Thursday, 13 September 2018

Guess How Much We Love Playing Outdoors



Haven’t we had a beautiful summer? 

Here at Walker, we have spent lots of time enjoying the sunshine. Now that it’s September the autumnal chill will soon be creeping in, but don’t despair – our favourite pair of nutbrown hares are here to keep the sunshine coming! Here I Am! is a beautiful new finger puppet book from Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, inspired by the well-loved classic Guess How Much I Love You.  


The book follows Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare as they play a game of hide-and-seek. Reading about the adorable duo playing through fields and in the ferns has made us all nostalgic about our favourite outdoor memories. Here’s a lovely selection from the team!

Nghiem Ta, Art Director

As a special treat, my brother and I would visit a nearby playground. I used to love the swings and the slide! My brother and I would take turns to sit on the swings and push each other. Near the park was a river, so after we played, we would go and feed the ducks. I think it’s wonderful that sometimes the best outdoors things are free!


Mara Alperin, Creative Commissioning Editor

I have always loved playing games outside. In the woods behind my house, there was an old pine tree, and from its branches hung a rope swing. My Dad used to push me in the swing so I could pretend that I was flying. “Don't forget your fairy dust,” he would say, and I would sprinkle the “dust” to enact the magic (sometimes I even wore fairy wings as well!). “I can fly, I can fly,” I would sing.

Ruby Constable, Assistant Editor

My parents often took my whole rabble of siblings on long country walks when I was little. Wherever we went, we’d soon find the tallest trees to climb and make up elaborate games to play, giggling and squabbling as we went. Looking back, we must have been a bit of a shock to the mild-mannered country ramblers and Sunday morning dog walkers. We never had to call “Here I Am!” because everyone knew we were there.

What do you love doing outside? Do you have a particular favourite place, an excellent hiding spot or a special memory you’d like to share? Let us know below! And don’t forget to go looking for Here I Am! (hopefully not hiding) in bookshops near you.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Picture Book of the Month - Angry Cookie by Laura Dockrill

What happens when a little cookie gets up on the wrong side of bed?
Prepare to fall absolutely in love with this irresistible cookie, crumbly chocolate chips and all. 

OH NO! Barbra the cactus won’t stop playing her recorder, the yummy strawberry toothpaste has run out, and now – to top it all off – Cookie has to have his hair cut! Which all makes for one VERY ANGRY little cookie... But perhaps you, the reader, can find a way to turn his grumpy frown upside down? This wildly inventive, interactive, laugh-out-loud tale brings together Laura Dockrill's one-of-a-kind voice and Maria Karipidou's hilarious illustrations.

Watch the Angry Cookie trailer below! Plus you can see Laura read part of the book.
        
        

Laura Dockrill, a graduate of the Brit School of Performing Arts, is a performance poet, an author and an illustrator. At the age of twenty-two, she was named one of The Times’ "Top Ten Literary Stars". She is the author of the bestselling Darcy Burdock series and Lorali. Angry Cookie is her debut picture book. Find her online at lauradockrill.co.uk and on Twitter and Instagram 

Maria Karipidou studied Communication Design, and has since illustrated a number of children's books, working mostly with French and German publishing houses. In 2015, she received the Leipziger Lesekompass Award at the Leipzig Book Fair. Find her online at www.mariakaripidou.de.

Friday, 31 August 2018

International Dot Day


Celebrate 15 years of the Dot and 10 years of International Dot Day on 15th -ish September! 

It all started TEN years ago, when a teacher and his students in Iowa celebrated the themes of creativity and courage in Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot on the anniversary of the original publication. 

In this inspiring, award-winning story of self-expression and creativity, Vashti thinks she can’t draw. But her teacher is sure that she can. She knows that there’s creative spirit in everyone and encourages Vashti to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

Now, every 15th-ish September, more than 10 million teachers, librarians and children in 170 countries participate in International Dot Day getting busy with writing, drawing, painting, or other creative outlets and sharing their Dot Day inspiration with others. What started as a story in the pages of a book is transforming teaching and learning around the world as people of all ages with just a little bit of bravery and encouragement re-discover the power and potential of creativity in all they do. 

You can join the celebration! Host a reading of The Dot, throw a creative dot-making event, plan a week-long series of activities or even a year-long theme – the possibilities are endless! 

We have a classroom guide to get you started with some simple ideas to help you celebrate creativity in your classroom or library. Find the guide here.

You can also find other great ideas by visiting the gallery on www.thedotclub.org

We can’t wait to hear about your International Dot Day event in your classroom or library. Keep us updated by sharing any news, photos and art with us via Twitter @WalkerBooksUK using #DotDay and #Makeyourmark.

Follow Dot Day on Twitter and visit the Dot Day Facebook page.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Cinderfella by Malachy Doyle


To all the brothers at Number 12. You're invited to Kayleigh's party. Dress fancy. Come fancy. Dance!


Once upon a time, there lived Cinderfella – a little boy, forever bossed around by his two older brothers, Gus and Gareth. “Turn up the TV! Shine our scooters!" the brothers cry. "Finish our homework!” But on the day of our story, Kayleigh, the town's kick-fastic karate champion, is having a party, and Cinderfella is determined to dream big, dress fancy and DANCE. He’ll just need a little help along the way from his fairy dog-mother, Ruff – woof! A feel-good twist on the classic fairytale, brought to life with fresh vision and huge humour by Matt Hunt.

      We're very excited to welcome Malachy Doyle to talk about Cinderfella
Growing up, I had four older brothers.  Later I had one younger one. And later still I had two step-brothers. And a couple of sisters and a step-sister, too. My eldest brother, David, used to tell me bedtime stories – folk tales and fairy tales, mainly. And then I’d lie in bed, imagining myself in the stories.

I was always the lead character. It didn’t matter if it was a girl or a boy. Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks – it was me, always me.
So when it came to Cinderella, I was the one with the bossy brothers, as I had in real life. And, as I grew up, I was the one who had to do jobs round the house. Well, some of them, anyway. Like polish everyone’s shoes on a Saturday evening, so we’d all be spick and span for church the following morning.

And so, over 50 years later, I got round to writing down the story. In my first draft, Cinderfella lived with two sisters, Sybil and Slob. But the boys in my family were much more slobby than the girls, so boys they became – Gareth and Gus.
At first the fairy who helps him was a giant rat, but somehow he turned into a funky dancing dog. And then a female funky dancing dog - well, if we’re playing with gender reversal, why not go the whole hog? And it makes for a good line on the back-cover about his ‘fairy dog-mother’, courtesy of my clever-clogs editor, Tanya.


At first Cinderfella zoomed off to the party on a Harley Davidson, but somehow it became a super-sparkly skateboard. Somewhat safer!

At first Cinderfella took on the role of a DJ at the party, spinning the discs and saving the night when the booked DJ didn’t turn up, but somehow it was his hop, bop, giggle and groovy dancing that took over.  

At first it was Princess PeachieBlossom’s party, but somehow she turned into Kayleigh, the junior karate champ.  Much more fun!

Then over to Matt Hunt for some fab illustrations and there we had it – Cinderfella. HAI-YAH!

You can pick up a copy of Cinderfella at your local bookshop.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

An action-packed storytelling adventure that flips the traditional fairy tale on its head.
When it’s time for Jamie’s bedtime story, his dad begins to tell an age-old fairy tale about a prince in a faraway land full of dragons, wolves and princesses in distress. But inquisitive Jamie can’t help but add to his dad’s story, and the prince is soon joined by an evil-eyed witch who turns people to jelly, a broccoli-wielding ninja frog and a jewel-thief, lock picking princess. It may not be the story Dad set out to tell, but together, he and Jamie create something much more energetic and hilarious than they could have alone.

We're very excited to welcome Alastair Chisholm to talk about 
The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears 
As of this year, both of my daughters are teenagers (help!). But when they were a bit smaller, I liked to try to tell them stories.

I say 'try', partly because making up proper stories on the fly was harder than I'd realised, but mostly because trying to tell my daughters anything was (and still is) nearly impossible. Like Jamie, the central character in The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears, they had Questions and Opinions. 

"The Prince," I would begin, feeling very pleased with myself, "lived in a far-off kingdom, where he— "

"How far off?"

"…What?"


The Prince and his horse, illustrated by the fantastic Jez Tuya

How far off is the kingdom? they'd demand. How fierce are the bears? How did the horse get down the cliff? Why is it even a prince, why not a princess? Why was the witch so angry? Why is it always stone that people get turned into – why can’t it be jelly? Can't the horse help?




Things the Witch has turned into Jelly

At first, the book was just about that – all the questions and interruptions getting in the way of the story. (In fact, the original title was The Interrupted Prince, and it included a scene where they had to stop to look for Ollie the Sheep, plus a break in the middle because Jamie needed a wee). But gradually, like the Dad, I started to understand – the story was actually better when Jamie told it.

The truth is, kids understand stories better than grown-ups. Their world is made of stories, after all; it's how they start to make sense of it all. (And if you're lucky, they'll keep that spark for their whole lives).

And so … It turned out the kingdom was very far off, and that became part of the tale. And the witch actually had a pretty good reason to be angry, really. And hey, it should be the Princess who saved the day – and of course the horse could help!


The Princess takes charge

As Jamie and Dad discover, the best part of telling stories to kids is telling stories with them, and the best part of that is just listening as they tell you what the world is.

Also, the witch is a ninja and lives in a castle made of broccoli. Just saying.

Pick up a copy of The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears at your local bookshop.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Picture Book of the Month - A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies

A stunning anthology that blends poetry and information about the sea.

From Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton, the multi award-winning team behind Tiny and Lots, comes A First Book of the Sea, a spellbinding collection of poems about the oceans of the world and their shores. With this book, children can swim alongside dolphins and flying fish, pore over rockpools and sail from pole to pole and back, learning about everything from phosphorescence and plankton to manta rays and puffins – all in the comfort of their bedroom. 


Emily Sutton's exquisite watercolours capture the breathless excitement of a child's first glimpse of the sea, the majesty of ancient trading ships and the sheer, staggering wonder of the humpback whale. The perfect companion to international bestsellers A First Book of Nature and A First Book of Animals, this book is sure to enthral and inspire readers of all ages.

We're very excited to welcome Nicola Davies to Picture Book Party to talk about    A First Book of the Sea

There is nothing that makes me happier than the sea. As soon as that sliver of unmistakable blue is in my eye, I start to smile. It’s involuntary, automatic. It doesn't even have to be summer, it doesn't have to be daylight: the shimmering moonlight path, the sound of surf through a wound down car window, they have the same effect. I can't be near the sea without wanting to be nearer; I can't be by the sea without wanting to be in it or on it. Holidays without sea are just ‘time off’, OK but ultimately unsatisfactory. Any day with even a small amount of sea in, is a holiday.


I think I got it from my parents, both born and brought up on the Gower, where the sea was always a part of their lives, and in the end, the one thing they could always agree on. As a family we went to the sea whenever we could. No definite sea-based activities were ever involved; we didn't have a boat, there was no equipment and no toys, apart from my Dad’s tangled fishing gear and the two
plywood surfboards left over from my older siblings tenure in childhood. Our beach activities were Sitting and Looking, Walking Idly in the Shallows, Pebble and Shell Admiring, Rock Pool Peering. All collections were left on the beach, all creativity - sandcastles, sand and pebble art - were erased by the tide; impermanence made creativity playful, experimentation less risky. The closest we got to anything formal was Pebble Cake shop, a game played when I was very small; nothing since has ever been so satisfying as bargaining for rocks with pebbles.


My sea love as a child lead me to spending long periods on small boats studying whales. In spite of the fact that I was, and remain, the worlds worst, most sea sick and entirely incompetent sailor, I have never got over the simple delight of floating. It still seems like a magic trick. I push my kayak onto the water or catch a wave on my board and the sudden weightlessness is miraculous, a deep
surprise, whose visceral sweetness takes my breath every single time.

I’ve spent days - probably weeks - of my life simply staring at the sea, letting my mind wash about with the waves and tide. It has taught me to replicate that odd uncoupling of consciousness almost at will. I can let go and wander. I wandered a lot whilst writing A First Book of the Sea - trailed through the beaches and seas of my childhood; the big dunes of Llangenith, the sweep of Newgale, the boats coming into Aldeburgh with flatfish still flapping on the bottom, the salt marshes of Cley and Blakney with the skeins of Brent geese scribbled in their corners. I wandered too in the kind of dreams that the sea makes possible for us all; I imagined all the shores to which each shore is connected; the times that are linked by the sound of waves and the salt of the water, times with pirates and triremes, ichthyosaurs and trilobites and the depths of ocean trenches and the pull of the moon, and planets and stars that the water on our planet holds and divines. Imagining brought me all sorts of poems about animals and tides, real voyages and ones that we can only make in our hearts.



When I first studied whales, I did so on a cliff in Newfoundland. Sea mist would roll in off the cold Atlantic and the dry, wind pruned vegetation of the cliff top would soak up the moisture; sea birds would spend the day scouring hundreds of square miles of blue to return to their nests, under the rocks and heathers. I sailed from the open sea back to the arms of distant harbours. I saw, and lived every day the unity of the world. The sea is our connector: it links us to the salt water history of all life and the tiny oceans that each of the cells in our body hold; it links us to all places and all journeys, from the tiny perambulations of a limpet to the voyages of the Polynesian navigators but most of all it connects us, instantly, to the great power of the wild, to nature, our mother, before whom we are all little children.


Nicola Davies is an award-winning author, whose many books for children include A First Book of Nature, A First Book of Animals, Lots, TinyThe Promise, King of the Sky, Big Blue Whale, Dolphin Baby, Just Ducks. She graduated in zoology, studied whales and bats and then worked for the BBC Natural History Unit. Visit Nicola at www.nicola-davies.com, or follow her on Twitter @nicolakidsbooks.



Emily Sutton graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a degree in illustration. As well as illustrating picture books, she paints, sculpts and designs prints. Emily's first picture book, Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day,was published by the V&A. Her previous titles for Walker include Tiny, The Christmas Eve Tree and Lots. Visit Emily at www.emillustrates.com.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Top new picture book picks!

A brilliant selection of picture books out this month; there are ambitious fish, sleepy woodland creatures, courageous boys and girls, and energetic elephants!


Alan's Big Scary Teeth


Meet Alan, an alligator with a secret. Famed for his big, scary teeth, he sneaks into the jungle every day to scare the jungle animals ... But after a long day of scaring, Alan likes nothing better than to run a warm mud bath and take out his false teeth, which nobody knows about! That is, until his teeth go missing... 

A goofy comedy of self-discovery now in baby-friendly board book format, warm-hearted storytelling and bright graphic art have made Alan an award-winning children’s favourite.

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!


In the second title featuring favourite monster siblings, Natalie and Alphonse, Natalie is learning to read and she is so happy about it. But when she tries all by herself for the first time, the letters look like squiggles, and she isn’t so sure any more… 

With her unique humour, Daisy Hirst celebrates the joy of sharing stories, and perfectly evokes those feelings of frustration and pride that come with learning something new.


Julian is a Mermaid

Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love's debut picture book about self-confidence and love, and a radiant celebration of individuality. 
After seeing three spectacularly dressed women on the subway with his Nana, Julian can't stop daydreaming of himself in his own mermaid costume. But what will Nana think think about how Julian sees himself?


Ellie and Lump's Very Busy Day


Ellie and Lump have a special day ahead of them, planning a big birthday surprise. There’s a lot to do: boing-boing-bouncing on beds, split-splatting eggs for breakfast, whizz-whooshing around on supermarket trollies and blowing up balloons. 

Illustrator Becky Palmer captures the joy and excitement of a day out with mum and the thrills of planning a party.




Jabari Jumps

Jabari has just passed his swimming test, and his next mission is to face the diving board. "Looks easy," says Jabari.  But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back.


In a sweet tale of overcoming your fears, debut author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall captures a moment at the swimming pool between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Goodnight Everyone
       


It's time to go to sleep, but Little Bear is wide awake; much to Great Big Bear's dismay.

Chris Haughton creates a lulling bedtime read, perfect for parents and children to share together. A series of exquisitely coloured cut pages of increasing size introduce woodland families – bears, deer, rabbits and teeny, tiny mice – as they all prepare to sleep.



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