Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Win a Picture Book Picnic goody bag!

This month we are giving away 10 tasty Picture Book Picnic book bags, filled with enough treats to keep your little ones entertained throughout the longest picnic or quiet afternoon. Each bag includes a poster, a set of gorgeous illustrated postcards, stickers, a bear cookie cutter and a bumper pack of colourful activity sheets, all in a stylish cotton tote bag!

To enter, just fill in your details below before 30th June.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Tasty activities for the weekend!

This weekend, we have some brand new tasty activity sheets for your little ones to get stuck into!

Get baking with Duckling and Pigeon with our delicious cookie recipe! And while you're waiting for your cookies to bake, keep busy with some of our other fun-filled activity sheets such as 'design your own cookie' and 'count the cookie'!

Don't forget to send us a photo of the cookies you've baked and we'll post them up on the blog - we'll even send the person with the best-looking cookies a fun packed Duckling Gets a Cookie goody bag including stickers, postcards, a cookie cutter and a copy of the book! Send your photos to

So dig out your aprons and simply click here to download your free activity sheets. Happy baking everyone!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Capital letters, cookies and being cool...

In part two of our Picture Book Picnic takeover by editor Maria Tunney, discover just what it is that makes Mo Willems' characters so quirky, hilarious and yet adorable...


Mo writes in capital letters a LOT. If anyone follows our Twitter then they will know that we also have a particular penchant for writing in capital letters … for EMPHASIS. So, when we are VERY EXCITED we write in caps. With loads of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mo’s characters also throw themselves about very dramatically and do plenty of yelling. The Pigeon yells: “I ASK FOR THINGS ALL THE TIME!” and in the Elephant and Piggie book I am Invited to a Party they yell, “WE MUST BE READY!” Mo’s characters tend to bellow when they are at the point of “all-is-lost” or “this-is-so-great-I-can’t-control-myself”. These are both good times to holler and shout, we must agree. 


She goes scooty-scoot-scoot with her little webbed feet and she goes flippy-flip-flap with her tiny duckling wings. She is the adorable arch-nemesis of the Pigeon. Why? Well, the pigeon demands things ALL THE TIME but with her bright twinkling eyes and impeccable manners, Duckling simply asks for a cookie and … she gets it! This is enough to send the Pigeon right to the edge of rage! But as innocent as this little duckling looks, the last spread in The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? reveals a hint of a very shrewd manipulator who knows EXACTLY how to get what she wants. Respect. 

Parents Love Mo

We had an author in the office recently who said that he has one rule when it comes to reading books at bedtime for his three children: “It has to be a book that I like to read, too.” Well, Mo Willems’ picture books are just right for adults. Nobody is perfect and these books are full of tiny crises (Trixie losing her Knuffle Bunny, Elephant and Piggie struggling to find the right clothes for a party, Pigeon lashing out at not being able to drive the bus) but, all the while, they are underpinned by true hilarity. Mo himself says: "I want parents to be engaged, and I want them to laugh, because then it's cool […] I think that sometimes parents forget that they are the coolest people in the world to kids ... so if they're enjoying reading a book, suddenly the kid is going to say, 'Wow, reading books is awesome!'”
Reading books IS awesome.
And do you know who is else is awesome? Mo Willems. True dat.

Get your hands on a copy of the brand new, hilarious Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems here.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Reasons we LOVE Mo Willems! (Part 1)

To celebrate the hilarious
new picture book Duckling Gets a Cookie, our very own picture book editor Maria Tunney reveals a few of the many reasons why the world just can't get enough of the wonderful Mo Willems! 

What is it about Mo Willems’ books that really hit the spot? That makes us giggle and point and hug the page with glee? (And this is just the grown-ups.) Across the board, Mo Willems has consistently created titles that connect with all ages; they fizz and sparkle with humour and emotion, firmly establishing themselves as book shelf staples in shops, libraries, schools and homes. With the latest of his Pigeon books Duckling Gets a Cookie!? publishing TODAY in the UK, here are a few of the reasons (there are MANY more) why we in the picture book team LOVE Mo Willems:


You say “crazy pigeon”, we say “Mo Willems”. The Pigeon series (five in total) began with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and made Mo into a children’s literature rock star, earning him a prestigious Caldecott honour and a place at the top of several bestseller lists. These titles have spawned a very popular app, an activity book, board books, stuffed toys…

But what is so great about a pigeon? Well, this pigeon has FEELINGS. A LOT of feelings. In fact, in many of the pigeon books, the Pigeon expresses a whole spectrum of raw emotions − confusion, anger, defiance, sweetness, total rage, sorrow − all on one spread. With his huge eyeball, big round head and wings that are somehow totally simplistic in drawing and yet utterly expressive (he curls them into angry fists, he places his wing on his heart in plaintiveness, he drops them to his side in play-innocence), Mo’s Pigeon encompasses all the melodrama that most 4 years olds and adults (hey, we’ve all had stroppy moments) muster on a daily occasion.

Critics have said that Mo, as a writer and an illustrator, “understands the human condition” and the Pigeon books are a prime example. When refused a puppy in The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, the Pigeon says “Oh … I get it. You don’t want me to be happy, do you? You don’t want me to take a piggyback ride on my puppy!” Hands up if you can relate? We’ve all wondered why we didn’t get something and felt angry about it! There is great truth in these books and that is why we really love the pigeon.

 Elephant and Piggie

They have been described as the Vladimir and Estragon of children’s literature and the comparison to two of Beckett’s most celebrated stage characters is very apt indeed. The Elephant and Piggie books celebrate Mo’s love of dialogue and, without a doubt, have a touch of the absurd about them. They get themselves into absurd situations (Gerald: There is a bird on my head? Aaaaaaaaagghhh!!! Piggie: Now there are two birds. They are in love!) and each character approaches them with varying attitudes. Gerald evaluates the situation with a sceptical look and makes cautious suggestions; as Mo describes him, he’s “the glass is half full of poison kind of guy.” Piggie, on the other hand, GOES for it full throttle:

Piggie: Today I will fly!
Gerald: No. You will not fly today.
You will not fly tomorrow. You will not fly next week.
Piggie: I will try. Goodbye.

These books are hilarious. They make for the funniest read alouds and are the perfect chapter books for a little child who has just begun to read by themselves or for an adult to read to a child, laughing all along the way. 

If that isn't enough, Maria has three more reasons to pick up a Mo Willems book, coming up in part 2 of her post next week! Stay tuned...