Thursday, 17 September 2020

Norse Tales by Kevin Crossley-Holland & Jeffrey Alan Love - Guest Illustrator Post

 It is an absolute treat to invite the brilliantly talented Jeffrey Alan Love back onto the Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of his new book, Norse Tales: Stories from Across the Rainbow Bridge. You can now read the full post below!


Guest Illustrator Post - Jeffrey Alan Love


Tell us a little bit more about your artistic process?

I live in Northern California and have an office that looks out on Mt. Tam. In the mornings I can watch the fog rolling in from Point Reyes heading towards San Francisco. Before the pandemic I worked like anyone else - drop the children off at school and work until it was time to pick them up, Monday through Friday, with weekends off. Now I work in stolen moments, naptime, late at night or early in the morning, as much as I can on weekends. Six months in and this feels normal now, and I wonder what it will feel like when my children are able to go back to school safely. This has been incredibly hard, as I know it has been for everyone, but I also feel lucky to have gotten to spend so much time with my children at such a young age.


As for my working method, I like to print the manuscript so that I can doodle in the margins as I read through it, little scribbled visual notes when something strikes me. If there's a moment that evokes an emotional reaction I underline it and try to evoke that emotion in my artwork. The sketches I send to Ben are done in photoshop, generally just black and white, trying to get the design and composition right. The sketches are never about drawing, or details - only whether the composition is working. If the composition is working then I can get away with just having fun making the finished artwork, trying different techniques and tools to get interesting marks and effects. As long as I have the composition and value structure worked out I know I have a safety net and can only fall so far, so I feel free to take risks and make mistakes and discover new ways of working. All of the paintings for this book were done with acrylic and ink on illustration board.


What was your favourite spread to illustrate?


My goal is always to make every spread my favourite, to give 100% to each painting. I want the reader to be propelled through the book by the words and images, and each image needs to have an impact. 




Which of the tales is your favourite and why?

I think Kevin did something wonderful with this book, in that each tale builds subtly one upon the next until we reach the end and he brings them all together with the final tale. When I read the manuscript the first time I got teary-eyed at the end. So if I had to pick just one, The Gift of Poetry. As a father now I often think of what I want my books to pass on to my children, and what was given to me by books in my childhood and in my life. The Gift of Poetry speaks to that history, that heritage, all of us are links in a chain reaching back through the years and that, we hope, will extend far into the future.




What is your favourite thing to draw? 

I am drawn to knights and arrows and swords and King Arthur and Robin Hood because, as a young child growing up in Germany, I spent my days running through dark woods, up the hill from our village to a small castle. On weekends we would go visit other castles, or walled cities, or ruins. I was surrounded by the landscape of the tales my parents told me, of the picture books they would buy me.



What was your favourite picture book when you were a child?

Tales of King Arthur by James Riordan, illustrated by the magnificent Victor Ambrus. My parents went to England and came back with that book and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to write and draw as soon as I saw the cover. 

 - Jeffrey Alan Love


A special thanks to our guest illustrator this week, Jeffrey Alan Love!

Norse Tales: Stories from Across the Rainbow Bridge is now available to buy from all good booksellers.


Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Norse Tales by Kevin Crossley-Holland & Jeffrey Alan Love - Guest Author Post

We were thrilled to invite Kevin Crossley-Holland onto the Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of his new book, Norse Tales: Stories from Across the Rainbow Bridge


You can now read the full post below!


Enter an ancient world of green glades and glaciers, where gods and goddesses spread their magic whilst rock-giants and mountain-trolls roam. This astonishing new collection of Norse tales from the award-winning Kevin Crossley-Holland – with Jeffrey Alan Love’s arresting illustrations – will enthral readers of all ages.


Guest Author Post - Kevin Crossley-Holland


What was the inspiration behind writing this novel?

 Long ago and not so long, I came across a page in an ancient book seething with supernatural beings: light elves and changelings and ghosts and night-trolls and water-horses and tide-mice and... That started me thinking that although the Norse myths are chiefly about gods and giants and dwarfs and a few humans and monsters, the Vikings believed that their world was inhabited by all kinds of other beings.  So I thought I would write about some of them.

 But then I changed my mind!  Well, partly.

I remembered that although the gods are not particularly interested in human beings, a few myths describe what happened when gods and humans did meet.  I wanted to retell one or two of them as well, so then the book became a kind of hybrid (that sounds like a kind of monster!), partly about the gods, when they cross the rainbow bridge into Midgard, and partly about human beliefs and superstitions.

 


What made you want to revisit the Norse World?

Long ago and very long, a great poet laid his wrinkled right hand on my head - no, he didn't touch my tongue! - and told me to 'Look North'.  Look north to the thrilling, ice-bright myths and poems and sagas of the Viking world.

 He said that since the native British are by blood, temperament, geography and culture, creatures of the northern world (that's to say, northwest Europe), we should, of course, be familiar with the Norse and Germanic and Anglo-Saxon myths, legends and folk tales as well as with Hebrew and classical mythology.

 I was electrified.  I took my young sons to Iceland and camped there.  And while I've spent a good part of my writing life excavating the literature of the Northern world, I'm well aware I've done little more than scrape the surface.

 And that, in a nutshell, is why I wanted to revisit the Northern World in my Norse Tales.  And why I will do so again.  Indeed, I'm just embarking on a historical novel set during the weeks leading up to the stunning battle at Stamford Bridge; it's a kind of love story, and an account of what happened when Harald Hardrada, the greatest warrior of the Viking world, met Harold Godwinsson face to face.

 

 Tell us a little bit more about your writing process?

Writers are self-employed, and so they need to be self-disciplined.  I'm not all that good at embarking on a new project.  I make all kinds of excuses, turn aside to shorter commitments, draft new poems, and sort-of giddy around like an old dog before getting down to work.

I write at the desk I bought with the advance I was given by Macmillan for my first book, Havelok the Dane.  I was 22.  It's rather too small, actually, but at this late date, we're almost conjoined at the hip!

Once underway, I concentrate fiercely - and ideally, I think and plan and write through the morning (no emails, no 'phone calls, no correspondence, buckets of strong coffee supplied by my smiling wife).  I warm up, as it were, by revisiting and revising my previous day's work, and then break new ground.  Come late afternoon, I try to return to my desk between 6.00pm and 8.00pm.  And then, late at night, I usually spend an hour in the company of my characters and story, thinking and dreaming. . .

I write by hand (I'm left-handed), using my old brown Waterman pen and a liberal flow of Absolute Brown Ink.  And every few days I pass my manuscript to my P.A. (one of the few people in the world who can decipher my handwriting) and she types them.  Then the next and crucial stage begins: redrafting. . . revising. . . and revising. . .  Each word counts; and so does each silence. 

 

Which of the tales is your favourite and why? 

 My favourite story?  It's a toss-up.  Perhaps 'Blue of Blue', the lyrical myth about how humans first learned to grow flax and make linen, in which the dramatic Icelandic landscape is so much part of the story.  Or perhaps 'The Gift of Poetry', because of the way in which precious gifts can be passed on from person to person, and generation to generation - something I think of when I 'Look North' and try to live up to the example of the great writers, the great word-weavers, who have inspired me.

In that tale, the narrator says that, listening as a boy to the old poet Halldor, 'I knew each waterfall was alive, each column of steam and plume of cloud, each birch leaf and rowan leaf, each moonwort and spotted orchid.  They were alive and I shared their lives and longings. . .  I wanted to be like Halldor, and told him I wanted to learn...'

 - Kevin Crossley-Holland


A special thanks to our guest author this week, Kevin Crossley-Holland!

Norse Tales: Stories from Across the Rainbow Bridge is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Bring nature back to where you live with 'The Promise' by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin


We are delighted to share that The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin, has been adapted into a film, soon to be shown on the BBC.  It is launching on the week of 12th October and conservation group, Wild Labs, wants to support families and communities to seek action from those with power to bring nature back into the places we live in.

On the morning of October 16th, they will be hosting an exclusive LIVE online screening of The Promise film for schools. In particular they are looking for schools in nature deprived areas to participate, if that is you or you work in nature deprived communities do sign-up to their newsletter to receive the latest updates and screening information.

You might also be a primary school that wants to bring more nature into your school and surrounding community; or maybe you are an on the ground partner already bringing food growing into urban areas, tree planting or community gardens and are excited by working with children, communities and creative ways to connect with nature. For you, Wild Labs have developed a local partnership program that aims to match-make these two groups, take a look here for more information.  

If any of the above is of interest to you, sign-up here to get the latest updates, and if you have any questions or want to get more involved drop them a line via hello@thepromise.earth 


More about The Promise, the book that inspired the film:


A picture book of great beauty and hope about the power we have to transform our world.

On a mean street in a mean city, a thief tries to snatch an old woman’s bag. But she finds she can’t have it without promising something in return – to “plant them all”. When it turns out the bag is full of acorns, the young thief embarks on a journey that changes her own life and the lives of others for generations to come. 

Inspired by the belief that a relationship with nature is essential to every human being, and that now, more than ever, we need to renew that relationship, The Promise is the story of a magical discovery that will touch the heart and imagination of every reader, young and old. With poignant simplicity, honesty and lyricism, Nicola Davies evokes a powerful vision of a world where people and nature live in harmony. And Laura Carlin's delicate illustrations capture a young girl’s journey from a harsh, urban reality to the beauty and vitality of a changed world.

Available to buy where all good books are sold! 

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Honey for You, Honey for Me by Michael Rosen & Chris Riddell

From Children’s Laureates Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, the bestselling team behind A Great Big Cuddle, comes a first book of nursery rhymes.


"A guaranteed bedtime favourite for our youngest bookworms is the new book from Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell. These topsy-turvy tales are a feast of words and amazing pictures." - The Bath Magazine 


Flying pigs, wobbling plates of jelly and a giant with a terrible fear of mice: welcome to the topsy-turvy world of nursery rhymes. Inspired by his lifelong fascination with these wonderful, riddling rhymes, Michael Rosen has placed familiar playground songs beside forgotten gems for a seminal new collection, which Chris Riddell has brought to vivid life with his magnificent, exuberant pictures. Expect familiar faces, from little Jumping Joan to Miss Mary Mack-Mack-Mack – but also plenty of mischievous surprises. With over thirty rhymes to choose between, this is a book for families to share and treasure.


Join Michael as he reads from his new collection of nursery rhymes, Honey For You, Honey for Me below:




Honey for You, Honey for Me is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Friday, 4 September 2020

International Dot Day


Celebrate International Dot Day on 15th-ish September!

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009. Now, every 15-ish September, more than 10 million teachers, librarians and children in 170 countries participate in International Dot Day, making their mark by getting busy with writing, drawing, painting, or other creative outlets and sharing their Dot Day inspiration with others.

Join in the global celebrations on 15-ish September by hosting a reading of The Dot, throwing a creative dot-making event, or planning a weeklong series of activities — the possibilities are endless! To get started, download the free International Dot Day pack which is packed with simple ideas to help you celebrate creativity in your classroom or library here.


 Watch this video of Peter H. Reynolds to learn the story of how The Dot came to be and what he hopes you and your students will take away from it.




 
 We can’t wait to hear about your International Dot Day event in your classroom or library. 


Keep us updated by sharing any news, photos and art with us via Twitter @WalkerBooksUK #DotDay, #Makeyourmark.


To find out more and to discover other great ideas for making your mark on International Dot Day, click here!

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Top Picks of the Month for September!

As the school year rolls around again we wanted to share our top picks for September with you!


Honey For You, Honey For Me
by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell

 

Flying pigs, wobbling plates of jelly and a giant with a terrible fear of mice: welcome to the topsy-turvy world of nursery rhymes. Inspired by his lifelong fascination with these wonderful, riddling rhymes, Michael Rosen has placed familiar playground songs beside forgotten gems for a seminal new collection, which Chris Riddell has brought to vivid life with his magnificent, exuberant pictures. Expect familiar faces, from little Jumping Joan to Miss Mary Mack-Mack-Mack – but also plenty of mischievous surprises. With over thirty rhymes to choose between, this is a book for families to share and treasure.

Norse Tales: Stores From Across the Rainbow Bridge
by Kevin Crossley-Holland and illustrated Jeffrey Alan Love


Enter an ancient world of green glades and glaciers, where gods and goddesses spread their magic whilst rock-giants and mountain-trolls roam. This astonishing new collection of Norse tales from the award-winning Kevin Crossley-Holland – with Jeffrey Alan Love’s arresting illustrations – will enthrall readers of all ages.


We Found a Hat
by Jon Klassen


Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat...
Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this perfectly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy, deceptive simplicity and deliciously deadpan humour. Available at last in a stylish, sturdy board book format, this bestselling story is perfect for sharing in a lap with the smallest of hands.

Now out as a board book!


The House by the Lake
by Thomas Harding and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup



Thomas Harding first shared this remarkable story in his Costa-shortlisted biography The House by the Lake – now he has rendered it into a deeply moving picture book for young readers. On the outskirts of Berlin, a wooden cottage stands on the shore of a lake. Over the course of a century, this little house played host to a loving Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, wartime refugees and a Stasi informant; in that time, a world war came and went, and the Berlin Wall was built a stone's throw from the cottage's back door. With words that read like a haunting fairy tale, and magnificent illustrations by Britta Teckentrup, this is the astonishing true story of the house by the lake.

Inch and Grub
by Alastair Chisholm and illustrated by David Roberts



Inch and Grub are cavemen. Grub’s cave is bigger, and he says that makes him the best. So Inch adds a water feature to his cave. But Grub has made fire! So Inch makes a chair. And a house. And a CAR. Grub, meanwhile, has made a castle and a train and a radio! And so the contest spirals and spirals … until they each have a HUGE wobbling pile of STUFF. But what happens when the piles collapse? A funny story about being competitive and how STUFF is not what matters in life.


Pick a Pumpkin
by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis




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, and a rhythmic read-aloud text that captures all the excitement and familial feeling of Halloween, this is the perfect book to share by flickering candlelight on the spookiest night of the year.

Now out in paperback!

Small in the City
by Sydney Smith


Being small can be overwhelming in a city. People don't see you. The loud sounds of the sirens and cyclists can be scary. And the streets are so busy it can make your brain feel like there's too much stuff in it. But if you know where to find good hiding places, warm dryer vents that blow out hot steam that smells like summer, music to listen to or friends to say hi to, there can be comfort in the city, too. We follow our little protagonist, who knows all about what it's like to be small in the city, as he gives his best advice for surviving there. As we turn the pages, Sydney Smith's masterful storytelling allows us to glimpse exactly who this advice is for, leading us to a powerful, heart-rending realization...

Now out in paperback!


Love is Powerful
by Heather Dean Bever, illustrated by LeUyen Pham and contributed to by Mari Diop


Mari is getting ready to make a sign with crayon as the streets below her fill up with people. “What are we making, Mama?” she asks. “A message for the world,” Mama says. “How will the whole world hear?” Mari wonders. “They’ll hear,” says Mama, “because love is powerful.” Inspired by a girl who participated in the January 2017 Women’s March in New York City, Heather Dean Brewer’s simple and uplifting story, delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a reminder of what young people can do to promote change and equality at a time when our country is divided by politics, race, gender and religion.

All of our top picks of the month are now available from all good booksellers!