Friday, 2 December 2011

It's Christmaaaaass!! (well almost)

With the festive period nearly upon us we have lots of fabulous picture books for you to enjoy. Whether you want a Christmas classic or a winter wonder we’ve got something for everyone. So why not snuggle up and have your very own toasty indoor picture book picnic!

Kicking things off we have Christmas at the Toy Museum by David Lucas and when the lights go out the magic begins! Bunting and the rest of the toys in the museum are gathered around the tree - but what's this? There are no presents! What can they do? The normally reserved Bunting has a wonderful idea. Why don't the toys give themselves to each other as gifts? The toys learn about the true gift of giving in this gentle and affectionate picture book from one of Britain's brightest new talents.

The next festive treat we have for you is a wonderful picture book by first time author and illustrator Fiona Ross entitled Chilly Milly Moo. Milly Moo, only wants one thing - to churn out the finest, loveliest, tastiest, creamiest milk. But there's a problem - she's far too hot. She's too hot to make any milk at all! The other cows all make fun of her and the farmer is losing patience. Milly Moo dreams of a freezing cold land and as the temperature drops something very exciting happens...

Rounding things up is A House in the Woods. Warm, rich and funny this is a beautifully illustrated picture book from acclaimed picture book maker Inga Moore. When two Little Pigs leave their home-made huts one morning, two very large friends move in - Moose and Bear. It's very nice to have your friends stay, but not when they cause your home to collapse! The solution: build a house in the woods where all four of them can live together, little and big. With some help from the beaver builders and a LOT of peanut-butter sandwiches, that's exactly what they do. Set in an idyllic woodland world, this stunning new title from Inga Moore is sure to entrance readers - both young and old.

And if that wasn’t enough you can find even more wonderful picture book delights on our website here.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Has Anyone Seen My Chihuahua?

This month saw the publication of the fabulous Picture Book Picnic title Has Anyone Seen my Chihuahua? by Clare Wigfall & Ollie Lett. Playful, vibrant and highly entertaining, this is an original picture book about a child's missing Chihuahua.

Oh, where has he gone? A little girl has lost her Chihuahua! And he's her bestest best friend! He's soft, cuddly, bouncy and has the most ENORMOUS ears. But none of the animals she meets resemble her lost Chihuahua, Fernando. Each of them is too big, too small, too green or too

feathery. Will she ever find him?

Illustrator Ollie Lett is a fine artist and his style and colour palette create something very unique on the page whilst author Clare Wigfall, an established writer of adult fiction, presents us with her first picture book text. Clare's voice is contemporary, accessible and very funny. Together Ollie and Clare have produced a great read-aloud for young children and whilst this is the first time Clare and Ollie have worked together they are also life-long friends which you can see coming across in the warmth and humour of Has Anyone Seen my Chihuahua?

Excitingly Clare is also the current Booktrust writer in residence giving you lots of behind the scenes glimpses to the way she writes, what influences her work, music she listens to and a very fascinating blog post about the creative process behind Has Anyone Seen my Chihuahua – do go and take a look, it’s a great read.

Clare has very kindly agreed to do a special Picture Book Picnic blog post, for your eyes only, so look out for that coming very soon.

Friday, 11 November 2011

South Ken Kids Festival 24th - 27th November

Four of our wonderful Picture Book Picnic authors and illustrators will be attending South Ken Kids Festival, 24th -27th November. Polly Dunbar, Viviane Schwarz, Chris Haughton and Sara Fanelli will all be doing events, from drawing duels to create your own story workshops – there’s guaranteed to be something to entertain your little ones!

Things kick off with Sara Fanelli, illustrator of Pinocchio, on Saturday 26th November at the French Institute. Sara will be in discussion with Lauren Child talking about their French passions in the world of illustration.Whilst author and illustrator Viviane Schwarz will be leading a workshop showing you how to create some of her playful cats from her hilarious picture book There Are No Cats in This Book!

Super Sunday follows with Polly Dunbar’s create a story workshop kicking things off at 10am; you will discover a world of wonder and characters with Polly and meet Penguin, Tilly and Friends. Polly will create a shared story with the participants using everybody’s input!

The drawing duels then kick off at 11am on Sunday with Chris Haughton taking on Joëlle Jolivet. Joëlle’s 365 penguins will duel against Chris’s lost owl from A Bit Lost; a winged duel for an intense and unusual session of bird-watching.

12 o’clock see’s Viviane Schwarz take on Stephanie Blake in another drawing duel. Viv’s many crafty cats will take on Simon the rabbit – who will lose more fur? Hopefully the cats will win out as Viv will then take on Marc Boutavant and his cuddly bear in a second drawing duel at 1.15pm on Sunday.

The final duelling duo will be Polly Dunbar and Olivier Tallec at 2pm. Tallec’s dynamic duo Rita and Whatsit will duel against Polly’s Tilly and friends. Prepare to rock and roll!

All the authors and illustrators will also be taking part in public book signings throughout the day giving everyone a chance to get their favourite books signed.

For more information and to book tickets for these events visit the South Ken Chidren's Festival website here.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Mole & Friends Join the RNIB's Really Good Read.....

We have joined forces with the RNIB and Waterstone’s in a partnership to launch the RNIB’s Really Good Read campaign, inviting the nation to celebrate the joy of reading and to help RNIB continue to provide reading services for adults and children with sight problems across the UK. 

The signature event will be an attempt to smash the Guinness World Record for the worlds’ longest reading relay at Waterstone’s Piccadilly on Thursday 13th October, 350 people, including children who are partially sighted or who are blind, will gather to each read aloud from Anthony Horowitz’s exclusive Diamond Brothers’ short story The Double Eagle has Landed, not yet published in the UK. The story will be accessible to everyone at the record attempt, as it will be available in giant print, audio and Braille, as well as in standard print.  The current Austrian world record is 290 people.  Anthony says:

"I'm delighted that one of my stories has been chosen for this world record-breaking attempt. I'm afraid 13th October will be a sad day for Austria as we smash the record and fly the flag for the UK. All credit to RNIB and Waterstone's for encouraging literacy in such a fun and inclusive way."

Walker Books, Waterstone’s and the RNIB will also mark the first ever Read for RNIB Day on 14th October, by giving children all over the country a free picture book.  A special edition of Mole’s Sunrise by Jeanne Willis and Sarah Fox-Davies – a beautifully written story which reminds us how important sight is – will be given away through the Daily Mail where readers will be invited to take a voucher to Waterstone’s stores nationwide to collect their free copy. For every voucher redeemed, Waterstone’s will also donate 20p to the RNIB to help blind and partially sighted people find their lives again

Every day 100 people in the UK start to lose their sight. To find out more information or to join people reading for fun, and help the blind and partially sighted, do visit

Monday, 26 September 2011

Awards, Awards and More Awards

We’re absolutely delighted to announce three Picture Book Picnic titles have been long-listed for the UKLA Book Awards 2012. A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton, A Place to Call Home by Viviane Schwarz & Alexis Deacon and Mole’s Sunrise by Jeanne Willis & Sarah Fox-Davies have all been selected in the 3-6 years category and will go on to fight it out with the other titles for the shortlist announced in March next year.

The UKLA Children’s Book Award is a national award conferred by education professionals and it is held in high esteem by teachers, who regard the shortlist as a reliable indicator of the best books of the year for inclusion in class and school collections.

We’re also proud to see A Place to Call Home has been recognised in the shortlist for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, a unique award launched to honour those books that make young people, and all of us, roar with laughter.

Concerned that the really side-splittingly funny books were being overlooked by other book awards, Michael Rosen created the Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2008 with Booktrust, as part of his work as Children’s Laureate. The Prize aims to reward those authors and artists who write and illustrate their books using humour in their fiction and poetry.

Congratulations to all our wonderful authors and illustrators, it's their talent and energy that make all our books so great! We’re keeping everything crossed for all of these titles and will let you know the results as soon as we hear anything.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Have You Seen Our Hat?

 Today sees the global blog tour for I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen kick off in style. The fabulous Playing by the Book blog has interviewed Jon who shares eight books that reflect pivotal moments in his life so far, with particular reference to his journey towards becoming a published author/illustrator.

The tour will continue with stop-offs at Kids’ Book Capers, Not Just for Kids, Bringing up Charlie, My Book Corner, Wahm-Bam!, Pickle Me This, There’s a Book, My Little Bookcase, Chris Rettstatt over the next nine days. So why not sit back, relax and travel the globe from the comfort of your own home, who knows you might even find bear’s elusive hat!

We’re also delighted to be able to share with you this wonderful trailer, created by Klassen himself, for I Want My Hat Back - take a peek! And, if you like it, why not let us know with a quick tweet!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I Want My Hat Back!

Have you seen my hat?

This is the concept behind the brilliant I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. This is coming out in October, but is already available to pre-order on Amazon.

Jon Klassen has created a great little trailer for us, which is live on the Guardian Children’s Books website now – take a peek! And, if you like it, why not let us know with a quick tweet!

On the 19th September, we’re taking part in a GLOBAL blog tour. That’s right, GLOBAL. As you can imagine, we are pretty excited about this one… it’s going to be EPIC.

We will have stops at blogs from America, Canada, Australia and from right here in the UK. There will be exclusive interviews with Jon Klassen, reviews, competitions and more, so don’t miss it! We’ll be tweeting about the tour and all things hats on twitter on #IWantMyHatBack. So, if you have something to say about the book, or have an interesting hat tale to share with us, just send us a tweet!

We’ve also created a downloadable hat for kids – so they can download it, design it, print it… We’d love to see any designs, however wacky, so tweet us a photo @WalkerBooksUK or share on our facebook page now…

Monday, 15 August 2011

Dear Fairy Godmother...

Deep in the enchanted forest, the fairy tale creatures all have problems. Luckily they can call on the ultimate agony aunt – Dear Fairy Godmother!

A sequel to Dear Mother Goose, this is a hilarious collection of fairy stories with a difference. All the best-loved fairy-tale characters are here and they all have a different problem, from the pesky girl who keeps eating little bear's porridge, to Pinocchio's mendacious habits, to the wolf who just won't leave Little Red Riding Hood alone. Along with their letters asking for advice comes the scene with the problem – then lift the flap and see Fairy Godmother's ingenious solutions to their predicaments! Wittily illustrated by Nick Sharratt, with a very funny text from Michael Rosen, this is a novelty book full of unexpected solutions – and a party at the end!

The Observer on Dear Fairy Godmother; 'When you can capture a child’s imagination from the first page, you know you’re on to something and this original idea based on classic fairy-tales does just that…Great fun'!

Nick Sharratt is the illustrator in residence at Edinburgh Festival this month and wants to get everybody involved in creating a giant Book Festival frieze. If you happen to be in Edinburgh why not drop in to take part and add your own ideas to this giant picture. Drop-in events are limited to 15 people at any one time. As part of the Illustrator in Residence Nick will also be running a full program of events, storytelling's and workshops throughout the month and you can learn more here! 

As a final treat, below is a fantastic video for you to enjoy from author Michael Rosen, former children's laureate, all about chocolate cake - what isn't there to love about that!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

I'm the Best

Can Dog's friends teach him to be less of a show-off? Find out in this brilliantly original picture book from Lucy Cousins, creator of Maisy.

Dog loves his friends. He thinks they’re brilliant. But he also thinks that he’s the best, and he just won’t stop telling them! So what happens when his friends decide to teach him a lesson, by showing him all the things they are best at?

Lucy on creating I’m The Best:

“I really enjoyed working on I’m the Best because it was with inks rather than paints, so it felt new. The line is a pencil drawn line rather than a brush stroke. So I'm starting to feel that I like experimenting to find something different and a little bit fresh. With I'm the Best, I wanted it to be very, very bold, almost like my sketchbooks. Often when I'm doing my sketches for ideas they have a real vitality to them, and when I've redone that page seven times and had a go at a few coloured paintings it's quite hard to keep that freshness."

Lucy is also the author of another Picture Book Picnic title, Yummy: My Favourite Nursery Stories. In Yummy Lucy retells her favourite nursery stories in spare bold language and brilliant vibrant pictures. She gives their famous characters new life and imbues their great adventures with her own very modern magic. These stories are treasures of the imagination. They were first told long ago and they will be told again and again, far into the future. They never fail to stir and excite. Retold in this book: Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Enormous Turnip, Henny Penny, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs and The Musicians of Bremen.

Maisy the mouse is perhaps Lucy’s best known character and we have a gorgeous video with Lucy talking about how she brings Maisy to life - there's a lot of drawing too, we hope you enjoy it.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Competition Winners

Its winner time for both our Picture Book Picnic party and Picture Book Picnic trailer competitions! It was great to see so many people reading and engaging with the posts, lots of new and exciting posts to follow so keep your eyes peeled.

Drum roll...... and the winners are - Zac for his wonderful comments about our trailer and Damyanti who clearly loves I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy as much as we do! Congratulations! Get in contact with your postal addresses and we will send your Picture Book Picnic goody bags out to you.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Exclusive: Picture Book Picnic Trailer

We’re absolutely delighted and excited to exclusively present the Picture Book Picnic trailer. View it here and leave us your comments for your chance to win a limited edition Picture Book Picnic goody bag.

The trailer had its first outing at our Picture Book Picnic party last week and received great feedback. We hope it gives you a flavour of all the amazing titles included in the Picture Book Picnic and there’s also a nod to some of our best loved classics including Maisy, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Pencil.

You can watch this trailer, and many other great videos, on our You Tube channel.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Picture Book Picnic Party

Picnic Wonderland!
The Walker canteen was transformed into an indoor British summer fete for last Thursday’s Picture Book Picnic Party. Guests were welcomed into a room full of bunting and gingham table clothes for a totally original summer party to celebrate the Picture Book Picnic campaign and the fantastic host of illustrators on our list. Jugs of Pimms were served and guests snacked on picnic style canapés followed by a visit to the ice cream stall for strawberries and cream and ice cream cones to round off the evenings. Illustrators Bruce Ingman, Chris Haughton, Ollie Lett, Viviane Schwarz, Sue Heap, Alexis Deacon and David Lucas congregated on the (fake) lawn for some live doodling on flipcharts, adding too and developing each other’s drawings - a fascinating and unique opportunity to see such a wonderful group of illustrators working together.

Deirdre mid speech!
Walker Books Picture Book Publisher Deirdre McDermott gave a lively and heartfelt speech in which she invited us to celebrate the wonderful picture books Walker is home to. The guests were also treated to an exclusive screening of the wonderful Picture Book Picnic trailer which features animated characters from the campaign titles. The trailer was met with squeals of delight and rapturous applause – it will soon be featured here so watch this space!

Our lovely illustrators!
It was a jolly and buzzing evening and guests were in high spirits after the Pimms and were delighted to receive picnic goody bags on departure, which contained branded postcards, posters, stickers and activity sheets. We have a goody bag to give away to one lucky person, for your chance to win just tell us which Picture Book Picnic title is your favourite and why. The winner will be announced at the end of July.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

What Do TOYS Think of Us?

David Lucas, author of Lost in the Toy Museum and the soon to be published Christmas in the Toy Museum, has very kindly agreed to do a guest blog about the inspiration behind his two titles and tries to answer the question -What do toys think of us? We hope you enjoy it!

My two new books are set in a Toy Museum - a real place: the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green in London, which is close to where I grew up, and very near where I still live.

The Museum of Childhood has always been part of my life - I used to go there when I was at school, when I was at Art College, and when I was starting out as an illustrator. (For a while I even worked part-time in the Museum shop.)

All the toys in my stories are part of the Museum collection, and most of them can be seen on display - although some live in the stores downstairs. (It was a real treat, when I was working on the book, to be able to poke around behind the scenes.)

They're all old toys, of course - some are centuries old - and they are all a bit knocked about, and worse for wear, bearing the scars not so much of neglect as of having been loved too much. And some look so sad - like Pumpie, the elephant, or Pip the monkey, or Winkie the One-eyed bear.

Others are more mysterious - like Woolworth the woollen owl or Handsome Harry, a strange knitted cat from the fifties.

And looking at them I can't help wondering what they're thinking, and wondering what became of the children who loved them.

I've always felt that what is most moving for any adult visitor to the Museum is that sense of nostalgia for their own childhood, that memory of innocence, when there was nothing more precious in the world than a knitted owl or a cloth-eared old elephant with a wonky trunk.

Children believe that toys are alive, that they really are thinking and feeling and dreaming. We're expected to grow out of such nonsense, of course, but I do not necessarily think that adults are wiser or cleverer for ceasing to have such an imaginative connection with the things they love.

It was common in every other era of history (when people were every bit as clever as we are today) to believe that everything was alive - even the things we like to call 'inanimate' objects. In Japan the old animist folk-beliefs still persist, even in such an advanced society, so that little everyday objects like pan scrubs are made with faces, not just for decoration, but as a reminder that the pan scrub has a spirit, that the pan scrub has feelings too - and that it deserves respect.

The trouble is that these two characters just hang on little hooks in my kitchen watching me - I daren't actually ever use them for washing up...

Anyway, it is good to see that in the twenty-first century science is at last catching up with the instinctive beliefs of children - and with the ideas of the old folk religions.

Despite all the advances in the study of the brain, scientists remain utterly baffled by the problem of consciousness. How is that the stuff in our heads - which, when you look at it, is just as ordinary as any other kind of stuff - how is it that it can think and feel and dream? No one knows. Honestly. No one has a clue. It is called the 'hard problem' of consciousness, and it gets harder the more you think about it.

No one, at the moment, no matter how clever they are, is even close to an answer. It is such a problem that even some of the most tough-minded, materialist thinkers have begun to take seriously the old idea of 'panpsychism' - that all matter is thinking and feeling stuff - that the basic stuff of the world is thought itself - that atoms and molecules are in fact more like patterns of thought. Which is what children and poets and people of 'primitive' cultures have always believed - that all things are alive, that all things have a spirit or a soul, that all things think and feel and dream. Even if they might not think in quite the way that we do - and after all, why should our kind of thinking be the only kind?

There might be all sorts of minds - from specks of dust to stars - all thinking different sorts of thoughts, dreaming different sorts of dreams. I love the idea that all of us - people, animals, trees, tables, chairs, books, toys, the sun and the moon - that we are all brothers and sisters together in the here and now, all alive with some sort of spirit. To me, it makes the world a magical place - a world alive with magic. My real hope is that I've captured some of that feeling of magic in my books.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

It's Pyjama Time

Polly loves her pink pyjamas - she wears them all day long! But she can't wear them to Fred's party, so her friends Poppy, Clara, Henry and Sally all lend her something of theirs. Finally Polly is ready to go - but she looks so funny in her borrowed outfit that she can't go after all! Things are looking bad - until her friends reveal that the party is, after all, a pyjama party!

You can join author Vivian French for lots of fun from her latest book, Polly's Pink Pyjamas at the Lennox Love Book Festival in November. The event will include singing the hilarious pyjama song, making your own pyjama design - with a prize for the jazziest ones. And...don't forget to turn up in your favourite pyjamas - Vivian will be wearing hers! Also, why not check out Vivian's gorgeous website for even more event info and behind the scenes treats.

Illustrator Sue Heap is a Smarties Book Prize Gold Award Winner and you can find out more about her here.

As a special treat we have a few internal spreads for you to take a look at - enjoy!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Epic Hamsters...

A Place to Call Home is an epic picture book about a brave band of brothers, lost and looking for a new home. Will they find it, across the sea, the mountains, the desert, through endless labyrinths and beyond the edge of the world where strange beasts are lurking?

And will they stay together?

And how will they know where they are going if they are all wearing protective helmets?

Find out in this book, which made illustrator Viviane Schwarz laugh like nothing else she has ever illustrated (hence the wobbly lines in places), and which Alexis Deacon wrote because he knows just how much Viviane likes to draw epic hamsters.

Check out this wonderful video of Viviane drawing said epic hamsters and visit her website for lots of fun videos, stories and news!

Drawing Hamsters from John Peacock on Vimeo.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Let's Celebrate

We were absolutely delighted to receive the news that 'A Bit Lost' by the lovely Chris Haughton was presented with the CBI Bisto Award and the Eilis Dillon award this week! This is the first time in the history of the awards that both the overall and Eilís Dillon Awards have been presented to the same person. The announcement was made by Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD at a ceremony held at the National Library in Dublin.

A Bit Lost tells the story of an accidentally orphaned owl, who, after falling from his nest while sleeping, sets out with the help of new friends to find his way home to his mummy. The judges, said that "the work’s brilliantly simple verbal text, complemented by a quirkily psychedelic and surreal visual text, captures both the anxiety and thrill of being lost." 

In addition to this Chris spent a fun filled day at Waterstones Piccadilly in London this week drawing on the blackboards in the Children's department. These will remain up for a month and showcase some of the fantastic art from 'A Bit Lost'.

 Chris mid creation on one of the chalkboards
As the little owl falls....
Chris with one of the finished boards in the store

Monday, 16 May 2011

A Bit Lost....The Making Of Finale

The third and final part of Chris Haughton's fascinating insight into the making of his gorgeous picture book 'A Bit Lost'!

I did the typeface for the book with help from the brilliant typographer Andreas Pohancenik

A test for the endpapers

I quite like squirrel playing peek-a-boo in this early version of the cover.

I designed half of the book in Korea was published first by the amazing Borim Press.

...and the other half in Mexico I could concentrate fully on it. I had to stop working on other jobs!

I had some reference images spread out on the hotel floor and was worried they were going to get tidied up.

The final spread of the owl falling

In the finished pages you can see the mother hidden in the top left as her child is running around looking for her. The silhouettes of the running animals were inspired by the earlier work with the running birds.

The panoramic final scene is also based on the imagery from the earlier story

The final cover as it is now in English

Thank you to Chris for this fascinating insight into how the concept for a picture book develops and moves forward ending with the beautiful finished book! 

We have more guest posts coming soon from Niamh Sharkey and David Lucas and an exciting competition to win books including a mystery prize so stayed tuned to the Picture Book Picnic!