Thursday, 17 October 2019

Finding the Perfect Illustrator for 'Pick a Pumpkin' with Patricia Toht




Patricia Toht, author of the brand new Pick a Pumpkin, wanted to tell our Picture Book Party readers a little about the process of choosing an illustrator for a story and how Jarvis was the perfect fit for her:

Friends and relatives who are unfamiliar with publishing are frequently surprised to discover that, as a picture book author, I don’t choose an illustrator – instead, the editor and art director choose someone whose style fits the story. When I add that I’ve never even met my illustrators, they usually ask the same question:

“Then how do you tell them what pictures to make?”

“I don’t,” I answer. “The illustrator reads my text and draws what those words inspire.”

More than a few are perplexed by this arrangement.

“What if they make a mistake? What if you don’t like what they draw?”

I’m happy to tell them that I’ve been amazed and delighted by the illustrations for my books. The words and pictures meld to create something beautiful.

Two of my books, Pick a Pine Tree and Pick a Pumpkin, are illustrated by Jarvis. His illustrations evoke the warmth and nostalgia of family traditions. They are so lovely!

The day an illustrated proof arrives is always a special one. I pour over the illustrations, soaking up every detail. But I had a unique experience the first time I turned the pages of Pick a Pumpkin. It was as if Jarvis had accessed our family photos! Sure, I drew upon our family’s experiences when writing the text, but those illustrations – they were my memories.

How could he know that the wagon being pulled through the farm not only contained pumpkins, but also a little boy with a pumpkin in his arms? 



Why did he choose a girl to clean the pumpkin, with buckets in the background… 



…and a little boy in blue, standing on newspaper, pulling out the guts?  



There is no way Jarvis could know that my youngest child always cut a hole in the bottom of his pumpkin so he could sport it on his head on Halloween. So how could it be that a pumpkin-headed child appears at the end of the pumpkin carving scenes? (And note that both pumpkins have triangle eyes, triangle noses, and a two-toothed grin!)


Authors and illustrators have a unique bond, one built on trust and confidence in each other’s talents. My task is to write the best text I can and then get out of the way as the illustrator takes over.

The combination leads to transformation – picture book magic!

Pick a Pumpkin is available to buy now! 

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Illustrating 'Madame Badobedah' - with Lauren O'Hara


Sophie Dahl's first picture book, Madame Badobedah, has been out in the world for just over a week now, and illustrator Lauren O'Hara joins us to talk about bringing curious Mabel, mysterious Madame Badobedah, and The Mermaid Hotel to life on the page:



What was it like to illustrate Madame Badobedah?

Madame Badobedah was a delight of a book to illustrate. Sophie created a world so full of joy, humour and tenderness I was hooked from the first page. I was itching to bring her world into full and colourful life.




How did you come up with the designs for the main characters? 

From the first sketches, Mabel seemed to spring to life fully formed. Her grumpy little face and suspicious glances often made me laugh as I sketched. Madame B was more challenging.  After a lot of attempts, she ended up looking rather like my grandmother who was an elegant and formidable redhead with a passion for antique jewellery and Bichons. Sophie described Madame Badobedah's flamboyance and I had great fun designing costumes by watching old Marlene Dietrich and Gloria Swanson movies and sketching feather boas and gold lame leggings.





And what about the Mermaid Hotel, and the many fabulous locations imagined by Mabel?

The world of the book is gorgeous. I enjoyed switching between Mabel's home in a little English Bed and Breakfast by the sea, and Madame Badobedah's past as an emigre and later a young ballerina in New York. I used two colour palettes to show these worlds: Buttercup yellow, cadmium blue and peppermint green for Mabel's world and a darker, more subdued palette of maroon, navy and gold for Madame B."





To celebrate the publication of Madame Badobedah, Lauren painted a beautiful window for London-based independent bookshop, Ottie and the Bea:



Our Picture Book Party competition to WIN a signed copy of Madame Badobedah, a signed print and even a toy tortoise is still open. Click here to enter!


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Top new picture books from Walker Books this October!




Madame Badobedah

Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly interesting old lady comes to stay. There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides ... this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN. But even supervillains have a soft side, and as an unlikely friendship grows between the pair, their fantastical exploits take them well beyond the corridors of their seaside home.


Pick a Pumpkin

It’s Halloween! Which means it's time to dangle cobwebs and bats from the windows, put on costumes, and – most important of all – visit the pumpkin patch and pick out that perfect pumpkin! Then cart it home, scoop out the insides, carve a scary face, and finally light a candle inside, transforming it into a one-of-a-kind, glowing jack-o’-lantern...With warm, autumnal art, this is the perfect book to share by flickering candlelight on the spookiest night of the year.


Beast Feast
Beast has found a tasty dinner, and he's written to all his friends to invite them to a feast. Unfortunately, Dinner is a child who very much does not want to be eaten. As Beast's friends send their instructions for cooking Dinner, is there any way Dinner can convince Beast to change his menu? A vibrant and charming interactive book with hilarious letters to open.



A Child of Books

In this inspiring, lyrical tale about the rewards of reading and sharing stories, a little girl 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. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic lies ahead of him… But who will be next?


Hat Box

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. A fish has stolen a hat – will he get away with it? Two turtles have found one hat, but the hat looks good on both of them... Jon Klassen’s deliciously deadpan hat tales continue to surprise and delight readers of all ages, and they are all now available in one beautiful boxed set along with an exclusive frameable print.




Just Because 
It might be time for bed, but one child is too full of questions about the world to go to sleep just yet. Little ones and their parents will be charmed and delighted as a patient father offers up increasingly creative responses to his child’s night-time wonderings. Any child who has ever asked “Why?” – and any parent who has attempted an explanation – will recognize themselves in this sweet storybook for dreamers who are looking for answers beyond “Just because”.



Pick up copies of all these books at your local bookshop!

Thursday, 3 October 2019

WIN our October Book of the Month - Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl

Madame Badobedah




We’re delighted to introduce you to Madame Badobedah, a timeless story celebrating friendship and imagination from Sophie Dahl. 





Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly interesting old lady comes to stay. 




There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides ... this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN.




But even supervillains have a soft side, and as an unlikely friendship grows between the pair, their fantastical exploits take them well beyond the corridors of their seaside home.







"A tale of fantastical exploits and unlikely friendship, with stylish, whimsical art from rising star O'Hara." - The Bookseller, Children's Previews



We are delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of Madame Badobedah, plus a Schleich tortoise toy and a framed, signed print!

Are you under 13? If so please do NOT provide your details. Please ask your parent or guardian to enter using their email address.

By entering this competition you confirm that you accept our terms and conditions of entry.


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