Thursday 29 March 2012

Glowing reviews

Looking for a great new picture book to read? Check out the latest reviews of this month's tasty new Picture Book Picnic books to help you make your mind up...


Arthur’s Dream Boat by Polly Dunbar

With delicate and whimsically soft illustrations, this book perfectly captures a toddler’s enthusiasm.



Oh no, George! by Chris Haughton

Set to a gorgeously rich colour palette of purples, orange and deep crimson, this is a delightfully playful tale with minimal text but oodles of personality that shows how the best intentions can go awry.


Friday 23 March 2012

Polly Dunbar on flying boats, print-making and dreaming...

Polly Dunbar gives us an exclusive insight into how she got the idea for her beautifully surreal new picture book, Arthur's Dreamboat.

 Tucked away in one of my old sketchbooks is a drawing of a little boy standing on Brighton beach looking out to sea. I noticed that the boat on the horizon was perfectly positioned to look like a hat on the little boy’s head. Idly, I doodled it down. Only I can see the boat hat, I thought,  it’s invisible to everyone else. 

Ah!  It must be a magic boat, a DREAM BOAT! Thus the idea for Arthur’s story floated into my head. 

I wrote a rough version, made a little dummy, thought it was a bit strange and then forgot about it. The good thing about leaving a story to ‘rest’ for a little while (or a long while) is that when you re-read, you can see it with fresh eyes. I dug this one out ten years later, brushed off the dust, thought - yes, this is a bit strange, but there’s something there. I could see how to make it work.

So I made some more dummies  -  cutting back the text in each one - until eventually the pictures carried  along most of the story of Arthur’s Dream. Happily, I moved back to Brighton seafront at the same time that I was due to start illustrating 

Dream Boat.

On the day I moved in I saw this kite in the sky. I’m always looking out for signs or clues and this was a good omen; it gave me the idea to have the Dream Boat flying off into the sunset, not just sailing.  

I spent a lot of time looking at the sea and sky from my window and wondering how I could capture the iridescent dazzle of the changing elements.


I wanted to go out with a piece of paper and take a print of the real view.  The next best thing was to experiment with  print -making, so I signed up for a course. After a few trials I ended up with a  combination of lino cut and mono printing. I wanted the sense of the water actually flowing into the book to give a real contrast to otherwise minimal backgrounds. I sprinkled maritime dream-like clues throughout the early pages;  the ‘fish net curtains’ are made by spraying through a tangerine bag.

The story hopefully conveys the power of imagination, Arthur is being ignored by his family, who are caught up in everyday life, plugged in or plugged out in some way. Arthur becomes so frustrated by his failure to get their attention that  he eventually shouts DREAM BOAT at the top of his voice. This is the turning point of the story,  the moment he utters a magic word or spell that changes everything.

Arthur’s dream finally seeps into the book. His family find themselves  up to their necks in his sea - a good time to believe in a dream boat. When they try to scramble aboard, Arthur isn’t so sure: should he let them on, or not?


Of course he does.  Arthur’s family are reunited aboard the ever growing dream boat and they sail away together.  The children I have read it to so far see nothing strange about it: some dreams are true if you think about them really hard, they say. Even better, write them down or draw picture.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Chris Haughton blog tour kicks off today!

Today is the first exciting day of the Chis Haughton Oh No George! global blog tour, visiting nine brilliant blogs over the next ten days. Stay tuned for a series of reviews, competitions and exclusive insider interviews, as bloggers dig up the dirt on the making of Oh No George!
Follow the blog tour through Picture Book Picnic:

Friday 9 March 2012

Breaking News!

The moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived! Jon Klassen, author and illustrator of bestselling I Want My Hat Back has a brand new book on the horizon, this time starring a little blue fish in a bowler hat...
This is Not My Hat will be hitting the bookshops this autumn but if, like us, you just can't wait that long, then why not take a sneak peak at the cover illustration and find about the story here.
 The wonderfully humourous I Want My Hat Back is still sitting comfortably on the New York Times Bestseller list (08/03/2012) so if you haven't read it yet, you can watch the trailer on the right of the screen (or if you're viewing this on your mobile, click here).


Thursday 8 March 2012

Oh No, George!: The Making of... [part 3]

The last part of Chris Haughton's guest blog looking at how he came up with Oh No, George!

This is the part of the book im most proud of... the first page builds up in three images to a large close up of George with the text 'what will George do?' When the page turns, the following double page spread tells us exactly what George has done... OH NO!!! 

As you can see George does some pretty terrible things, but all is forgiven in the end.

The end-papers are a kind of before and after...

I quite liked having a little quote on the title page for A Bit Lost. I decided to go with this one from the stoic philosopher Epictetus for George:

'Freedom is secured not by the fulfiling of one's desire... No man is free who is not master of himself'- Epictetus.

The final proofs and tweaks were all done in a very intensive few weeks with the help from Deirdre and Dan (from Walker Books) when I got back to the UK (my room was being lived in so i did all this from my next door neighbour's place!)



Oh No, George! was published on 1st March 2012 and is available to buy here.

 To see more of Chris' fantastic blog, 

please click here.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Oh No, George!: The Making of... [part 2]

Following on from the last post, Chris Haughton further reveals the creative process he went through to create Oh No, George!

I usually draw from my head without using much reference but I found myself Googling 'guilty dogs' to see if I could find some good material. It turns out there's a lot about this on the internet. The video below is really worth watching if you 

haven't seen it.

Most of this work was done while I was in Kathmandu. I went over to get more involved in my fair trade work and ended up staying between there and India for more than 8 months in 2010. I was lucky to work on some super projects there which was the main reason I was very late for my book deadlines. In fact this book was 9 months late and was supposed to have been out last August (!)

I did most of the sketches for George from this room...

and I sent the Bologna draft from this internet cafe (the monks were on Facebook)
This is me trying to finish off the last images in the airport on my way home, I had to meet my editors Deirdre and Lucy the following week and I hadn't done half as much as I had said I had... (!)

Look out for the final installment of Chris' post coming soon!

Friday 2 March 2012

A chance to meet Chris Haughton!


If you're in Dublin next week, don't miss out on the chance to meet Chris Haughton, author and illustrator of our latest Picture Book Picnic title Oh No, George!

Chris will be signing books, drawing pictures and meeting his readers at the Eason bookstore on O'Connell Street in Dublin on the 8th of March at 18:30. For more information, visit the  

Thursday 1 March 2012

Oh No, George!: The Making of... [part 1]

Chris Haughton has been hard at work creating his new book Oh No, George! Here he gives an insight into the creative process...

FINALLY...! This book has been two years in the making...! This post is just to show where the idea came from, and how the book took shape. It's also quite useful for me to put together this post because its always such a long process that I kind of forget where the ideas came from to begin with.

My first idea for this book was a cause and effect sequence called Oh No!... it was an idea for a sort of elaborate circular accident... I may come back to that idea in future in fact...

I was toying with that but was reluctant to settle on it. Another idea was 'Bad duck' about a duck who was bad at being a duck... swimming and quacking etc. Its was a bit like a version of The Ugly Duckling and was sparked by seeing a worried looking duck in London who seemed to be swimming about 2 inches below the water level of his friends.

A third idea featured 'clown man and clown dog' which I think also could be quite good in the future...

I didn't realise it at the time but all these ideas revolved around the idea of characters somehow messing up (which I thought would make entertaining drawings). I realised it's a lot funnier if there is intention from the character to not mess up, so in the end I scrapped clown man and sort of fused all three ideas to make the dog the comic lead character.
One part of the picture book I try to make use of are the page-turns. They can be great fun when reading aloud if there is bit of a build up so i decided to build up to a page-turn where the dog messes up somehow... that was how the basic idea came about ... I jotted it down on 3 pieces of A4 which it turned out hardly changed at all from this first sketch.
I also drew some initial character sketches...

Look out for part 2 of Chris' post coming soon! 

You can watch the animated trailer for the book below...