Monday, 29 February 2016

Pass It On

Pass It On

By Sophy Henn
Published by Puffin

Pass It On is the latest book by Sophy Henn, last year's World Book Day illustrator. Having reviewed Sophy's last three books; Where Bear?, Pom Pom gets the grumps and Pom Pom the Champion, you can't help but love Sophy's bright and colourful style.

Pass It On is a joyful book that will make you smile - if you spot something great, or chance upon a chuckle, or spot a thing of wonder, jump for joy and pass it on. A positive book all about spreading happiness. We follow a little boy, from the moment he wakes up, to all the wonderful things he sees and does and all the happy moments he experiences. 

Sophy Henn has a unique and contemporary style which works well with her warm style of writing. Like her previous books, I like her use of solid background colours and limited use of colour for the characters and objects, and using the screen printed effect, it softens the edges. This book oozes happiness which is great and will hopefully help children and adults find happiness in everyday things!

If you're a fan of Pom Pom, keep an eye out for him, as he's being taken for a thrilling ride! Pass It On is available in all good bookshops and online here.



By Jan Bajtlik
Published by Tate Publishing

Alphadoodler is the latest activity book from Tate Publishing. Described as an 'electrifying activity book that brings letters to life,' it certainly is that! With a bright neon orange cover, and minimal colours used within, this is a stylish and graphical book for children that adults will find themselves joining in and having fun with letters.

Each double page spread has a different activity for children, from scribbling, cutting out, creating, designing posters and packaging, and even creating your own alphabet. There's so much to do within this dense and heavy book that makes letters exciting - Use letters to construct famous landmarks, dig letters out of snow, or escape a labyrinth of letters.

Alphadoodler encourages children to use their imagination by either writing, drawing, scribbling, creating and much more. Created by Jan Bajtlik who is an illustrator, graphic designer and typographer - He has created a stylish book that has a limited use of colour - it's all mostly black and white with splashes of neon colour. It's fun and exciting and I know adults will want to join in!
Available here.

New York, New York!

New York, New York!

Holiday Travels

A few weeks a go, I recently enjoyed a trip to New York - It was our first time to the States and we loved it. Everything was big! The people were friendly and everyone loved Aoife. When taking a baby away, suitcases are usually full with everything you think you will need but I did manage to cram these two books into my suitcase.. and of course a little taxi.

Aoife spotted this little book, Busy Baby: FRIENDS - She loved being able to spin the baby's face around to change his expression. It's cute, bright and fun! And kept Aoife entertained while in restaurants.

I wanted The 50 States as I thought it would be a good book to help teach Aoife (and myself) about all the States and where they are located. It's filled with interesting facts and is a nice taster in exploring the USA. Love the illustrations and typography used.

We experienced sunshine and snow while out there but it didn't stop us enjoying the city. We shall definitely be back New York!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Interview with Jonny Lambert

Jonny grew up in Surrey and always knew he wanted to be an artist of some sort. Encouraged by his art tutor at the Reigate School of Art and Design, Jonny is now an artist of many sorts: a talented illustrator with over 300 titles to his name, designer, paper engineer and most recently, Group Design Director at Templar Publishing. He lives with his wife, daughter and a menagerie of animals in West Sussex.

BWB: Little Why is about an adorable baby elephant that gets distracted by all the other animals he comes across. What gave you the idea?
JL: Little Why is a reflection of our daughter when she was a toddler. A 'Why?' toddler! Exuberant, into everything, questioning our every move and giving you that long fixed stare of 'I don't believe you', when you try to answer!

BWB: Was there any reason you picked an elephant?
JL: A simple answer...I've always loved elephants! They are just one of the most amazingly magnificent animals we have the privilege of 'walking' alongside.

BWB: What's your favourite animal to draw? And which is the most tricky for you?
JL: It has to be the elephant, however I do love drawing bears. There aren't many animals I haven't drawn in some form or other, though I find monkey's really tricky.

BWB: Collage or paint?
JL: Both. I love making marks with anything I find, and using them as tools to push, scrape, daub, scratch and tickle paint. Once dried, these paint patches are the start of the art work creation.

BWB: Are you allowed to let us know what's currently on your drawing board?
JL: My third picture book idea...which is taking shape...a pile of exciting book design work to be done, and a bag of mints!

Thanks to Jonny and Antonia for arranging this interview. Jonny's latest book, Little Why is available on the Little Tiger website.

Little Why

Little Why

By Jonny Lambert
Published by Little Tiger Press

Little Why is written and illustrated by the talented Jonny Lambert, who illustrated the recently reviewed I Love You More and More. Little Why just can't stay in line, and no wonder, there's so much to see!

Little Why is meant to be walking in line in-between the Elders but he spots a Wildebeest and wants some special horns as well, so that he would look super scary but when he asks, he is told "No" and to "Keep in line!" He soon spots a tall Giraffe and wants long-lofty legs like the giraffe so he can be super tall, but is once again told to "Keep in line!"After spotting a few more animals and not being back in line, Little Why spots a Crocodile, with a snippy-snappy snout...SNAP! It's a close call for this little Elephant and he is once again told to stay in line. Soon he is told to stop, why? Because they have finally reached the watering hole, where all the other animals are. Little Why is told that he had big flappy ears and a super-squirty trunk, great for splashing with, and he is special just the way he is. 

I enjoyed this little story, Little Why is just like an inquisitive toddler, excitable to discover the interesting animal found in the African savannah. This book could also be used to introduce themes of positive body image and the dangers of little ones running away.

I like Jonny Lambert's style, his illustrations are stylish and striking with the white backgrounds, making the textures stand out. The animals are very cute and easily recognisable for children. Recommended for ages 3-6.

The last page spread is my favourite as I love the below image of Little Why and his parent and the last few words "... you're special just the way you are!" A lovely ending for this sweet picture book.
Little Why will be available from the 11th February in all good bookshops and online here.

Friday, 5 February 2016

To Baby With Love

To Baby With Love - 
Wishes For Baby, Hello Baby & Peekaboo Baby

 Illustrated by Sarah Ward
Published by Little Tiger Press

Little Tiger Press have added more books to the series - To Baby With Love. A sweet range of books all illustrated by Sarah Ward. These books are ideal for parents-to-be, a baby shower or maybe even a Christening. Other books in the series include To Baby With Love and Goodnight Baby

Wishes For Baby is a beautiful keepsake book for friends and family to write their hopes and dreams for the new baby. It's filled with cute animal characters and offers a variety of different shaped spaces for people's messages and wishes. There is a pastel colour palette used throughout the series which makes these books suitable for baby girls and boys. 

Wishes For Baby will be available from the 11th February, in all good bookshops and online here.

Hello Baby is a lovely first book for babies. With a touch and feel crinkly Lion's mane on the front cover, this board book features a range of cute animals all having fun. Each spread starts with "Hello" followed by gentle rhyming text. 

Even though Aoife (20 months) liked Hello Baby, it was Peekaboo Baby that held her attention for longer. Another sturdy board back book that features flaps and a surprise mirror at the end.

Aoife enjoyed lifting the flaps and pointing out the animals but she was all smiles when she found the mirror on the very last page. 

To Baby With Love is a lovely range of first baby books, suitable for ages 0-2. I believe that any one of these books would make a lovely gift, with sweet animals, each book has a lovely quality; thick covers and sturdy pages, even Wishes For Baby has a nice padded cover and good quality pages, a book to be treasured. 

Hello Baby and Peekaboo Baby will be available to buy from the 11th February, online here, and here.

Clap, Clap!

Clap, Clap!

By Madalena Matoso
Published by Flying Eye Books

Clap, Clap! is the latest release from Flying Eye Books. An interactive book that wants young readers to use their imagination and their hands, one on each side to create a unique storytelling experience.

The book invites the reader to open and close the book on each page to emphasise the action, such as someone knocking on the door, two friends hi-fiving in the park, a butterfly flapping it's wings and a boy banging his drum. There are 15 experiences, with the number printed clearly in the top right corner. 

I was able to explain to Aoife and the knocking on the door page caught her attention. I was rather impressed she was able to open and close the book to make it look like the man was knocking. Clap, Clap! is recommended for ages 3-5 though I think children from possibly 2 would be able to understand the idea.

Clap, Clap! is filled with bold colours and large images. I like Madalena's colourful style, which looks good against the white background; it has a nice clean look which works with the curved corners and thick paper. I rather like this idea, it's something different and looks good!
Clap, Clap! will be available from the 16th February, for more information, click here.

Interview with Luke Pearson

We have reached the end of our Hilda week and what better way to sign off than to have a quick fire interview with the creator, Luke Pearson!

Luke Pearson, author of widely celebrated Hildafolk series, has fast become one of the leading talents of the UK comics scene, garnering rave reviews from the prestigious Times Literary Supplement and The Forbidden Planet International Blog amongst others. He was the winner of Young People’s Comic category at the British Comic Award in 2012 and been nominated for the Eisner Award’s Best Publication for Kids and Best Writer/Artist in 2013. He has recently worked as a storyboard artist on the cult classic show Adventure Time. Luke is a frequent contributor to a number of comic anthologies in the UK as well as self-publishing a number of small-run homemade comics.

BWB: How did Hilda pop into your head?
LP: She evolved from a character I'd done a few drawings of in my sketchbook. She wasn't the exact character she is now until I was about to draw the first story.

BWB: What are your main influences?
LP: For this series, I draw from Scandinavian folk tales and illustrations for those stories (for instance Theodor Kittelsen's artwork.) Tove Jansson and Ghibli are obviously touchstones. In terms of other comics, I think about certain European comics, manga and indie comics, the importance of each varying. The look and tone of each book is notably different I think and it reflects what I've been into and where I'm at as an artist.

BWB: Why the blue hair?
LP: Why is your hair the colour it is?

BWB: What's been your favourite Hilda story to write & illustrate?
LP: The Bird Parade was maybe the biggest breakthrough for me in terms of drawing and was probably the most fun to do once I got into it. The story was the most straightforward I've done plot-wise (the first story aside) so it wasn't as much of a headache to figure out as the others.

BWB: There are rumours of a animated series. If you could get anyone to voice Hilda who would it be?
LP: It would be someone unknown

And so we have left the best until last... to finish off this momentous week long celebration of Hilda, Flying Eye have kindly let me show a sneak peek of a whole spread from Hilda and the Stone Forest! Let your eyes feast on the eye candy below (have a click if you want to see it bigger!).

Thank you to Luke and Emma at Flying Eye Books. I hope you all have enjoyed this week long insight into a very special character and her world. All of Hilda's adventures can be purchased from the Flying Eye Books website.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Hilda and the Black Hound

Hilda and the Black Hound

By Luke Pearson
Published by Flying Eye Books

Hilda and the Black Hound is the fourth instalment of the Hilda series. Hilda is now living in Trolberg and seems to be settling in - though she still shows signs that she misses the countryside and the freedom it offered. So she joins the Scouts just like her mum did when she was her age.  

Hilda then goes on her first camping trip and finds a house elf called Tontu who's camping out in the forest. She tries her best to help him, although he is an ungrateful little chap. This is where she encounters the Black Hound, a beast that is causing quite an upset in Trolberg. With numerous sightings the camping trip is cut short after one night and Hilda returns home. 

Obsessed with helping out Tontu, Hilda goes in search of the house elf. She comes across other house elves who have also been kicked out of their homes by the humans that live there. As none of them communicate with each other due to them not liking eachother, Hilda is no closer to finding him. With all her time being taken up with trying to find Tontu, Hilda hasn't been doing any homework for her Scout's badges, but determined to get one to not let her mother down, she starts to research the mysterious Black Hound. Is he a menace or just misunderstood?

This is the first title that made me think of Pearson's love for Studio Ghibli. It's so apparent in this story as there were hints of films like Spirited Away seeping through the odd panel. The more obvious is Pearson's storytelling, he creates quite a menacing mystery character like the Troll, Midnight Giant and Black Hound and when the big reveal comes they're not threatening at all. If anything they're lovable and even cute! - a trait that often runs through Studio Ghibli's films.

Hilda and the Black Hound is available in hardback from the Flying Eye Books website.

So that's it, we've reached the end of the series until Hilda and the Stone Forest hits the shelves later this year. I for one can't wait! Tune in tomorrow for the last day of Hilda week, there will be an interview with creator Luke Pearson and an exclusive sneak peek at the Stone Forest. There's also still time to enter our competition to win a Hilda doll and two runners up prizes of the new paperback of The Midnight Giant. Pop over to my twitter page to find out more!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Hilda and the Bird Parade

Hilda and the Bird Parade

By Luke Pearson
Published by Flying Eye Books

Pearson's third outing for the blue haired adventurer continues from Hilda and the Midnight Giant's cliffhanger of Hilda and her mother being left homeless. 

So after a familiar dream, Hilda wakes up to find she is now living in the city. Her mother isn't quite so laid back here, with her not so keen to let Hilda out of her sight. But after a some pleading form the local children, Hilda is unleashed on to Trolberg. The children are keen to show Hilda all the best bits of city life, and it soon becomes apparent that Hilda doesn't quite fit in when one of the children hits a raven out of the sky. The city kids don't stick around for long and decide to leg it incase they get in trouble for the injured bird.

Hilda (being the caring girl she is) comes to the raven's aid to find it can actually talk. But the blow to the head its received has made it lose its memory. She to has a predicament as without the city kids she no longer knows how to get back home. So Hilda and the talking raven go in search of her house, hoping that something will jog her and the raven's memory. 

Hilda and the Bird Parade is another great addition to the series, and I love how Pearson has taken Hilda from her usual environment of the countryside and placed her in the city to introduce Trolberg. The city opens up a whole new host of characters and more unusual places for Hilda to explore.

Again, Pearson's art has evolved ever so slightly, my favourite image in the book is when Hilda is getting a lift from the raven - a truly beautiful illustrated sight! Pearson also shows he can build an interesting city, including little details like weeds that sprout up through sidewalk cracks and those stereotypical city kids. 

Hilda and the Bird Parade is available in hardback (with a dust jacket that doubles up as a map!) on the Flying Eye Books website. 

Tune in tomorrow for my review of the fourth Hilda book; Hilda and the Black Hound.