Posts by James @Magpie_That


Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson

Getting used to life in Trolberg is proving difficult for Hilda. Weeks after moving to the city with her mother, the diminutive adventurer is still missing the wonder-filled valleys and magical friends that surrounded their old home in the fjords. Peering out of her new bedroom window onto the crowded streets below, Hilda longs for her old adventures and wonders if she’ll ever fit in into this new, much less exciting place.

Things start to look up when Hilda learns that it’s the day of Trolberg’s annual Bird Parade, a spectacular carnival in which crowds people from all over the city gather to match the streets in colourful, awe-inspiring plumage. Eager to see the festival together that evening, Hilda’s mum lets Hilda go out to be shown around the neighbourhood with her new schoolmates. Unfortunately for Hilda, she soon finds out her new friends aren’t all they are cracked up to be when they take delight in throwing stones into a tree of birds.

As a poor raven falls injured from the tree, Hilda rushes to the rescue. Determined to nurse it back to health, Hilda quickly discovers that this particular bird is no ordinary feathered friend. First of all, he can talk. Second of all, he’s lost his memory — including his ability to fly! And to make matters even more complicated, the other children have run away leaving Hilda stranded with no idea of how to get back to her house.

Together, Hilda and her strange new friend embark on a quest home. Along the way they encounter all manner of bizarre creatures from outcast Trolls to ferocious Salt Lions and deadly Rat Kings and Hilda discovers that maybe the city is not so boring after all. As they go, it becomes clear that the amnesiac raven has an important mission to attend to… if only he could remember what it could be.

Will the secret truth be revealed amongst the multi-coloured floats of the Bird Parade?

- Nobrow


Hilda & the Troll by Luke Pearson

My new favourite book character. Luke Pearson’s Hilda is great!

While on an expedition to seek out the magical creatures of the mountains around her home, Hilda spots a mountain troll. As she draws it, the blue-haired explorer starts to nod off… when she wakes, she finds herself lost in a snowstorm and her troll has totally disappeared. On her way home, Hilda ventures deep into the woods, befriends a lonely wooden man and narrowly avoids getting squashed by a lost giant.

- Nobrow


Over the Hills and Far Away – Nursery Rhymes collected by Elizabeth Hammill

Elizabeth Hammill has collected nursery rhymes from around the world and has had them illustrated by 77 international artists in this gorgeous children’s book, published by Seven Stories, ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’.

Seven Stories was founded as a charity in 1996 by Elizabeth Hammill OBE and Mary Briggs OBE. They recognised that Britain needed an institution whose mission was to collect, champion and celebrate its children’s literature. They believed that it should be founded in a place where it could make a real difference to the children and families living nearby, knowing that early experience of books and stories is vital to childhood development and raising aspiration.

- Seven Stories

This picture book contains work by some of my favourite illustrators; Jon Klassen, Yasmeen Ismail, Gus Gordon to name a few. Each turn of the page is a work of art in a different style, with different media, with different cultural influences. It’s a beautiful book, one that I will treasure dearly.


The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company

I stumbled across the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company a few years ago when I was a London tour guide showing around a large group of high school age Italian students. I took this group of teenagers to the Tate Modern. I remember pointing them in the direction of the entrance and then walking over to the riverside to have a few minutes rest bite. There was a pop up stage outside the gallery and I remember these two young guys with North London accents talking passionately and knowledgably about Shakespeare and engaging this growing audience of passersby. I remember there being a buzz in the air, it was the first time I had personally been entertained by the content of anything to do with Shakespeare. To me, Shakespeare was something forced upon me at school, which I met with fierce resistance. These two young men were linking it to hip hop and making comparisons to music I liked. I remember one of them quoting a lyric from Wu-Tang, who I had just been to see at the Hammersmith Apollo.

A year or so later I was doing my usual thing of watching random ted talks, some interesting, some inspiring, some humorous. But only one was really memorable to me. And that was the one by Akala, the co-founder of the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company. One of the reasons being is that I was able to link it with this experience I had on Southbank. Akala spoke eloquently and passionately about his project, I remember recommending it to friends, sharing it on facebook and later posting it on this blog. This led me to look into other aspects of his career, his music and his ideas and gained knowledge and wisdom that he is able to articulate so well.

This year I was made the lead at my school for our Shakespeare for schools collaboration. As a result of this I thought, brilliant! I’m going to try and get the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company to come and work with the kids. I wasn’t even sure if they worked with primary school kids but I did my best to get in contact with them. I got it confirmed and have been really excited about it ever since. On Thursday morning I was waiting for someone from the group to turn up and teach the kids, when I looked up from my desk and saw Akala stood outside my door. I was completely shocked; I really was not expecting Akala to be the one to turn up.

It was an amazing experience for the children in year 5. I have been the class teacher of both classes that Akala worked with; they haven’t stopped talking about it since. They already had an interest in Shakespeare, but this experience has heightened that to a new level. The children discussed metaphors within Shakespeare’s words, performed sonnets to a beat and wrote their own poetry.

I whole heartedly recommend it to any educator out there who wants to provide an opportunity to inspire young people.

Also if you are interested in politics, history, music or literacy google Akala, follow him on twitter and follow THSC.

Follow this link to their website.


Mega Alliance – Power Rangers Assemble!

Breaking news! No, not occupy central in Hong Kong, not Nigel Farage and his poaching of the old-wig, fat-cat Tories… Nope, not Shirley, Phil and Sharon… Far more exciting and far more important!

That Book Sniffing Pug and that handsome Magpie are joining forces in order to create a Mega Alliance. It’s going to be a melting pot of awe inspiring, mesmerizing magic!

Prepare yourselves for a series of ground breaking, trail blazing blog posts, celebrating our combined passion for illustrated books.

Massage your eye sockets, roll your neck, wiggle your fingers, because it’s about to get blogging bonkers!

Hashtag MagPug! Yep, that’s right!