart and different ... I love this bear." Ricky Gervais

"Pleasingly fresh, nicely anarchic." Daily Telegraph

"The perfect picture book to introduce your child to the magic of books and reading." Junior

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New titles for the New Year

It’s the start of a brand new year, and here at Walker we have some beautifully brilliant brand new books to share with you. Check out our top picks below to discover an octopus who can play the ukulele, make friends with a frog and a beaver, go on an adventure to find gold, or just fall asleep with a stunning new bed time story...


Every story starts with nothing, so ... why not an octopus who wants to fly in a spaceship? 

From Benji Davies, comes a metafictive story about ... how to build a story! First, a story needs a character. So why not a ukulele-playing octopus? And since this is a story, the octopus has to want something – maybe it dreams of travelling to faraway galaxies in a purple spaceship. But every character needs an obstacle to overcome, and when the octopus sets out to build its own spaceship out of glue, umbrellas, glitter and waffles ... well, he doesn't have much luck. Could there be another character that could help? Debut author Maggie Tokuda-Hall sets up a funny, smart and warm-hearted story all about storytelling, then hands the baton to imaginative readers, who will be more than prepared to take it away.


“ [...] guaranteed to inspire readers to tell tales of their own.” – The Bookseller



A charming ecological fable of community and friendship from award-winning author-illustrator Simon James.

Frog and his friends all live happily together on the river. At least they do until Beaver comes along. Beaver is determined to build the biggest and best dam that anyone has ever seen, but it's so big that it stops all the water and Frog and his friends are forced to move. Frog tries to warn Beaver that his dam is too big, but inconsiderate Beaver just won't listen




An uplifting celebration of friendship and a powerful depiction of imaginative play, this is the tale of two thrill-seeking friends on a mission … a mission to find gold.

 From the award-winning picture book creator of There are Cats in This Book comes a story of imaginative play and of two friends, Anna and Crocodile, who are on the hunt for gold. But finding gold isn’t easy. Oh no! It’s dangerous and difficult and requires planning.  What will the two friends discover? Teeming with adventurous spirit and boasting wonderfully funny dialogue, this story introduces two unforgettable characters in a gorgeous, classic new art style from Viviane Schwarz.


“utterly charming […] one of the most innovative and creative picture-book makers we have. Anna and Crocodile are on the hunt for gold and we follow their progress through eyecatching illustrations and wonderfully funny dialogue.” – Chris Riddell in The Guardian



A charming and lyrical picture book that celebrates the timeless bond between parent and child.

You've had a fun day and you're ready for bed. This is the wave that led to the smile, that led to the giggle and the kiss goodnight. A delightful story from Claire Harcup with beautiful illustrations by Gabriel Alborozo, perfect for sharing at bedtime.


“Cosy, gentle bedtime tale with a Guess How Much I Love You appeal.” – The Bookseller

Pick up copies of all these books at your local bookshop.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Book of the month: Also an Octopus

Even the most totally awesome  story starts with a little bit of nothing, so ... why not an octopus who wants to fly in a spaceship? This tentacle-tastic new picture book from Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji Davies, the illustrator of The Storm Whale and Grandad's Island, will have your imaginations soaring!

Also an Octopus is a story about ... how to build a story! First, a story needs a character. So why not a ukulele-playing octopus? And since this is a story, the octopus has to want something – maybe it dreams of travelling to faraway galaxies in a purple spaceship. But every character needs an obstacle to overcome, and when the octopus sets out to build its own spaceship out of glue, umbrellas, glitter and waffles ... well, he doesn't have much luck. Could there be another character that could help? This funny, smart and warm-hearted story is all about storytelling, perfect for imaginative little readers, who love to make up stories of all of their own.



WIN an Octopus Ukulele!
Join Octopus on a stupendous ukulele-playing adventure of your own by wrapping your tentacles around an Octopus ukulele! We’ve teamed up with our friends at Octopus Ukulele to offer your little sea urchins some very special prizes, including an Octopus Ukulele! Octopus Ukuleles are the best beginner instruments around and come in lots of different colours (you’ll be pleased to hear that these ukes are not constructed out of waffles - they’ve been designed by proper ukulele scientists!) Mind you, our tentacled friend must have been involved somehow, as some of the Octopus ukuleles are made from glitter!

One lucky winner will win their very own Octopus Ukulele plus a signed copy of the Also an Octopus, a poster and a limited edition print, and five runners up will get a copy of the book and a poster. To enter, just answer this question:
In Also and Octopus, what does Octopus want to build?
a) A spaceship
b) A ukulele
c) A waffle maker

Email your answer along with your name and address to competitions@walker.co.uk with ‘Octopus Ukulele' in the subject line for your chance to win. Competition closes on 31st January 2017. Terms and conditions apply.

Also an Octopus is out now in hardback and paperback, you can pick up a copy at your local bookshop. Join in the fun and download our free Also an Octopus activity sheets!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Writing Blue Penguin by Petr Horáček

"I feel just like a penguin," says Blue Penguin. "But you're not like us," said the other penguins and they left him all alone. Poor Blue Penguin. Will he be able to convince the other penguins he is one of them after all? We went behind the scenes with illustrator Petr Horáček and found out about his inspiration for Blue Penguin, a heart-warming story about the power of friendship...

I got the idea for the book Blue Penguin two years ago. It was a nice autumn evening and I was raking leaves in a beautiful apple orchard, thinking about one of my friends that I haven’t seen now for a long time.

His name was Richard and he was very different from everybody else I know. He used to say and do exactly whatever he wanted to say and do at that moment. Behaviour like this could get him into trouble from time to time, of course, but Richard didn’t mind. He was used to be different.

Richard was fun to be with and I liked being his friend. 



So that day I got this idea to write a book about a penguin that was different from everybody else. I started to write the same evening.

The next day I fitted the story with thumbnail sketches.



Some books are difficult to write, some books just pop out. It felt as if Blue Penguin is one of those books, which comes easily.

I really enjoyed sketching and writing the story and I couldn’t wait to show it to my publisher.



I’m very lucky to be published by Walker Books and I’m also lucky to work with two very good and nice editors. They nodded their heads as they were reading it and then they said: "We like it, but it would need a little bit more work.” I’ve heard this many times before and I know what it means. The hard work started there.


We had to tidy up the story, make it shorter, simpler. My editors and I worked on the text on and off for months. I must have about 15 versions of Blue Penguin. The book, which seemed to be at the beginning so easy to write, now turned into rather hard work.



To be honest I didn’t mind rewriting the text and I liked the process of editing the story, but at the same time I couldn’t wait to start to illustrate it.

I could see the pictures in my dreams and I was so looking forward to getting on with the artwork.

Finally after a year we agreed that the story was now ready. I did the pictures in a month or two, almost in one go and I enjoyed every minute of it.



Even when the illustrations were done we still discussed the text. My editors are never happy until everything is just right.

I had to change some sentences and it meant that I had to change some pictures too.
We also took some of the finished illustrations out, so it all fitted with the changes.
Below is one of the illustrations that didn’t make it into the book.



Blue Penguin was probably one of my most challenging books to write and one of the most fun picture books to illustrate.





Pick up your copy of Blue Penguin by Petr Horáček in your local bookshop.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Top tips on reading wordless picture books

A family of owls become neighbours with a family of bats ... just how will the night unfold? This stunning wordless picture book from Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick celebrates family, friendship and the power of togetherness.

Mummy Owl and her three little owls live happily on their spacious branch. That is, until the bat family move in. And the new neighbours (the owls up-top, the bats hanging below) can’t help but feel a little wary of one another. Owls just don’t mix with bats and bats don’t mix with owls. But babies are curious little creatures and this curiosity, and a wild, stormy night, might just bring these two families together…



Many of you may be wondering, how exactly you read a wordless picture book! We asked our Tanya Rosie from our Picture Books team to share her top tips…

At first, it can feel daunting to share a wordless picture book with a child. You open the first page and there is no opening line to read aloud, no names for the characters and, when you come to turn the page, no words to guide you across.

But that doesn’t mean a wordless book has to be read in silence.

In fact, a wordless book can inspire even more words. Because, when you open that formidable first page, all you need to do is point things out in the pictures and ask probing questions – Where do you think this story is taking place? What do you think is happening here? Who is that? How do you think they think and feel? – and you’ll soon find that that page, so quiet at first, will have ignited a conversation between you and your child. You’ll find that your child will be looking closely and keenly at the pictures; that they are paying close attention to detail; that they are giving voice to their understanding of the story’s events.   


And when you have explored each picture together and discovered so much narrative there, there’s another wonderful way you can approach a wordless book … you can encourage your child to narrate the illustrations. And then (and without realizing it!) your child will learn so much about plot, about storytelling language, and about structure – they’ll begin to understand the need for a beginning, a middle and an end, and they’ll search for and learn all the new vocabulary they need to tell the story they feel compelled to tell. And what makes reading in this way so special is that the story will never be the same twice. One day your child might narrate in the third-person, another day they might see the story from the viewpoint of just one of the characters – anything goes. Every single reader and every single reading will inspire a whole new story … and isn’t it just that which makes stories so wonderful?

So – don’t feel daunted! Feel brave and courageous when sharing a wordless book, like Owl Bat Bat Owl, with a child. Point things out in the pictures, ask questions, and encourage your child to channel their inner-narrator … do that and we feel sure that you’ll feel involved and excited by all the playful possibilities a wordless book presents. Because a wordless book, in the end, is a gorgeous opportunity – an opportunity for a child to read pictures, and an opportunity for a child’s unique imaginative response to be celebrated and take centre stage on the picture book page. 


Pick up a copy of Owl Bat, Bat Owl in your local bookshop.

Download our free Owl Bat, Bat Owl reading guide here, packed full of great ideas and discussion points to help you get the most out of reading this book with your little ones.  

Win a Christmas hamper worth £100

As Christmas is only a few weeks away (is it really that time already?) we've put together a selection of our favourite festive picture books, from beautifully illustrated classics to laugh-out-loud crackers. These heart-warming books will get you in the mood for Christmas and make the perfect gifts for little ones (and bigger ones!) to unwrap on Christmas day. Here are our top picture book picks, plus a chance to win a Christmas hamper full of festive treats...

Blue Penguin

A sweet fable with a magical, icy quality from the award-winning illustrator Petr Horacek. "I feel just like a penguin," says Blue Penguin. "But you're not like us," said the other penguins and they left him all alone. Poor Blue Penguin. Will he be able to convince the other penguins he is one of them after all? A moving and charmingly illustrated story about friendship and belonging, with an ending bound to fill you with Christmas cheer!

Penguin Problems
In this festive (but chilly!) season there's nothing better than being all snuggled up reading a hilarious book that will warm your cockles. In this laugh-out-loud collaboration from Jory John and Lane Smith, a penguin levels with human readers about what penguin life is really like ... and it isn't all fun and games! Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it's a land free of worries and responsibilities! Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no picnic!

The Christmas Eve Tree
What happens when an unwanted, little fir tree is left all alone in a shop on Christmas Eve? A young boy, who doesn’t seem to mind that the little tree isn’t so tall and straight like the others, takes this crooked fir tree as his own. Down by the river in a cardboard box, decorated with a few candles, the tree finds itself at the centre of a magical Christmas Eve it will never forget. Delia Huddy’s tale has a classic feel but a modern theme at its heart.

The Nutcracker
Fill your Christmas stockings with the magical pop-up edition of Marius Petipa's classic ballet. The Nutcracker story is a much-loved part of Christmas celebrations around the world, and this gorgeous edition captures the excitement of Christmas Eve. Beautifully illustrated, this charming retelling follows Clara's magical journey with the Nutcracker Prince and ends with a stunning pop-up of the Land of Sweets! 



Angel Mae
In Shirley Hughes’ beautiful gift edition of a Christmas classic, Christmas is coming and Mae Morgan's mum is expecting a baby. At school Mae is delighted to be given the part of the Angel Gabriel in the nativity play. But will the new baby steal her glory?

Maisy's Christmas Presents
It's so nice to give your friend a present at Christmas time, don't you agree? Maisy thinks so! When she comes back from her shopping trip, she has presents for everybody! Help Eddie, Charley, Talullah and Cyril unwrap their wonderful gifts by lifting the flaps. Then help choose a special present for Maisy by turning the wheel – what surprise will she get? Or what surprise will you get, all for yourself? You didn't think Maisy would forget you, did you? 

The Christmas Story
The Nativity is brought to life by master pop-up artist Robert Sabuda in six gorgeous 3-D scenes, making this a Christmas gift to treasure. The wondrous story of the birth of Jesus – born in a stable, laid in a manger, visited by shepherds and the three wise men – is exquisitely crafted in six scenes. Glinting with touches of gold and silver, The Christmas Story is a visual delight and a book for the whole family to enjoy at Christmas.


WIN a Christmas hamper worth £100

We have 3 gorgeous Christmas hampers to give away, each including a selection of cracking Christmas books, plus activities for the kids and delicious festive treats and mulled wine for the grown ups! For your chance to win, just answer the following question:

What colour is the penguin in Petr Horáček's latest picture book?
a)   Blue
b)   Brown
c)   Purple

Email your answer along with your name and address to competitions@walker.co.uk with 'PBP Christmas' in the subject line for your chance to win. Competition closes on 20th December 2016. Terms and conditions apply.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Carson Ellis is the talented author-illustrator of Home, whose latest picture book is very mysterious indeed. Introducing, Du Iz Tak? An exquisite tale of the natural world written in ... “Bug” language!



Full of imagination, this brand new picture book explores the changes of nature that can be found in your own back garden, all through an invented language and gorgeous illustrations that appeal to both children and art-lovers alike.

Perhaps this endearing bug language was inspired by Carson’s own home; a farm in Oregon, USA, where she lives with her family, one cat, two llamas, two goats, one sheep, and eight chickens, a family of barn owls and lots and lots of tree frogs!

After studying painting at university, Carson went on to illustrate in several books such as The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide, and collaborated on the bestselling Wildwood series with her husband Colin Meloy.

Her debut solo picture book Home is a beautiful tribute to the many places that we all call home. From houses to flats, and even shoes, from messy homes to homes from myth, Carson created a book brimming with visual treats that achieved international acclaim. 



Now, her second book is proving to be just as admired:

“Carson Ellis created a fantastic microcosm with her usual grace and inventiveness …I was completely captivated by Ellis’s wonderful creatures, their charming little word and their droll language.” – The New York Times Book review

“There’s an elusive yet distinctly joyful quality to Carson Ellis’s picture book […]” – The Wall Street Journal




Check out this Q&A video with Carson Ellis to find out more about her and the inspiration behind Du Iz Tak?  







Be the first to get your hands on a copy of Du Iz Tak? and pick up a copy at your local bookshop.