Monday 20 June 2016

Voices announced for Channel 4's animated film of We're Going on a Bear Hunt!

Olivia Colman, Pam Ferris, Mark Williams and Michael Rosen set for a roaring adventure

The voice cast has been announced for Channel 4, LupusFilms and Walker Productions’ charming animation We’re Going on A Bear Hunt which is set to air this Christmas.

The half hour film will expand the universe of the much-loved book for a truly festive family treat. Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, The Night Manager), Pam Ferris (Matilda, Call the Midwife) and Mark Williams (Harry Potter, Father Brown) will breathe life into the brand new characters of Mum, Grandma and Dad respectively. Michael Rosen, who wrote the best-selling book, will play the Bear.

Based on the hit bedtime book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury and produced by the makers of the hugely-popular The Snowman and The Snowdog animation, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt follows the intrepid adventures of siblings Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max, the baby and Rufus the dog, who decide one day to go on an adventure in search of bears.

Coming up against a host of obstacles the family ventures through whirling snowstorms, thick oozing mud and dark forests on their ambitious quest.  But when Rosie and Rufus become detached from the rest of the party it looks like bear-hunting might not be such fun after all...

Channel 4 will broadcast the one-off half hour special this Christmas, bringing to life the irresistible story and beautiful artwork of the 25 year-old children’s classic.  Made with exquisite, hand-drawn animation, the film is set to enchant a whole new audience with its story of perseverance, optimism and a love of nature.

At Walker we are thrilled to be a part of such an exciting collaboration and we can't wait to see this classic brought to life at Christmas!

Michael Rosen plays the Bear.

Friday 17 June 2016

In celebration of Father's Day the picture book team share their best Dad stories!

It’s Father’s Day and an occasion to rejoice wonderful daddies and papas everywhere. Sean Taylor and Emily Hughes’ perfectly pitched picture book story of a father and child sharing an adventure is the ideal read to share with your child.  A Brave Bear is about the beginning of a child becoming independent and fending for themselves and it’s about a father taking a gentle step backwards (but close enough to step in if needs be) to afford his child the freedom and space to do that.

To celebrate Father’s Day, we asked the Walker Books picture book team to share their memories of their dads and to tell us what they learnt from their dads and what he means to them. 
(Prepare those hankies!)

Tanya Rosie, Editorial Assistant 

Any interest I have ever had has been respected and nurtured by my dad. When I helped fix our home printer (by pulling on a jammed piece of paper), he presented me with a word-processed certificate that named me a “level 1 computer engineer”. When I got really into the Ancient Egyptians at school, he subscribed me to Ancient Egypt magazine and got me a hieroglyphic stamp set so I could write secret messages. And when hedgehogs became my favourite animal, he would look out for them in the garden when it turned dark, and bring me out to look at them with a torch. 

You could say that my dad taught me about technology, about history, and about nature… But what he really did was teach me that I could pursue anything I liked – that was alright by him – and that learning should be taken very seriously.  Who knows? Without my Dad I might never have been sure enough of myself to turn a love of books into what I am so lucky to be doing now – helping to make them. Happy Father’s Day, Papa! 

Maria Tunney, Senior Editor

When we were teenagers and absolutely loathed getting out of bed in the morning, my dad would stealthily open each of our bedroom doors wide … and he would open the kitchen door wide … and then, he would get the Bothy Band playing on his stereo and whack that volume up FULL BLAST, as loud as it could possible go. Suddenly, the house would be full of wild, soaring Irish music. We would moan and groan and shout abuse up the hallway, but you honestly couldn’t help but laugh.

I think that story is a good summation of my dad – he’s always throwing doors open wide and filling spaces with music and laughter. 

When I think of my dad now, I think of him smiling. Or baking (his new favourite venture – he’s a sourdough ‘whisperer’), with a tea towel slung over his shoulder. Or humming. Or thoughtfully plucking a tune on his fiddle that rests on his knee, as he’s listening to me tell him something. Or turning up his music in the car and saying, “Ah guys, listen to this. Isn’t that some magical playing.” He is goodness personified and his goodness shines through in everything he does. He loves people, people love him. He loves hearing everyone’s stories and telling his own; he loves learning (languages, new recipes, dances – he even learnt ballroom dancing!) and he has insatiable appetite for knowledge (he reads constantly and gobbles up news).

These are the things I take with me as I go through my own days. I take his smile. I take his love of story – telling stories, crafting stories, creating stories with authors. I take the music – all the tunes my dad plays and the ones that we listened to in the car on those long drives across France during hot summers long ago means that I’ve got an ear for the musicality of picture book language – its cadence, pattern, lyricism. I take his enthusiasm – for life, for books, for people. But most of all, I take my dad’s HUGE heart and that’s what I look for in the books I make … a big, thumping core.
My dad, Paddy, P Diddy, does everything with joy and love and he makes the future seem entirely promising. And isn’t that what parents are for? To make you feel like you could do anything, that you could be anyone? I think so. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You’re the business.

P.S. If you ever need a solid wake up tune, I recommend the Bothy’s Band ‘The Kesh Jig’ – you’ll be lepping out of your bed like the Lord of the Dance himself. 

Lizzie Spratt, Senior Commissioning Editor 

My dad grew up on the Norfolk broads on a farm. When he was a very young boy he’d go out on his own to shoot and fish and collect bird’s eggs (that’s probably illegal today). Uncle Will often took Dad into the fields to help cut the hedges, too – now Dad has a long scar down one side of his face from an accident with the enormous scythe. It’s slightly intimidating, but intriguing as well. Dad’s love for being outdoors is something he has wholeheartedly passed down to me. On many occasions he has urged me to go in the garden with him, “I’ve got something to show you.” We’ll stand outside in silence for ages before he says, “Look, can you see the tiny buds on the trees poking through? Spring is here.” Spotting those small hopeful signs of new life reminds me of Dad and, for me, it’s one of the happiest ways to spend time. 

For the first few years of my life, we had a huge black Labrador called Basil. He was a real character, a difficult dog – boisterous and a bit aggressive to strangers. When I was very little, someone had said something hurtful to me, I suppose, and my dad told me a story about Basil. He explained that when Basil was a puppy, clumsily and innocently sniffing about on a walk, a big Alsatian had attacked him out of nowhere. It had really frightened Basil. So Basil became wary and quick to snap, too. Dad said it wasn’t really Basil’s fault; he’d had a nasty experience when he was young and it had made him that way. Dad always has a brilliant way of making me see things and try and understand things from someone else’s perspective. In fact, when we go fly fishing together, he always reminds me to “think like a fish”. I’m never successful at catching one – nor is he actually! – but it’s given me an amusing challenge to focus on at least. 

From as early as I can remember, Dad has always sat at the head of the table. My chair to the right of him, my brother opposite me and my mum next to me. Every morning, after finishing breakfast, Dad used to do this special thing. He’d hover his hands above the table and start making a low quiet rumbling noise, “Ooooh ... oooooh...” and slowly but surely the table would start to rise. I’d almost fall off my chair backwards trying to work it out, laughing, saying, “Do it again! Do it again!” and so it would go on until finally he’d lower the table with his fingers flickering above and get up quietly and say goodbye and leave for work. Every day Dad left me believing in magic. I still do, thanks to him. 

Deirdre Mc Dermott, Picture Book Publisher

When I was very small, maybe about three years of age, I remember sitting in the front of a white car on red leather seats between my grandparents, looking out over its high dashboard. No seat belts of course, it was the 70’s after all, and my tall, bald Grandad was driving very, very fast over a long stretch of ripply, hard packed sand. The grey sky seemed really huge over the horizon and there, in the far distance, was an ice cream van all on its own. There were no other people on the beach at all and as we came closer and closer to the van, I recognised a very familiar head leaning out over the counter – my Daddy!  

How astonishing. 

There he was, with his big glasses and his big head of curly black hair, laughing and laughing as we drove up to the hatch. He asked me what I would like and I told him that I wanted a '99 with red sauce. So he gave me the biggest, most massive, whipped ice cream cone I'd ever seen, with TWO chocolate flakes and swirls and swirls of sweet raspberry sauce all round. I could barely hold the ice cream in my little hands. It felt so strange and surprising to this three year old on a grey summer's day in Dublin, in the 1970’s – to see my Dad in such an unfamiliar setting. 

We left then, me still in the middle between Granny and Grandad, with sticky hands and a collapsing ice cream cone. I remember looking over my shoulder at my Daddy's head getting smaller and smaller in the distance the further and further away we got. I thought that he would be lonely all on his own in his silvery, shiny ice cream van on Dollymount strand and I remember feeling a bit lost myself, leaving him behind, I was sad – despite my enormous ice cream.

I still call him Daddy. My own funny, goofy Donegal Daddy, full of surprises and jokes and craic. “Oh, your father is some fellow alright,” I hear people say. And he is – one of a kind – a law unto himself. He's still always behind me, supporting me in everything I ever wanted to do and he is part of me in ways I'll never understand. He's made me the person I am today and he’d give me, and my brothers and sister anything we ever needed. That's my Dad, and I love him. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

Bake for Bumps with Maisy and Sparks!

Sparks charity is dedicated to funding vital research to find better cures and treatments for conditions that affect babies, children and expectant mothers.

This year both Maisy and Sparks turn 25 and to mark the occasion we have teamed up to promote Bake For Bumps, Sparks annual bake sale. 

What are you waiting for? Don your apron, grab your mixing bowl and put your baking talents to good use by holding a bake sale between 20-27th June, to raise vital dough for Sparks. Download the Bake for Bumps pack by clicking here. Maisy has even suggested her own super-yummy gingerbread recipe! 

Thursday 16 June 2016

Summer Reads 2016

Treat your book shelves with these fantastic summer reads!

Double Trouble, Atinuke, Lauren Tobia

Everything is changing for Anna Hibiscus, she's a sister!
But - oh dear - everyone is now so busy!

Open Up, Please, Lorenzo Clerici, Silvia Borando

Do not lift the flap! 
(Seriously... it's not a good idea!)
You want a teensy-tiny peek inside?
Well, don't say we didn't warn you!

How To Catch a Mouse, Phillipa Leathers

The story of Clemmie – a brave, fearsome cat who knows exactly how to catch a mouse. And she would prove it, too, except that she’s never actually seen a mouse. 

Discover the making of Philippa's last book, The Black Rabbit, here

Ace Dragon, Russell Hoban, Quentin Blake 

“I can make fire come out of my nose and mouth,” the dragon tells John. 
“I can fly. I can spin gold into straw if you have any gold.” 
John doesn’t have any gold – and he doesn’t need any straw. (Not yet, anyway.) 

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, Vivian French, Angela Barrett

When a king and a queen promise to marry their daughter Lucia to the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world, suitors descend on the palace bearing gifts. Roses, jewels and exotic birds; dancing girls, wind machines and mythical beasts – but nothing feels quite right. 

Home, Carson Ellis

 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. 

Enter our Picture of the Month competition to win a hardback copy of Home. Click here

A Spot of Bother, Jonathon Emmett, Vanessa Cabban

Pig is very proud of his neat appearance, so he's horrified to discover a spot of squashed cherry on his side. But when his farmyard friends try to help – with disastrous results – the spot of bother soon becomes a truly calamitous catastrophe!

Soon, Timothy Knapman, Patrick Benson

Raju follows his mother, holding tightly onto her tail, as they bravely journey across a wide river, battle the tall grass and delve into the deep, dark forest ...  
But where are Raju and his mummy going? What will they see in the end?

Footpath Flowers, JonArno Lawson, Sydney Smith

An ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures, 
Footpath Flowers is a quiet but powerful testament to the joy that children 
can find in ordinary things and the mutual value of giving.

To enter our competition to win a hardback copy of Footpath Flowers click here

Migloo's Day, William Bee

Meet Migloo – everyone’s favourite dog – and follow him on his adventures through Sunnytown as he follows his nose for delicious treats, meets all his friends along the way and even saves the day!

A Brave Bear, Sean Taylor, Emily Hughes

When Dad Bear says, "I think a pair of hot bears is probably the hottest thing in the world," Little Bear suggests that they go all the way to the river to cool down. But what will happen when Little Bear tries to impress his dad by doing a big jump across the rocks?

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Picture book of the month: Home by Carson Ellis!

Carson Ellis' glorious Home publishes in paperback this month and takes us on a tour of lots of different homes and all the different people who might live inside them. 

Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. 
So many possibilities ... all called home!

In honour of such a inspirational celebration of homes, we have collected together four of the coolest homes on the planet.

This slide-house Japan is the stuff of every pre-schoolers dreams. 
Fitted with a top to bottom slide you scoot downwards, winding through the house 
and hitting a pit stop in each room.

This stone house in Portugal is just the most perfect thing.

Japan has cornered the market in weird and wonderful homes. This one is see-through!

This sea-shell house in Mexico is fit for a mermaid!

All Homes found on Bored Panda. There's another 10 to check out by clicking here!


We've put together two gorgeous activity sheets for you to design your own home.
Click here to download and get started!


WIN! A hardback copy of Home, plus an exclusive print and a picture book goody bag with IBW nominated Petr Horacek's The Mouse Who Reached the Sky and Kate Greenaway shortlisted Footpath Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith. 

To enter, email with the subject line 
PICTURE BOOK GOODY BAG detailing your name and address. 

Terms and conditions apply. 
Closing date 10/07/16

Monday 13 June 2016