Thursday 28 April 2011

A Bit Lost: the making of... part 1

Chris Haughton tells us about the process of making his beautiful and witty picture book, A Bit Lost, which we will reveal over several posts... 

Before I had my idea for A Bit Lost I had actually wanted to do a different story about birds in a forest. The birds in this first story come down from their tree top roosts to the bottom of the forest and meet all the other animals that live there. They pass all the forest animals that want to eat them and eventually manage to find food near the forest floor. The last spread would then be a panoramic of them back perched at the top of the trees at the end of the day overlooking all of the life in the forest below. I had the idea because I wanted to introduce all the animals and have the interactions of the forest in a sort of Arne Naess story of deep ecology and interconnectedness.

This image was the trigger for the story. It's a screen print I did for the fair trade company People tree. I really liked the image because I had the idea of hiding figures in the complex background (see the little cat in the bottom right)

I liked the silhouetted running shapes of the birds. They eventually evolved into the running owl and squirrel in A Bit Lost.

The birds here hide from a tiger (also a snake and an elephant)

The birds in their perch for the final image. They look across at the whole forest and see the web of all the animals that we met in the story.

In the end I didn’t like the way the birds interacted with the other animals in the forest. They were not engaging with them and it left a sort of lonely tone to the story. I decided I wanted to do something that was more engaging and somehow a little like pantomime. Without engaging with little funny questions and cause and effect (Uh oh! is he going to fall off?/ Uh oh! Is it Mummy? etc) a very young audience tends to lose interest quickly.

The breakthrough came when I made the bird fall from his nest. That way he was lost and had to engage with the other animals in a way that wasn’t about avoiding being eaten. In order to give the bird a range of expressions, forward facing eyes is much better graphically so I chose an owl instead of a bird. Also owlets apparently have a habit of falling out of their nests. I had imagined somehow that owl babies were cute until I actually looked them up on the internet…

Friday 15 April 2011

I Kissed the Baby!

All the animals love the baby – and so will you! I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy is a delightful picture book with a distinctive style!

"I saw the baby! Did you see the baby?" "Yes! I saw the baby, the teeny, weeny thing." "I tickled the baby! Did you tickle the baby?" "Yes! I tickled the baby, the wriggly, giggly thing!" Join in the fun in this shout-out-loud picture book for the very youngest of children.

Mary's bold art style and striking use of colour really make the images jump off the page, check out this fabulous review by The Book Chook and download the activity sheets here.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Oscar and BAFTA winner Jim Broadbent reads from Mole's Sunrise

A beautifully illustrated and movingly written story about a blind mole who wonders what a sunset is like. Mole's Sunrise by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Sarah Fox Davies will certainly stay with you long after reading it!

Mole had never seen the sunrise. "I'd love to see it," he said. When his good friends, Vole, Rabbit, Squirrel and Sparrow take him down to the lake to show him the sunrise, their vivid descriptions help him to see it in his mind and he is able to imagine the rising sun and experience its beauty for himself.

Award winning charity Living Paintings has also developed Mole's Sunrise into a new touch, sound and picture book for blind children. Using tactile picture carvings by Living Paintings’ artist Peter Boex, and audio description from Oscar and BAFTA award winner, and Harry Potter star, Jim Broadbent, the story can be enjoyed in all its glory by children who are not able to see, on the same day that their friends can read the traditional version.

The adaptation was the idea of the book’s author Jeanne Willis. Jeanne said: ‘I’ve already been lucky enough to have two picture books brilliantly adapted by Living Paintings and I know that its production of Mole’s Sunrise will be inspired in every sense. I’m particularly thrilled that this title has been adopted because like vole, sparrow, rabbit and squirrel, Living Paintings will show the sunset to its audience in all its glory – something I could never hope to do through words alone.’

Living Paintings’ Chief Executive, Camilla Oldland added: ‘Thanks to a collaboration with Walker Books and author, Jeanne Willis, Living Paintings is proving that it is possible to break down yet another barrier in achieving equal access to literature for blind and partially sighted children.

You can listen to the dulcet tones of Jim Broadbent reading from Mole's sunrise here.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Yummy: My Favourite Nursery Stories

A major new book from Lucy Cousins, creator of Maisy - Yummy: My Favourite Nursery Stories. This collection of eight classic nursery stories pulls no punches – it is lively, bold and quite unforgettable!

Lucy Cousins 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.

Why not download these gorgeous Yummy recipe cards or check out this amazing interview Lucy did with Booktrust. 

Friday 8 April 2011

Everybody Was A Baby Once by Allan Ahlberg & Bruce Ingman

Meet witches, snowmen, lizards and favourite nursery-rhyme characters in this joyful poetry collection for infants of every age!

The inspired creators of The Runaway Dinner and The Pencil, Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman are proud to serve you up a shouting, screaming, smiling, whistling, playing, chasing, rhyming romp for children of every age. Nineteen poems, funny, wistful, delightfully illustrated, introduce a merry cast of babies, witches, sausages, robbers and favourite nursery-rhyme characters that will enchant everybody who is – or was – a baby!

For a little bit of Friday fun, check out this adorable video featuring one of the poems from the book, The Sausage Whistler, created by illustrator Bruce Ingman.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Hello Tilly by Polly Dunbar

We'd like to introduce you to a special little girl called Tilly. You'll love her. She lives in a little yellow house with her friends and together they get up to all sorts of adventures. This sparkling six book series is written and illustrated by the very talented Polly Dunbar, whose previous work includes the award-winning Penguin.

In this first book in the series, meet Tiptoe and Hector, Doodle, Pru and Tumpty as they play the trumpet, bang the drum, eat a feast and dance the Wiggle Wiggle Woo! Whump! Bump! Whoops!

Grab a copy and snuggle up with Tilly and Friends!

Check out this fabulous video with author Polly Dunbar talking about how she gets her inspiration for all things books and illustration!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Host a Picture Book Picnic

Now the sunshine is breaking through the cloud why not hold your very own REAL Picture Book Picnic during the summer months?

Whether you’re a parent who loves sharing stories with your child, or a bookshop in search of a different kind of event, take inspiration from the selection of books and illustrators featured here, and be sure to visit the Fun Stuff area of this site for lots of activities to get your picnic going!

Bookshops, contact for more information.

Join the Picture Book Picnic!

Monday 4 April 2011

Awards and Blog Hop Excitement

Things have really started with a bang here at the Picture Book Picnic! On Friday it was announced that two Walker titles have been selected for the shortlist of the Kate Greenaway Medal, an honour which is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people!

Both Cloud Tea Monkeys illustrated by Juan Wijngaard and April Underhill, Tooth Fairy by Bob Graham have been selected for the honour. Everyone here is totally thrilled with the news and now we have to wait until June to see if either of the books win. Fingers crossed!

To add to the excitement we've kicked off the Picture Book Picnic with a small but perfectly formed blog hop starting with the fabulous WHAM-BAM blog on Friday last week - do head by and check it out - and hopping over to Playing By the Book today featuring a gorgeous review for Mole's Sunrise! Tomorrow we'll be heading to Mad House Family Reviews for more blogging fun. Why not join the blog hop for chances to win books, find out more about all the exciting activity planned for the Picture Book Picnic and to see where the hop will take you next.

Join the Picture Book Picnic!