Wednesday 29 September 2021

Let's Save Antarctica - Author blog post

Today we welcome Catherine Barr onto Picture Book Party to talk about her new book, Let's Save Antarctica, illustrated by Jean Claude. Catherine wrote this piece for and it was too good not to share with our Picture Book Party readers. 

Over to Catherine...

"I remember discovering that the great white continent of Antarctica was once lush tropical forest. It is still difficult to believe that this frozen wilderness was thick with deep green vegetation – and dinosaurs. That led to a conversation that inspired a new book. Or rather, a series of exciting new picture books with Walker Books, kickstarting with Let’s Save Antarctica. Brought to life in full, gorgeous colours by the illustrator Jean Claude.

For me, a new picture book often begins with finding an expert with whom to explore the science at the centre of the story. The opportunity to learn, explore and understand the stories of Antarctica has been fascinating. These are conversations that I value and enjoy. I visited British Antarctic Survey HQ in Cambridge to meet scientists who spend months working in this frozen landscape. Having studied ecology and travelled widely in my wildlife campaign work with Greenpeace International, I am eager to hear their adventures in cutting-edge science and ideas about conservation. And I am so grateful for their time – I have a lot of questions.

The challenge to weave complex science into a simple non-fiction narrative is one I love. In this series, we wanted to focus on WHY it is important to protect iconic habitats on our planet: within the inevitable context of climate change. So each spread begins with ‘Let’s save Antarctica because…’, exploring reasons why special places like Antarctica, the Amazon, the Great Barrier Reef and lastly the great Okavango Delta in southern Africa matter. 

I have not visited the Antarctic but, aboard a Greenpeace ship, I have sailed up the Amazon. I found my own experience of the threats to this breathtaking wilderness seeped into my thinking in writing this book. But as well as consulting Greenpeace UK CEO John Sauven; I also met (virtually) two extraordinary Brazilian scientists from the Sustainable Amazon Network. Their enthusiasm and our correspondence have been both interesting, insightful and fun. From referencing their shared family photographs for illustrating the faces of the Indigenous people to discussing toucan species and adding amphibians, it has been a journey that I can’t wait to share in schools and libraries.

More recently I have been learning about coral restoration from experts in Australia and I am in the midst of revisiting (based on my memory of a long-ago adventure) the Okavango Delta to introduce this lesser-known but critically important wetland habitat to young readers. I have been in touch with old friends and climate scientists who live and work in these swamps; while faraway, I write and edit the words to take children on a journey into this seasonal wildlife spectacle.

I am gathering a network of scientists working all over the world and as a re
sult creating a global travel itinerary. I hope, in time, to visit many of these valuable colleagues and friends in the field – to thank them – but also to find out what they are working on now and, of course, plan a new series of books based on these evolving experiences."

Let's Save Antarctica is available from all good booksellers. 

Thursday 23 September 2021

Flavia Z. Drago wins Klaus Flugge Prize for Gustavo the Shy Ghost

 We are delighted to announce that Flavia Z. Drago has WON the Klaus Flugge Prize for 2021 with Gustavo the Shy Ghost! Huge congratulations to Flavia!

We were so proud to see both Flavia and Rachel Stubbs for My Red Hat on this year's shortlist.

Flavia said: “When I started work on the book, I didn’t notice how much I had in common with Gustavo, but as I got to understand him, I realised that telling this story was important for me because I wanted to show that being shy doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy the company of people—or in this case, monsters! It just means that you find it difficult to connect with others. Some of the things that happen to Gustavo are based on my own experiences. When I was in kindergarten, just like Gustavo I sat by myself during lunch breaks, watching children play while being amazed by the fact that they seemed to be completely happy to talk and play with each other.

The main difference between Gustavo and me is that, sadly, I cannot do the ghostly things like walking through walls, making objects fly, glowing in the dark or playing the violin. However, drawing became a way in which I could connect with others. In a sense, our love for art has been the thing helping us both to connect with others.” 

About the book: Gustavo is a ghost. He is good at doing all sorts of paranormal things, like walking through walls, making objects fly and glowing in the dark. And he loves playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo also has a problem. He is SHY. Which means some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye-scream or talking to the other monsters. But Gustavo longs to be a part of something, he longs to be seen. More than anything, he wants to make a friend. So, plucking up all his courage, he sends a very special letter: “Dear Monsters, I would like to invite you to my violin concert at the Day of the Dead party…”

"A great story about making friends by being yourself and the illustrations are a constant visual delight" Malorie Blackman

You can read our Q&A with Flavia here and download our activity sheets here!

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost is available to buy from all good booksellers! 

Thursday 16 September 2021

Inch and Grub (PB) - Author Q&A

To celebrate the paperback publication of Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen by Alastair Chisholm and David Roberts, we thought we'd reshare this treat of a Q&A with author Alastair Chisholm. 

 The Cavemen are Here!

Inch and Grub is a tale of two rather silly cavemen who get into a rather silly contest to collect the most STUFF, with rather silly results. It’s been a long journey for them and me, but now they’ve arrived and I’m incredibly excited to see them!


Inch and Grub have had a very long journey. It’s been almost ten years since the day I was sitting at my desk, doodling over ideas, and making a funny little drawing of two cavemen who kept bickering at each other.

My first doodle of Inch and Grub

 It wasn’t long after the last major banking collapse, and the whole world was talking about how all of these companies had been built up almost on thin air, and how it had now come crashing down. I looked at my two little cavemen and I imagined them sniping at each other, and boasting about how one had a bigger cave than the other, or a house, or… or a horse, or a carriage, a train, a fancy car!

…And they just seemed so ridiculous that I knew I had to do something with them.

 I knew right away how they would talk – “Me have cave! Me am best! That no fair!” And it was huge fun thinking of all the things they could accumulate. I knew early on that they would get modern stuff, from caves to houses, to castles, to skyscrapers, and from water to fire to television to telephones to spaceships… At first, I wasn’t sure if they would change in looks as well – would they become more modern? I imagined what King Inch would look like, or – my favourite – Disco Grub…

King Inch and Disco Grub!

And at first, they were actually much meaner. They threw stones and built fortresses. They cut down all the trees, stole each other’s things, ruined the landscape and, in the end, blamed each other without ever thinking about their own behaviour.

But gradually, with the help of some fantastic editing first from Emily Lamm (then at Gullane) and then Lizzie Sitton at Walker Books, my two horrible cavemen softened a little. They became a bit sillier, and a bit less cruel – and at the end, they do, perhaps, learn their lesson…

(Also, my wife Catherine must get this credit: When Emily suggested the cavemen needed one more thing on their piles, one final “straw to break the camel’s back”, and I was stumped for ideas, it was Catherine who said: what about a silver drinking straw?, because she is a genius)

From there, it was down to finding the right illustrator for the story, and here I was very lucky indeed to discover that David Roberts – whose work I love – was interested! David is very much in demand these days, so we had to wait just a bit longer for him – but it was absolutely worth it.

And so, I’m very pleased to present to you, the final version of INCH and GRUB:

David Robert's fabulous take on Inch and Grub!

Me am very happy.

- Alastair Chisholm

A special thanks to our guest author this week, Alastair Chisholm!

Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen is now available to buy from all good booksellers in paperback! 

Thursday 9 September 2021

New September Picture Books Releases!

 Check out a selection of our new releases this September!

Moose's Book Bus
by Inga Moore

Moose is the most fantastic storyteller. Every night after dinner, he sits with his family around the fire and tells an enchanting story. But, one evening, Moose can’t think of a single tale he hasn’t told before! What he needs is a book of stories. What they all need is a library… With help from the friendly librarian in town, Moose recycles an abandoned bus from the junkyard and makes a mobile library – a book bus! Now the whole neighbourhood can experience the magic of stories together.

In this companion to A House in the Woods, beloved picture book maker Inga Moore shares a heart-warming story that celebrates the joy of reading aloud, and the power that libraries have to bring communities together.

Publishing 16th September.

Witch in Training
by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Briony May Smith

Betty is brewing her first ever potion! And potions need ingredients – ingredients that can only be found in the WILD. So Betty, with her mum by her side, soars off into the magical, moonlight night to bravely gather her wicked and wonderful supplies: vampire fangs, fairy dust, werewolf whiskers, and more. The only problem is, she might have to come face-to-face with a few monsters – a few treacherous monsters! – along the way...

With rollicking read-aloud rhymes from Michelle Robinson, and spellbinding art from Briony May Smith, this is a funny, edge-of-your-broomstick adventure for aspiring witches and wizards everywhere.

Publishing 16th September.

Let's Save Antarctica
by Catherine Barr and illustrated by Jean Claude

Home to millions of penguins, ancient dinosaur fossils and huge blue whales, Antarctica is our last great wilderness. This fascinating picture book brings to life this extreme and exciting continent for young children, exploring its icy landscape and extraordinary wildlife. It also shows the incredible scientific research that happens there and therefore why it is so important that we act to protect this special part of the planet from climate change and plastic pollution.

The More the Merrier
by David Martin and illustrated by Raissa Figueroa

“I like your moves. But I’m not like you. So I’ll just do what I can do.”
Some like to kick their feet and bend their knees to the music. Others prefer to slip and slide ... or swoop down ... or skip high and low! Whatever their style, children will be captured by David Martin’s buoyant rhymes and Raissa Figueroa’s vibrant illustrations as Bear, Moose, Snake, and other forest animals dance to their own groove in a rhythmic celebration of individuality.

by Eric Geron and illustrated by Pete Oswald

A little spring chicken crosses the road but quickly gets flattened under a lorry. The barnyard beasts who’ve gone before break the news: now that Chicken’s fried – dispatched to the Other Side – Chicken has a job, an unwanted job, as a noisy trouble-making ghost. This fowl may be weak in the beak, but Chicken knows that scaring people isn’t nice. There is such a thing as a friendly ghost, after all – isn’t there?

Loaded with laughs and shivers, this Halloween-ready treat features ghoulishly funny art by the illustrator of the #1 New York Times best-selling Bad Seed series. Let the haunting begin!

Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen
by Alaistair Chisholm and illustrated by David Roberts

Inch and Grub are two exquisitely hairy and competitive 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 accumulated a castle and a train and a radio! And so the contest spirals and spirals to ever ridiculous heights … until they each have a HUGE wobbling mountain of stuff! From the humble handprint to Michelangelo's "David" the ambition and creativity of these two characters seems limitless. But their desire to go one better than the other is in danger of toppling their friendship until, at last, they realize what is most valuable of all – each other.

Publishing in paperback on 16th September.

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost
by Flavia Z. Drago

Shortlisted for this year's Klaus Flugge Award.

"A great story about making friends by being yourself and the illustrations are a constant visual delight" Malorie Blackman

Gustavo is a ghost. He is good at doing all sorts of paranormal things, like walking through walls, making objects fly and glowing in the dark. And he loves playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo also has a problem. He is SHY. Which means some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye-scream or talking to the other monsters. But Gustavo longs to be a part of something, he longs to be seen. More than anything, he wants to make a friend. So, plucking up all his courage, he sends a very special letter: “Dear Monsters, I would like to invite you to my violin concert at the Day of the Dead party…”

Click here for our Gustavo, the Shy Ghost Activity Kit.

Publishing in paperback on 16th September.

by Bob Graham

Max has a new baby sister – Maxine! Max is there for her first words, her first steps and … her first flight! But as Maxine grows up and starts school, she doesn’t feel like she quite fits in. In fact, she’s not sure if she feels comfortable in her superhero guise at all. Can Maxine convince her family that not all superheroes wear capes? With a strong, incredibly smart girl at its centre, this is a book to inspire any child to dream big and be exactly who, and how, they want to be.

Publishing 16th September.

The Jacket
by Sue-Ellen Pashley and illustrated by Thea Baker

The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front...

Amelia wears her favourite jacket everywhere. She wears it to nursery. And to Aunty Kath's house. And to the shops. Even to bed! But, one day, she can't fit into it anymore. So Mum suggests she give it to her little sister, Lily. And so, that way, the jacket lives on...

Now out in paperback!

Wiggle, Walk, Wash! Baby's First Animals
by Elliot Kruszynski

Baby Elephant loves to wash. Splish splosh! Baby Turtle loves going for walks. Stomp stomp! Baby Cat loves lots of cuddles. Miaow! And what does a baby like YOU love to do?

Hop Aboard! Baby's First Vehicles
by Elliot Kruszynski

Hop aboard the baby bus! Beep beep. Hop aboard the baby boat! Splish splash. Hop aboard the baby plane! Neeeooom. Now on we go, we’re following you  no one drives better than a baby like you.

With bold shapes and colours, interactive read-aloud sounds and a surprise novelty mirror on the last page, these two stylish board books are the perfect gift for a new arrival, and a fantastic addition to a toddler's first library.


Our September releases are available from all good booksellers!

Wednesday 1 September 2021

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!