Monday, 29 October 2012

Red House Children's Book Award - Blog Tour

*DRUM ROLL and Tooty Fanfare!* 

INTRODUCING Louise Yates author and illustrator of Dog Loves Drawing and Dog Loves Books as part of the 
We are utterly thrilled to present to you in association with FCBG and The Red House Children's Book Award, ultra talented book lover and creator of some of our most treasuresome fave picture books Louise Yates.

Louise's sublime debut picture book A SMALL SURPRISE, was published by Random House in 2009. 

Hotly followed in 2010 by  DOG LOVES BOOKS  (the original Book Sniffer

A splendid picture book which promptly scooped the Roald Dahl Funny Prize , became an instant New York Times bestseller and went on to win the Parents’ Choice Award on its release in the US. 

So here's Louise's Book Sniffer guest post, I hope you are sitting comfortably, lets begin...

I’m often asked how I became a children’s writer and illustrator.  When I talk to young children about their own stories and drawings it is clear to me that children are natural authors and illustrators - these are not things they need to become! However, they can need a good deal of encouragement to continue expressing that early, innate and often uninhibited creativity as they develop. I think that one of the reasons I’ve continued to work creatively into adulthood is the attitude that my family had towards books and the imagination when I was growing up.

"One of my earliest experiments with text and illustration."

Maurice Sendak (author of ‘Where The Wild Things Are,’ and a great champion of the ‘untamed’ nature of children) said that he much preferred the sort of child that chews books; to the well-mannered child that treats them with reverence and care. Well, that wild child would have been given short shrift in our household!

I was allowed to ‘let rip’ on old magazines and shopping catalogues (which I also loved) but books were sacred. Hands should be clean, pages should be lifted from the far corners, and books should not be left on the floor! These were the book-handling rules impressed on me at a young age. In hindsight this seems strict, but they were rules absorbed through example and gentle coaxing, rather than any imposing discipline and I’m very grateful to my parents for this approach. It helped me to understand that books were available and accessible, yet valuable and special.

My character 'Dog', expresses a love of books

I think it also helped me to develop a habit of behaviour that enabled me to learn. When a book opened, the atmosphere changed. I was quiet and still - more from anticipation and pleasure that something wonderful was about to be revealed than from obedience. I think that this early lesson in how to shift from frenetic play to quiet, intense observation and listening also helped prepare me for school.  

Both my parents took turns to read to us each evening when we were little. My Dad, in particular, enjoys reading out loud and still reads to me from time to time even now. Its marvellous to me that neither of us has really out-grown that shared experience and I think it’s worth challenging the perception that reading together is something one only does with young children.

My Dad also used to write stories for my brother and I during his lunch break at work (also, most likely, when he was supposed to be working!) ‘Sam’, one his characters, was an alien that landed in nearby woods and was discovered by my brother and I when we were building a camp there. Sam became a great friend that shared many adventures over a series of evenings’ episodes. ‘Ruggles’ was a Yeti, found in the garden shed of our new house. He moved between our world and the Himalayan Mountains - which could be reached through our attic. 

 All dressed up for school 'Book Day' -
my Brother as Asterix, my Mum as the Tin Man from the wizard of Oz, and me as Roald Dahl's BFG.

My Father wrote us all into these stories as characters (including himself), so from an early age I had the sense that I led an imaginary, fictional life in parallel to my everyday existence.

A friend recently told me that her Father believes people lead three lives:

The life they lead in reality
The life they lead in their dreams
The life they lead through books. 

When I work with children now, I try to encourage them to tell their stories (fictional, or factual) and I’m constantly struck by the importance of the imagination in helping them to make sense of the world and their own story – a sense of confidence, possibility, empathy and self. 

Books and reading are invaluable tools in encouraging this development, but I realise that to many families, books are expensive luxuries.
This poses a challenge to the whole family’s creativity and I think it’s encouraging to recognise that books are, in essence, simply storytelling and play: affordable luxuries, essential to us all.   

Dog Loves Drawing has been shortlisted in the Younger Children category of the Red House Children's Book Award 2013. The Red House Children's Book Award is the only national children’s book award voted for entirely by children. It is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children's Book Groups, and sponsored by Red House. 

Visit Louise's wonderful website here! THANK YOU for popping by to meet us Louise we've loved having you on our blog. Three cheers for Dog Loves Drawing

Monday, 22 October 2012

Stephen Waterhouse - Taking centre stage

I've been off on a jaunt again, I tell you what my travel wash bag and portable male grooming trimmer hasn't seen this much action in years!

This time I've been hot stepping on the streets of Darlington, More specifically The Darlington Library, This particular book filled emporium is also home to the sublime Crown Street Gallery.

 I was up north once again to see old Book Sniffer chum Stephen Waterhouse who happens to be displaying his wonderful work. 

"smart / casual"

Stephen was looking super-dapper and ubercucumbercool waiting to meet and greet all his guests. He was full of his usual Northern cheer and promptly invited me to ponder over his eye-bogglingly wondrous display of books and artwork.

Adorning the walls are selected works dating back over Stephen’s prolific career thus far. An impressive array of imagery from initial concept through to finished product.

From the completely addictive swarm of thumbnail sized pencil sketches to the huge and beautifully coloured paintings and prints available Stephen works comfortably at all sizes and his palette is a lush combination of bright colour. 

Also worth noting is his leap from traditional painterly approach to his now preferred method of computer generated art. Something he has adapted to very comfortably.

Stephens new Pop-Up Atlas published by Templar books and available to purchase here is displayed finely in its finished form along with supporting working drawings and artworks. 

It’s interesting to see this work backed up and sitting alongside his own travel sketches and paintings which were completed on his own personal journeys around the globe. Whether it’s his huge panoramic view from the dizzy heights at Chamonix or a study of the Colloseum in Rome, it adds another dimension to Stephens approach to his subject.

And as if that wasn’t enough, also on display were Stephen’s very own picture books, a handful (pawful) of beautifully illustrated books of collected stories and his much admired advent calendar designs for the Divine Chocolate Company.

Thanks to the wonderfully talented and uber-cool Stephen Waterhouse for asking us along and if you get chance, do pop in. It’s on for the next three weeks.

This exhibition is a display of work that pulls the viewer in and wont let go of you until you’ve pored over every minute detail. I must say, it makes very satisfying viewing indeed.

Visit Stephens website here ...

Toot Toot Stephen, Hope to see you again soon! 

With spesh thanks to Chris Mould for the inspiration and images 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

An autumnal cornucopia of Picture Books ...

Glad tidings to you my dear Sniffers, tis almost the season of tweed and swede so I thought I would bring to your attention a few little morsels of picture book goodness to tide you over as the nights draw in (after all the Great British Bake Off finishes today so we shall all need to comfort ourselves with more delicious books... )

At the peak of mount Picture Book is this little piratical treasure, Pirates 'n' Pistols written and illustrated by Chris Mould - Published by Hodder Children's Books
 ISBN 9780 340 99934 9

This glorious hardback collection of blood curdling pirate tales includes classics, re-tellings, adaptations, extracts and original stories.
Illustrated throughout with an exquisite mix of black and white line work and luscious colour spreads Mould has captured these scurvy ridden rapscallions in all their sea faring glory.

Readers will be whisked across the high seas, rummaging through Davy Jones' locker, looting chests on treasure island, and discovering concealed tigers below deck.

If this collection doesn't make you want to up sticks and dash off to sea on the next creaky pirate ship then nothing will (and you probably need to move to the commuter belt)

So grab a ships biscuit and a tankard of rum and jump aboard, all in raise your hook hands and say 'Arrrgh' and 'Ay Capin'!

Sniffer gives Pirates 'n' Pistols 5 kegs of rum out of five with a bonus eye patch and peg leg.

From the top of the pile to the proverbial bottom!
Yes its the ever so eye catching and totally tittersome -
Poo Bum Written and illustrated by Stephanie Blake and Published by Gecko Press - ISBN 9871877467967

This chucklesome addition to the Sniffer book shelf certainly caused a stir on the Book Sniffer Facebook page.
The title almost says it all but let me elaborate, Little Rabbit has a selectively limited vocabulary and to every question he has the same answer.. yes you got it! "Poo Bum" this little smarty pants get more than he bargains for when he offends a big scary wolf with his potty mouth.
Apparently poo-bum-itis is contagious and poor old wolf soon gets into a pickle when he calls poor Mrs Wolf a Poo Bum. There is a happy ending of course but with a whiffy twist.
I challenge you to read this picture book and then NOT spend the entire rest of the day ... nee week, saying 'Poo Bum' at the most inappropriate moments.
A whiffy wonder and a treat for pickly little people with a sense of humour.

Sniffer gives Poo Bum 4 trumps and a little poop out of 5!

What's that I can hear in the distance? ... is that my tea cup trembling? YES! It's Jurassic Pug! introducing a gigantic stomping tub thumper of a book for budding paleontologists How Dinosaurs Really Work! written and illustrated by Alan Snow published by Simon and Schuster ISBN : 9780857073136

With bone crunchingly wonderful endpapers to start you off on your quest this book is full full FULL to the buckety brim with dino-facts.
Each gigantic double page spread features a specific dinosaur, illustrating their inner workings (with a touch of artistic license for comedy value) and a host of accessible and hilarious important dino information.
There are also a good handful of Dinosaur jokes ... including (get your comedy trombones ready!) Why did the Wolly Mammoth cross the road ... Because there were no chickens in the Ice Age! *bu-boom tsch*
How Dinosaurs Really Work! would make a great Christmas present, little sniffers can pour over the pages while the big sniffers ave a sherry and watch the queens speech.

Sniffer gives How Dinosaurs Really Work ! - Four T-Rex rump Steaks out of five!

Now spinning and twirling to centre stage it's the sugar frosted wonder that is Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker written and illustrated by James Mayhew and published by Orchard Books ISBN:9781408314074

The fourth in James' Ella Bella series I have been eagerly waiting The Nutcracker as it is without doubt on of my all time favourite ballets.
James has perfectly encapsulated all the magical wonder of the original story creating a  Grand Pas de Deux of picture books in this wonderfully christmassy Ella Bella adventure.

Lucky Ella once again finds herself immersed in a magical world when she opens Madame Rosa's enchanted music box.
Befriending Clara and battling the Mouse King and his mousey minions is only the start of the adventure as they find themselves whisked away through sugar frosted snowflake forests with the dashingly dishy Nutcracker prince to be entertained by the twinkling diamond Sugar Plum Fairy in her castle in the Land of Sweets.
Following flurries of exotic dancers from the far flung corners of the world and a feast of sugary treats Ella once again finds herself back at Ballet school just in time for a real feast with her ballet class companions.

Each Ella Bella story features a special page at the back of the book for the ballet fan which tells the history behind the original story and ballet performances. Both enlightening and enchanting in equal measures.

Sniffer gives Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker
5 pastel coloured glimmering sugar mice out of 5! BRAVO JAMES! X

Now must get that kettle on! Ive been sitting here sniffing picture books for so long there is a permanent botty shaped dent in my cushion!

Toot Toot see you soon!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Mould, Mills and Magic ...

Toot Toot Sniffers, I have just returned from a mini-holibob visiting my best buddy and squire of Yorkshire, Mr Chris Mould. (you may have seen him in Yorkshire Life magazine)

Who would have thought so much jollification could be stuffed into one measly weekend, I'm fair dinkum pooped.

We started the tour of the north by visiting Dean Clough Mills, a wonderful historical complex rammed to the rafters with creative types.

Behind each door you are likely to discover another exciting artists busily beavering away creating a masterpiece. Behind one such door high up in the rafters of Dean Clough we met Animator and Mould's partner in creative crime Mr Matt Howarth who happens to have wonderful luscious beard.

They are working on an amazing top secret project which you will be hearing about VERY shortly on the App Puppy Blog. I can't tell you much more right now but lets just say it's a cracker!

We also me fellow bearded gentleman Dug who paints voluptuous nudes all day between frequent cups of tea, and a very tall chap who creates wonderful works of art from Lego, and whilst enjoying a cup of hot chocolate the size of Belfast in the 'on site' cafe we met "Essex Stuart" who is actually from Cambridge. He's a computer type and a very nice chap sporting a fashionable Gillet.

A cake with REAL edible glitter ... wow

The afternoon larks continued with a grand tour of Chris Mould's creative lair. My eyeballs fair popped out gawping at all the artwork in his studio, lots of wonderful spreads from his new piratical project with Nosy Crow, 'Captain Beastlie', which I might say is looking rather bloomin' fabulous.

The tools of his trade were laid out on his desk and I took note of the tidy nature of his work space.

Many more cups of tea were quaffed as we caught up on all his thrilling new projects.

After a brief trip to the super market to stock up on supplies (NB:No giant Lindor Choco balls made it into our trolley fortunately)


We retired to Mould Mansions to meet the rest of the clan, including Moulds feverishly licky and delightful puppy Alfie.

The evening was spent watching Mould perform his newly acquired magic tricks and supping a fine pint of Sneck Lifter.

As a foot note I would like to mention Moulds handmade onion and goats cheese tart which certainly didn't have a soggy bottom and would have got a double thumbs up from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood -  AND Following further contractual issues Mould has now agreed to perform his magic tricks (BOTH OF THEM) at the Sniffer Christmas get together! you lucky things.

After a restful night of slumber day two of the tour commenced (following a feast of croissants and about a hundred cups of tea natch).

We headed to a private view back at Dean Clough Mills, the illustrations from a book previously featured on the Sniffer blog was being exhibited so I was most excited.

The artwork from Chris Vines The Baked Alaska Story looked like wonderful jewels on the wall. We were lucky enough to catch up with Chris as he signed copies of his books for eager fans, he was a jolly lovely chap. (pop to Dean Clough if you are up that way and have a peep)

We also had a quick squiz at an exhibition of photography entitles 'Pleasureland' which was utterly stunning in a dark-horrifying-depressing-seaside type of way.

From Dean Clough we jetted off to Saltaire to visit The Salts Mill, somewhere I have been hankering to visit since it was recommended by the delightful Matt Baker on Countryfile.

It was everything I had imagined and more, such a beautiful imposing historical building, with a book shop to rival the best. had I remembered to bring my doubloons I would have been honest to goodness broke. as there were tables piled high with wonderful Children's books (including an intriguing new book by Lauren Child AND the new Jon Klassen which I must get my mitts on) There were also a few interesting publications form No Brow which as also whetted my appetite.

After a sneaky pasty we headed back to Mould Mansions for an afternoon of R&R. The evening was spent scoffing curry and nibbling a naan bread which was as big as a the moon.

I'm back at Sniffer Towers now with an armful of books and a pocket full of happy memories. I cant wait to give Chris's new Pirate Book Pirates 'n' Pistols published by Hodder a good sniffing. (review to follow shortly)

Chris Mould has an exhibition of his work including a display of his sublime painted pebbles so I hope I'll get back 'up north' for that one.

Pebble with pen for scale

A tiny pebble painted to look like a skull

In the meantime keep your peepers peeled for more on his fabulous top secret project on the App Puppy very soon.

Thanks a million to Mr and Mrs Mould and the Mini Moulds and of course Alfie who lent me his bed for the weekend.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Trick or Treat with Giles Paley-Phillips

Seems only a moment ago I was sat in my hammock with my handkerchief hat and sangria, now winter is almost upon us.
The nights are drawing in and the spiders are coming out which means only one thing, tis the season of trickery and pumpkin related fun.

Who better to play a quick game of Trick or Treat with than author Giles Paley-Philips who's new book has more monsters and ghouls in it than you can shake a witches broom at.

INTRODUCING Tamara Small and the Monster's Ball

Prepare to hide behind the sofa lily livers, this is a brilliantly scary rhyming story just in time for Halloween and beyond from author of The Fearsome Beatsie Giles Paley-Phillips.

Meet Tamara Small, a gal with vim who finds herself accompanying a monster (who quite frankly needs a wax) to a fabulous monster ball. There are all kinds of ghouls and warty witches to keep Tamara entertained - soon she's taking to the dance floor and busting some moves worthy of a 'sevuuuun' from Len Goodman.
Any book with a break dancing werewolf gets a sniffer lick of approval. The groooovy monsters have one last tasty surprise for Tamara before she goes home to bed but what could it be? you'll have to read it to find out.

A jolly rip-roaring-read - full to the cauldrons brim with slime, warts, googly eyes, hair where there shouldn't be hair, skeletons and scales.

People's Book Prize winning author Giles has a rare gift for writing edgy, just scary enough, modern picture book texts with lilting and clever rhyme.
Illustrated by again by Gabriele Antonini, with well crafted lively spreads with a familiar Pixar style and packed with all sorts of not too scary creatures. Three cheers for this dynamic team.


Follow Giles on Twitter @tenderbranson10
Check out his author page on Facebook