Thursday 20 June 2013

Jon Klassen and Hervé Tullet visit Ireland: Part 1

Today we welcome Maria to the Picture Book Party. Maria is an extremely lovely picture book editor here at Walker Books. As she got to go to Ireland with Jon Klassen and Hervé Tullet recently, we asked if she could write a little about their adventures!

Deirdre, Walker’s picture book publisher and art director, and myself (a picture book editor) spend a lot of time at our desks making books. But, every now and then, we get a chance to escape the concrete clutches of Vauxhall, pretend we’re PR people and experience, first hand, the effect that our Walker books have on children and bibliophiles out there in the real world. That’s a pretty special thing.

On this particular occasion it was EXTRA special because we were accompanying two extraordinary picture book makers – Jon Klassen and Hervé Tullet. We travelled around with them for a few days as they both gave talks at the ever-brilliant 2013 CBI Conference in Dublin (and I travelled with Jon to Scotland afterwards for a day), drew pictures in every single book they touched and charmed audiences of both book-loving adults and very tiny children. It was unreal, and tons of fun, to experience that unique fizz and crackle that happens when two truly great artists come together in one place to talk about their work.

Here’s a little précis of some of our trip.



Hervé Tullet!

If you haven’t heard of Hervé Tullet already (where have you been?!), he’s the creator of more than fifty children’s books, including Press Here, which has been translated into no fewer than thirty-three languages around the world. It was completely amazing to spend time with Hervé and we had a remarkable opportunity to film him speaking about his new book, Help! We Need a Title! (out in September, keep your eyes peeled for the book and the film), at St Patrick’s Lodge (an amazing artists’ residence in the heart of Dublin) as well as watch him in action in front of a room of hundreds of people at the CBI Conference.


Hervé Tullet at the CBI Conference

If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Hervé Tullet event, DON’T MISS IT! Hervé spoke about his creative ‘burden’ – always trying to find ideas and how each of his books offer an idea to a reader but, more than that, they leave a space, a way in, for us to interpret and imagine his story in our own way. We got to see Hervé interact with a little baby in the audience, who he read Book of Mirrors to, and it was so special! Really, his whole CBI talk was completely captivating and the audience buzzed with creative energy and a sea of inspired faces. Who else could get a whole ROOM of grown-ups to say the word ‘BLOP!’ many times over with unbridled enthusiasm?!


Help! We Need a Title!

The VERY exciting thing about our trip was that a mere two days before we flew to Dublin, our handbound copies of Help! We Need a Title! were delivered to our desks. This is the first time that Walker Books has EVER published Hervé Tullet and we can’t believe that we have this exceptional piece of publishing to promote on our list! And, we assure you, it’s extraordinary. The idea of this new ‘book’ is … well, it’s not a book. It’s actually more of a notebook. Can you imagine if we had published an illustrator’s sketch book months before they had properly developed their characters, formed a solid story, finalised the colour palette or even, thought up a title! In fact, all you really had was their idea. Well, this is what Hervé’s new title is all about. It encourages children to interact with a book still in the process of being invented – so it’s pretty much an open invitation to create your own stories. And that’s a story in itself!

Watch this space for our film of Hervé talking about the book, which we’ll preview here.


Scotch eggs
Ossobuco (which is fun to say).

Part 2 … Later this week, we’ll tell you about our time in Ireland with Jon Klassen