Friday 8 February 2013

Breadcrumbs, bakers' hats and working with Allan Ahlberg...

This week we are giving three cheers for a food that we all know and love - the deliciously simple loaf of bread!  Hooray For Bread is the brand new playful picture book from Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman, telling the story of a loaf of bread, slice by yummy slice! In this exclusive guest blog post, illustrator Bruce Ingman reveals what it's like working with Allan Ahlberg and tells us just how he managed to create the perfect loaf of bread...

 "It doesn't matter how many words Allan crafts to make a story, two or two thousand, you can always rely on him to provide rich inspiration for illustrations. He is the master of picture books and I still get excited at the pure joy of collaborating with him. Hooray for Bread was no different. As soon as I received it, I was off. Even the change of style to appeal to a younger audience seemed to come naturally.

The challenge came with choosing the loaf of bread worthy of the star billing. So of course I felt compelled to do my research thoroughly and audition many, many loaves, a baker's dozen or so at the very least.

People often ask if my characters are based on anyone in real life and this time I can honestly say yes. I knew that loaf of bread. It glowed out at me from a freshly baked selection in a village shop in west Cork. I knew at once it was the one! A photo of it in all its glowing glory and delicious gorgeousness was soon pinned up in my studio for reference.  So the story was soon on its familiar journey from words to picture book. To begin with I'm given the freedom to tear off in any direction. Allan comments wisely and David (editor supreme) reins me in -'probably no camels strolling past windows in this one thanks, Bruce!' Ben, the ever patient designer, guides me, prods me and finally saves me from myself and wrenches the artwork out of my grasp.

Although I feel Hooray for Bread may be a little more restrained than usual, I hope it benefits from conveying a cosier family environment. I still enjoyed putting in lots of little details: see if you can spot the dog in bed. And my favourite part is the little mouse at the end eating the last crumb. Much like the best picture books, nothing goes to waste, there's something for everyone." Bruce Ingman

To celebrate in true style, we launched the book at the Illustration Cupboard, a treasure trove of a gallery in St James exhibiting Bruce's original illustrations from the book. Gail's Artisan Bakery sponsored the event with scrumptious loaves of specialty breads and homemade hummus, served by our very own bakers! See if you can spot Bruce Ingman, Allan Ahlberg and surprise guest Axel Scheffler in the crowd...

Join in the fun and download our Hooray For Bread activity sheet for your little ones here

The books are selling like hot cakes (or loaves!) so pick up a copy from your local bookshop, or get a signed copy here. If you're in London, don't miss the Hooray For Bread exhibition which is running until 27th February.