Monday 28 September 2015

Back To School

September is the month when the weather gets a bit chillier, the kids go back to school, and (whisper it!) we start looking forward to Christmas! It's also the month when you'll notice lots of fabulous new picture books appear on the shelves of your favourite bookshops. So if you're wondering what to read with your little ones next, check out our top picks:

Worst in Show by William Bee & Kate Hindley

In this hilarious, raucous tale of competition, friendship and finding your own unique place in the world, Albert enters his pet monster, Sidney, in The Best Pet Monster in the World competition! And he has very high hopes. Sidney, however, is a rather gentle monster, who enjoys long soaks in bubble-filled baths while nibbling on some sugary fairy cakes. And a champion monster has to be, well, monstrous to win – they must be able to fly, be full of parasites, super smelly, extremely warty and fiercely fire-breathing! Round after round, Sidney tries his hardest, but Albert soon begins to realize that Sidney's best talent might not be a very "monstrous" one after all... With ever-calamitous competition scenarios, witty one-liners and an action-packed plot, this is a wonderful celebration of every kind of monster – warts and all!

From one of the most celebrated author-illustrators working today, Anthony Browne, comes a fantastical celebration of stories and the imagination. Once a week, Willy walks through an ordinary-looking set of doors and straight into an adventure – an adventure inspired by a beloved classic of children's literature, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Wind in the Willows. Where will those doors take him today: to a mysterious desert island with footprints in the sand; down a deep, dark rabbit hole full of curious objects; or perhaps on board a pirate ship, face to face with Captain Hook? Wherever he ends up, Willy’s journeys begin when he walks through those inviting doors...

Two of the biggest names in children’s publishing, Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, come together in a new poetry collection. The poems in A Great Big Cuddle fizz off the page with sound and rhythm, energy and laughter, as Rosen captures in the most remarkable way what it means to be very, very young. A child’s world with all its details and feelings – toys and games, animals and made-up creatures, likes and dislikes – is vividly conjured up in the most memorable, playful language, and Chris Riddell has produced some his most extraordinary pictures ever to bring this world to life. It's a book that will be enjoyed by the oldest grown-up and the youngest child – and a future classic.

From the award-winning team behind Extra Yarn, and illustrated by Jon Klassen, the Kate Greenaway-winning creator of This Is Not My Hat and I Want My Hat Back, comes a perfectly paced, deadpan tale full of visual humour. Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find ... nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary – and finding it in a manner they'd never expect.

The picture book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead, this is a gorgeous, imaginative celebration of the many possibilities of home. Home might be a house in the country, a flat in the city, or even a shoe. There are clean homes, messy homes, sea homes and bee homes. Home resides on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist's own studio. This loving look at the places where people live brims with intriguing characters and is a visual treat that demands many a return visit.

Another brilliantly interactive book full of flaps and surprises from the award-winning creator of There Are Cats in this Book and There Are No Cats in this Book. Tiny, Moonpie and Andre smell something funny ... but what can it be? Wait, hang on a second, is it a DOG? Is there a dog in this book?! Oh no! The cats are scared of dogs! Dogs are snappy and yappy, smelly and noisy and ... they hate cats. So, they all try and hide from him – behind the couch, under the piano, in the wardrobe... Will the little doggy ever find them? An irresistibly fun book for cat (and dog) lovers!

This charming picture book from the much-loved and award-winning Shirley Hughes tells the story of Daisy Dobbs – a young girl who works in London during the coronation of George V. When Daisy starts as a scullery maid in a grand house, she works as hard as she can to try and please her kindly employers. But her greatest day comes when disaster strikes, and only Daisy can save the day...

Find all of these books on sale at your local bookshop.

WIN a Picture Book Party goody bag including all of the books listed here by emailing your postal address to with 'Back to School' in the subject line by Saturday 31st October. 5 runners-up will also win a limited edition print from A Great Big Cuddle.

By entering this competition, you are agreeing to our terms and conditions. Your details will not be shared with third parties. 

Thursday 24 September 2015

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston

Everyone at Walker HQ is VERY excited and completely thrilled to be making a picture book with the amazing Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, which we'll be publishing next year!

A Child of Books, is about a little girl who sails her raft “across a sea of words” to arrive at the house of a small boy. There she invites him to come away with her on an adventure where they can journey through “forests of fairy tales”, “across mountains of make-believe” and “sleep in clouds of song”.

The book features images by Oliver Jeffers and landscapes, crafted from excerpts from children’s stories and lullabies, by Winston. We'll be publishing A Child of Books in autumn 2016, but for those of you who can't quite wait until then, here's a sneak peek:

Deirdre McDermott, our picture book publisher, said: “I’ve worked a little bit with Oliver Jeffers before and we had a real fine time together, so to have now collaborated on an original picture book with Oliver – and with his friend Sam, too – makes me feel creatively giddy. It’s so rare to have a picture book both written and illustrated by two artists.”

Watch this space!

Creating Albert and Little Henry

We went behind the scenes with author and illustrator Jez Alborough and found out all about how he created his latest picture book, Albert & Little Henry....

About the Idea
Everyone knows what it’s like to be ignored - it can feel as if your physical presence is not being acknowledged, as if you don’t exist. Albert and Little Henry came from an idea I had of translating this psychological feeling into a physical reality, so that a character who feels ignored actually starts to disappear, limb by limb. Hence my original title for this book: Has Anyone Seen Albert? However the image of a boy floating in the air with half his body missing just proved too weird to be used - its oddness distracted from the story, rather than helping to explain it.

I still felt there was something in the idea if I could just find another, more visually acceptable, way to represent the shrinking feeling that comes from being ignored. The word ‘shrinking’ gave me my clue - rather than disappear, the character could just get smaller and smaller: it would do the job of saying what I wanted it to say whilst also being visually arresting. Of course I had to find a setting, a reason for a character to feel that he was being ignored - that was when I had the idea of making him a boy in a family in which a new baby had just arrived.

About the Illustrations

As you can see from the early sketch of baby Henry above, Albert and his family were not always going to be dog characters - I drew the whole idea up in the human world and tried it in many different styles. (This illustration of dad with a tiny Albert was done with a brush line, coloured in with gouache paints.) However, after hundreds of drawings and many discussions it was decided that Albert should be an animal. Once I’d got used to the idea that Albert would be an animal, it didn’t take long to decide that he would be a dog. Dogs behaving like humans in a human world are somehow inherently funny - I have done this before in Some Dogs Do.


I’ve pulled out these three pictures to illustrate the development of the style. The first one is a thumbnail sketch, where I'm deciding, through scribbles, what goes where in the composition. You can just about make out that the character at this stage was still human. The second one (drawn in a brush line) comes from an early dummy of the book and was made before I had worked out how Albert would actually look. The third one is how the finished illustration turned out. The line is drawn with a dip pen which gives a wonderful, slightly scratchy, yet sensitive line. The danger with these pens is that the ink can suddenly leak out onto your illustration which adds a sense of danger! In this age of Photoshop and computer generated images there’s something wonderful about drawing with an implement which was used by the great illustrators of Dicken’s novels.

I used marker pens for the colours. Choosing the right shades is a vital part of the process - the wrong colours can ruin a good drawing. Here's a sheet showing me trying out colours, making notes along the way so I can remember every hue I’ve chosen.

Watch Jez Alborough reading Albert and Little Henry here:

Pick up a copy of Albert and Little Henry at your local bookshop.