Friday 31 July 2020

I Like Trains by Daisy Hirst - Guest Author Post

We were delighted to invite Daisy Hirst onto the Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of her new picture book, I Like Trains. You can now read the full post below!

I Like Trains

I Like Trains is a picture book about a small dog who really, really likes trains. I like trains too, but this character was inspired by some small humans I’ve known who were truly devoted: like small dog they seemed happiest doing railway-related things, from reconfiguring toy train-tracks to driving imaginary engines, and from reading about trains or watching them on TV to seeing them go by under bridges and, of course, catching actual trains for themselves. 

My books usually begin in my sketchbooks and I’ve often shared the doodles that grew into books like The Girl with the Parrot on her Head and ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO! In the case of I Like Trains, I’m a bit wary of sharing the doodle because practically the whole thing ended up in the book! When I doodled this I’d recently discovered that writing picture books in the first person can unlock something for me. Perhaps it’s because when a character speaks directly to the reader, I worry less about whether it’ll be enough of a story, what it means, or whether it’s SIGNIFICANT. Trains, clearly, could not be more significant to this little dog (or bear, as it was at the doodle stage) so why don’t I just listen for a while?

I took this little heap of stapled scraps of paper in which a small bear talks about liking trains to my Editor and Art Director, Lizzie Sitton and Ben Norland. Not only did they not have me quietly ejected from the building, they said we could make my tiny idea into an actual book!

But how? For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the very simplest picture-story books – those that have a plot but are short and simple enough to keep a one- or two-year-old engaged. While making I Like Trains, I thought a lot about books like Satoshi Kitamura’s Duck is Dirty (a small work of genius in a chewable format, which Ben introduced me to) and John Burningham’s Little Books (The Blanket, in particular, is perfection, it has everything it needs and nothing more).  I loved these books but I didn’t understand them: how did their authors know how much story was enough? How did they do so much in such a minuscule space (The Blanket has 64 words!)?

I Like Trains is my seventh picturebook but my first for very young readers and resisting the urge to complicate things was difficult and, if I’m honest, scary: there’s nowhere to hide in a book like this. I tried to keep the very small people I knew in mind, to just slow down and enjoy all-things-train. The climax of the story comes when Small Dog catches a real train to visit Granny: expanding my doodle into a full-length picture book enabled me to expand this journey and celebrate some of the things I love best about trains – including the way the world whooshes past outside.

It also meant that small dog and granny could spend more time together (mostly playing trains, obviously).

- Daisy Hirst

A special thanks to our guest author this week, Daisy Hirst!
I Like Trains is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies & Emily Sutton

“Spectacular ... Like fish and chips, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton are meant for each other. You can almost smell the surf between the pages.” - The Times

From Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton, the multi-award-winning team behind Tiny and Lots, comes a spellbinding collection of poems about the oceans of the world and their shores, now out in paperback! 

With this book, children can swim alongside dolphins and flying fish, pore over rockpools and sail from pole to pole and back, learning about everything from phosphorescence and plankton to manta rays and puffins – all in the comfort of their bedroom. 

Emily Sutton's exquisite watercolours capture the breathless excitement of a child's first glimpse of the sea, the majesty of ancient trading ships and the sheer, staggering wonder of the humpback whale. 

The perfect companion to international bestsellers A First Book of Nature and A First Book of Animals, this book is sure to enthral and inspire readers of all ages.

Activity Sheet

Download the activity sheet for A First Book of the Sea by clicking on the image below!

Check out these great photos taken on location!

A First Book of the Sea is now out in paperback and is available to buy from all good booksellers!

Catch that Chicken! by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank

Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Lami loves chickens. She's the best chicken catcher in the village. She's fast, she's brave and she always catches that chicken. Until the day she chases one up the baobab tree, slips ... and falls. How can she catch chickens with a sore ankle? Could there be another way to catch that chicken?

Told with great humour by Nigerian storyteller, Atinuke, this story of the headstrong, impetuous Lami will strike a chord with all children. The gentle message – to use quick thinking not just quick running – gives an incredibly satisfying ending, while Angela Brooksbank's beautiful artwork captures the energy and the beauty of the West African setting perfectly.

Head over to Authorfy to take part in Atinuke's 10-Minute-Challenge, here!

Catch That Chicken! available where all good books are sold.

Thursday 2 July 2020

Top Picks of the Month for July!

It seems that June really flew by, and in July we have even more fabulous picture books for you all to enjoy!

1. Catch that Chicken! by Atinuke and illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Lami loves chickens. She's the best chicken catcher in the village. She's fast, she's brave and she always catches that chicken. Until the day she chases one-up the baobab tree, slips ... and falls. How can she catch chickens with a sore ankle? Could there be another way to catch that chicken?

2. I Like Trains by Daisy Hirst

Small Dog loves trains. Playing with them, reading about them, drawing them and pretending to be the driver. But the best thing of all is going on a real train – looking at everything whoosh past the window! But who is Small Dog going to see...?

3. Bedtime for Albie by Sophie Ambrose

“Bedtime!” says Mum. Albie the warthog doesn’t think so! He’d much rather play a game. So off he dashes – skippety trot trit trot. But the cheetahs are having their bedtime story, the elephants are having their shower and the meerkats are already snuggled down deep in their burrow. What will Albie do? Mum might just have the most fun game of all...

Now out in paperback.

4. What I Like Most by Mary Murphy and illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang

A little girl tells us about all her favourite things, from her light-up shoes to hot, steamy chips, to her red pencil. But the girl knows that, even as her feet grow, her plate empties, and her pencil shortens, there’s someone she’ll always love … and that is what she likes the very, very most.

Now out in paperback.

5. Ellie's Dragon by Bob Graham

When Ellie is very little, she finds a newborn dragon fresh from the egg on a supermarket shelf and calls him Scratch. He is quite the sweetest thing she has ever seen! From that day on, Ellie and Scratch do everything together. Ellie's mum and her teacher can’t see her fiery friend, but all her friends can – and, over the years, Ellie's dragon grows to be big, house-trained, and very affectionate. And Ellie is growing, too...