Monday, 19 October 2020

Halloween Highlights

Get spooky this October with our top Halloween picture books!


Give Me Back My Bones!
by Kim Norman and illustrated by Bob Kolar

Cast a spyglass ’round here, while breakers curl and pound here. There’s treasure to be found here – I feel it in my bones!

A stormy night at sea has uncovered some long-buried secrets and surprises. Is that the mast of a shipwreck? A faded pirate hat? And what’s that hiding in the sand? A mandible and a clavicle, phalanges and femurs, a tibia and a fibula – could there be a complete set of bones scattered across the ocean floor? And who might they belong to?

Now out in paperback!

Monster Food
by Daisy Hirst


Some monsters eat peaches, some monsters eat pears, and then there are monsters who only eat chairs. Some monsters like noodles, some monsters like stew but this little monster is eating a shoe. Daisy Hirst's adorable, cheeky monsters are guaranteed to make little children chuckle! For picky eaters, I-like-everything eaters and I-might-have-liked-it-yesterday-but-I-don't-like-it-today eaters alike!

Now out in hardback!

Monster Clothes
by Daisy Hirst


When monsters get up in the morning, they have to find something to wear. Simon wears socks, Darrell puts on a dress and Terrence tries on a tomato. Meanwhile, Cassie is wearing cars and Lester has the latest fashion – leaves! Daisy's adorable, cheeky little monsters try all sorts of hilarious combinations of clothes that little children won't be able to resist.

Now out in hardback!

The Haunted Lake
by P. J. Lynch


Jacob's father was a farmer, but after their river is dammed and their town is flooded, Jacob takes to fishing the new lake over the town. A village girl falls in love with him, and he with her. A year before they're to be married, Jacob disappears into the lake, lured underwater by the ghosts who inhabit the sunken village. For fifteen years, his fiancee fishes the lake and searches for her love while Jacob lives, unaging, with the ghosts. It's only when Lilith, leader of the ghosts, wants to marry Jacob, that he remembers his love for the girl above the lake and can break free to the surface, where his fiancee is able to rescue him – and, at last, to marry her love.

Now out in hardback!

Hide & Seek
by Katie May Green


A midsummer moon shines on Shiverhawk Hall, where portraits of children come alive on the wall... As night falls, and the DeVillechild twins are nowhere to be seen, the other children escape their frames in search of two girls in white dresses – and, possibly, a midnight game in the garden. Out in the night air, through the maze, and into the woods they go, looking for their mysterious friends. Will they be able to find the twins before the sun rises?

Now out in paperback!

Gustavo, The Shy Ghost
by Flavia Z. Drogo


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 to download our Gustavo, The Shy Ghost activity sheets

Now out in hardback!

Friday, 9 October 2020

Gustavo, The Shy Ghost - Q&A with Flavia Z Drago

We have the perfect Halloween reading for you all as we welcome Flavia Z Drago to Picture Book Party to tell us more about creating her new picture book, Gustavo, The Shy Ghost.


Gustavo, The Shy Ghost out now in hardback! 

Click here to download our Gustavo, The Shy Ghost activity sheets! 



Q. What was the inspiration behind Gustavo, the Shy Ghost? 

A. The idea for the story came from a tweet I wrote in 2016 when I was thinking about the reason behind ghosts wearing sheets ‘It must be because they are shy’, I thought. And so, the idea for Gustavo, The Shy Ghost popped into my head. 

When I first started working, I wasn’t sure if I wanted Gustavo to be a boy disguised as a ghost who in the end takes off his sheet to show the others who he really is, or if he was going to be an actual ghost living in a world full of monsters. 
However, as soon as I started sketching, I discovered that as a real ghost, Gustavo could do all sorts of fun stuff, like walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. Also, as a real ghost, he was able to shape-shift into different things, which really helped the story development, and in the end, he reveals his true self anyway!




When I was a child, I used to be as shy as Gustavo is. In kindergarten, during lunch breaks and parties, I used to sit alone and wonder how other children could talk and play with each other so easily. The illustration where Gustavo is looking at the monsters from the balcony is my favourite one because - happily, or sadly, I’m not sure - it’s based on my own experience as a child.
A young Flavia



Q. How long was the process for writing and illustrating Gustavo? 

A. Finishing the whole book took about ten months in total.

Q. Which came easier, the illustrations or the words? What is your creative process like? 

A. First, I started by making loads of tiny drawings with all the ideas that came to my head about Gustavo. I drew the things that he likes and dislikes, his friends, his family, his house, and the world in which he lives. The more I drew, the better I could articulate how his story was going to evolve and end. If I can draw it, I can tell it!



Once I had all my sketches, I scanned and organised them into a pdf, where I mixed the images along with the texts. This gave me a more accurate sense on how the images and words could interact with one another. Sometimes I can have many ideas, but only when I see them on paper, I am capable of really knowing which ones will work, and which ones won’t. 




For the final artwork, I created my images with pencil and ink, then I scanned and coloured them on Photoshop. With this process I can get the lovely textures from the traditional media, and I can control and edit as much as I like. Creating the final artwork is always my favourite bit of the process because I get to listen to loads of podcasts, music, and even TV shows or movies as I draw.



Q. What is your work set up/studio like? 

A. Right now, my working space is my own bedroom. I own a laptop and a small Wacom (interactive pen display) because, before this covid disaster happened, I loved traveling and living in different cities, so being able to transport my office with me is essential. 


Q. Finally, what are your favourite recent picture books? 

A. My favourite new picturebook is Les choses qui vont by Beatrice Alemagna, she’s a brilliant artist and a very original storyteller! I also like very much all books by Jon Klassen, Carson Ellis, Anushka Allepuz, Keith Negley and Marta Altés. 

Thank you to Flavia for joining us on Picture Book Party. Gustavo, The Shy Ghost is out now where all good books are sold! 

Make sure to watch our behind the scenes video with Flavia below:

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Autumn Highlights

Here are some of our favourites from over the last few months, all available now where all good books are sold! Also, make sure to click here and see our highlights publishing in October.  

The House by the Lake
by Thomas Harding and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup



Thomas Harding first shared this remarkable story in his Costa-shortlisted biography The House by the Lake – now he has rendered it into a deeply moving picture book for young readers. On the outskirts of Berlin, a wooden cottage stands on the shore of a lake. Over the course of a century, this little house played host to a loving Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, wartime refugees and a Stasi informant; in that time, a world war came and went, and the Berlin Wall was built a stone's throw from the cottage's back door. With words that read like a haunting fairy tale and magnificent illustrations by Britta Teckentrup, this is the astonishing true story of the house by the lake.

You can now read both our guest author and illustrator blog posts here - Thomas Harding & Britta Teckentrup


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

You can now read both our guest author and illustrator blog posts here - 

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!


Gustavo, the Shy Ghost!
by Flavia Z. Drogo


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 to download our Gustavo, the Shy Ghost! Activity Sheets!


Ride the Wind
by Nicola Davies and Salvatore Rubbino


Javier has a secret. On one of his father’s fishing trips, he finds an albatross caught on the hooks – alive, if only barely. Against his father’s orders, Javier smuggles the bird to safety and begins nursing it back to health. Every day the albatross accepts a little more food, but she shows no sign of wanting to use her wings. And if Javier's new friend refuses to fly, how will she ever find her way home? With words by award-winning author Nicola Davies and dramatic watercolours by Salvatore Rubbino, this is a beautiful story about the power of empathy.

You can now read both our guest author and illustrator blog posts here - 

Monday, 5 October 2020

Julian at the Wedding - Q&A with Jessica Love

We are delighted, nay ecstatic, to invite Jessica Love, author-illustrator of the award-winning Julian is a Mermaid, onto Picture Book Party to tell us all about the making of her new book, Julian at the Wedding. Make sure to enter our Julian at the Wedding competition over on our WalkerBooksUK Twitter. 

The lovely cover from Julian at the Wedding

What was your inspiration behind Julian at the Wedding?

In my books I think I'm trying to create a feeling more than I'm trying to teach a lesson or explain something. The feeling I was trying to evoke in this story is that thrill of being a kid at a "grown up" party--so often magic is confined to the domain of childhood. Weddings are one of the special occasions in which adults participate in the magic too--they dress up, they drink, they dance and everybody is so happy and stays up late...I wanted to create that feeling.

"A wedding is a party for love."

Everyone is going to love Marisol! Was she inspired by anyone you know?

She is inspired by every exuberant tomboy I've ever known — every girl who felt confined in her dress and wanted to take off her trousers and climb trees and run around like a maniac. She is a tribute to that wild, little-girl spirit before all those lessons about being nice, being helpful, being pretty — are metabolized.

Julian and Marisol, and Gloria the dog


What was your writing and illustrating process for Julian at the Wedding? Did it differ to when you were writing Julian is a Mermaid?

I was able to live with Julian is a Mermaid for along time, all on my own, and so it was able to cook at its own pace. It was definitely more stressful making this story. However, my source of inspiration—New York and New Yorkers—was as rich as ever. My process involves a lot of sitting on benches and subways and drawing people.

Julian is a Mermaid, now out in paperback!


What has been your favourite moment over the past few years as Julian has made his way out into the world?

I have met so many incredible mermaids—some of them are kids, and some of them are grown—it's really difficult to pick one moment. There is an incredible kindergarten teacher in Brooklyn named Vera Ahiyya (@thetututeacher on instagram) who was the very first teacher to reach out and ask me to visit their school. It was an amazing day getting to talk to this auditorium full of kids about drawing, dress-up and imagination. Then, at the end of the year, Vera's students gifted her a tattoo of Julián with a local tattoo artist. So now Julián swims on Vera's arm.

Interior spread from Julian is a Mermaid

What has been your most recent favourite picture book?

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora. It's beautiful. 

Click here to download our fabulous Julian at the Wedding Activity Sheets.

Thank you to Jessica Love for joining us on Picture Book Party. Julian at the Wedding is available to buy where all good books are sold!

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Top Picks of the Month for October!

As the weather grows colder why not find a cosy corner and curl up with one of our favourite picture books this month.


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!

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!

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…

In the Half Room 
by Carson Ellis


The half room is full of half things. A half chair, a half cat, even half shoes – all just as nice and weird and friendly as whole things. When half a knock comes on half a door, who in the world could it be? With her trademark touch of magic and whimsy, Caldecott Honor winner Carson Ellis explores halves and wholes in an ingenious and thought-provoking picture book. The lightly rhyming text is soothing yet spirited, revealing the many absurdities and possibilities to be discovered in this irresistibly fanciful home. This brilliant picture book will have readers seeing the joys of halves with whole new eyes.

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

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Inch and Grub by Alastair Chisholm and illustrated by David Roberts - Guest Author Post

It's an absolute treat to invite Alastair Chisholm onto the Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of his new book, Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen. You can now read the full post below!



 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.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Will You Be My Friend? - Publication Day Competition


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?

Will You Be My Friend? celebrates another of life's important milestones - friendship - which feels even more important and precious given the year we have had. This enchanting new tale is set to capture the hearts of Guess How Much I Love You fans, and we hope that you love it to the moon, and back!

About the story …

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.

To celebrate publication (and friendship!) we have a set of Will You Be My Friend? available to win, with one copy for you, and one copy to gift to a friend, as well as a limited edition exclusive artwork print each! We are running this over on our @WalkerBooksUK Twitter. Click here to enter. (closing date midday Friday 9th October)

Will You Be My Friend? is available to buy where all good books are sold! Watch our trailer below.