Thursday, 23 September 2021

Flavia Z. Drago wins Klaus Flugge Prize for Gustavo the Shy Ghost

 We are delighted to announce that Flavia Z. Drago has WON the Klaus Flugge Prize for 2021 with Gustavo the Shy Ghost! Huge congratulations to Flavia!

We were so proud to see both Flavia and Rachel Stubbs for My Red Hat on this year's shortlist.


Flavia said: “When I started work on the book, I didn’t notice how much I had in common with Gustavo, but as I got to understand him, I realised that telling this story was important for me because I wanted to show that being shy doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy the company of people—or in this case, monsters! It just means that you find it difficult to connect with others. Some of the things that happen to Gustavo are based on my own experiences. When I was in kindergarten, just like Gustavo I sat by myself during lunch breaks, watching children play while being amazed by the fact that they seemed to be completely happy to talk and play with each other.

The main difference between Gustavo and me is that, sadly, I cannot do the ghostly things like walking through walls, making objects fly, glowing in the dark or playing the violin. However, drawing became a way in which I could connect with others. In a sense, our love for art has been the thing helping us both to connect with others.” 

About the book: Gustavo is a ghost. He is good at doing all sorts of paranormal things, like walking through walls, making objects fly and glowing in the dark. And he loves playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo also has a problem. He is SHY. Which means some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye-scream or talking to the other monsters. But Gustavo longs to be a part of something, he longs to be seen. More than anything, he wants to make a friend. So, plucking up all his courage, he sends a very special letter: “Dear Monsters, I would like to invite you to my violin concert at the Day of the Dead party…”

"A great story about making friends by being yourself and the illustrations are a constant visual delight" Malorie Blackman

You can read our Q&A with Flavia here and download our activity sheets here!

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost is available to buy from all good booksellers! 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Inch and Grub (PB) - Author Q&A

To celebrate the paperback publication of Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen by Alastair Chisholm and David Roberts, we thought we'd reshare this treat of a Q&A with author Alastair Chisholm. 


 The Cavemen are Here!

Inch and Grub is a tale of two rather silly cavemen who get into a rather silly contest to collect the most STUFF, with rather silly results. It’s been a long journey for them and me, but now they’ve arrived and I’m incredibly excited to see them!

~

Inch and Grub have had a very long journey. It’s been almost ten years since the day I was sitting at my desk, doodling over ideas, and making a funny little drawing of two cavemen who kept bickering at each other.

My first doodle of Inch and Grub

 It wasn’t long after the last major banking collapse, and the whole world was talking about how all of these companies had been built up almost on thin air, and how it had now come crashing down. I looked at my two little cavemen and I imagined them sniping at each other, and boasting about how one had a bigger cave than the other, or a house, or… or a horse, or a carriage, a train, a fancy car!

…And they just seemed so ridiculous that I knew I had to do something with them.

 I knew right away how they would talk – “Me have cave! Me am best! That no fair!” And it was huge fun thinking of all the things they could accumulate. I knew early on that they would get modern stuff, from caves to houses, to castles, to skyscrapers, and from water to fire to television to telephones to spaceships… At first, I wasn’t sure if they would change in looks as well – would they become more modern? I imagined what King Inch would look like, or – my favourite – Disco Grub…


King Inch and Disco Grub!

And at first, they were actually much meaner. They threw stones and built fortresses. They cut down all the trees, stole each other’s things, ruined the landscape and, in the end, blamed each other without ever thinking about their own behaviour.

But gradually, with the help of some fantastic editing first from Emily Lamm (then at Gullane) and then Lizzie Sitton at Walker Books, my two horrible cavemen softened a little. They became a bit sillier, and a bit less cruel – and at the end, they do, perhaps, learn their lesson…

(Also, my wife Catherine must get this credit: When Emily suggested the cavemen needed one more thing on their piles, one final “straw to break the camel’s back”, and I was stumped for ideas, it was Catherine who said: what about a silver drinking straw?, because she is a genius)

From there, it was down to finding the right illustrator for the story, and here I was very lucky indeed to discover that David Roberts – whose work I love – was interested! David is very much in demand these days, so we had to wait just a bit longer for him – but it was absolutely worth it.

And so, I’m very pleased to present to you, the final version of INCH and GRUB:

David Robert's fabulous take on Inch and Grub!

Me am very happy.

- Alastair Chisholm

A special thanks to our guest author this week, Alastair Chisholm!

Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen is now available to buy from all good booksellers in paperback! 

Thursday, 9 September 2021

New September Picture Books Releases!

 Check out a selection of our new releases this September!


Moose's Book Bus
by Inga Moore


Moose is the most fantastic storyteller. Every night after dinner, he sits with his family around the fire and tells an enchanting story. But, one evening, Moose can’t think of a single tale he hasn’t told before! What he needs is a book of stories. What they all need is a library… With help from the friendly librarian in town, Moose recycles an abandoned bus from the junkyard and makes a mobile library – a book bus! Now the whole neighbourhood can experience the magic of stories together.

In this companion to A House in the Woods, beloved picture book maker Inga Moore shares a heart-warming story that celebrates the joy of reading aloud, and the power that libraries have to bring communities together.

Publishing 16th September.


Witch in Training
by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Briony May Smith


Betty is brewing her first ever potion! And potions need ingredients – ingredients that can only be found in the WILD. So Betty, with her mum by her side, soars off into the magical, moonlight night to bravely gather her wicked and wonderful supplies: vampire fangs, fairy dust, werewolf whiskers, and more. The only problem is, she might have to come face-to-face with a few monsters – a few treacherous monsters! – along the way...

With rollicking read-aloud rhymes from Michelle Robinson, and spellbinding art from Briony May Smith, this is a funny, edge-of-your-broomstick adventure for aspiring witches and wizards everywhere.

Publishing 16th September.


Let's Save Antarctica
by Catherine Barr and illustrated by Jean Claude


Home to millions of penguins, ancient dinosaur fossils and huge blue whales, Antarctica is our last great wilderness. This fascinating picture book brings to life this extreme and exciting continent for young children, exploring its icy landscape and extraordinary wildlife. It also shows the incredible scientific research that happens there and therefore why it is so important that we act to protect this special part of the planet from climate change and plastic pollution.


The More the Merrier
by David Martin and illustrated by Raissa Figueroa


“I like your moves. But I’m not like you. So I’ll just do what I can do.”
Some like to kick their feet and bend their knees to the music. Others prefer to slip and slide ... or swoop down ... or skip high and low! Whatever their style, children will be captured by David Martin’s buoyant rhymes and Raissa Figueroa’s vibrant illustrations as Bear, Moose, Snake, and other forest animals dance to their own groove in a rhythmic celebration of individuality.


Poultrygeist
by Eric Geron and illustrated by Pete Oswald


A little spring chicken crosses the road but quickly gets flattened under a lorry. The barnyard beasts who’ve gone before break the news: now that Chicken’s fried – dispatched to the Other Side – Chicken has a job, an unwanted job, as a noisy trouble-making ghost. This fowl may be weak in the beak, but Chicken knows that scaring people isn’t nice. There is such a thing as a friendly ghost, after all – isn’t there?

Loaded with laughs and shivers, this Halloween-ready treat features ghoulishly funny art by the illustrator of the #1 New York Times best-selling Bad Seed series. Let the haunting begin!


Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen
by Alaistair Chisholm and illustrated by David Roberts


Inch and Grub are two exquisitely hairy and competitive cavemen. Grub’s cave is bigger, and he says that makes him the best. So Inch adds a water feature to his cave. But Grub has made fire! So Inch makes a chair. And a house. And a car. Grub, meanwhile, has accumulated a castle and a train and a radio! And so the contest spirals and spirals to ever ridiculous heights … until they each have a HUGE wobbling mountain of stuff! From the humble handprint to Michelangelo's "David" the ambition and creativity of these two characters seems limitless. But their desire to go one better than the other is in danger of toppling their friendship until, at last, they realize what is most valuable of all – each other.

Publishing in paperback on 16th September.


Gustavo, the Shy Ghost
by Flavia Z. Drago


Shortlisted for this year's Klaus Flugge Award.

"A great story about making friends by being yourself and the illustrations are a constant visual delight" Malorie Blackman

Gustavo is a ghost. He is good at doing all sorts of paranormal things, like walking through walls, making objects fly and glowing in the dark. And he loves playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo also has a problem. He is SHY. Which means some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye-scream or talking to the other monsters. But Gustavo longs to be a part of something, he longs to be seen. More than anything, he wants to make a friend. So, plucking up all his courage, he sends a very special letter: “Dear Monsters, I would like to invite you to my violin concert at the Day of the Dead party…”

Click here for our Gustavo, the Shy Ghost Activity Kit.

Publishing in paperback on 16th September.


Maxine
by Bob Graham


Max has a new baby sister – Maxine! Max is there for her first words, her first steps and … her first flight! But as Maxine grows up and starts school, she doesn’t feel like she quite fits in. In fact, she’s not sure if she feels comfortable in her superhero guise at all. Can Maxine convince her family that not all superheroes wear capes? With a strong, incredibly smart girl at its centre, this is a book to inspire any child to dream big and be exactly who, and how, they want to be.

Publishing 16th September.


The Jacket
 
by Sue-Ellen Pashley and illustrated by Thea Baker


The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front...

Amelia wears her favourite jacket everywhere. She wears it to nursery. And to Aunty Kath's house. And to the shops. Even to bed! But, one day, she can't fit into it anymore. So Mum suggests she give it to her little sister, Lily. And so, that way, the jacket lives on...

Now out in paperback!


Wiggle, Walk, Wash! Baby's First Animals
by Elliot Kruszynski


Baby Elephant loves to wash. Splish splosh! Baby Turtle loves going for walks. Stomp stomp! Baby Cat loves lots of cuddles. Miaow! And what does a baby like YOU love to do?


Hop Aboard! Baby's First Vehicles
by Elliot Kruszynski


Hop aboard the baby bus! Beep beep. Hop aboard the baby boat! Splish splash. Hop aboard the baby plane! Neeeooom. Now on we go, we’re following you  no one drives better than a baby like you.

With bold shapes and colours, interactive read-aloud sounds and a surprise novelty mirror on the last page, these two stylish board books are the perfect gift for a new arrival, and a fantastic addition to a toddler's first library.


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Our September releases are available from all good booksellers!

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

International Dot Day

Celebrate International Dot Day on 15th-ish September!

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009. Now, every 15-ish September, more than 10 million teachers, librarians and children in 170 countries participate in International Dot Day, making their mark by getting busy with writing, drawing, painting, or other creative outlets and sharing their Dot Day inspiration with others.
Join in the global celebrations on 15-ish September by hosting a reading of The Dot, throwing a creative dot-making event, or planning a weeklong series of activities — the possibilities are endless! To get started, download the free International Dot Day pack which is packed with simple ideas to help you celebrate creativity in your classroom or library here.
Watch this video of Peter H. Reynolds to learn the story of how The Dot came to be and what he hopes you and your students will take away from it.



 
 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 #DotDay, #Makeyourmark.


To find out more and to discover other great ideas for making your mark on International Dot Day, click here!

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Ergo - Guest Blog Post from Viviane Schwarz

Today we welcome Vivane Schwarz onto Picture Book Party to talk about her new book, Ergo, written by Alexis Deacon. 


"I find favourites hard - but if I did have one, my favourite picture book of the year would probably be Ergo. A triumph in design. Profound simplicity." - Nikki Gamble

For budding philosophers of all ages, this is the uplifting story of Ergo the chick. Ergo wakes up and sets about exploring her world. She discovers her toes. She discovers her wings and her beak. She has discovered EVERYTHING! But then she considers the wall. And something outside the wall goes BUMP. What could it be? The only way to find out is to peck peck peck through to the other side...

This is an inspiring story told with heaps of humour. Like its predecessor, I Am Henry Finch, Ergo is a book for everyone – from the very young to the very old. It is for dreamers, philosophers, artists, the foolish and the enlightened. A profound picture book experience told with simplicity and style.

Guest Blog Post from Viviane Schwarz

 “This has to stop eventually”, said my music teacher when he looked at my homework about major and minor scales and the margins were covered in cartoon animals again, in this case, different size cows mooing.

“Can I have a copy,” asked my science teacher when she saw the cartoon I had made to explain ionisation to myself, making it all about people hugging tiny cats.


Sometimes I still feel that I disappointed people by never stopping, but more often, I am pleased about the books I’ve illustrated that introduce small children to big ideas, via the medium of funny creatures.

People who know me a bit know that as soon as I understand something, or discover a big question, I will excitedly start saying: "Oh it's just like this! It is a bit like that! It is not at all like this other thing." I map it out in metaphors and similes and compare patterns all day long. I look for the simplest way to think about it, and then the one that is most useful, and the funniest, and the one that makes sense to me, and the one that makes sense to whoever is still listening. I think about everything in patterns, and then... I draw funny animals.



A few years ago, I illustrated I am Henry Finch, a wonderful story written by Alexis Deacon about a tiny bird discovering some of the big foundations of philosophy for himself. A bit of Descartes saying 'I think, therefore I am'. Some of the realisation of the cycle of life we are all part of. The beginnings of ethical thinking. It was like going back to school and instead of filling the margins, I got to fill the pages.


The book was well-received, and after a few years, Alexis came back with a new tiny bird story. This one was all set inside an egg. “Plato, is it”, I said, happily.


Then I started thinking about what this story was like. One way of reading it was following the development of a sense of self in a young child. I tried to remember the ideas I had when I was very small, and the questions I had asked while feeling my way around the overwhelming truth that there is a whole world which exists even if I am not looking, full of people as real as myself.


Some people don’t ever realise that, no matter how old they get, I thought later, while drawing Ergo glowingly happy in her egg, thinking I AM THE WORLD.

We can hatch so many times over in our lives. To spend time thinking inside some unseen egg is good. Then, when the time comes, we burst through the shell into a bigger world, to be greeted as ourselves, and to welcome other hatchlings.

My drawings of Ergo are a declaration of love and gratitude for all the moments in life where I have witnessed friends feeling the joy and awe of simply being themselves. There is nothing scarier, funnier, more wonderful I know of in life.



Some stories I too look and marvel at. Some are to stick your hands right into and grab and make them your own. I wanted this one to be grabbable, and so I made sure to illustrate it in a way that says: you can do this, too.


The studio was quickly covered in sheets of watercolour paper with golden yellow blobs on them. Fuzzy blobs, squat blobs, bendy blobs, and ones that were a little green around the edge… those last ones, of course, to be turned into depictions of Ergo as she discovered feeling unwell from rolling around wildly. Visitors wondered what was going on as I used every available surface to dry the blobs on.


Next, I used my trusty fountain pen to add the parts that make Ergo - her eyes that open to discover a beak, feet and legs, wings… it was a joy to meet her.


I sent her over to Ben Norland, who art directed the book, and we got working on the layout and typography. The hardest part was to create sounds, movement and thought in scribbles. Whole monsters can spring from the imagination filling in the unknown with a terrible jumble - I drew a good few of those.



I hope that children who read the book will be encouraged to draw their own blobby little creatures to help them ask their own big questions and to scribble their worries as big as they need to. I certainly won’t stop doing that myself. 


I hope Ergo will encourage you to love the strange and amazing world that you are. I hope you'll hatch out of your eggshell as often as you can and must, and that you are met with love by all of us other worlds out here.


-


A special thanks to our guest this week,  Viviane Schwarz!
Ergo is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Ergo - Q&A with author Alexis Deacon

Today we welcome Alexis Deacon onto Picture Book Party to talk about his new picture book, Ergo, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz.  


"I find favourites hard - but if I did have one, my favourite picture book of the year would probably be Ergo. A triumph in design. Profound simplicity." - Nikki Gamble

For budding philosophers of all ages, this is the uplifting story of Ergo the chick. Ergo wakes up and sets about exploring her world. She discovers her toes. She discovers her wings and her beak. She has discovered EVERYTHING! But then she considers the wall. And something outside the wall goes BUMP. What could it be? The only way to find out is to peck peck peck through to the other side...

This is an inspiring story told with heaps of humour. Like its predecessor, I Am Henry Finch, Ergo is a book for everyone – from the very young to the very old. It is for dreamers, philosophers, artists, the foolish and the enlightened. A profound picture book experience told with simplicity and style.

Q&A with Alexis Deacon

 What was the inspiration behind Ergo?

I once heard that the best place to start a story is as close to the ending as possible. I feel as though much of my work, especially my work in collaboration with Viviane Schwarz, has been about beginnings as much as endings.

The characters start in a closed or confined world and by the time the story has finished, the world has opened up for them and they are ready to begin a larger journey. In that sense, the inspiration for Ergo has been with me for some time. Having come closer and closer to the beginning of my character’s lives it seemed fitting that I take the logical next step and set a story in the moments before a character is born.

How did you begin writing Ergo and did it differ from I am Henry Finch?

Ergo came to be for a number of reasons. I had wanted to write a story in celebration of the spirit of curiosity and the power of the enquiring mind. This story began as the tale of three tadpoles called, Why, Why and Why (‘Why,’ was the only word they ever said). 

Through their constant questioning, the grown-ups in the story were forced to look at their world in a different way and ultimately saved from disaster. Somehow it was all too complicated and had too many characters and I had to give it up. I didn’t forget the concept though. A couple of years later, after the success of I Am Henry Finch, my editors wanted to know whether I had any other story ideas that might make a good follow-up. I thought about a little bird in an egg. Just by looking and asking questions, she learns about her world and finds the courage to break through her shell and be born.


Can you tell us about your writing process?

My writing process is similar to the way a sculptor might work with a block of marble. I write down whatever comes into my head and it fills the pages with a great lump of stuff; lots of ideas, mostly useless but a few that shine out. Then it is a question of chipping away at this block, trying to reveal the story at the heart of it all. 
Viv is a great help with this, alongside my editors and designer at Walker Books, Lizzie Sitton, Rachel Boden and Ben Norland. Between us, we try to find the simplest, clearest version of the story I hoped to tell.
What was it like seeing Viviane’s illustrations for the first time?

Alongside the text, I have some idea of what we will see in the pictures as I write. A good picturebook story should put some information in the words, some in the pictures and some in the mind of the reader. Viv is brilliant at this herself and always has good ideas for what the pictures might add so I try to work in collaboration with her as early as possible. It was such a joy to see Ergo’s bright-eyed, golden face peering out at me for the first time. The colour choices throughout the book are perfect. The yellow of the cover is so friendly and inviting. It shines out at you in the best way.


Do you have a favourite spread in the story?

I like several moments in this story very much. If I had to pick one it would be the moment Ergo first guesses that there might be other beings like her. In the illustration we see the page filled with dozens of little Ergos, all stuck in their own eggs. At the time I wrote the book there was no COVID 19, no self-isolation, no lockdown. Somehow, this picture seems to capture the energy, both the hope and the despair, of what we have all been through. It wasn’t intentional but it feels very relatable.


What are your favourite picture books, both older and more recent?

I have a young niece who lives in a different town. Because we can’t see each other very often, we like to read stories together. As a result, I have discovered a lot of picturebooks recently that I wouldn’t otherwise have read. My personal favourites are two new books by Chris Haughton, Don’t Worry, Little Crab and Maybe. We have also loved reading The Runaway Pea by Kjarten Poskitt and Alex
Willmore and The Pirates Are Coming by Matt Hunt and John Condon.

In terms of a book for picturebook nerds like me, Small in the City by Sydney Smith is a masterpiece of the form.

There are so many wonderful books that have inspired me, both in childhood and as a creator myself. William Steig has been a great influence on my work and I regard many of his books as pinnacles of picturebook making. My niece would recommend, The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer and Would You Rather by John Burningham. Who am I to disagree?

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A special thanks to our guest this week, Alexis Deacon!
Ergo is now available to buy from all good booksellers.
  

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Let’s Get Ready for School - Q&A with illustrator Carolina Rabei

 
Today we welcome Carolina Rabei onto Picture Book Party to talk about her new picture book, Let's Get Ready for School written by Jane Porter.


What will school be like? What will we do there? What if I miss Mummy? Do I have to go?

Jane Porter answers all of these questions and more in this warm, witty and reassuring book for young children that explores everything they'll need to know before starting school. Marley, Maya, Theo, Akiko, Ella and Zakir are all getting ready to start school. Why not come along with them and see what it’s like? Illustrated with charming characters by Carolina Rabei, this is the perfect introduction to joining a new class.

Q&A with Carolina Rabei


Can you tell us about your journey into illustration? 

 

At an early age I loved drawing. I was lucky to have an aunt and uncle who were artists. They were the ones to recognise my talent and encourage me to take this path. From age 11 I studied at a Fine Art School in my home town for about 8 years, then I decided to take a degree in Graphics and Graphic Design. My studies in Moldova gave me a great base - then in 2011 I came across Martin Salisbury’s book, Illustrating Children’s Books, which greatly inspired me and led me to Cambridge in 2012 to study on the MA Course in Children’s Book Illustration. After 6 months on the course, I received my first offer to illustrate Snow by Walter de la Mare, which kickstarted my illustrating career in the UK, which was a dream. I can’t believe that Let’s get ready for school is my thirteen illustrated picture book!



How did you begin illustrating Let’s Get Ready for School?


After reading the brief and the lovely text by Jane Porter I started to develop the characters of the book. From the start, we wanted to have a multicultural group of characters, that all readers could identify with. Also, as Jane suggested in the text, each child has a different personality, which I tried to portray in the illustrations.


 

Can you tell us a little bit more about your artistic process?


I work from home and always have. In the future, I hope to have a separate garden studio, but at the moment I just use the spare room, which I find a good environment for me to focus in. Even if I miss human interaction sometimes, I feel that I am most productive when I have my personal space. 


 


My workday starts just after breakfast and carries on until the evening with tea breaks in between or a walk if the weather is nice. I feel lucky to live in a town with a lovely country park, lakes and forest patches where I can stretch my legs or just take a break from the screen.


 

Most of my work is done digitally these days. I still like to use traditional media if drawing outdoors or experimenting. But I find it less time consuming to create my roughs in Photoshop and also colour them in there. It is much faster to make any changes, scale or tweak any elements I need to. I still like to add some natural textures to my work. 

 

What was your favourite spread to illustrate in Let’s Get Ready for School?


There were lots of fun moments to illustrate in this book. Probably my favourite is the classroom spread because I’ve added little fun details that are not mentioned in the text but indispensable to a classroom. One of my favourite things is to add childlike drawings and art to the interiors.



 

What are your favourite picture books, both older and more recent?


One of the first picture book I discovered when I came to England was the Snowman by Raymond Briggs - I’m still in love with it!

Also the books by John Burningham, Dahlov Ipcar, Květa Pacovská, are just beautiful and inspiring, 


I also love the work of the contemporary illustrators Jarvis, Isabelle Arsenault, Phoebe Wahl, Benji Davies, Kenard Park, Richard Jones and many more!


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You can watch both Jane Porter and Carolina Rabei discuss their memories of starting school below!



A special thanks to our guest this week, Carolina Rabei!
Let's Get Ready for School is now available from all good booksellers.