Wednesday 24 February 2021

The Lipstick - Q&A with Maria Karipidou

We are delighted to welcome Maria Karipidou onto Picture Book Party for a Q&A on The Lipstick, written by Laura Dockrill.

1. Tell us a bit about your working process, especially any changes in the last year with lockdowns?

My working process is mostly intuitive, and it’s driven by a huge MOTIVATION. In the first few days of starting a new project, I don't know what to do first because I have too many ideas all at once. Then, after gathering the ideas and impressions in a big Hot Pot, I start picking the elements that stand out for some reason. And that often depends on the context. Unusual colours, unexpected characters, e.g. a character who is a cookie but also ANGRY! I had never seen that before.  

Angry Cookie, Laura and Maria's previous
collaboration is available in paperback

I don't think being in lockdown changed my working process all that much, because most of the time everything is happening inside my mind anyway. The only thing that changed was being unable to travel. I get a big part of my inspiration when I meet friends and people from all over the world at book fairs or during workshops. I’m not sure whether this will impact my future projects just yet, who knows! I'm curious to see what happens and what changes. 

2. How did you start coming up with ideas for illustrating this book?

It was the LIPSTICK and the little boy that inspired me (and of course Laura, who somehow changes how you think about the world after you read one of her stories!).

I immediately remembered what I was like as a child: my mum kept telling me that I always wanted to BE A BOY when I was a kid! That ended up with me standing in front of the toilet (as a 4-year-old!) and wanting to pee like a boy! I couldn’t accept NOT being a boy! WHO said I couldn't! So I let my imagination be in charge – like the boy in Laura’s story, who lets the lipstick be in charge. 

3. What was your favourite thing to draw in The Lipstick?

The lipstick has to be a definite favourite for the truly personal value. I loved the story's unusual set up; it was almost like having the house and the lipstick as the main characters, with the family members as the supporting cast. It was brilliant to illustrate! 

4. Do you have a favourite spread/line from the story?

YES, this has to be the best line, "I let the LIPSTICK be in charge!" It is so simply said, but it makes everything that follows in the story possible. It's inspirational, just letting things happen in your life, letting things run wild without always wanting to be in control. This is very similar to the first part of the working process I described; I let my ideas flow without thinking about it too much. I think we should all practise this a little in real life! 

5. Why do you think The Lipstick is an important story?

It’s because it was written by a mum and it’s about a boy – in that lies great importance for me. It’s about (early) relationships, about love, understanding, freedom. Exploring your own borders, being yourself, being loved as you are.

I’m sure that every reader will find herself/himself somewhere in the story (but please tell me if someone thinks he/she is the LIPSTICK, haha!).

Maria Karipidou, photograph (c) Anja Elisa Adam

Thank you, Maria for joining us on Picture Book Party! The Lipstick is available where all good books are sold! 

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Can Bears Ski - Illustrator Q&A

We are very lucky to welcome Polly Dunbar, illustrator of our new book Can Bears Ski?, written by Raymond Antrobus, onto Picture Book Party to talk a little about the process behind creating the book. 

1. Can you tell us more about your artistic process, in particular when illustrating Can Bears Ski? ?

I decided to illustrate the bear characters in Can Bears Ski? with a Japanese brush pen. It’s the first time I’ve illustrated with one so it was exciting to try something new. I felt the pictures of the bears need to be strong and the brush pen is quite a nice thick black line and if you hold it in a certain way it can almost look furry; perfect for bears. Boy Bear in the books says 'he likes his colours loud’ this was lovely to illustrate and I used the brightest marker pens I could find. Part of the beauty of this story was the description,  I was able to use muted colours for the sense of muted sound snow scenes were perfect for this and of course, make boy bears bright personality pop and clothes pop all the more. All the aspects of the book are handprinted and then I used photoshop to assemble it all to make the full scene. This gives me lovely freedom to more things around and tweak things as I go.

I made the work for this book, like so many illustrators on my kitchen table. One day my eldest son joined me at work and drew the bear picture that hangs above the staircase in the book. I now have a studio at the end of the garden which is a dream come true and great because I don’t have to tidy my paints away for mealtimes!

2. Do you have a favourite spread from Can Bears Ski? ?

My favourite spread in the book is probably the library scene, the quietness of the books and the snow falling through the window was all so lovely to draw, especially as it comes after a really loud busy scene of lunchtime at school where boy bear struggle to understand what’s going on. The library picture also shows the solace Boy bear finds in books; it simply has the words ‘Shhhhh’.  It is a challenge to illustrate quietness or the chaos of noise but I was so excited to take this on as I am partially deaf myself so I have first-hand experience of knowing how being deaf isn’t just about the world being can be confusing and startling too. Hopefully through use of colour and vibration I’ve been able to express what it’s like tone hearing-impaired and also (hopefully) created artwork that is beautiful to look at.

3. When did you know you wanted to illustrate for picture books?

I feel very lucky to be a picture book illustrator, as far as I remember that’s what I’ve always wanted to do, telling stories through pictures. I write too, but it’s usually always the pictures that come first. I love books as objects, the weight of them the feel of them even the smell of them. Most of all I see how important books are to both children and adults and to be able to contribute to that is an honour and therefore I try and do the best work I possibly can.

4. What is your favourite picture book?

My favourite picture book as a child was Mr Magnolia by Quentin Blake, it’s so joyous and alive. There are so many wonderful books to choose from. My favourite illustrators include Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer, Sydney Smith, Lucy Cousins, Emily Gravett and so many more!

Thank you, Polly, for joining us on Picture Book Party. Can Bears Ski? is available from all good booksellers! 


Monday 8 February 2021

I Talk Like a River - Author Q&A

We're delighted to invite Jordan Scott onto Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of his new picture book, I Talk Like a River, illustrated by Sydney Smith.

After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being stared at, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. "It's just a bad speech day," says Dad. But the boy can't stop thinking about all the eyes watching his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. "I talk like a river," he says.

Author Q&A - Jordan Scott

Can you tell us a little bit more about your writing process?

For children's books, I spend a great deal of time working through the concept before I start writing. I usually do this when I'm walking, swimming, or mountain biking. In these moments I'm alone and it's usually very quiet. After I have a concept, I start writing drafts and number each of them. I Talk Like a River came close to fifty drafts before I stopped tinkering. I love the editing process very much and really look forward to it. For I Talk Like a River, I had the privilege of working with the great Neal Porter who did wonders for this book.

What was it like seeing Sydney’s illustrations for the first time?

Life-altering! I can't say enough about the brilliance of Sydney's vision for this book. When I first saw the illustrations I couldn't believe that someone could make paint move like that. Sydney's work contains multitudes and gorgeous nuance. I notice something different every time I read the book. 

Do you still visit the river now?

I do! When I visit my mom and dad I always make a point to spend some time at the place my dad used to take me. It's wonderful that I can bring my own sons to the river now.

How did you feel when you were writing this book?

I feel exhilarated when I write. Maybe not so much in the gathering of ideas and concepts, but once I get a flow going, I slip into another dimension. I finished this book on the outer deck of a ferry crossing the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada. Shortly before I wrote the last line, a pod of Orcas breached to the east and the ferry slowed to let them pass. I'll never forget that moment.   

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

Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee.

Jordan Scott

A special thanks to our guest author this week, Jordan Scott!

I Talk Like a River is now available to buy from all good booksellers.

Thursday 4 February 2021

Top Picks of the Month for February!

We have some fantastic new picture books to share with you this February:

Can Bears Ski?
by Raymond Antrobus and illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Boy Bear cannot hear Dad Bear coming to wake him up in the morning but he can feel the floor vibrate with his heavy footstepsHe can only grasp little bits of what his teacher says to him at school. He cannot catch what his friends are laughing at. And, all the time, Boy Bear keeps hearing the question, “Can Bears ski?” What does it mean? With the support of Dad Bear, Boy Bear visits an audiologist and, eventually, he gets hearing aids. Suddenly, he understands the question everyone has been asking him: "CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

Raymond draws on his own experience to show how isolating it can be for a deaf child in a hearing world. But through his lyrical and moving words, matched with Polly's stunning imagery, he also shows how many ways there are to communicate love. With a solid network, Boy Bear will find his place in the world.

You can now watch the Can Bears Ski? trailer below! It features a reading from author Raymond Antrobus as well as British Sign Language from a Deaf interpreter.

The Lipstick
by Laura Dockrill and illustrated by Maria Karipidou

Exploring his mother’s bedroom, a little boy discovers THE LIPSTICK. It begins on his lips, where it looks very good – MWAH! But then it goes for a little walk … squiggle, squiggle … on the mirror … scribble scribble … on the shiny floorboards … smudge smudge. And even on the fluffy cat. Uh-oh! What will happen when Mum, Dad and big sister sees all this mess? 

From the team behind Angry Cookie comes a hilarious and joyous story all about artistic expression, self-confidence and supportive, accepting parenting.

Download The Lipstick activity sheets here and watch our extra cheeky trailer below!

by Robert Sabuda

There are many different ways to share your love, captured in Sabuda's intricate pop-up animal scenes. Can you find the elephant sheltering its friend from the storm? Or the two swans promising to stay together forever?

This is a celebration of love in all its different forms – a beautiful gift book for the whole family to treasure.

Ducks Overboard
by Markus Motum

When a shipping container filled with 28,000 plastic ducks spilt into the Pacific Ocean, where did all those ducks go? Based on a true story, this innovative take on the plastic pollution crisis follows one duck as it travels on ocean currents to meet sea life and discovers the rubbish from humans that endangers our oceans.

A highly accessible and stylish picture book with a positive message about environmental issues, from the author-illustrator of Curiosity, which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.

Big Bob, Little Bob
by James Howe and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

A comforting story of friendship for any child who does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes, this is the story of two boys, as different as different can be. Big Bob likes trucks and throwing balls and being loud. Little Bob likes dolls and jingling bracelets and being quiet. No matter what they do, they do not do it the same. But when they become new neighbours, they might just find a way to be friends...

Now out in paperback!

by Julia Denos and illustrated by E. B. Goodale

Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbours as families come together and folks settle in for the night.

Now out in paperback!

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