Archive for the ‘Everyone’ Category

That time of year again when the big stores share their messages for Christmas. Sometimes it is just nice to be reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is about love, family, friendship and caring.

 

Paddington Bear is a winner every time. M & S and their warm and funny Christmas advert.

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I am so thrilled I had the opportunity to interview both Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins for their new children’s picture book The longest breakfast (previously reviewed here). I want to thank them both so much for taking the time to talk and sharing their ideas. Writing a story and having it illustrated demands so much in terms of collaboration and sometimes it doesn’t quiet work out but I am very pleased to say that in this case, the collaboration is perfect.

I will start with Jenny.

As a poet, language and words are so important especially with the less is more kind of theory. The longest breakfast follows this well. Did you start off with a busy but brief plot in your mind or did it work out this way because of your love for poetry?

          When I began thinking about the book I didn’t really have a plot, more a collection of things that I felt went together somehow. There was the fact of our youngest son’s early speech, which was very difficult to understand – we did, but no one else could figure it out – a friend who liked pudding for breakfast, and a dog and child having the same name.

         When I began writing the story, it turned into a kind of slapstick with characters making unexpected entrances, people mis-hearing each other, and the father, Malcolm, trying to keep calm and hold things together. In this kind of story you don’t need a lot of words – their role is to cue the action, which is mostly told through the illustrations. The way the book is written is really driven by the kind of story it is. This hasn’t really answered your question about poetry, sorry. Where the two kinds of writing meet, for me, is in an attention to language and rhythm.

As a writer, how hard is it to hand over your story to an illustrator and their personal interpretation of your story?

         Sarah and I have worked closely together on the two books we’ve done together, so I’ve never had the sense of handing my story over to anyone. It’s very much a collaborative process. I feel that my writing is only half of the story and know that Sarah will make the other half. In The Longest Breakfast we talked a lot about what Malcolm might look like and what kind of kitchen the story would happen in. We also discussed how the story ‘felt’ and what that might look like in terms of illustrations.

There is a certain amount of chaos with the family in this story. How does a morning play out for you?

         Now that our children have grown up my mornings are nothing like in the book!

Did you enjoy writing as a child and what advice would you give to young writers?

        Yes, I’ve always loved writing. When I was younger I wrote stories. I didn’t start writing poems until I’d left school. The best advice I can give to people who want to write is to read. You can learn a huge amount from soaking up how other writers do things.

Lastly if you could meet any character from any book, who would it be and why?

        Little My from the Moomintroll books, because she’s so feisty.

 

And now let’s hear from Sarah.

As an illustrator, do you feel any pressure when trying to interpret the writer’s ideas and bring the story to life or do you completely take your own ideas and work around them?

       I’ve never felt any pressure collaborating with writers. It’s more that I feel a responsibility to interpret  a writer’s ideas and enrich the world in which they exist, whether it’s for an article in a magazine or a picture book. Almost all the picture books I’ve done have been with authors I know so there has been a lot of trust and dialogue along the way, and I suppose a certain amount of flexibility on both sides. I feed my own ideas into the work but the author’s words act as the inspiration and framework for my visual storytelling.

I love how the more impatient the baby is to be heard, the more space the baby has until finally the baby takes up the whole page. Is this something you plan all along in your drawings or does it just sort or happen as you go along?

     It’s a bit of both. I try to create a visual rhythm that is in time with the rhythm of the text. I begin with initial simple pencil sketches and paste them along with the text into a mock-up book. This gives me an overall view of the flow and shows me how the individual images are working with the paginated story. I think the baby’s frustration at not being understood is the natural climax of the story so it needed to be treated differently to the surrounding images.

What is your favourite medium to use in your illustrations?

     It changes all the time. I’ve gone through phases of only using gouache, then I switch exclusively to acrylic, and currently I’ve added ink to my repertoire. For the Longest Breakfast I mainly used ink and watercolour and then added more solid areas of colour with gouache which is great for line work and adding fine opaque details. I love the spontaneity ink brings to an illustration. I scan all the completed illustrations into PhotoShop in order to clean up any mistakes and adjust colour and sometimes move anything that’s not quite in the right place.

Did you enjoy drawing and art as a child and what advice would you give to young artists?

     Yes, I did enjoy drawing, but no more than the next child. I actually enjoyed reading and writing more. I even remember feeling a little unsure of my drawing skills, especially compared to my big sister who was the queen of colouring books. So neat and always within the lines!

My advice to young artists is to persevere. Just keep doing it and you will get better. For most of us it takes years to find a genuine voice in this industry, and having the patience to keep going is essential.

 

Lastly if you could meet any character from any book, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet Pippi Longstocking because she’s so unconventional and strong.

This is another wee gem that Jenny and Sarah have worked on together.

Aotearoa The New Zealand Story

By Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9780143770350

Penguin Books NZ

 

It is hard to know where to start with Gavin Bishop’s latest book. There is just so much on offer, so much to be explored. So I will begin with the cover. It is a larger than normal portrait size hardback that stands out, grabs your eye immediately and begs to be picked up.

 

I can’t resist spreading this book out to share the whole stunning cover. It is a masterpiece on its own. Gavin’s work is very distinctive, you would recognise his style anywhere and while this is still true here, what I love is the introduction of so many wonderful blues.

Aotearoa is a stunning pictorial reference book from cover to cover. The end pages, and the title too are stories in their own right. I love how the title of the book Aotearoa is in its own white cloud suggesting that absolutely everything has been well thought out in the writing and production of this book.

Starting with the big bang and looking forward with hope for the future, this book and its stories can go on and on. It is  a great reference for adults as much as children and essential to every school in New Zealand. Information is bite-sized, and enough to whet the appetite of students of all ages to perhaps do further research. It is a book to dip into over and over and it isn’t even necessary to read it in order.

The book has all the key points in a quality non-fiction book including a contents page and a page dedicated to Maori/English translations which is always helpful.

I must say that on page 34 under Education, I felt a great sense of pride and a big smile crossed my face as I read about the Fendalton School being the first open-air classroom in New Zealand way back in 1924. I have a very personal interest in this school and its history, so this certainly made my day.

While I bought this book for our school library, it may just be that I have to go and buy my own copy as I am not sure I want to hand it over. It is wonderful, stunning, informative, and essential. A beautiful coffee table book in any home. Gavin Bishop at his best and I have no qualms predicting this, that Aotearoa will be an award winning book in next year’s book awards. It really is a treasure.

I am lucky to be going to the book launch this week so hopefully I will be able to get this copy signed.

Toto : The dog-gone amazing story of The Wizard of Oz

By Michael Morpurgo

ISBN 9780008134600

HarperCollins Children’s Books

 

I am loving this book.  A refreshing look at the beloved story of The Wizard from Oz told from the point of view of Toto the dog. He sees things Dorothy doesn’t see and adds so much to the adventure. Toto is an adorable, funny and lovable character. He chases hats in the wind just as dogs might do. He is Dorothy’s best friend and as she says, he doesn’t bite. That makes for a great dog.

The delightful brightly coloured illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark become so much a part of the story too. This is a winner for everyone. Younger children will love it being read aloud and independent readers will not want to put it downI don’t want to put it down but I do need to go to work.

I also love how the author, as with his trademark ability, takes us back into the past and we are suddenly right there in the story. We are right there with Dorothy and Toto as they head down the yellow brick road.

An absolute winner and I can’t wait for lunch time to read some more.

 

 

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L’Engle

Loved this book as a child. SO excited it has been made in to a movie. Love the fact that parts of it were filmed right here in New Zealand.

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

 

Copyright for this trailer of course belongs to Disney. Can’t wait for this to come out next year but I do encourage you to read the book first – as always!

Waiting for Goliath

By Antje Damm

ISBN 9781776571420

There is so much to love with this picture book about waiting for a friend.

Bear sits waiting and waiting. Even when it snows, bear sits waiting on the bench for his friend Goliath. Other animal friends come and go and much discussion is had about whether Goliath will ever turn up. Bear is of course patient, optimistic and faithful to his friend Goliath. When Goliath eventually does turn up, young children will laugh out loud. I did.

The illustrations are superb. Created as dioramas and then photographed, the pictures have a depth of field that will fascinate young readers and put them right in the middle of the story. Just gorgeous.  Published this May so do watch out for it.

 

My dog Mouse

By Eva Lindstrom

ISBN 9781776571499

Published this June.

 

He’s old and fat with ears as thin as pancakes. His walk is a kind of waddle and he’s always pleased to see me.

This delightful book really is for everyone. We all know an old dog that goes so slowly. “Step, pause. Step, pause. Step, pause.”  The kind of old dog you want to just pick up and carry home. 

Well Mouse is one of those old dogs and even though the girl in the story doesn’t own Mouse she does love him to bits. Whenever she asks, she is always allowed to take him on walks. Very slow walks where other people always overtake them. And when she hands him back to his owner, she thinks “I wish Mouse was mine”. The story is funny and sweet but it is also real. And we know that come tomorrow she will be back to take Mouse for another long, slow walk.

The illustrations have a naive, child-like quality to them which is lovely and fresh. 

The legend of Rock Paper Scissors

By Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Adam Rex

 

 

There are some authors that whenever they publish an new book, you just order and buy no matter what. Drew Daywalt is one such author. His previous books The day the crayons quit and The day the crayons came home are read over and over again. Teachers and children here absolutely adore these books. So I will tease them letting them know this new book is coming soon and they will be asking be everyday – is it here yet? This will be a picture book for everyone to share. Gorgeous bright illustrations from Adam Rex

This trailer is funny, bright and just  so gorgeous. Can’t wait.

My pictures after the storm

By Eric Veille

ISBN 9781776571048

Gecko Press

 

What a delightfully funny board book of words. Simple but comical pictures of before and after events. Board books are mostly aimed at babies and toddlers but this is one that even adults will love. 

On the left hand side of  each double page spread you have “my pictures” of an event where there are multiple little illustrations with a description underneath. On the right facing page you have pictures after the event with similar illustrations and descriptions. One example is “Before lunch” you have a loaf of bread and after you have a picture of crumbs.

I particular love the page where the pictures of food are labelled such as “dobado” and “lebod” but “after a cold” they are of course tomato and lemon. And the page after corrections is also very funny. Such a simple idea, yet very creative and clever. Children will love making the connections and spying the changes. Lots to do, lots of surprises and lots of fun. I just love it and the kind of dry sense of humour which makes us laugh even louder.

Helper and helper

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776571055

Gecko Press

 

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Traditional story telling at its best. Funny, in a dry matter-of-fact way with a few lessons thrown in for good measure.

Snake and Lizard are friends, best friends as Lizard reminds Snake. But sometimes even best friends get annoyed with each other and have disagreements. It is how they work around their disagreements which is so funny. Both want to be right and tend to be a bit cunning in order to prove they are right but the outcome is not always want each one wants. But as true best friends they are at the end of each day, forgiving and kind. Joy Cowley highlights the reality of true friendships, warts and all and we can’t help but love Snake and Lizard. Short fable like stories that can be shared and enjoyed by anyone.

My favourite story from this collection is Food and friends.  Watch out for the ending but just don’t turn your back on Snake.

I love the rich earthy colours of Gavin Bishop’s illustrations. His style is very distinctive and natural and helps bring these characters to life with ease. Writer and illustrator are perfectly matched for this third book in the series about Snake and Lizard.

100 Hugs

By Chris Riddell

ISBN 1509814305

Pan Macmillan

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I am going to end up with a very bleak retirement if I don’t stop buying books. When you see 100 Hugs you will  know why I couldn’t resist buying this to add to my Chris Riddell collection. It is just as well for him that we live on opposite sides of the planet as I think I would follow him to every book signing he does or every talk he gives. Not just an amazing illustrator and author, he is  a wonderful supporter of all things library. Being a librarian I agree with everything he says. Libraries are in danger of being closed down (many have already gone) and schools without libraries just breaks my heart. 

Anyway, I digress.  This latest book is adorable. Perfect size to fit in the hands of anyone and perfect to give to someone special. The illustrations are simple yet moving. Some pull at your emotions, draw you in and leave you all happy inside. Page after page of people, animals, book characters and more, all being hugged. The illustrations would make wonderful prints for any bedroom or library wall. Simply beautiful. I can’t share the pictures here because of copyright but seriously, check out the links above and see for yourself. This is one I will carry around with me, pull out and show everyone. Small and gorgeous.

I heard the news today and like so many other people was saddened to read that Babette Cole had passed away. Only 67 and still so young with many books no doubt, still to come.

I was so fortunate to see and listen to Babette when she was here in Christchurch not so many years ago. Babette was quirky, funny, talented and just adorable. I even forgive her for spelling my name wrong when she signed my copy of Two of everything.

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It is wonderful to have something so special from someone so special. Babette knew how to reach readers. She knew what made them laugh even when talking about important things like making babies, or divorce. She did it with style and humour.

I recall some years back that a parent came to see me in my school asking me to remove Two of Everything from our library. I was dumbfounded. It was a simple but much-needed picture book on divorce. The parent complained that it made divorce normal and said it shouldn’t be allowed. Okay, he was very religious and that is totally fine. I pointed out that some children needed to know that even though they had to go to two different homes, they had parents who loved them and that was so important. Anyway, we agreed to differ and as he handed me back the library book, I pointed out that it was actually wet. Soggy wet! And so I asked him to pay for the damage – which he reluctantly but thankfully did. So he actually paid $20 for a book he wanted removed.   A little ironic and a little funny and I am sure Babette would have laughed at the irony.

News of Babette Cole’s passing can be found here.

Coming home

By Michael Morpurgo

Available at Waitrose

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A plucky little robin sets out on an epic journey. Through dark forests, driving rain, clapping thunder and flashing lights.

I am a huge fan of Michael Morpurgo and buy his books all the time. I love how his new book also helps Crisis a UK charity for homeless people. This is so needed, especially at Christmas time.

I have already ordered my copy and can’t wait until it arrives in the post all the way over here in New Zealand.

Do sit back and enjoy Michael reading his new book. Copyright of course to  Waitrose.

 

We found a hat

By Jon Klassen

ISBN 9781406347517

Walker Books

Readers of the first two hat books will delight in this third and final picture book in the hat trilogy.  We found a hat is funny in a dry sense of humour way that leaves you smiling and feeling good.

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.

In both This is not my hat and I want my hat back, there are consequences for actions, most drastic of course is being eaten. Here though, we have a sense of the growing understanding of the value of friendship. Even though both turtles want the hat, we see a mutual acceptance of the situation.

Klassen, even in the simplest of illustrations has the ability to use characters eyes to really show expression. I love the eyes in all of his books. They show character and personality, both good and bad thoughts and are certainly a highlight in his storytelling.

This is one of those special picture books that adults will love as much as children and one that will be read over and over again.

 

I love this trailer too and couldnt resist singing (very badly) along side the video. Another wonderful book from Jon Klassen and Walker Books.

As always, cover and trailer are copyright to Walker Books.

 

A child of books

BY Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

ISBN 9781406358315

Walker Books

5-2

What a treasure! A child of books is absolutley stunning. I’ve had this for a few weeks now and just keep picking it up again and again. I don’t want to put it down. I’m in awe of this beautiful and wonderful thought-provoking book.

A little girl sails her raft ‘across a sea of words’ to arrive at the house of a small boy.  She takes him away on the most wonderful adventures and I am suddenly going along with them. Pictures and words all about stories and how we come from stories. Who we are today is because of stories.

The typography throughout use lines from classic stories such as Alice in Wonderlandand is brilliantly done with so much thought and consideration.

One of the special messages is that sometimes in life we get so caught up in the serious things that we forget to look around. We forget what we have and what, with a little imagination, we can do or can become.

Love, love, love it. Be sure to check under the cover too for a lovely surprise.

Every page, every word is perfect. The end pages too are gorgeous with lines of book titles.  This is the one book you really need to get your hands on.

 

 

If you are in or near Christchurch on 27th September do come and listen to these award winning authors and illustrators talk about their children’s war books. Wonderfully told and researched, beautifully illustrated this is a night not to miss.

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