Wednesday, 24 February 2021

The Lipstick - Q&A with Maria Karipidou

We are delighted to welcome Maria Karipidou onto Picture Book Party for a Q&A on The Lipstick, written by Laura Dockrill.

1. Tell us a bit about your working process, especially any changes in the last year with lockdowns?

My working process is mostly intuitive, and it’s driven by a huge MOTIVATION. In the first few days of starting a new project, I don't know what to do first because I have too many ideas all at once. Then, after gathering the ideas and impressions in a big Hot Pot, I start picking the elements that stand out for some reason. And that often depends on the context. Unusual colours, unexpected characters, e.g. a character who is a cookie but also ANGRY! I had never seen that before.  

Angry Cookie, Laura and Maria's previous
collaboration is available in paperback

I don't think being in lockdown changed my working process all that much, because most of the time everything is happening inside my mind anyway. The only thing that changed was being unable to travel. I get a big part of my inspiration when I meet friends and people from all over the world at book fairs or during workshops. I’m not sure whether this will impact my future projects just yet, who knows! I'm curious to see what happens and what changes. 

2. How did you start coming up with ideas for illustrating this book?

It was the LIPSTICK and the little boy that inspired me (and of course Laura, who somehow changes how you think about the world after you read one of her stories!).

I immediately remembered what I was like as a child: my mum kept telling me that I always wanted to BE A BOY when I was a kid! That ended up with me standing in front of the toilet (as a 4-year-old!) and wanting to pee like a boy! I couldn’t accept NOT being a boy! WHO said I couldn't! So I let my imagination be in charge – like the boy in Laura’s story, who lets the lipstick be in charge. 

3. What was your favourite thing to draw in The Lipstick?

The lipstick has to be a definite favourite for the truly personal value. I loved the story's unusual set up; it was almost like having the house and the lipstick as the main characters, with the family members as the supporting cast. It was brilliant to illustrate! 

4. Do you have a favourite spread/line from the story?

YES, this has to be the best line, "I let the LIPSTICK be in charge!" It is so simply said, but it makes everything that follows in the story possible. It's inspirational, just letting things happen in your life, letting things run wild without always wanting to be in control. This is very similar to the first part of the working process I described; I let my ideas flow without thinking about it too much. I think we should all practise this a little in real life! 

5. Why do you think The Lipstick is an important story?

It’s because it was written by a mum and it’s about a boy – in that lies great importance for me. It’s about (early) relationships, about love, understanding, freedom. Exploring your own borders, being yourself, being loved as you are.

I’m sure that every reader will find herself/himself somewhere in the story (but please tell me if someone thinks he/she is the LIPSTICK, haha!).

Maria Karipidou, photograph (c) Anja Elisa Adam

Thank you, Maria for joining us on Picture Book Party! The Lipstick is available where all good books are sold! 

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Can Bears Ski - Illustrator Q&A

We are very lucky to welcome Polly Dunbar, illustrator of our new book Can Bears Ski?, written by Raymond Antrobus, onto Picture Book Party to talk a little about the process behind creating the book. 

1. Can you tell us more about your artistic process, in particular when illustrating Can Bears Ski? ?

I decided to illustrate the bear characters in Can Bears Ski? with a Japanese brush pen. It’s the first time I’ve illustrated with one so it was exciting to try something new. I felt the pictures of the bears need to be strong and the brush pen is quite a nice thick black line and if you hold it in a certain way it can almost look furry; perfect for bears. Boy Bear in the books says 'he likes his colours loud’ this was lovely to illustrate and I used the brightest marker pens I could find. Part of the beauty of this story was the description,  I was able to use muted colours for the sense of muted sound snow scenes were perfect for this and of course, make boy bears bright personality pop and clothes pop all the more. All the aspects of the book are handprinted and then I used photoshop to assemble it all to make the full scene. This gives me lovely freedom to more things around and tweak things as I go.

I made the work for this book, like so many illustrators on my kitchen table. One day my eldest son joined me at work and drew the bear picture that hangs above the staircase in the book. I now have a studio at the end of the garden which is a dream come true and great because I don’t have to tidy my paints away for mealtimes!

2. Do you have a favourite spread from Can Bears Ski? ?

My favourite spread in the book is probably the library scene, the quietness of the books and the snow falling through the window was all so lovely to draw, especially as it comes after a really loud busy scene of lunchtime at school where boy bear struggle to understand what’s going on. The library picture also shows the solace Boy bear finds in books; it simply has the words ‘Shhhhh’.  It is a challenge to illustrate quietness or the chaos of noise but I was so excited to take this on as I am partially deaf myself so I have first-hand experience of knowing how being deaf isn’t just about the world being can be confusing and startling too. Hopefully through use of colour and vibration I’ve been able to express what it’s like tone hearing-impaired and also (hopefully) created artwork that is beautiful to look at.

3. When did you know you wanted to illustrate for picture books?

I feel very lucky to be a picture book illustrator, as far as I remember that’s what I’ve always wanted to do, telling stories through pictures. I write too, but it’s usually always the pictures that come first. I love books as objects, the weight of them the feel of them even the smell of them. Most of all I see how important books are to both children and adults and to be able to contribute to that is an honour and therefore I try and do the best work I possibly can.

4. What is your favourite picture book?

My favourite picture book as a child was Mr Magnolia by Quentin Blake, it’s so joyous and alive. There are so many wonderful books to choose from. My favourite illustrators include Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer, Sydney Smith, Lucy Cousins, Emily Gravett and so many more!

Thank you, Polly, for joining us on Picture Book Party. Can Bears Ski? is available from all good booksellers! 


Monday, 8 February 2021

I Talk Like a River - Author Q&A

We're delighted to invite Jordan Scott onto Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of his new picture book, I Talk Like a River, illustrated by Sydney Smith.

After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being stared at, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. "It's just a bad speech day," says Dad. But the boy can't stop thinking about all the eyes watching his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. "I talk like a river," he says.

Author Q&A - Jordan Scott

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

For children's books, I spend a great deal of time working through the concept before I start writing. I usually do this when I'm walking, swimming, or mountain biking. In these moments I'm alone and it's usually very quiet. After I have a concept, I start writing drafts and number each of them. I Talk Like a River came close to fifty drafts before I stopped tinkering. I love the editing process very much and really look forward to it. For I Talk Like a River, I had the privilege of working with the great Neal Porter who did wonders for this book.

What was it like seeing Sydney’s illustrations for the first time?

Life-altering! I can't say enough about the brilliance of Sydney's vision for this book. When I first saw the illustrations I couldn't believe that someone could make paint move like that. Sydney's work contains multitudes and gorgeous nuance. I notice something different every time I read the book. 

Do you still visit the river now?

I do! When I visit my mom and dad I always make a point to spend some time at the place my dad used to take me. It's wonderful that I can bring my own sons to the river now.

How did you feel when you were writing this book?

I feel exhilarated when I write. Maybe not so much in the gathering of ideas and concepts, but once I get a flow going, I slip into another dimension. I finished this book on the outer deck of a ferry crossing the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada. Shortly before I wrote the last line, a pod of Orcas breached to the east and the ferry slowed to let them pass. I'll never forget that moment.   

What was your favourite picture book when you were a child?

Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee.

Jordan Scott

A special thanks to our guest author this week, Jordan Scott!

I Talk Like a River is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Top Picks of the Month for February!

We have some fantastic new picture books to share with you this February:

Can Bears Ski?
by Raymond Antrobus and illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Boy Bear cannot hear Dad Bear coming to wake him up in the morning but he can feel the floor vibrate with his heavy footstepsHe can only grasp little bits of what his teacher says to him at school. He cannot catch what his friends are laughing at. And, all the time, Boy Bear keeps hearing the question, “Can Bears ski?” What does it mean? With the support of Dad Bear, Boy Bear visits an audiologist and, eventually, he gets hearing aids. Suddenly, he understands the question everyone has been asking him: "CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

Raymond draws on his own experience to show how isolating it can be for a deaf child in a hearing world. But through his lyrical and moving words, matched with Polly's stunning imagery, he also shows how many ways there are to communicate love. With a solid network, Boy Bear will find his place in the world.

You can now watch the Can Bears Ski? trailer below! It features a reading from author Raymond Antrobus as well as British Sign Language from a Deaf interpreter.

The Lipstick
by Laura Dockrill and illustrated by Maria Karipidou

Exploring his mother’s bedroom, a little boy discovers THE LIPSTICK. It begins on his lips, where it looks very good – MWAH! But then it goes for a little walk … squiggle, squiggle … on the mirror … scribble scribble … on the shiny floorboards … smudge smudge. And even on the fluffy cat. Uh-oh! What will happen when Mum, Dad and big sister sees all this mess? 

From the team behind Angry Cookie comes a hilarious and joyous story all about artistic expression, self-confidence and supportive, accepting parenting.

Download The Lipstick activity sheets here and watch our extra cheeky trailer below!

by Robert Sabuda

There are many different ways to share your love, captured in Sabuda's intricate pop-up animal scenes. Can you find the elephant sheltering its friend from the storm? Or the two swans promising to stay together forever?

This is a celebration of love in all its different forms – a beautiful gift book for the whole family to treasure.

Ducks Overboard
by Markus Motum

When a shipping container filled with 28,000 plastic ducks spilt into the Pacific Ocean, where did all those ducks go? Based on a true story, this innovative take on the plastic pollution crisis follows one duck as it travels on ocean currents to meet sea life and discovers the rubbish from humans that endangers our oceans.

A highly accessible and stylish picture book with a positive message about environmental issues, from the author-illustrator of Curiosity, which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.

Big Bob, Little Bob
by James Howe and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

A comforting story of friendship for any child who does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes, this is the story of two boys, as different as different can be. Big Bob likes trucks and throwing balls and being loud. Little Bob likes dolls and jingling bracelets and being quiet. No matter what they do, they do not do it the same. But when they become new neighbours, they might just find a way to be friends...

Now out in paperback!

by Julia Denos and illustrated by E. B. Goodale

Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbours as families come together and folks settle in for the night.

Now out in paperback!

All of our top picks of the month are now available from all good booksellers!

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Maisy!

 Celebrate Chinese New Year with our favorite mouse, Maisy

Maisy is celebrating one of the world's biggest festivals: Chinese New Year! From hanging up lanterns to receiving lucky red packets and joining in the dragon dance at the parade, this bright and colourful storybook is a perfect introduction to the many joys of Chinese New Year.

Maisy's friend Tiger is coming home especially to celebrate! Once the house is tidy and the decorations are up, Maisy changes into her lovely red dress and throws a big party for all her friends. They have a delicious feast, tell stories, see the fireworks together and, on new year's day, watch a spectacular parade – with an amazing dragon dance! 

Richly illustrated in Lucy Cousins' vibrant and colourful style, this exciting and gently informative story from the multi-award-winning creator of Maisy is ideal for sharing the excitement of Chinese New Year with little ones.

Maisy's Chinese New Year is available where all good books are sold!


Thursday, 7 January 2021

Top Picks of the Month for January!

Kick-off the new year right with one of our top picks of the month below! 

I Talk Like a River
by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith

A New York Times Best Children's Book of the Year

I wake up each morning with the sounds of words all around me.
And I can't say them all . . .

When a boy who stutters feels isolated, alone, and incapable of communicating in the way he'd like, it takes a kindly father and a walk by the river to help him find his voice. Compassionate parents everywhere will instantly recognize a father's ability to reconnect a child with the world around him.
Poet Jordan Scott writes movingly in this powerful and ultimately uplifting book, based on his own experience, and masterfully illustrated by Greenaway Medalist Sydney Smith. A book for any child who feels lost, lonely, or unable to fit in.
"I wish I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
& Sydney Smith existed when I was a kid. It refines perceptions about stammering & germinates dignity. Recommended to all who live with disfluency
" - David Mitchell, Author

Let's Play Monsters!
by Lucy Cousins

Come on everybody, Gabriel wants to PLAY! You be a monster, and he'll run away...

Gabriel is being chased by terrible monsters with sharp pointy teeth, spikes on their back, and smelly feet! But it's all right, they can't catch him ... or can they? Let's play monsters!

This brilliant and hilarious picture book is now out in paperback!

Over the Shop
by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Qin Leng

A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the rooms above their shop will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space – until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways.

Would You Like a Banana?
by Yasmeen Ismail

Gorilla is hungry but there is absolutely no way he’s going to eat a banana. Not even a teeny taste. Not with some bread or standing on his head. Even if you eat one too, which is something you might do.

"This charming, Dr Seuss-esque book was fun with the time-honoured strategy for getting toddlers to try new foods."- The Financial Times

Now out in paperback!

Love From Alfie McPoonst, The Best Dog Ever
by Dawn McNiff and illustrated by Patricia Metola


When Alfie the dog dies, he sends his owner Izzy letters in the post from his new address: The Nicest Cloud, Dog Heaven, The Sky. He wants her to know that he misses her – so much! – but his new home in heaven is BRILLIANT. There are postmen to chase, angels to tickle his tummy, and he never even has to take a bath! Can his letters comfort Izzy, who is feeling lost without him?

Now out in paperback!

I Am a Bird
by Hope Lim and illustrated by Hyewon Yum

I am a bird. Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw!

Every day, a little girl rides to school on the back of Daddy’s bike. As they twist and turn through the city streets, the little girl spreads her arms like wings and sings her birdsong for all to hear. But when they pass the strange woman in blue who carries a mysterious bag, the girl goes quiet until the woman is out of sight. One day, when they’re running late, the little girl discovers what the woman does with her bag each morning – a surprise that transforms her wariness into a feeling of kinship to be celebrated.

Now out in paperback!


All of our top picks of the month are now available from all good booksellers!

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Our top Christmas picture book gifts!

As Christmas draws ever closer, we wanted to share with you all some of our picture book highlights from 2020, all perfect gifts for the little ones in your life! 

Santa Post
by Emma Yarlett

Santa receives letters of Christmas wishes from children all over the world. But this year there's one that just doesn't make sense. What does this child want for Christmas? Santa is determined to find out! An irresistible festive follow-up to the internationally bestselling Dragon Post and Beast Feast. This joyous novelty book sparkles with Emma Yarlett’s vibrant illustrations and quirky humour, and is full of lots more hilarious letters to open.

Click here to download our Santa Post activity sheets and watch our trailer below!

Honey For You, Honey For Me
by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell


Flying pigs, wobbling plates of jelly and a giant with a terrible fear of mice: welcome to the topsy-turvy world of nursery rhymes. Inspired by his lifelong fascination with these wonderful, riddling rhymes, Michael Rosen has placed familiar playground songs beside forgotten gems for a seminal new collection, which Chris Riddell has brought to vivid life with his magnificent, exuberant pictures. Expect familiar faces, from little Jumping Joan to Miss Mary Mack-Mack-Mack – but also plenty of mischievous surprises. With over thirty rhymes to choose between, this is a book for families to share and treasure.

Join Michael as he reads from his new collection of nursery rhymes, Honey For You, Honey for Me below!

The Midnight Fair

by Gideon Sterer and illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio

A spectacular, surreal and cinematic wordless picture book about the secret life of animals.

Far from the city, but not quite in the countryside, lies a fairground. When night falls, and the fair is empty, something unexpected happens. Wild animals emerge from the trees, a brave raccoon pulls a lever, and the rollercoasters and rides explode back into bright, neon life. Now it’s time for the woodland creatures to have some fun…

Ella's Night Lights
by Lucy Fleming

    If you look very carefully at the night sky, you might spot a teeny-tiny sparkle out of the corner of your eye, a whisper of a tinkling trail… That’s Ella.

Ella has always dreamed of seeing the sunrise. But with her delicate gossamer wings, she can only come out at night. So, when the moon is high, she collects as many shimmering beams of light she can find – a twinkle from a star, the glow from a lamp post. With her light, she guides lost and lonely animals and finds friendship in Fox and Owl. And, together, Ella’s animal friends know just how to return her kindness... A gentle, tender storybook about friendship and the power of kindness.

Click here to download Lucy Fleming's Ella's Night Lights activity sheet.

Julian at the Wedding
by Jessica Love

Julian and his nana are attending a wedding. Better yet, Julian is in the wedding along with his cousin Marisol. When wedding duties are fulfilled and with a new dog friend in tow, the pair takes off to roam the venue, exploring everywhere from underneath tables to enchanting willow trees to ... muddy puddles? After all, it wouldn’t be a wedding without fun, laughter and a little magical mischief. With ingenuity and heart, author-illustrator Jessica Love tells a charming story of friendship, acceptance and celebration.

Click here to download our Julian at the Wedding activity sheets!

Norse Tales: Stores From Across the Rainbow Bridge
by Kevin Crossley-Holland and illustrated Jeffrey Alan Love

Enter an ancient world of green glades and glaciers, where gods and goddesses spread their magic whilst rock-giants and mountain-trolls roam. This astonishing new collection of Norse tales from the award-winning Kevin Crossley-Holland – with Jeffrey Alan Love’s arresting illustrations – will enthral readers of all ages.

Will You Be My Friend?
by Sam McBratney and illustrated Anita Jeram

You fell in love with the Nutbrown Hares in Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram’s classic picture book, Guess How Much I Love You, and now they’re back in a brand new story, Will You Be My Friend?

Little Nutbrown Hare sets off exploring on his own. Off he hops along the path and through the grass until he reaches Cloudy Mountain, where something extraordinary happens: he discovers a new friend. This gentle story of burgeoning independence and first friendship will resonate with readers of all ages. Told with the sweetness and simplicity that are the hallmark of Sam McBratney’s writing, and illustrated in Anita Jeram’s signature style, it’s destined to become another beloved family read-aloud.

Click here to download our Will You Be My Friend? activity sheets and watch our trailer below!

Rain Before Rainbows

by Smriti Halls and illustrated by David Litchfield

Rain before rainbows. Clouds before sun.
Night before daybreak. A new day’s begun.

A girl and her companion fox travel together from a place of loss and despair, through uncertain times, towards the hope of colour, light and life. Along the way, they find friends to guide and support them. Together, they build a glorious future and discover there is a way out of the darkness, into the light of the rainbow. A book with immense hope at its heart, this is a positive message for anyone who’s ever gone through a tough time.

Click here to download our Rain Before Rainbows activity sheets and to watch a very special reading from the one and only Stanley Tucci!

Where Snow Angels Go
by Maggie O'Farrell and illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazinni

Where Snow Angels Go is the extraordinary and compelling modern fairy tale from award-winning storyteller Maggie O'Farrell, with gorgeous illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. Read more about this perfectly wintery tale below, and make sure to watch our snowy trailer, and try our snowflake-filled activity sheets.  

Sylvie wakes one night, suddenly, without knowing why. Then she sees the most spectacular sight – a pair of wings, enormous in size, made of the softest snow-white feathers imaginable. An angel in her bedroom … a snow angel. 

Where Snow Angels Go has been chosen as the Independent Bookshops' Children's Book of the Month for November. Read more here

Click here to download our Where Snow Angels Go activity sheets, watch our trailer below and click here to watch our launch event with both Maggie and Daniela!


All of these wonderful picture books are now available from all good booksellers!