Friday, 29 August 2014



By Yann & Gwendal Le Bec
Published by Flying Eye Books

For me, Flying Eye Books produce some of the finest and most adventurous picture books that are filling up bookshelves across the country. DANNY is yet another one of these masterpieces. Written & illustrated by Yann & Gwendal Le Bec, two brothers from Brittany France, DANNY is their first collaborative children’s book. Danny is a potbellied hippopotamus, who gets concerned he has a lisp and hurries to find a dentist to correct the problem. The dentist happily fixes his gappy teeth, and so Danny returns to the swamp to show off his new braces. Only for a crocodile to get brace envy and want braces for his own pearly whites.

Yann’s illustrations are the perfect partnership to the delicious text. Yann’s delicate line illustrations are accompanied by a wash of muted watercolour (the watercolour texture throughout the book is gorgeous), which stir up fond memories of Babar the Elephant and beautiful French design. The simple illustrated people in the city are the ideal contrast to make the visiting animals stand out - the perfect visual treat.

There are plenty of amusing characters to meet, such as teeth cleaning fish, lisping snakes and a very mischievous crocodile. I love how the animals and people co-exist, with the people not taking a blind bit of notice of a hippopotamus from the swamps popping into the city to visit the dentist (and without an appointment!). The characters are instantly loveable and I’d definitely welcome more stories around Danny the hippopotamus and his friends from the swamp. 

I adore everything about this picture book. It has warmth and charm, with a pinch of dark humour that adults and children will relish. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I will say that there is a reason why hippos and crocodiles don’t need to wear braces!

DANNY will be out in book shops from 20th September and is available to pre-order now, visit Flying Eye Books for more info.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE - watch the trailer!

I'm so excited by this! The new picture book from Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett, SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE, is published on 2nd October by Walker Books. Watch out for my review coming soon!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Emma Dodd interview

In celebration of Emma's latest book, The Entertainer, I had the pleasure of asking her some 'entertaining' questions about her new book and her career as an author & illustrator.

Emma was brought up near London, England. He parents were both designers and from as far back as she can remember she wanted to be an illustrator. Emma studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Central Saint Martin's School of Art, London, and has worked in advertising, editorial and book illustration.

She was nominated for the Booktrust Early Years Award in 2006 for her book "What Pet to Get" and in 2009 for "Miaow said the Cow". Emma lives with her husband and two children and their Jack Russel Terrier, Bart, who keeps her fit and provides inspiration.

BWB: The Entertainer turns out to be a birthday party that hasn't quite gone to plan. Have you experienced any disasterous birthday parties?

ED: I have indeed! I can't go into too much detail as it involved people who I still know, but let's just say, it was a joint 6th Birthday party and it did not go to plan. Whilst a bear did not actually turn up instead of the children's entertainer, by the end of the party it looked as if one had! The experience was one of the main inspirations behind "The Entertainer".

BWB: What would be your ideal party?

ED: I love holding parties. My ideal party would on a small Cornish beach, with all my favourite people, candles, a big fire, lovely food and a fabulous sunset followed by a warm, clear starry night.
In the end though, the most important ingredient for a great party is the people you love.

BWB: Chocolate birthday cake, yay or nay?

ED: Yay! Of course!

BWB: Who's your favourite entertainer?

ED: Well I just saw 'Elbow' in concert at the Eden Project in Cornwall, and their lead singer, Guy Garvey, takes some beating. Last year at the Edinburgh Fringe I saw 'The Boy With Tape on His Face' and he was wonderful too. Two on my top nights out, ever.

BWB: Which fictional bear would you invite into your home?

ED: I think it would have to be Pooh Bear, and I hope he would bring Piglet too.

BWB: Do you have a party trick?

ED: I can eat my own body weight in crisps and peanuts. Does that count?

BWB: How do you juggle (no pun intended) all your projects?

ED: I've got very good at juggling projects, but it has taken practice. Once I've delivered my children safely to school I always start my day by walking my dog, Buzz.

Then it's down to work. To work at home you have to be very self disciplined. I hardly move from my desk until it's time to collect the children and I usually manage another couple of hours in the evening. As for working on different projects simultaneously, I love that!  I find it keeps me interested and hopefully keeps my work fresh and exciting.

BWB: You have illustrated over 40 books. Which one are you most proud of?

ED: Gosh, that's a difficult question. I am very proud of "The Entertainer" because it makes people laugh. I am also proud of my foil book series, including "Me" and "Forever". They are very close to my heart because they are about the love I have for my children and sometimes they make people cry!  My book "I Love Bugs" is also one of my favourites and I must say that the "I Love You" books by Giles Andreae have been such fun to work on that I'm rather proud of them too. Is that too much pride? I hope not.

BWB: Early in your career you also worked in advertising and editorial. Did you find the transition to children's publishing an easy one?

ED: When I first left college I took my portfolio around to as many newspapers, magazines and agencies as I could. The deadlines were always very tight, but it was an excellent way to learn my trade.

I had a lucky break with a publisher which allowed me the even luckier break of finding my children's literary agent, Eunice McMullen, who has been a tremendous help in my career. I always listen carefully to her advice and I owe a huge amount to her. For a long time I divided my time equally between children's books and editorial illustration. Now most of my work is in children's publishing and my deadlines are much more manageable and rather more conducive to family life. When I started illustrating picture books, I knew that I had found the perfect job for me.

BWB: Can you tell us about your creative process?

ED: Well, I suspect that my family and close friends would tell you that I slightly chaotic and that I go through labour pains at the beginning of a project; the ideas stage. Once I'm up and running I really love it, but I do need a deadline to give me the impetus to do my best work. When I reach the end of a book, I worry that I will never have another idea again, and then...pop... something with spring into my head, as if it's been lurking in my subconscious mind, waiting for the right moment. Amazing really!

BWB: Who's been the biggest influence on your work?

ED: My parents are both artists and I grew up surrounded by drawing, painting and inspiration of all kinds. They were very supportive of my early career and a huge influence.. Then there are illustrators whose work I loved in my childhood; Peter Firman, Gerald Rose, Brian Wildsmith, John Burningham to name but a few. Finally, my children and a huge influence and a great source of inspiration.

BWB: Which writer (or illustrator) would you most like to collaborate with?

ED: Well I already have an excellent collaboration with Giles Andreae, who is a bit of a genius, so that is fantastic. I've also worked and am working with author K A Gerrard who is a dear friend of mine and whose words make me laugh. Something I rather fancy doing is writing a picture book for somebody else to illustrate; ideally somebody whose work is very different to mine.  It would be interesting to see what they did with my words. Perhaps that will happen one day, who knows?

Thank you Emma for a bearillant interview! And thank you to Ellen for setting this all up! To see more of Emma's work visit her website and follow her on twitter. Emma's latest book, The Entertainer, is out now in all good bookshops and to buy online

The Entertainer

The Entertainer

By Emma Dodd
Published by Templar Publishing

Ding dong! Ding dong! The children's entertainer is here to save the party! (we can only hope!). Children and adults alike will adore Emma Dodd’s latest book, The Entertainer. Emma has had over 40 books published and her latest will not disappoint; its a fun and very entertaining picture book!

Billy is having a party and his mum and dad have booked an entertainer for him and his friends. 
An entertainer arrives at the door dressed as a bear - and a very convincing one at that! The children are impressed; after whirling and spinning on a misplaced toy, which the children think is hilarious, making a lot of mess, before munching flowers, juggling fruit and then gulping them down, he soon stumbles upon the birthday spread… uh oh… Billy and his friends find him asleep and all the food eaten but thank goodness Billy’s mum has saved the cake. Once everyone has left and said their goodbyes, there’s soon a surprise at the door… and we can all guess who’s there.

This book is fun and will have little ones laughing at the entertainer’s antics. It reminds me slightly of  The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, where a tiger ate everything in the house, very much like this naughty entertainer. 

I really enjoyed this book and even missed the hint on the title page about who the entertainer really is! (one to look out for when you're reading the book). The story flows really well and with the use of larger text for sounds and actions, it makes it fun and a joy to read over and over again. There’s even little boxes with words of advice found on a few corners of the spreads, i.e  its rude to burp when someone gives you food, never leave toys around on the floor, and never to juggle your food before eating them in one big gulp, a hazardous way to digest (all sound advice I think you'll agree!)!. Even the large and bold illustrations are fun. If you’ve not read Emma’s books before, this is definitely a great one to start with!

Look out for the upcoming interview with the fabulous, Emma Dodd, where she'll answer what inspired the book and her process for creating such a beauty! The Entertainer is available to buy from all good bookshops and online.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Best Book in the World!

The Best Book in the World

By Rilla Alexander
Published by Flying Eye Books

Have you ever read a book that’s too good to be put down? We certainly couldn't put this down after reading it several times. The Best Book in the World! is a great introduction into the wonderful world of books and stories, an ode to reading!

This book isn’t about being the best but about finding that one book that sucks you in to another world, the pageturner, a book that grips you until that very last page! For me, The Best Book in the World! isn't quite a picture book in the traditional sense - it feels like a celebration of a child's imagination when they read a book. And that's something that's being lost in today's world of smart phones, tablets and computer games. Hopefully it will encourage children to read more and use their imaginations.


This colourful book looks at the different ways of reading following a little girl that's completely engrossed within her book. As the day continues, creatures start to appear… are we seeing characters from the book she’s reading or is her book so good that she’s not noticing these weird and quirky things following her?

The Best Book in the World! is the second picture book to come from the fantastic Austrailan illustrator Rilla Alexander. Rilla has a graphic design background whose work has appeared on everything from toys and tea cups to buses and buildings. The Best Book in the World! is her latest book which stars her alter-ego Sozi. As you can see from the pictures, each page is awash with colour - with every spread using a limited colour palette which sets off Rilla's illustrations beautifully. I love how she has used different colour palettes throughout the book with the colours starting bright and slowly getting darker as the day goes by until eventually its time for bed...

For me this is a treasure of a book. It has beautiful design and it's sentiment is at the heart of children's literature. It will be quite at home on any childrens bookshelf, design house or school library. The Best Book in the World! is available to buy online, in bookshops and on the Flying Eye Books website.