Posts by James Syner

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The Shark-Headed Bear Thing by Barry Hutchison, illustrated by Chris Mould

In an alternate 15th century, where dragons roam, sailing ships transform into submarines, and blacksmiths build steampunk robots, ten-year-old orphan Benjamin Blank battles monsters, rescues maidens and discovers fantastic new lands, but never quite manages to get his homework handed in on time. Each adventure sees Ben and his friends, Paradise Little and Wesley Chant, face a new monstrous menace.

Published by Nosy Crow

Febuary 5th 2015

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Here I Am by Patti Kim, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

Here I am, is an almost wordless picture book about an Asian boy who moves to America with his family. The young boy stumbles his way through the urban environment of loud noises, busy streets, tall buildings, illegible signs, and foreign words, trying to make sense of the world around him.

The layout of the images takes on the form of a graphic novel. In places the illustrations are pasted over tube maps and street signs, giving us a sense of the boy’s bewilderment and uncertainty of his new surroundings.

The body language of the character portrays sadness; emoting feelings of empathy in the reader.

At the beginning of the story, the family navigate their way through the hustle and bustle of the city’s airport and through the crowded city streets, to their new home in an apartment building. The boy starts school. Not understanding the children or his teachers isolates him. The mastery of the illustrations depict his loneliness with great skill. You’ve been warned, this picture book will tug at those heart strings.

The story develops, taking us on his journey of adventure and discovery as he explores his new surroundings and immerses himself in the culture.

Themes of friendship, new beginnings, empathy, and loneliness make this a fantastic teaching resource, for circle time discussions or a unit of literacy.

I teach in a school with a high percentage of children with English as an additional language; this book would be a great way to show understanding and empathy for their new, daunting yet exciting life in a new country.

A new favourite of mine! Highly recommended.

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The Black Rabbit By Philippa Leathers

In this clever picture book, a debut author-illustrator introduces a plucky rabbit and the new companion (friend or foe?) that he just can’t shake.

Rabbit has a problem. There’s a big, scary Black Rabbit chasing him. No matter where he runs – behind a tree, over the river – the shadowy Black Rabbit follows. Finally in the deep, dark wood, Rabbit loses his nemesis – only to encounter another foe! Kids who like to be in on the secret will revel in this humorous look at fears, first impressions and friendship, all brought to light by a talented animator.

Walker Books

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The Yoga Game by the Sea by Kathy Beliveau, illustrated by Denise Holmes

The Yoga Game by the Sea, the first in The Yoga Game Series, invites children of all ages to feel the waves of their breath, to connect with the joy of a diving dolphin and to discover the magic of nature. Play with the words, guess the riddles and enjoy an actual yoga practice, down by the sea. Entertaining rhymes, enchanting riddles and whimsical illustrations create a rich, multi-layered experience.

Amazon

Published by Simply Read Books

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colour

#Colour_Collective

Here is my interview with Penny Neville Lee, the illustrator behind the hashtag colour_collective.

What is your background in illustration?

I studied Painting at the Royal College of Art and spent the last ten years or so making large oil paintings. Looking back on them now it’s easy to see where the illustration stems from as they were all quite driven by stories and narratives. When my son was born in 2010, my work naturally shifted away from the studio to something more domestic. It sounds obvious, but it was something of a eureka moment when I realised I didn’t have to make large scale work anymore and I could just make work that I enjoyed and made me happy.

How long have you been using twitter?

I’m a relative newbie really. I joined last year and started using it in earnest around August. I was encouraged by fellow RCA painter turned illustrator Fiona Lumbers @fionalumbers to use the wonderful @Daily_Doodle as a way of generating work and getting immediate feedback; a revelation after years spent in the solitary vacuum of my studio. Ever since it’s been an addiction!

Do you find it useful and if so, how does it benefit you?

Twitter is the most incredible way of connecting with other creatives. From the beginning I only followed other illustrators, artists, or people involved in the making or enthusiastic promotion of illustration and children’s literature. Without doubt the main benefit is having an immediate, interactive platform for my work and to see other people’s work. During December last year I decided to make a painting a day for advent and devised the #illo_advent hashtag to pull together others doing the same. The sense of community that arose through the sharing and enjoyment of everyone’s work led onto #colour_collective.

Can you tell us the idea behind #colour_collective?

The most important idea is that it’s open to everyone. It doesn’t matter how you make your work: traditionally, digitally or a combination of both; anything goes. The only rule if is that it’s based around the same central colour which is set on a Saturday and that everyone posts their submissions the following Friday at 19.30 GMT or afterwards.

Do you have a favourite entry?

I couldn’t possibly choose! The quality of the artwork has been staggering, there is no central theme so each week varies hugely in subject. There’s no doubt I have people that I really look out for when the entries start pouring in, but every submission is a treat.  My new hobby is sidling up to my favourite illustrators on Twitter and asking them to join in.

How many illustrators are taking part?

The first week, Cadmium Yellow Pale, had about 50, which was incredible as I think I gave about 5 days’ notice on the colour; now we tend to number between 80-90. Amazing! I can’t recommend it highly enough, it’s a great way to use colour as a starting point for making work and the sense of anticipation on a Friday night is fantastic.

All the work can be seen on the #colour_collective Facebook page too at https://www.facebook.com/colourcollective

Here’s a selection by Penny, Luke Flowers, Rob Biddulph and Tim Budgen.