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Cheer Up Your Teddy Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell Illustrated by Neal Layton

By the bestselling author of the How to Train Your Dragon series comes a reissue of the classic tale of Emily Brown and her old grey rabbit called Stanley.

Emily Brown and her side-kick rabbit, Stanley, are back and this time they’re on a mission to cheer up one very unhappy teddy bear. But, no matter what they try, the teddy bear is STILL miserable. Emily Brown has had ENOUGH!

Orchard Books

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Q & A with children’s author Dev Petty

Q&A with Dev Petty, author of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog.

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Q1: How long have you been writing books for children?

I started writing about five years ago. Before I had my daughters, I worked in film as a visual effects artist. I was freelancing for a while, but the economy was such that my clients were few and far between. Before long, I really missed being creative. Enter…picture books! I loved how they felt like their own art form, like movies.  A full story arc and a real connection between the pictures and the words.

Q2: I adore your book I Don’t Want to be a Frog – where did the idea come from?

Thank you, I’m happy you enjoy it! On one level, it was as simple as wanting to write a funny book, in dialogue about a frog. But I also hoped to get across that we all have things we don’t like about ourselves and that feeling is ok to explore and vocalize. I wanted to show there is usually a good side to those things we don’t like- even when it’s a silly one that helps us accept who we are.

I was also thinking about how often people ask “If you could be any animal, what would it be.” And how no one ever says “Oooh, Oooh…frog!” I thought maybe that sort of got to the frog after a while.

Q3: If you didn’t want to be a human anymore – what animal would you be?

Good question. I have to say some sort of bird. Who wouldn’t want to fly, right? Maybe a crow…those guys seem pretty smart.

Q4: What are you currently working on?

Well, I have two books coming in the next couple of years. One is I Don’t Want to be Big which is the followup to frog and the other is a book with Lauren Eldridge, currently titled Claymates. It’s illustrated in clay and being published by Little Brown and it’s a pretty funny, wild, crazy trip. But I’m always, always writing. I have some new stories that I’m really enjoying, they’re a bit more cinematic in scope. I may try my hand at illustrating over the summer- could be great, might be a disaster.

Q5: What were the last 5 children’s books you bought?

Hmmm. Beekle by Dan Santat, Wolfie the Bunny by Amy Dyckman, How to Outrun a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating and Quest by Aaron Becker…oh, and I finally bought a copy of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett because the librarian had started giving me the stink eye every time I checked it out.

Q6: If you could have a book illustrated by anyone – past or present, who would it be?

Oh my….can any writer ever answer this with just one? Stead, Santat, Klassen, Watts, Davies. There are too many to list really. One of my faves ever was Dorothea Fox who wrote and illustrated Ms. Twiggly’s Tree. Love that. Love them all.

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Stanley’s Plan by Ruth Green

Stanley’s Plan is a visually stimulating picture book with a simple, engaging and humorous story that is made accessible for young readers with its witty, easy-to-follow rhyming text.

Ruth Green is a talented printmaker with a distinctive style, which is characterised in this book by her use of bold colourful backgrounds that have a striking contrast with the mostly black and white illustrations. She creates a sense of place with her awareness of the beauty of everyday objects – fruit and veg, pots and pans and a kitchen dresser filled with coffee cups, chopping boards, measuring scales and a steaming hot crusty pie.

Stanley wants that pie and who can blame him – it looks delicious! But it’s out of reach on the top shelf of the kitchen dresser. With the help of his friends, Stanley spends his whole day conjuring up plans to get that delicious pie in his hungry belly.

Published by Tate

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The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond (Q & A)

I am an artist and a picture book writer and illustrator, based in Hackney, London UK.  My first book Red Cat Blue Cat won the 2013 Cambridgeshire Read It Again Award, and my books have been translated into twelve languages.  I was the 2014 illustrator for the National Portrait Gallery Family Trail, and have exhibited my work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London Design Week, and London AAF.

Jenni Desmond

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As a nonfiction picture book, The Blue Whale aims to draw children into the life and world of this enormous whale by situating facts within a familiar context that is fun and engaging. We get the actual size of an eye right on the page, and we understand this whale’s body size in relation to trucks, cars, milk bottles, and hippos! With an accurate and engaging text, fully vetted by a blue whale expert, and lyrical, lovely illustrations, The Blue Whale is a book that will invite children in and hold their attention. Its tempo is like a pleasing melody, which means that the information never becomes too weighty or exhausting – a key thing when it comes to young readers and their enjoyment of a book!

– Published by Enchanted Lion Books

Q&A with Jenni Desmond

I believe this is your first nonfiction book, although it has a narrative that guides the factual information. Can we expect more books like this from you in the future?

Yes it is my first non-fiction, and it was an entirely different beast to give birth to.  It was tough, and a huge learning curve.  I am currently doing a lot of research for the second one in the series, so yes! There will be more!

I’ve always been mesmerised by the way you create atmosphere in your landscapes and how you convey mood through weather and skies.  Can you tell me how you create this?

Thank you.  I love creating big expanses of sea, sky and land in my work.  Living in London I crave space and wilderness, so it is therapeutic for me to paint these things.  I will tell you about how I created the image of the ship on the stormy sea.  Firstly I did a rough in pencil so that I knew where the text would go and what I wanted the spread to look like.  I then had this rough on my wall for a while whilst I wondered how I would paint it.  One Sunday I went by water taxi along the river to the ‘Turner and the Sea’ exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and I spent the day surrounded by water and by Turner’s beautiful atmospheric paintings.  The next day I was so inspired and touched by what I had seen that my whole painting just fell out of my head in a frenzy of about two hours, using ink, watercolour and acrylic.  It was slightly different to the rough as I didn’t realise the sea and sky would be so important until I painted it, so I shrank the boat to give room to this new vision that I had for the spread.  This is normally how I create emotion and atmosphere.  I can spend days banging my head on the desk not being able to paint anything very good, and then suddenly something touches me, an emotion, or a piece of music, or excitement, or boredom, and I will suddenly get into this frenzy and splash it all onto the page.  I find that it is important to be feeling very energetic and very engaged to be able to do this, if I’m tired then nothing good will come out.

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Have you always been interested in Blue Whales? What made you choose this particular animal for the book?

I adore blue whales, I just think they’re so majestic.  I’ve never seen one in real life, which adds to the mystery and fascination.  Seeing one in the wild would be a dream for me.

Enchanted Lion Books are one of my favourite publishers of children’s books. Who approached who and what was it like working with them?

Mine too!  My wonderful agent at the time (and still friend) Kirsten Hall was based in New York and she introduced me to Claudia at Enchanted Lion Books.  I got a job with her at the time illustrating the cover and interiors for a book called Mister Orange, which went on to win the Batchelder Award last year.  When I was in New York the next year I went for coffee with Kirsten and Claudia and I showed her some quick roughs that I’d done, which was a VERY simple version of The Blue Whale.  Claudia bought the book as a multiple book series right there on the spot, which was nice!  Working with her has been absolutely amazing, she helped me shape the book into something far more complex and interesting than it started off as, and because she does not settle for anything other than the very best, she has pushed my work further than it has ever gone before.  I am very grateful to her.

Can you describe your creative process from idea to publication?

Normally things start from a sketch that I’ve done from watching a nature documentary, or a film, or something I’ve seen, or something I’ve thought about, or some kind of childhood feeling or trauma.  I can’t even remember how the blue whale came about.  I think I might have read something about them and thought, wow.  I then very quickly, in a moment of inspiration, drew the whole book with big graphic images and very simple facts, and then I put it in a drawer and forgot about it, until I showed it to Claudia.  It then took a while to work out how to make the book a bit different, and to put a subtle narrative through it.  I saw a film called Village at the End of the World, and I wanted the book to be set somewhere that looked like this beautiful remote seaside fishing village in Greenland, but Claudia wasn’t sure this worked, and then she suggested anthropomorphising the whale, which I wasn’t sure about, and we just batted ideas back and forth until we agreed and were both happy.  The facts got more and more complicated the more research I did and the more questions that Claudia asked, so eventually I found a blue whale expert on the internet who checked everything that I had written was correct, for I was feeling a little out of my depth, (not being a blue whale expert myself!)  When we were happy with the rough pencil images I coloured them all.  We then went back through the text again and again until everything was right.  It all took at least two years.

What were the last 5 children’s books you bought?

Where My Wellies Take Me by Michael Morpurgo, Clare Morpurgo, Olivia Lomenech Gill

100 Great Children’s Picture Books, Martin Salisbury

Enormous Smallness, Matthew Burgess, Kriss Di Giacomo

The Lion and the Bird, Marianne Duboc

Home, Carson Ellis

You’ve been busy since the release of your debut picture book Red Cat Blue Cat, can you give us an exclusive on what’s coming next?

I have just finished my next authored and illustrated book with Walker Books which will be out next spring. It is top secret. But takes place in a forest.

Check out these images Jenni sent me – they give a real insight into Jenni’s creative process.

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Beastly Verse by JooHee Yoon

Feast your eyes on these energetic, emotionally charged and explosive illustrations. They have a vibrant punk aesthetic – the colours radiate out of the page.

JooHee Yoon has collated some of her favourite poems about beasts of all sizes and temperaments, written by great wordsmiths like D H Laurence, Lewis Carroll and William Blake. With her contemporary style, luminous palette and obscure compositions, Yoon brings their words to life for a new generation to enjoy.

The book is delivered with deliciously high production value. The combination of the type of paper, the binding adhesive and the printing ink gives off that glorious odour of new and old books. And then there’s the texture of the paper…

Published by Enchanted Lion Books

JooHee Yoon is an illustrator and printmaker. She contributes regularly to international publications, such as the New York Times, in addition to working on picture books, posters and other projects. Her original pieces have been exhibited across the globe, most recently in Berlin and at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy.

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Moonhead and the Music Machine Andrew Rae

Meet Joey Moonhead. A normal kid in every way.  Except one… He has a moon for a head.

Published by Nobrow

Moonhead and the Music Machine

A psychedelic coming of age story.

Recipe

First stir in the title sequence to Saved By the Bell

Sieve in the sound of The Jimi Hendrix Experience

After that add two drops of the essence of Wassily Kandinsky

Sprinkle with my fading memory of Galaxy High

Then add 2 ladles of surrealism from The Mighty Boosh

Fold into the mixture the triumph of Napoleon Dynamite

Mix together with a bottle of talent and an awesome story and… perhaps, you’d end up with something close to Moonhead and the Music Machine.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book.

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Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

It’s a simple and satisfying story with adorable characters and beautiful illustrations.

Published by Templar

Will Bear’s new neighbours leave him in peace, just the way he likes it? Or will he hear another knock on the door from those pesky rabbits…?

This was released on the 1st March. It must have escaped from my review pile and found its way onto the bookshelf.

Better late than never!

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The Strongest Boy in the World by Jessica Souhami

JESSICA SOUHAMI studied at the Central School of Art and Design and went on to set up a travelling shadow puppet company, with music and a storyteller. She is internationally acclaimed for her folktale retellings, bringing some of the world’s great stories to a young audience.

Kaito is stronger than all the other boys in his village. Because no one can beat him at wrestling, he sets off to the city to compete in the world-famous Sumo wrestling tournament. But on the way he meets a girl called Hana, who is even stronger. Hana offers to train Kaito  – with amazing results.

Frances Lincoln