Thursday 28 November 2019

Behind the Scenes on The Hero's Quest!

Jeffrey Alan Love gives us a glimpse into the magic behind the quest...

1. What gave you the inspiration for The Hero's Quest?

This book started, as perhaps many of our early imaginations did, with a mother's lullaby. One night, singing our son to sleep, my wife ran out of verses for the lullaby she was singing, so she started making some up on the fly. "Hush little baby, don't you cry, Mama's going to build you a castle in the sky, and if that castle should crash to the ground, Mama's going to find you a golden crown..."  And as I listened, I found myself wondering if I could make a book for parents like us and their children, families steeped in fantasy, myth, magic. Families that have stacks of books by Gene Wolfe, Ursula Leguin, Susan Cooper, Iain M. Banks, Joe Abercrombie, Patricia McKillip, Neil Gaiman waiting on their shelves for the young readers. I wanted to make a book that took my love for my children, my art, and all the things that inspired it and bundle it together in a spell of pages, of words and paintings, to cast a spell in their minds and yours. And in sixty years when I am gone the spell can still be cast.

2. Tell us a little bit more about your artistic process? (location, time you work, method).

I live in Northern California, and work from home. I work regular hours, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, and take weekends off to be with my family. Almost all of my work is done traditionally, with ink and acrylic paint, applied with almost anything you can find. Brushes, sponges, brayers, house paint rollers, petrified sticks I found on a beach, stones, crumpled up tin foil, old wool socks - just about anything can make an interesting mark. The key for me is to have the composition and value structure planned out before I start painting, so that once I start painting I can have fun and react to what is happening on the paper in front of me. 

What was your favourite spread to illustrate?

I don't know if I could pick a favourite spread from the book, as every page seems to lead so naturally to the next one that it seems a complete whole to me. A large part of that is thanks to the efforts of my editor Lucy Earley and art director, Ben Norland.

4. Who is your favourite illustrator/ what is your favourite book?

I could write for pages about my favourite artists and books, but if I had to pick one over all the others it would be Tales of King Arthur by James Riordan and Victor Ambrus - as a child in Germany my parents gave me a copy and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to spend my life making things like that.

Pick up The Hero's Quest by Jeffrey Alan Love where all good books are sold and prepare to meet bold dragons and brave knights in this story teeming with fantasy and magic! Perfect for children aged 6 and above. 

Monday 18 November 2019

The Boy Who Loved Everyone - Behind the Scenes

The Boy Who Loved Everyone is a touching tale inspired by real life. We spoke to author Jane Porter and illustrator Maisie Paradise Shearring about the story behind the book.

Jane: One of the highlights of my week is the art class I run at a local nursery – the children are so funny and sweet, and always give me lots of ideas. I always note down the things they say in my diary (which is in comic form) – here’s what happened at storytime last week – as you can see, they throw themselves wholeheartedly into identifying with characters in stories.

About three years ago one little Greek boy in particular made my heart swell each week when he told everyone that he loved them – the other children, the teachers, and me. It was so guileless and utterly charming – but I noticed that everyone reacted in different ways to his words.

That’s how the story began – but it was the classic 1940s film It’s a Wonderful Life which inspired its shape. I imagined how the boy would feel after a day of pouring out his love to limited response, then gave his mother the role of showing him the next day what a difference he had made in the world. I sent it to the editorial team at Walker, and was thrilled when they said they liked it, particularly because I hoped that this one boy’s love could spread out wider in the world through a book.

When Maisie agreed to create the artwork I was even happier - I had been admiring her work from afar for a while and knew she would bring the right sense of tenderness to the project.

Maisie: I often draw from life to inspire my projects and help me understand the world a book might be set in. So, when I read this beautiful story by Jane, I was keen to try to arrange to go and draw in a nursery. I was very excited when I found out Jane worked in a nursery and that this story was inspired by an experience she had there.

I was fortunate to be able to go along with Jane for two days at the nursery. Surprised by how fast the children moved, I focused on just trying to capture the different ways they stand, sit and interact. I also absorbed as much information as possible about the surroundings; the displays, toys, and furniture, and afterwards made lists and sketches. I learnt so much!

Jane: I couldn’t have been more pleased when I saw the finished artwork – it was everything I hoped it would be and more. I’ve now had the chance to show the finished book to the children at the nursery – and they were so excited to recognise all the wonderfully observed familiar details that Maisie slipped into the book – the ladybird cushions, and the washing line of paintings. And immediately they recognised the teacher, who comes straight from real life!

The Boy Who Loved Everyone is available to buy where all good books are sold!

Thursday 14 November 2019

Top new picture books from Walker Books this November!

Here are the newest Picture Books to be joining the Walker list this November! 

The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story by Bob Graham

April and Esme are staying at Grandma and Grandad’s for a whole weekend! A visit to Grandma and Grandad's is always special for the two sisters. There’s the mixing of fairy cakes, pancakes with syrup for breakfast and a chocolate waiting on each of their pillows. And this weekend, when Mum calls with an urgent tooth fairy job, there's an exciting trip to the airport with Grandma to make sure one little girl has her tooth collected.

The Boy Who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter and Maisie Paradise Shearring 

"I love you," Dimitri tells everyone, from his friends at nursery to the big tree in the playground. But why does no one say it back? Dimitri worries no one loves him – until he finds out there are lots of different ways love can spread through the world. A touching and uplifting story, perfect for sharing.

Snow Leopard by Justin Anderson and Patrick Benson

"Something moves in the rocks ahead. My hands start to tremble. My heart is beating fast. There, just a few footsteps away, is a snow leopard…"

Join us on a journey high into the snowy peaks of the Himalaya, and discover the secret world of a rare and utterly majestic creature. Complete with an index and a conservation note, this is a wonderful addition to the series with words by Planet Earth producer Justin Anderson and pictures by award-winning Patrick Benson.

The Hero’s Quest by Jeffrey Alan Love 

Join our every-hero Rider on their quest through the story worlds of fantasy and myth. Packed with vivid dragons, wolves and sea-monsters from the stunning imagination of celebrated cult fantasy artist, Jeffrey Alan Love (Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki), this book immerses readers into a picture-book Game of Thrones world for children aged 6 and up.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis 

As the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again...

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

Thursday 7 November 2019

WIN our November Picture Book of the Month - The Hero's Quest

November Picture Book of the Month - The Hero's Quest by Jeffrey Alan Love

Join our every-hero Rider on their quest through the story worlds of fantasy and myth. 

Packed with vivid dragons...

wolves and sea-monsters...

This book immerses readers into a picture-book Game-of-Thrones-esque world for children aged 6 and up.

A picture-book quest through the worlds of fantasy, myth and magic, for all young reading heroes.

Jeffrey Alan Love is an award-winning artist and writer. He is the winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist, and has been nominated for the Chesley Award, the British Science Fiction Award and the Spectrum Fantastic Art Award. He has also won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators and two Academy of British Cover Design Awards.

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



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