Thursday, 4 October 2018

Little Concepts: ABC Shapes

Little Concepts: ABC Shapes

Illustrated by Ingela P Arrhenius
Published by Walter Foster Jr.

An ABC board book that goes beyond squares and circles and reminds us that there are so many other shapes out there; from cubes to ellipse, helix to isosceles and quite a few more that I had forgotten about or didn’t even know of! 

Children (and I imagine adults too) will learn about unusual shapes along with the alphabet. Throw in some retro and distinctive stylish illustrations by Ingela Arrhenius and you’ve got yourself a winner! 

Each page spread highlights two letters, unconventional shapes and an engaging illustration which incorporates the two shapes that children can try and spot.

This is a fun and colourful, educational book that takes a different angle on learning the ABC!

Age 3+

A short break away...

A short break away...

...and some great Nosy Crow baby board books!

I hope everyone enjoyed the glorious summer we just had and made the most of the beautiful sunshine. Autumn is showing it's colours, this is my favourite time of year where I can start to wear jumpers and layer up, make stews and soup, and enjoy walks kicking leaves and collecting conkers and pine cones.

I've been rather quiet on this blog for a while as there's been a lot going on in my life these last few months and I've struggled to make time to review the lovely books that I've received. Aoife has just started school (how quick was that?), and now Erin is nearing her first birthday and is into everything. I also had a health scare and had a lot of hospital appointments throughout summer which are still on going but hopefully I'm reaching the end and can put it all behind me (fingers crossed).

Erin has reached a great age now where she is really showing a strong interest in the board books we have; she especially enjoys textures and large flaps. She hasn't quite got the hang of finger holes yet but I don't think it will be long. It's great to be able to pull out Aoife's old favourites and funny to see Aoife being quite protective of the books and will remove them if Erin is being a bit too rough with them.

Over the summer I was lucky to receive some more great board books from Nosy Crow

We received Animal and First Words which are part of The British Museum range; they are a great idea and a different take on first word books for little ones, aimed at ages 0-2. They feature interesting photographic imagery of items that can be found in the British Museum collection. An index at the back offers more information on the objects shown as well as a QR code to explore more. Though aimed at little ones, I think children from 3-4 could benefit by exploring and discussing objects you can find in a museum.

The Can you say it too? range have been a huge hit for both my little ones and Stomp Stomp is no different. The flaps are definitely big and easy for little fingers to lift. The illustrations are bright, colourful and fun and grabs the child's attention. The concept of the book is a hit and seems to work; aimed at children who are just talking, children will like the repetition and will rush to find who's hiding behind the next flap.

Look, there's a Helicopter/Tractor are from a range of books that uses finger holes to follow the story. With lots of items to point out and spot, these are great little adventures, perfect for sharing with little ones. Aimed at ages 0-2, with cute and colourful illustrations, these are sturdy little board books and a hit for any little boy or girl!

All books featured are available now, for more information click here.

Monday, 2 April 2018

My Illustrated Encyclopedia

My Illustrated Encyclopedia

Illustrated by Alain Grée
Published by Button Books

My Illustrated Encyclopedia is a beautiful collection of illustrations from the archives of Alain Grée; Child friendly and engaging page spreads, this makes a lovely first encyclopedia for young children. It offers simple but interesting facts, and covers a broad range of subjects, for example, flowers, woodlands, animals, wildlife, seasons, weather and landscapes, food, space and transport etc.

With labels, names, and an offering of facts, there's just enough information for young minds to take in. I believe there's enough information to hold a child's attention and be a starting point for further discussion. With a retro feel, the illustrations are engaging and sweet. It would make a beautiful gift for any inquisitive young child and to be honest I quite looking through it to admire Alain Grée's illustrations. Available soon.


Why it has been so long...

Why it has been so long...

I have already announced the following news through my Instagram account, but we welcomed another little girl into this world, last October; meet Erin, the newest member and little sister to Aoife. It feels like Erin has always been apart of our little family and Aoife adores her (I hope it lasts!). 
Adjusting to being a new mum of two has been hard work and I have struggled to get back into the swing of things when it comes to reviewing but now that I've sort of got the hang of things (it's all about routines), I'm hoping to crack on with this reviewing lark. I've been receiving some gems and can't wait to show you. 

Erin gives her seal of approval to another lovely addition to the range Can You Say It Too?  Stomp! Stomp! is by Sebastien Braun and published by Nosy Crow. A board back book with large flaps to lift which reveal a range of dinosaurs. Bright, colourful, and bold, it would be great for any little dinosaur fan. The Can You Say It Too? range, is ideal for children who are just starting to talk. 

I love seeing children reading and enjoying books!! But I especially love how Aoife is now enjoying revisiting her baby books and pointing out things to her little sister. Sister love x

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Interview with illustratus

The duo behind ghost is a new creative outfit called illustratus - also know as Kit and Jeff Turley. Illustratus is a design company focusing on quality products such as illustrated books and more. They have worked several years in the animation industry and have noticed that the kind of talent and passion of our peers can have a lasting impression on audiences.

From reviewing their debut book I wanted to find out the inspiration behind it and how it came to be crowdfunded on Kickstarter.

BWB: What inspired you and Jeff to put ghost together?

KT: The idea really came about between Jeff and Chris Sasaki. They were two artists who admired each others work and wanted to collaborate on something. One day they were talking about how they loved scary stories and how there didn't seem to be new scary stories that we grew up with- like Goosebumps, Sideway stories, etc.- stories that had that classic, timeless feel about them. They were imagining spooky stories that would be read around a campfire and remembered forever. 

For me, what inspired me to actually pursue this project was the memory of my mom reading my sisters and I stories before bed. She'd do the voices and play all the parts, and it was memories like that that made me want to create something that could provide similar childhood memories for kids. 

BWB: Did you approach any publishers before deciding on the crowdfunding route?

KT: We did not. Right from the idea of Ghost, we knew we wanted to be in control of the publishing.

BWB: You both work for huge animation companies. Did you find it hard to fit in the crowdfunding responsibilities around your busy work schedules?

KT: It is hard working a full time demanding job and also trying to pursue your own projects. But, what was great about the Ghost production schedule was that we all took turns in having our busy times. For example, at the head of production I was somewhat busy in plotting out the production and crowdfunding schedule. But, this was only for a couple weeks. Then our writers, Blaise and Jesse, were super busy in drafting/writing/editing all 13 stories for the next 6ish months. Next up was Jeff and Chris' crunch time, illustrating the whole book in six months. And then back to me, for going public with the crowdfunding and making sure we got the funds and managed all the book fulfillment. Because we each had moments of rest between times of business, it made it completely manageable. 

BWB: The Kickstarter for the book was over double your original goal. Did this response surprise you?

KT: It completely surprised us. We had not idea how the kickstarter was going to go- I had all sorts of advertisement contingency plans to hopefully gain more support, but it ended up not being needed. We were truly blown away. But more importantly, the kickstarter response was really encouraging and inspiring- it showed us that people were really on board with the idea of Ghost, that we weren't just making something for the heck of it.

BWB: You collaborate with several other creatives for ghost. How did you select who to work with?

KT: The team was carefully selected based on people we knew would be just as excited to work on a personal, outside work project as we were. At the time, Jeff was working with both Blaise and Jesse. He knew that they were talented writes who had good intentions when it came to creating- not out for stardom or fame, but interested in creating something special for audiences.

BWB: What is your favourite part of the book? 

KT: My favorite part of the book are the poems. I love poetry and seeing them alongside the prose pieces provides nice break ups. For Jeff, he really enjoyed the richness in the writing, the book offers a classic tone of storytelling complete with cleaver twists and top quality suspense. By far his favorite part of the book is the way the stories are told separately but are coherently harmonized with a witty Prologue and Epilogue.

 Is there anything you would change if you made this book again?

KT: We always say we'd love more time. This book is like a gigantic compilation of art, both written and verbal, and as artists we always see things that we wish we could fix/change.

BWB: Any plans for a follow up?

KT: There are plans for a Ghost II- slowly in the works, but definitely something the team wants to pursue based on how well Ghost was received.

Thanks to Kit and Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions. ghost is available to buy now from the illustratus online shop here.



An original Illustratus book

Happy Halloween, folks! 

I've wanted to share this book for a while and now is the perfect time - GHOST is a collection of 13 original poems and short stories, written by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin and illustrated by Chris Sasaki and Jeff Turley, very talented people that work in the film industry in Los Angelus.  

These original tales have a classic feel, with the stories featuring tales of ghosts that don't know that they're ghosts, strange noises of wailing, a doll that replaces a little girl's mother and children lost forever. These are perfect stories to tell around a camp fire or to share at Halloween. Or if you have the braver, older child who enjoys a good scare, they will relish in these terrifying timeless tales. 

I've always found that a good ghost story are the ones that stick in your mind, the ones you seem to recall when home alone or out and about in the dark! And these scary tales are no exception, I won't be forgetting these in a hurry - a collection of ghost tales for a new generation, both written and illustrated in a classic, timeless style.  

For more information about the creators and the book, please check out their website here.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Hortense and the Shadow

Hortense and the Shadow

Written by Natalia O'Hara
Illustrated by Lauren O'Hara
Published by Puffin

When I received this book through the post, it felt like receiving a little bit of magic; with its gold foiled title, beautiful illustrations, and a dark fairy tale feel, it truly is a magical book that will remind you of fables you read as a child.

Meet Hortense, a small girl who lives in a big wood. Hortense is sad because she hates her shadow; it went everywhere she went and when night would fall it would become tall and dark and crooked. So Hortense decides she wants to hide it, behind columns and in holes but it grew worse until one evening, Hortense is able to outrun her shadow and cut it off with a sash window. Her shadow is now lost and Hortense seems happy until one night the door shook with knocks. In the dark, Hortense goes to check outside and finds herself surrounded by bandits. But with a terrible flash, shadows appear in the window which scare away the bandits - Its Hortense's shadow to the rescue and Hortense knows she must win her shadow back.

This is a stunning debut book by an exciting new author and illustrator pairing, sisters Natalia and Lauren O'Hara. You can see their inspiration is classic picture books and fables with a touch of eastern European. The book is beautiful and has a classic feel about it with a strong message of embracing all sides of yourself.

I think I'll be keeping this beautiful book for myself!