Monday, 16 November 2020

Ella's Night Lights - Q&A with Lucy Fleming

We are delighted to invite Lucy Fleming onto Picture Book Party to tell us all about her truly gorgeous new picture book, Ella's Night Lights! 
 

If you look very carefully at the night sky, you might spot a teeny-tiny sparkle out of the corner of your eye, a whisper of a tinkling trail… That’s Ella.

Ella has always dreamed of seeing the sunrise. But with her delicate gossamer wings, she can only come out at night. So, when the moon is high, she collects as many shimmering beams of light she can find – a twinkle from a star, the glow from a lamp post. With her light, she guides lost and lonely animals and finds friendship in Fox and Owl. And, together, Ella’s animal friends know just how to return her kindness... A gentle, tender storybook about friendship and the power of kindness.

Click here to download Lucy Fleming's Ella's Night Lights activity sheet. 




What was the inspiration behind Ella’s Night Lights?

I really wanted to create a book that celebrated hope, kindness, and friendship, light was the perfect metaphor, that warm, glowing feeling we have when we’re happy. I had sketched a little moth girl and I just knew she had a story waiting to be told. To me, Ella represents kindness during difficult times, and I had no idea how poignant that message would be for 2020. 


I don’t think I’m alone in being drawn to glittering lights in winter when the days are short, just like Ella does. We hang fairy lights in our homes and on trees and we light bonfires and sparklers. There's a child-like joy to our enjoyment of glittering and glowing things that I've tried to capture in the picture book. Ella collects light and shares it with others in a magical way that I hope families will really enjoy. 

Which came easier, the illustrations or the words?



I’m certain that illustrations will always come more organically to me, it’s just a road well travelled for me so it’s natural for me to think visually first. The artwork is always on my mind as I’m winding through the words. I’ve always loved writing and telling stories and I’ve always got my nose in a book and am constantly trilling around with stories in my mind, but I am always drawn to drawing!


Tell us a little bit more about your process.

I work from my home studio in Greater Manchester, where I can see the hills from my window if it’s not too cloudy. On sunny days I really enjoy having my lunch or a cup of tea in the garden, getting some air, and watching the birds and squirrels. Adjusting my work-life balance and connecting with nature helps me to stay creative.


When writing the story, I started by outlining a brief concept first, a paragraph or so that sums it up. Then I’ll see what works visually, doing character sketches, and thumbnails of scenes, this often springs up new ideas and helps the story develop. More often than not there’ll be a sticking point or something that isn’t quite clear yet and allowing time for things to grow and develop organically is crucial. 

Ella is absolutely adorable, was she inspired by anyone you know?


Ella isn’t inspired by anyone in particular. Although, she does remind me a lot of my sister when we were young, very kind and giving, and far more selfless than I was. She is mainly inspired by moths and fairies. When I was very young and visited my Grandparent’s house, my Nan loved fairies and had lots of pretty porcelain fairies and I think she nurtured a love for fairies in me as well. I really enjoyed films like Thumbelina and The Borrowers when I was small, so wanting to develop a story about a teeny tiny moth girl came very naturally to me.

What was your favourite spread to illustrate?



I adored painting the first spread where Ella is sleeping in the hollow of a tree, it’s a really gentle opening to the story that really comes full circle in the end. I also enjoyed designing the village spreads with all the little windows and details. I really like illustrations to have plenty to look at and secrets to find. Picture books are often read over and over again, so it’s really sweet if there are new things to see each time.





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

As a child, I really enjoyed Meg & Mog, The Rainbow Fish and Owl Babies. My reception class at Primary School had a big classroom copy of The Rainbow Fish and I was obsessed with the glittery foil fish scales, I thought it was so special.

 

A special thank you to our guest author-illustrator this week, Lucy Fleming!

Ella's Night Lights is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

November Book of the Month - Where Snow Angels Go by Maggie O'Farrell and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini (illus.)

Have you ever woken up suddenly, in the middle of the night, without knowing why?

Cover of Where Snow Angels Go


Where Snow Angels Go is the extraordinary and compelling modern fairy tale from award-winning storyteller Maggie O'Farrell, with gorgeous illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. Read more about this perfectly wintery tale below, and make sure to watch our snowy trailer, and try our snowflake-filled activity sheets.  


Sylvie wakes one night, suddenly, without knowing why. Then she sees the most spectacular sight – a pair of wings, enormous in size, made of the softest snow-white feathers imaginable. An angel in her bedroom … a snow angel. 




He tells her that he is here to look after her, for Sylvie is not as well as she seems... Many months later, as Sylvie recovers from her illness, she longs to see her snow angel again. He saved her life, after all. There is so much she wants to tell him, so much she wants to know. Will he ever come back to her? And how can Sylvie make sure that everyone she loves has their own snow angel, to keep them safe, too?



Praise for Where Snow Angels Go:


Where Snow Angels Go has been chosen as the Independent Bookshops' Children's Book of the Month for November. Read more here

 “Daniela Jaglenka's shimmering watercolours bring an extra layer of magic to O'Farrell's comforting fable, as Sylvie's snow angel wraps his soft wings around her like a blanket when she is ill, or appears as feathery sea foam when the sea overcomes her. This is O'Farrell's first book for children but it is an assured classic.” – ‘Childrens Books’, The Irish Times (Weekend)

“The book bears the elegant poise of O’Farrell’s works for adults, including her most recent novel, Hamnet. Little wonder that the children’s publishing powerhouse Walker Books snapped up the new title.” – The Irish Independent  


Click here to download our Where Snow Angels Go activity sheets. 




Watch our snowy trailer for Where Snow Angels Go, now available from all good booksellers!


Monday, 9 November 2020

Wintery Tales

Keep warm cuddled up inside whilst reading one of our wintery tales below!

Where Snow Angels Go
by Maggie O'Farrell and illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini


Sylvie wakes one night, suddenly, without knowing why. Then she sees the most spectacular sight – a pair of wings, enormous in size, made of the softest snow-white feathers imaginable. An angel in her bedroom … a snow angel. He tells her that he is here to look after her, for Sylvie is not as well as she seems... Many months later, as Sylvie recovers from her illness, she longs to see her snow angel again. He saved her life, after all. There is so much she wants to tell him, so much she wants to know. Will he ever come back to her? And how can Sylvie make sure that everyone she loves has their own snow angel, to keep them safe, too?

Click here to download our Where Snow Angels Go activity sheets and watch our trailer below! 



Santa Post
by Emma Yarlett


Santa receives letters of Christmas wishes from children all over the world. But this year there's one that just doesn't make sense. What does this child want for Christmas? Santa is determined to find out! An irresistible festive follow-up to the internationally bestselling Dragon Post and Beast Feast. This joyous novelty book sparkles with Emma Yarlett’s vibrant illustrations and quirky humour, and is full of lots more hilarious letters to open.

Click here to download our Santa Post activity sheets and watch our trailer below!


A Polar Bear in the Snow 
by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Shawn Harris


Follow a magnificent polar bear through a fantastic world of snow and shockingly blue sea. Over the ice, through the water, past Arctic animals and even a human ... where is he going? What does he want? Acclaimed author Mac Barnett’s narration deftly balances suspense and emotion, as well as poignant, subtle themes, compelling us to follow the bear with each page turn. Artist Shawn Harris’s striking torn-paper illustrations layer white-on-white hues, with bolts of blue and an interplay of shadow and light, for a bear’s-eye view of a stark yet beautiful landscape. Simple and thought-provoking, illuminating, and intriguing, this gorgeous story will have readers pondering the answer to its final question long after the polar bear has continued on his way.

Dasher
by Matt Tavares


Dasher is a little doe with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life – one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh, a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same... Matt Tavares’ beautifully illustrated and evocatively told story bristles with all the magic of the festive season.

Now out in paperback.

The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper and illustrated by Carson Ellis


As the sun set 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...
Written for a theatrical production that has become a ritual in itself, Susan Cooper’s poem The Shortest Day captures the magic behind the returning of the light, the yearning for traditions that connect us with generations that have gone before – and the hope for peace that we carry into the future. Richly illuminated by Carson Ellis, this beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life when we celebrate light, thankfulness, and festivity at a time of rebirth. Welcome Yule!

Now out in paperback.

All of these wintery tales are available from all good booksellers!

Friday, 6 November 2020

Top Picks of the Month for November!

As the cold nights draw in, curl up in a cosy corner with one of our November picture books below. Make sure to keep an eye out for our wintery picture books piece, coming soon! 

Time for Tea: A First Cookbook
by Shirley Hughes


This classic collection of easy-to-follow recipes, inspired by everyday family adventures, is the perfect introduction to cookery for first readers. From making pancakes with Dad, baking apples after the Saturday shopping or even icing a birthday cake for Mum, this sumptuously illustrated recipe book gives a gentle insight into the joy of cooking together.

The Song of the Nightingale
by Tanya Landman and illustrated by Laura Carlin


The earth was young and full of colour. But the animals were dull and drab. The painter decided: something must be done! With dabs and sweeps, the painter's brush creates the stripes on the zebra, the sharp suit of the penguin, and the bright splashes on parrots. But what can he give the nightingale when his paintbox has run dry? A beautiful and gently moving tale from the award-winning Tanya Landman and Laura Carlin.

A World of Art
by Helena Hunt and illustrated by James Brown


What is art, and how have we used it to express ourselves throughout history? From cave painting right up to pop art; the Renaissance to twentieth-century sculpture, discover the stories behind great movements, processes and artists – both the household names and the perhaps not-so-familiar. Covering thirty topics, including printing, pigment, ceramics and pattern and photography, as well as Impressionism, Romanticism and Surrealism, this is a thoughtful and easily digestible approach to a huge subject.

Ella's Night Lights
by Lucy Fleming


Ella has always dreamed of seeing the sunrise. But with her delicate gossamer wings, she can only come out at night. So, when the moon is high, she collects as many shimmering beams of light she can find – a twinkle from a star, the glow from a lamp post. With her light, she guides lost and lonely animals and finds friendship in Fox and Owl. And, together, Ella’s animal friends know just how to return her kindness...

Just Because
by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault


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”.

Now out in paperback!

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