Friday, 17 November 2017

WIN tickets to see Guess How Much I Love You Live on stage!

‘I love you right up to the moon – and back.’

Selladoor Family presents Guess How Much I Love You. Join Little and Big Nutbrown Hare, from the bestselling Guess How Much I Love You and Guess How Much I Love You All Year Round collection, as they leap off the page and onto the stage in this magical journey through the seasons.

Watch Little and Big Nutbrown Hare settle down after a bedtime story and re-awaken to discover the delights and colours of each season as they compete to measure their love for each other in this timeless loveable story, told on stage through puppets, live music and interactive play for children 3 years and up.

The show takes place at The Arts Theatre in London's West End. We have a complimentary family ticket for the Saturday 9th December 10am performance, with a pre-show ‘meet and greet’ with the hares and a copy of Guess How Much I Love You in the Winter to give away! Plus three runners-up will receive a copy of Guess How Much I Love You in the Winter. 

A family ticket consists of 4 tickets and any children must be accompanied by at least one adult. Travel is not included.

To enter, just email your name to competitions@walker.co.uk with ‘Guess How Much I Love You' in the subject line for your chance to win. 

Competition closes on 30th November 2017. Terms and conditions (see below).


To find out more and book tickets to the show visit The Arts Theatre website.

The Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB
Show Duration: 50 minutes no interval
Age recommendation: Age 3 years and up



Terms and Conditions
Closing date: 23:59 30th November 2017. Competition open to residents of the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland only.

1. No purchase necessary. Proof of entering is not proof of receipt of entry.
2. If aged between 13 and 16 please get your parent’s or guardian’s consent before you enter the draw, if aged under 13 please ask your parent or guardian to enter on your behalf.
3. The Guess How Much I Love You prize draw is promoted by Walker Books Ltd. in England under registered number 1378601 (the “Promoter”) and is not open to employees of the Promoter or their families.
4. There will be one main prize winner and the winner will receive 
a copy of Guess How Much I Love You This Winter and one family ticket to the 10am show on Saturday 09 December not for resale. Tickets are non-refundable or transferrable and there is no cash alternative.
5. There will be three runner up winners. Runners-up will receive a copy of Guess How Much I Love You This Winter.
6. A family ticket consists of 4 tickets and any children must be accompanied by at least one adult. Travel is not included.
7. Only prize claims received on or before the Closing Date (as stated) will be honoured; the Promoter accepts no responsibility for claims received after the Closing Date.
8. The prize draw winner will be the first entry selected at random from all eligible entries received.
9. The promoter reserves the right to re-offer the prize to a runner up if the winner cannot be contacted within 5 days of the closing date. 
10 The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are late, lost, damaged, illegible or corrupted.
11. Any personal data obtained and/or gathered by the Promoter shall be used solely for the purposes of the prize draw and such personal details shall be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Email addresses will be destroyed once the prize has been allocated and distributed.
12. The Promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
13. Entries containing invalid email addresses will be automatically disqualified. Only one entry will be accepted per email address used.
14. The rules of this prize draw are governed by UK law and entry is conditional on acceptance of these terms and conditions which may be amended at any time by the Promoter.

Guess How Much I Love You™ © Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram 1994–2017. Licensed by Walker Books Ltd.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Behind the scenes with the illustrator of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree

From the Kate-Greenaway shortlisted illustrator of Oliver and Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, and highly acclaimed author, Hiawyn Oram, comes a poignant eco-conscious story, and a vivid portrayal of a child's imaginative play. 

Yesterday we invited author Hiawyn Oram to the Picture Book Party to tell us all about her inspiration behind the story of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree. To read that article and to see how you could win a copy of the book, click here.


Today we've invited the illustrator, Birgitta Sif, to tell us all about this fantastic picture book from her side.

Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing has a lot of powerful feelings mixed into it! It opens up for discussions about wealth/greed and how to take care of our planet. And also that strong feeling of wanting to believe in someone but also knowing deep down in your heart what is right and wrong and standing up for what you yourself believe is the right thing! A message that is really important not only for children but for adults too. This is a great book to read with a child and talk together about as I have many times with my own two little girls.


When I first read the story by Hiawyn Oram, I immediately thought of the deep blues and greens of my home country, Iceland.  I absolutely loved drawing the images for the book and making them come alive with those rich toned colours that reminded me of home.


The character of Snowboy wears a pointy bonnet and it is the same one my little girls have worn since they were babies. I've always felt there was a bit of magic in the pointy elf bonnet and felt Snowboy needed to have it, too. Greenbackboy also has a bonnet, but his is with two pointy red ears.  I wanted it to symbolize a somewhat evil or devilish force that is inside him. So contrasting the magical and childlike of the elf hat with the more devilish one I felt that it added just a hint at what their characters are like.


I chose to illustrate the Ice Troopers as pigs as they often symbolize abundance, wealth, strength and never wanting for mundane needs. It felt that these two pigs looked over and strengthened Snowboy on his quest. And I really think they add a lot of character to the whole story. 


The way I created the artwork for Snowboy and The Last Tree Standing was by drawing with a pencil my line work and then colouring it with lots of different layers in photoshop till I had the depth of colour that I wanted.



Birgitta Sif was born in Iceland and lived in and around Scandinavia and America while growing up. She is the illustrator of Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats, written by Alicia Potter, as well as the author and illustrator of the Kate Greenaway shortlisted picture book, Oliver, and Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance and Dance, both of which were endorsed by Amnesty International. Birgitta lives with her family in Cambridge. Find her online at www.birgittasif.com and on Twitter and Instagram as @birgittasif.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Behind the scenes with the author of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree

Glimmering with power and hope, two acclaimed picture book makers come together to tell the story of what happens when a boy is brave enough to stand up for what he feels is right.

Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree is a poignant eco-conscious story, and a vivid portrayal of a child's imaginative play. Greedy Greenbackboy’s got an idea for a game. He wants Snowboy to help him cut down all the trees in the forest and catch all the fish in the deep and ever-moving ocean. But Snowboy recognizes the importance of life in the natural world around him and, in this evocatively told tale, has to trust his instinct to protect, rather than destroy…

We’re excited to welcome Hiawyn Oram to the Picture Book Party blog for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree

INSPIRATION

I was inspired to write SNOWBOY when I came across what is apparently a saying from a Midwestern Native American tribe called the Osages.  It goes, ‘When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that we cannot eat money.’  It seemed to me to say something beyond the general, once-removed panic about global warming and climate change and directly connect our living, breathing future with the way we treat the natural world around us. It hit me as truly down-to-earth; a poignant, wise and heartfelt observation from personal experience and it caught my attention in such a way that I couldn’t leave it alone.  I had to make it into a picture book story for children that might sew a few seeds for thought and also contain some interesting layers for the adults who might be reading it to or with them.


WRITING                                                                                                                                 
Having had the inspiration and idea, I sat down and began to write – and write and write.    It came as easily as breathing which isn’t always the way with a new idea but is always the best way because it means the idea has arrived in a form that I call ‘whole’. Even the name for the main character came easily and naturally -  Snowboy - to imply his innocence and purity.  By the same token, the antagonist needed a name that symbolised what he stood for  – greed for money!  I called him Greenbackboy despite knowing that ‘green back’ is very old-fashioned slang for the American dollar.  I knew today’s kids would probably never have heard of it but that was OK;  it was strange, veiled and uncomfortable enough to fit.  My enthusiasm for the story knew no bounds and so did the writing.  However, a picture book story has to be controlled; it has to work with its illustrations in a certain format with a designated number of pages. It cannot be any old length the writer feels like.  Even so I submitted the long, enthusiastic version to my editor at Walker Books and together we gradually worked and honed until we had a text that was short and tight enough to leave a lot of space for the illustrations to play their crucial part in bringing the ideas and ultimately the book to life.


ILLUSTRATION                                                                                                                                            
When it came to an illustrator, I was extremely lucky.  My editor offered the text to Birgitta Sif - a most talented artist and an author too – and to my absolute delight she wanted to do it.    Her early, rough, black and white sketches immediately enchanted and she had some very original interpretations, uniquely her own, that I would never have imagined in a million years.  For example, she depicts Snowboy’s Ice Troopers who, along with the Polar Bear King are part of his team, as burden-bearing, forever-loyal, little pigs.   For me, this is the magical process of making a picture book when the pictures contribute visual elements that speak their own language, adding to the story in ways words can’t or don’t and ultimately make the book more than the sum of its parts. 

Here are more of Birgitta’s irresistible, early sketches:





HEROISM                                                                                                                                              
For me, Snowboy is a rare hero. He isn’t big, strong and full of ZAP, SPLAT and POW. He’s small, innocent and thoughtful. But, innocent and trusting as he is, he understands when something must be wrong and quietly stands up for what his instinct tells him must be right. In this way, in this story, he saves the world from the danger and destructiveness of Greenbackboy’s game – the Fantasy of Ka-Ching.  I have been wondering about what small but heroic actions each of us, in our own ways, can take to help save the world from damage.  Here are a few thoughts from me. It would great to hear your ideas too. 

1.   Eat good, natural food that’s farmed, grown, fished or produced without pesticides, chemicals and preservatives, anti-biotics and steroids. All of these ‘nasties’ are poisoning us and our earth. 

2.   Grow our own food and/or encourage grown-ups to do it.

3.   Stop using plastic bags and/or ask parents to stop!  They go into land-fills deep in the ground when they’re thrown out and take about 1,000 years to decompose. What is that doing to the earth we depend on?

4.   SAVE OUR SEAS.  Never, ever, ever leave a plastic bag or any plastic items like plastic cups and bottles on or near a beach. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped, arrives or is blown into our oceans every year. This is killing sea-life. For example, sea-turtles, amongst other sea species, mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, eat them and die. The huge sea birds called Albatrosses dive down and catch them, thinking they’re edible food, and then take them back to their nests to feed their babies with!  See www.plasticoceans.org

5.   Respect and preserve nature wherever and whenever we can. Left alone, nature works its own miracles and will keep us and the earth living and breathing.

6.   Think and talk about the idea that making money at the expense of others and the future of our earth isn’t that clever.  Could it be short-sighted and plain GREEDY?

STORY TELLING        
                                                                                             
Finally, in this blog, let’s think about story telling. Walker Books, the publisher of SNOWBOY asked me if I have any advice for aspiring young authors and illustrators.  Well, I’m sure you all have your own strong ideas about this but what I always say is… write or draw about something you know or something you feel strongly about or something that fires your imagination and takes you and your readers and viewers beyond the ordinary.  Why not? Why not throw ideas and stories into the world that are different, uniquely you, whether completely true or completely imaginary? I suspect that anything any of us can imagine will, sooner or later, become possible. Even if I’m wrong, story-telling is the oldest of the arts and it keeps our minds and hearts alive and connected. We always need to hear what others think, feel and experience.  So never stop telling your own stories, whatever they are, in any form you like and as freely as they come to you... any time, any day.

Pick up a copy of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree in your local bookshop and come back to the Picture Book Party tomorrow for a guest post from the illustrator Birgitta Sif! 

WIN!

We have three copies of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree to give away! To enter, just email us your idea for a small but heroic action we can all take to help save the world from damage. Direct emails to competitions@walker.co.uk with ‘Snowboy' in the subject line. We'll pick our five favourite ideas and post them to Twitter, if your idea is picked you win a copy of the book! 

Competition closes on 15th December 2017. Terms and conditions apply.


Hiawyn Oram has been writing children's books for more than 20 years and has more than 90 books published to date, including the picture books Angry Arthur, The Good Mood Hunt and Filbert, the Good Little Fiend,illustrated by Jimmy Liao. She has won the Japanese Picture Book Award and the Prix du Livre Culturel. She lives in West London. Find her on Twitter as @hiawynoram.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Top new picture books this November

Christmas is in our periphery and we have some sensational seasonal reads to get us excited for the most wonderful time of the year. In the meantime, snuggle down and hide from the cold with these beautiful new picture books from Walker Books…



From Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth creator, Jarvis, and author Patricia Toht, comes a beautiful, irresistible Christmas gift book that all begins with … picking a pine tree!

Brimming over with the excitement of being with family at the festive season, a gorgeously rhythmical, read-aloud narrative accompanied by warm, joyful art celebrates all the familiar rituals of decorating the tree – from digging out jam-packed boxes of trimmings, stringing tinsel, to, at last, turning on those twinkly fairy lights.


The Boy from Mars

From award-winning author–illustrator, Simon James, comes an uplifting story about a little boy who misses his mum.

The day that Stanley’s mum had to go away, he decided to go to Mars. In his place, a not-very-well-behaved Martian arrived. He looked just like Stanley, but he wouldn’t eat his vegetables, he wouldn’t clean his teeth and he certainly didn’t play nicely in the playground. Dad's not sure what Mum will think when she gets back. Will the martian still be there, or will the real Stanley get back in time?

Penguin Problems

The New York Times called Penguin Problems both “funny and acerbic,” the London Evening Standard declared it to be “hilarious,” and the Observer proclaimed, "A philosophy manual for readers of all ages ... wonderfully original."

In this hilarious first collaboration from Jory John and the multi-award winning Lane Smith, a penguin levels with human readers about what penguin life is really like ... and it isn't all fun and games! A feel-good read-aloud for readers of all ages, and the perfect Christmas gift.



When the ugly little fir tree is taken to the city, no one wants to buy him. But a homeless boy asks the shopkeeper if he can take the tree, and 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.

A magical midi-edition of Delia Huddy and Emily Sutton’s poignant, exquisitely illustrated Christmas story, with a beautiful pop-up cityscape.



A story of perseverance and being comfortable in your own skin, perfect for anyone who has ever felt like the odd one out, Gary is the story one pigeon's big adventure.

Most of the time, Gary is just like the other racing pigeons. There’s just one thing that separates him from the ordinary pigeons: he can’t fly. But when he accidentally falls into the travel basket and ends up a very long way from home, he discovers that flying might not be the only way to have adventures...




Bunny and Dog live on opposite sides of the fence. No one says hello. But on the night of the shooting star, two doors open... 

From bestselling author Amy Hest and illustrator Jenni Desmond comes a charming picture book about loneliness and making friends.





Glimmering with power and hope, two acclaimed picture book makers come together to tell the story of what happens when a boy is brave enough to stand up for what he feels is right.

Greedy Greenbackboy’s got an idea for a game. He wants Snowboy to help him cut down all the trees in the forest and catch all the fish in the deep ocean. But Snowboy recognizes the importance of life in the natural world around him and, in this evocatively told tale, has to trust his instinct to protect, rather than destroy…

You can pick up these books at your local bookshop! We hope you have a lovely, wintry November.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Win the Picture Book of the Month, Pick a Pine Tree

Pick a pine tree from the lot – slim and tall, or short and squat! Long straight limbs or branches bent... Mmm! Just smell that piney scent!

From Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth creator, Jarvis, and author Patricia Toht, comes a beautiful, irresistible Christmas gift book that all begins with … picking a pine tree! Brimming over with the excitement of being with family at the festive season, a gorgeously rhythmical, read-aloud narrative accompanied by warm, joyful art celebrates all the familiar rituals of decorating the tree – from digging out jam-packed boxes of trimmings, stringing tinsel, to, at last, turning on those twinkly fairy lights.


WIN!

We have five copies of Pick a Pine Tree with limited edition prints to give away! To enter, just email your name and address to competitions@walker.co.uk with ‘Pick a Pine Tree' in the subject line for your chance to win. 

Competition closes on 1st December 2017. Terms and conditions apply.

Pick up a copy of Pick a Pine Tree in your local bookshop and check out the fun animated trailer below.       
         


Jarvis studied graphic design and previously worked as a record sleeve designer, website designer and an animation director before becoming a children’s book illustrator. His books with Walker include Mrs Mole, I’m Home! and Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth, which won the 2017 V&A Best Illustrated Book. Follow Jarvis on Twitter as @heyimjarvis, and on Instagram as @booksbyjarvis.




Patricia Toht once owned a children's bookshop called Never Never Land, before turning a love of books into a love of writing. She is the author of All Aboard the London Bus, illustrated by Sam Usherand has contributed fiction, non-fiction and poetry to numerous children’s magazines. Find her online at patriciatoht.com and on Twitter as @PatriciaToht.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The making of The Boy from Mars by Simon James


The heart-warming story of a little boy who misses his mum from award-winning author–illustrator Simon James.

The day that Stanley’s mum had to go away, he decided to go to Mars. In his place, a not-very-well-behaved Martian arrived. He looked just like Stanley, but he wouldn’t eat his vegetables, he wouldn’t clean his teeth and he certainly didn’t play nicely in the playground. 

Dad's not sure what Mum will think when she gets back. Will the martian still be there, or will the real Stanley get back in time?




Behind the scenes with Simon James

We’re excited to welcome Simon James to the Picture Book Party blog for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Boy from Mars

Ideas are the essential beginnings of picture books.

I had the idea for this book sitting by a friends pool in L.A. I had my sketchbook in hand and was simply imagining scenes that amused me. This is always a good way for me to start to find ideas. If I draw a scene that amuses or intrigues, then I start to develop it further. The scene I drew was of a small boy dressed as an alien, arguing with his bigger brother that he was indeed a martian and not his little brother at all.

Five years later, I came across the picture again and it still amused me. Then began an exploration in to finding out how far I can push this idea, how far it can travel. At this moment too, I am having to discover what this story might actually be about, the underlining theme behind the words and pictures. This for me, is the core of good story-telling, without it, there is no beating heart to the book. 

After weeks of intense planning, storyboarding, re-writing and making of dummy books, I am ready to embark on my artwork.

I start with pencil sketches, then take the best of them over to my light-box. Here I will use the pencil sketch as a guide for my finished drawing on watercolour paper (it's never a direct tracing).



Having succeeded with a finished drawing, I am ready to paint. I consider carefully the atmosphere I wish to create, the mood at this moment of the story and how my colour work can amplify the mood. I make continuity notes of my colours in the story, so that they are consistent throughout the book.



This illustration took about two and a half hours to complete. However, it took much longer to design the scene and requires many different viewpoints, facial changes and composition ideas before painting. The composition and design of an illustration is part of the text of the story, as integral as the writing.



The bigger scenes obviously take a little longer and maybe a few attempts to be happy with the result. The Boy From Mars was particularly challenging with all the various angles and viewpoints used in the garden. This illustration was the first one I did, and although I rejected it as a final picture, it was the one that set the scene, atmosphere and feel for the whole book. Here, Stanley is climbing in to his spaceship heading for Mars after hearing his mum is going to be away for a few days.



When the spaceship lands back in Stanley's back garden, out steps a martian! Although he looks a lot like Stanley, he can't be can he? The martian gets in to trouble at school -something that Stanley would never do.



I hope you enjoy reading The Boy From Mars, it is one of my personal favourites of the many books I have made in my long collaboration with Walker Books. If you would like to know more about my work, visit http://www.simonjamesbooks.com





Simon James is an award-winning author and illustrator of picture books for children. His critically acclaimed titles include RexFrog and BeaverGeorge Flies SouthBaby BrainsDear Greenpeace, The Wild Woods and Leon and Bob, which won the Smarties Book Prize Silver Medal and was nominated as the New York Times' Best Illustrated Book of the Year. Simon lives in Plymouth, Devon.





Tuesday, 24 October 2017

WIN I Want to Be in a Scary Story - Plus SPOOKtacular Halloween Party Ideas

The stellar duo behind Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise reunites to create a book that will have children (and their parents!) roaring with laughter once again.

Monster wants to be in a scary story – but is he brave enough? Scary stories have creepy witches and creaky stairs and dark hallways and spooky shadows… Oh my goodness me! That is very scary. Maybe, a funny story would be better after all? Brilliantly interactive, children will delight in the wickedly funny turn-of-the-pages, see themselves in the goofy, unconventional monster, and revel in the bold, hilarious illustration of celebrated graphic artist, Jean Jullien.

We have everything you need to host your own spine-chilling I Want to Be in a Scary Story Halloween party. Check out our spooky event suggestions below!

Musical Monsters
Instead of Musical Statues, play Musical Monsters. When the music stops, ask the children to strike a monstrous pose and keep as still as possible. Any wobbling, and they're out!

Little Monster Says
Why not try a version of Simon Says? Instead of using Simon, use Little Monster! Ask the children to jump up and down, pull a scary face, shout boo etc. - but only if Little Monster says so! 

Pass the Spooky Parcel
Wrap a spooky prize in a number of layers of wrapping paper and pass the parcel around. Whoever has the parcel when the music stops, gets to unwrap a layer. Restart the music and continue the game until each later is removed and prize revealed.

Sleeping Ghosts 
Instead of Sleeping Lions, you could play Sleeping Ghosts. Get the children to lie on the floor keeping as still as possible. Each time someone moves, they are out. The winner is the child who keeps still for the entire game!

Witch's Footsteps
Choose someone to be the Witch who will then stand at the far end of the room with their back turned to the rest of the children. Everyone else playing stands in a line at the far end of the room and starts sneaking up on the Witch. The Witch, however, can turn round at any point and when they do, everyone has to freeze! Anyone caught moving is sent back to the beginning. The first child to touch the Witch is the winner!

Scary Story Time
What a day it's been! It's time for Little Monster to settle down and listen to a scary story. Have fun reading I Want to Be in a Scary Story or Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise.

WIN!

We have five I Want to Be in a Scary Story goodie bags to give away! Each goodie bag include a copy of the bookplus spooky sticker sheets, fiendish activity sheets and a monstrous poster. 

To enter, just email your name and address to competitions@walker.co.uk with ‘Scary Story PBP' in the subject line for your chance to win. 

Competition closes on 24th November 2017. Terms and conditions apply.

Check out the fun animated trailer below! 
        


Sean Taylor has written more than 40 books for young readers. These include picture books such as Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, illustrated by Jean Jullien, Where the Bugaboo Lives, illustrated by Neal Layton, A Brave Bear, illustrated by Emily Hughes, Don't Call Me Choochie Pooh and They Came from Planet Zabaloolooillustrated by Kate Hindley. He lives in Bristol with his wife and two sons. Find Sean online at seantaylorstories.com and on Twitter as @seantstories.


Jean Jullien is an illustrator who works with a vast range of media including illustration, photography, installations and clothing. He graduated from Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art and, in 2011, founded Jullien Brothers, specializing in moving image. His clients include Waterstones, the Tate, Channel 4, Byron Burger, The New York Times and the Guardian; he also regularly exhibits his work worldwide. Find him online at jeanjullien.com and on Instagram as @jean_jullien.