Thursday 27 March 2014

Top three picks for Mother's Day

Stuck for a last minute Mother's Day gift? Here are our top three picture book picks:

1. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram

"I love you right up to the moon – and back." The story of Little and Big Nutbrown Hares’ efforts to express their love for each other has become a bestselling classic, and is a firm favourite with children aged 0-5 years. 

 2. Say Hello Like This by Mary Murphy

Different kinds of animals say hello in their own way. Some say it LOUD – Bow-wow! Some say it PROUD – Meow! And some say it SILLY – Hee-haw! Say Hello Like This is an ideal read-aloud for the very youngest of listeners. Have fun making all the different animal sounds that are sure to have babies and toddlers gurgling, giggling, clapping hands and making plenty more of their own noises, too!

3. My Mum is Beautiful by Jessica Spanyol

In this gorgeous picture book, Jessica Spanyol captures the wonderful bond between a mother and a child. Told from the perspective of a small bear, this book encapsulates how love is measured in a child's mind: a gesture so simple can mean so very much. Perfect for children 0-5 years.

Find all of these book at your local bookshop.

A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino

From buzzing markets to beautiful patisseries, illustrator Salvatore Rubbino takes us on a journey through the making of his new book, A Walk in Paris, in an exclusive guest blog post for Picture Book Party...

I love to look.

And drawing helps me to notice things that I may otherwise have overlooked.

A Walk in Paris is the third ‘city book’ (A Walk in NewYork followed by A Walk in London are the other two). The book is the story of a day in Paris but is also a guide through the city. In fact, one of the first tasks was to plan a walking route of no more that 4 miles so that a family could cover this distance in a day if they were lucking enough to visit Paris. It was a case of finding a way to join up all the places I liked. Some places and landmarks I could include whilst others proved too far away (although I managed to include them in the view from Notre Dame instead).

In the book, a girl and her granddad walk the journey I plotted. I identified with the granddad because like me he enjoys a good market and is tempted by delicious cakes.

Paris is a visual feast, it delights the eyes and lifts the soul. There is a beautiful view everywhere you look! Even so, I tried hard to find different ways to describe familiar landmarks and Paris motifs. The things that interest me are the moments that remind me about life – like when the characters from the story get lost in the district called the Marais (that happened to me) or when the girl in the book looks at the cakes through a patisserie window (I did that a lot too). These moments and others attempt to describe how it feels like to experience Paris and it’s daily rhythms.

I like to play with the pacing of pictures through the book and have included a fold out page to create a very different effect towards the end. I joked that the fold out could reveal a very long baguette for a while but it was clear early on that there was only one choice – the Eiffel Tower. At night the Eiffel Tower fizzes with lights and is the most wonderful spectacle. And my son also made a picture of it for the last page but was shrewd enough to ask me for a fee – now there’s someone who’s going places!

Hear more about the book in this interview with Salvatore Rubbino for French Radio London. 

Get your hands on a copy of A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino at your local bookshop. Join in the fun and download this free A Walk in Paris maze activity sheet.

Monday 24 March 2014

Make your own birdy activity

Hello Birdy!

To celebrate the publication of Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton, we invite you all to try your hand at designing and making a bird of your own – using this brilliant activity sheet that Chris made!

This is great fun to do either at home over the holidays or at school. 

What you'll need:
  • A blank piece of A4 paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue

1. With the help of an adult – carefully cut out the bird shapes. 

2. Rearrange the shapes in any way you like to create your own new bird!   
3. Use glue to stick your bird to a blank piece of paper. 

You don’t need to use every item on the worksheet - you could pick your favourite shapes
The wackier the bird the better   
Why not give your bird a name or make up a story about it?

Here are some that the children of Orchard Primary School in Hackney, London made:

We love this one!

We would love to see what you come up with!
Tweet us a picture at @BIGPictureBooks using #HelloBirdy

Friday 14 March 2014

Win a signed, limited edition Chris Haughton print

This week the main word you'll hear around Walker HQ is "Shh!" - not because we're a noisy bunch, but because we're all buzzing with excitement about Chris Haughton's brand new, beautiful picture book, Shh! We Have a Plan.

We kicked off the celebrations in style with an "Ink and Drink" event at The Museum of Childhood, where everyone put their creative hats on and took part in a big draw, involving lots of squirrels, witches and dragons!

The No Plan Tour has taken Chris all around the country, from Seven Stories in Newcastle, to Silverdell Books, Preston; Leeds Met University; the Pop Up Festival in Hackney; Birmingham New Central Library; West End Lane Books, London. And next week Chris will be visiting Ireland, holding events at Riverside Arts Centre, Co. Kildare; an Eason’s Event in Dublin in association with Elev8 on RTE Kids; Hodges Figgis, and an appearance on Ireland AM on Thursday!


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We have a signed copy of Shh! We Have a Plan up for grabs, plus a signed limited edition print! To be in with a chance of winning, just fill out your details below before 30th March. Good luck!

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Thursday 6 March 2014

Happy World Book Day from Walker!

To celebrate World Book Day at Walker HQ, we couldn't resist getting dressed up as our favourite Walker Books characters. The Walker Bear was joined by Maisy, Alex Rider, Total (Timmy Failure's impressively lazy polar bear business partner) and three Wally watchers!

And it's not just actors at the Oscars who can have selfie fun!


From all at Walker HQ

Monday 3 March 2014

The making of Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Picture book lovers stand by, design aficionados stay tuned. This month we have the book that we know you have all been waiting for...the BRAND NEW picture book from one of the most exciting voices in children's literature, Chris Haughton. There was a stunning GREEN cover for A Bit Lost, an eye-catching ORANGE for Oh No, George! and now you can add a vibrant BLUE book to your Chris Haughton collection! Here Chris tells us all about the making of his latest book, Shh! We Have a Plan

One of the things I have been trying with my books is to tell stories as much as possible through images rather than through words. If the story can be read without language, it should have the ability to be understood by the very young. I would like to think all my books are told in a way that someone without language could understand but I think the story in this book could be the most visual of the three, it certainly has the least text. In fact, the total word count is only 103, and ten of those words are ‘shh!’ which I am not sure is a word but I counted it anyway, I even counted the five words of the title which is a trick i picked up at school. It is a bit embarrassing then, that it took more than 2 years to write. I worked out on average I wrote one word every six days. Not exactly the writing speed most writers aim for… anyhow…

I started sketching out ideas for this book thinking there must be some way of making a ‘chase/catch’ type book. It brought me around to thinking of the Road Runner cartoons where there there are elaborate plans which could all work very well visually. Quite suddenly three goon type characters trying to trap a bird popped into my head, that it would be great if there were three, each with a different plan. What I liked the best was there could be a drawn out pantomime effect, similar to A Bit Lost and Oh No, George!, with an anticipatory page turn between ‘ready/steady’ where the three position themselves to catch the bird and GO! ..where of course they miss.

Finding the ending was easy as I had sort of come up with it in the beginning (!) the really tricky part was fitting the ending into the story. I originally had three other ‘good’ characters who were feeding the birds instead but it seemed very abrupt to introduce them midway. It seemed best to have a character with the answer the whole way through. The book seemed a little clunky and wordy when mocked up with four/five characters on every page, so together with my art director, Deirdre, we hit on the idea of a conversation happening across a page. There was lots of comic potential with this, I really loved working on it. If you think of books like Martin Waddel’s ‘Owl Babies’ it makes use of a repeated conversation across the page, each character repeats the same thing, over and over again. It is predictable but also has a pantomime effect and great for doing silly voices. We had so many great lines we had to work on editing it down and in fact I think there is enough material for another picture book in there if we are lucky.

For my other two books, i am always asked if I used paper cut, as they look quite like it, but in fact I did not use paper cut at all when creating the artwork and it was all pencil and digital. For this one though because it had five characters on each page it needed some sort of drastic simplification for it to be read clearly. Not only that but I was keen for the conversations to read across the page, matching each line with the action of the character. There was so much shifting of compositions around on the pages that it became clear the best way to compose each page was by collage. In fact it made perfect sense to create a mainly silhouette image from paper cut and in fact the design of the birds also benefitted from it too.

For the final artwork I was keen that that the bird seems somehow from another world, brightly coloured and abstracted and removed from the world of the characters, it focuses all our attention on the relatively tiny bird on the page, leads the reader through the pages of the book and gives a punch of colour at the end. My other books are very colourful so it was quite satisfying to try to work almost entirely in silhouette for this one. In fact there was a lot of really interesting experiments with the colour. Usually full colour printing is in CMYK, but the whole of the book is printed in only CMK (blue, magenta, black) and the only yellow that appears in the book at all is in the colour of the birds.  It was our hope that with this approach the bird would stand out completely from the rest of the book.

I am hugely indebted to my art director and editors, Deirdre McDermott and David Lloyd at Walker books for all their feedback and help on this book. It improved immeasurably with their help and I consider myself very lucky to be working with them.

Available in English, French, Spanish, Catalan, German, Danish, Dutch and Norwegian from Feb/March 2014. More details coming soon.
I will be doing a SHH! book tour in UK/IRE/France in March/April

Shh! We Have a Plan is available from all good booksellers from 6th March. Find it at your local bookshop here.

Shh! We have a plan: Trailer from chris haughton on Vimeo.