Friday, 14 December 2012

Everybody do the PHLUNK

A couple of jolly weeks ago a wonderful parcel landed upon the doormat at Book Sniffer Towers, it was a book all tied up beautifully with newspaper and string. My heart Fluttered. 

Inside was a book you may not have seen in the shops, its called The Phlunk. First brought to my attention via Twitter by it's illustrator Tori Elliot. 

This is a wonderful lulling rhyme about an imaginary creature who keeps watch over the world beautifully illustrated by Tori and Written by musician Lou Rhodes for her own children. 
In an interesting twist Tori's vision of The Phlunk entered in a university competition won her the opportunity to illustrate the whole book. This story reminded me of Native American folklore tales told round a campfire, Very dreamy and atmospheric.  

I was most grateful to receive my very own copy of this comforting and happy tale. THANK YOU Tori. 

We would like to wish Lou and Tori the very best of luck with this new adventure. 

Read more about this book and others at 

Follow Tori on Twitter @ToriDraws

You can buy your very own copy of The Phlunk here

Friday, 7 December 2012

30 Spectacular Gems from 2012

The yuletide season is nearly upon us, I can almost smell the eggnog but in this perfect frosty autumnal moment of 
pre-Christmas peace I'd like to take a moment to reflect on what a bountiful year we've had. 

With an abundance of authors popping by to meet us and more high teas than you can shake a stick at, all on top of the cornucopia of wonderful pictures books which we have been treated to, it's fair to say 2012 has been a good vintage.

I would like to say a huge TOOTY THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed in making this a fantabulous Book Sniffing year (YES that means you.. especially you!) 

So here in summary (in no particular order) is a list of 30 of my most favourite books which have joyfully graced the Sniffer door mat this year. 

The Frank Show - 
Written and expertly illustrated by super-cool on a stick David Mackintosh, Published by Harper Collins. 

"a wonderfully subtle and touching observation of the relationship between a child and a grandparent and the discovery that sometimes there is more to the older generation than meets the eye" 

Watch the video trailer here 

Written by Pamela Duncan-Edwards and Illustrated by ubercucmbercool Benji Davies - Published by Macmillan
A prickly-paw-problem of gigantic proportions, leads hypochondriac Winston on a merry dance across town in desperate search of some sympathy from his pals. 

Illustrated by one of my absolute fave new discoveries, Benji "too cool for school" Davies, Check out his blog here and join his illustration page on Facebook here

I Want My Hat Back - Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen and Published by the lovely folk at Walker Books

This book is like finding the last chocolate bourbon in the biscuit tin. A treasure of immense proportions which on every re-reading reminds me why I love picture books so much and why we should continue to be brave and bold and support illustrators who are doing something a little bit different. Simply sublime in its devious darkness. I would GLADLY eat my hat if you don't love this book too. 

Watch the trailer for this book here and check out Jon Klassen's illustration Facebook page here he has a rather marv blog too which you can find here

Claude in the Country - Written and Illustrated by 
Alex.T.Smith, Published by Hodder Children's Books 

"Bite sized perfection with a side of cream tea!"

I'll not lie, I snorted tea out of my actual nose when I was reading this tittersome little gem. I simply cannot over emphasis just what a clever storyteller Alex.T.Smith is, he is quite simply masterful at what he does and with such humour and deftness of pen. Claude is a character who will stand the test of time and become a favourite for many generations. 

Carry on Claude (ooo errr missus) and three cheers for Sir Bobblysock, who also more than deserves his moment in the limelight. We can't get enough of Claude at Book Sniffer Towers BRAVO A.T.S!

FOLLOW Alex on Twitter and visit his blog here - It's a must 

Pigeon Poo Written by the marvelous Elizabeth Baguley and illustrated by fabby  Mark Chambers - Published by Little Tiger Press

I was thrilled when Pigeon Poo plopped onto my door mat (and it's not often I say that!) My dear chum Mark Chambers really has done a smashing job on this particular picture book. He has masterfully spun a rhyming text of award-winning proportions which whilst spattered with a fairly generous smattering of poop tells a hilarious tale of mild ploppy peril in a small sleepy village. What ever will the villagers do to stop this renegade Pigeon,? you'll have to read to find out, you'll never ever guess in a million years but lets just say the solution rhymes with 'crappy'.
A pooptacular picture book of prodigious proportions!

Almost an Animal Alphabet - Written and Illustrated by Katie Viggers 

I can't for the life of me remember where I first came across Katie and her wonderful illustrations but looking back it was a happy day indeed. 
In the last year she has published two sublime books, delicately illustrated yet packed with humour, one a counting book and one an animal alphabet book. Her observation and representation of creatures is admirable she has created beautiful two books which can be appreciated by adults and children alike as both stories and works of art simultaneously. I look forward to her illustrative career blossoming and taking the Children's book world by storm. 

Visit her on line store here  

Seasons and People by Blexbolex distributed by Bounce Marketing 

This pair of titles remain two of the most beautiful books in my collection. They are unquestionably works of art and objects of utter desire. beautifully produced on luscious paper with works of art spilling from every page. Quite possibly the perfect gift for an arty book lover. 

FIGHT 2 – by Jack Teagle, published by NoBrow

'Cooler than a penguin with an ice pop!'

Fight #2 follows the continuing struggles of Diablo, a friendly and meek wrestler, who had the misfortune of being born with red skin and horns. He is forced to play the role of a villain, but throws in the towel after he struggles with the abuse and ridicule he receives from his appearance in the ring and on the street.
Yet another devilishly good publication from NoBrow worthy of a 'too cool for school' badge. they continue to excel in their niche for creating quirky well produced arty books and long may they continue.

Visit the NoBrow website/shop here and give your credit card a battering. 

Operation Alphabet By Al MacCuish (Watch the trailer here!) Published by Tames and Hudson 

Clever clever clever stuff from a dynamo team. Wonderfully marketed and thoughtfully produced. With minute attention to detail this funny and unique alphabet book with have the little ones rolling in the aisles.

"Welcome to a very secret world. Not many people know this, but inside a special, little red postbox in London, close to Big Ben, there exists a top secret department. It is so top secret that only the Queen of England, her Prime Minister, Spies and Cats know about it. And now you..." 

Visit their fabulous website here and follow them on Twitter @MILtweetdept 

The Great Snortle Hunt - Written by Claire Freedman and Illustrated by the wonderful Kate Hindley - Published by Simon and Schuster

On the hunt for an entertaining story of adventure, intrigue and mild peril? well get your nets at the ready, we may just have found the book for you! 

On a hill bumpy-steepy, there's a house scary-creepy, And it's said that a Snortle lives there, Now nobody's been, so nobody's seen, But Mouse whispers, "Come, if you dare!" 

Have you seen a Snortle? Would you want to? If you're brave enough, join Mouse and his chums as they embark go on a night-time Snortle hunt. 

Aaaaaagh! What's that? ....*gulp*

A read-together rhyming text that will capture children's imaginations in a big monster catching net!

This is a beautifully produced picture book with a wonderful tactile cover and jam packed with fantabulous illustrations by one of my FAVE new talents on the illustrator block Kate Hindley. 

Follow Kate Hindley on Twitter @hindleyillos

This Moose Belongs to Me - Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and published by Harper Collins 

I had been so looking forward to this book that I accidentally ordered it THREE times! I'll tell you this, once they did arrive they didn't disappoint and I've read them all several times.

“Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn’t always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW, that it was meant to be his. He thought he would call him Marcel.”

Most of the time Marcel is very obedient, abiding by the many rules on How to Be a Good Pet. But one dark day, while deep in the woods, someone else claims the moose as their own…Is Marcel really Wilfred’s pet after all? (*theme tune to The Littlest Hobo*)

An exquisitely-illustrated, witty and thought-provoking story, with a wonderful vintage feel. 

I'd say this is without doubt one of Jeffers best, but I expect there are more to come. 

Follow Oliver Jeffers on Twitter @OliverJeffers

Ella Bella and the Nutcracker - Written and Illustrated by James Mayhew - Published by Orchard Books 

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.

Follow James Mayhew on Twitter @mayhewjames

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear - Written and Illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson Published by Nosy Crow 

Many years have passed since Goldilocks caused chaos at the Bears’ house in the woods, but what happens when Little Bear all grown-up wanders out of the safety of his fairytale and into the big city where Goldilocks now lives? 'Friends re-united'? Love rekindled? you'll have to go down to the woods today and find out!

A mixed-up jazzed-up modern re-telling of a much-loved fairytale illustrated by snippity collage wizardess Leigh Hodgkinson. BRAVO! .... now where's my porridge.

Follow Leigh On Twitter @hoonbutton 

Diary Of A Christmas Wombat - Written by Jackie French and Illustrated by Bruce Whatley - Published by Harper Collins 

For fans of the classic Diary of a Wombat here's a new Christmas delivery. We rejoin our beloved Wombat on a very special day in this utterly charming simple tale of the day in the life of a snoozy carrot loving wombat. 

In the perpetual quest to find carrots and/or somewhere cosy for a snooze our wombat finds herself whisked away on a very exciting Christmas night adventure with some new companions who enjoying munching on carrots almost as much as she does. A highlight for me is the illustration of Our wombat hitching a lift back up a chimney with a very special chum. 

A perfect new Christmas favorite to share by the fire on Christmas eve. 

Oh No George - Written and Illustrated by Chris Haughton Published by Walker Books (Watch the trailer here)

Sniff sniff, is that cake I can smell? it certainly is, and George can smell it too... George likes cake. 
We join George on a testing day with temptation around every corner. 
Dear old George ..will he do himself proud and manage to behave himself for an entire day?.... I doubt it! 

Follow Chris on Twitter @chrishaughton and visit his website here 

Martha and the Bunny Brothers 'I Love School'
Written and Illustrated by Clara Vulliamy - Published by Orchard Books 

Martha is full of vim and so so SO excited about her first day at school ( I don't remember being that excited YELP!) Each Tropicana coloured spread is full of wonderful things to spot and count and can be poured over for hours.
Martha has two equally charming small bunny brothers who are not entirely sure that they want to be left behind when their big sister goes off to have fun at school. Martha does her best to keep them entertained whilst gathering all her most important things to take to school including .. A crown (obv) and flag (natch) and armbands (hmm maybe).
ALL this and Martha STILL has time to create the Happy Bunny Club.

If only we could all aspire to be so productive. Martha is a little gem as is Clara Vulliamy and the Martha and the Bunny Brothers series is full of happiness and charm and is destined to be a HUGE rootin' tootin' success!

It is sunshiny sugar coated perfection in book form, I just wish I had had these books when I was a little bunny!

More Martha coming next spring! yippeeeee

Follow Clara on Twitter @claravulliamy 

The Pirates Nextdoor
Written and Illustrated by Jonny Duddle - Published by Templar Publishing

The Pirates Next Door is Jonny Duddles second Pirate book for Templar and one for which he scooped the very well deserved Waterstone's Children's Book Prize! TOOT TOOT!
Ever been to Dull-on-Sea? it's a bit like Dorking but with PIRATES!

Little Tilda a sassy small person with a taste for adventure befriends a pirate boy who just happens to have docked his family pirate ship just next door (as you do). This is quite possibly THE most exciting thing ever to happen in Dull-On-Sea (population 2227) A proper ropey old band of piratical types cause all sorts of havoc around town much to the dismay of the local residents all of who have taken umbridge at their new slightly unusual (for unusual read, hairy, smelly, peg leggy and rough as a gnats chuff) neighbours.

Jonny is a complete craftsman and master of characterisation and his illustrations require pouring over for may hours to spot all the little hidden treasures!

The Huey’s in The New Jumper -
Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and Published by Harper Collins 

In The Huey's in The New Jumper we are introduced to the Huey's (Bean like characters with handsome noses) A collective of little beings who all like acting / looking / living the same, mostly the are quite happy and don't like change. All except for Rupert, he is a trail blazer, a fashionista and leader and an innovator, much like Oliver Jeffers (and myself!) 
One day on a whim he decides to knit himself a snazzy jumper. His flamboyant new dress sense goes down like a bag-o bricks with the other Huey's! 
Rupert enlists Gillespie to join his jumper gang and soon it catches on faster than clackers in the 70's. Soon every single Huey has a brand new snazzy orange jumper.. and so once again they are all the same.. phew... that is until Rupert acts upon his next fashionable whim. 

Vive La Huey's and Vive being and individual in a snazzy jumper. 

Read the full blog review here
Yak Yuk - Written by Michelle Robinson and Illustrated by David Sim - Read the blog review here

A masterfully clever play on words, featuring a yak and a duck (obviously). Simply super in its yarn spinning with so very few words as the illustrations elaborate on the story. Such a fabulous idea wonderfully executed. A firm fave with small sniffers. 

Follow Michelle Robinson on Twitter @MicheRobinson 

Poo Bum - Written and Illustrated by Stephanie Blake - Distributed by Bounce Sales and Marketing 

In summary, Small rabbit has a bad habbit, he has decided to say "poo bum" in answer to everything he is asked. Rabbits bad manners backfire on him when he encounters a big bad wolf and sadly gets gobbled right up, ears and foul mouth and all! 
In a hilarious twist in the story Wolf ends with an unfortunate side effect after munching on rabbit and it's not indigestion! 

My Grandpa - Written and Illustrated by Marte Altes 

'My Grandpa is getting old. But that's how he is, and that's why I love him'

This is a story about the special relationship between two generations of bears, a grandfather bear and a grandson bear. A lovely sensitive tale of love, friendship and understanding differences. 
Marte is without doubt a master storyteller and a unique and talented illustrator. We can't wait to see her next creation!
Follow Marte on Twitter @martealtes

Babbit - Written and Illustrated by Lydia Monks 

Without doubt, hands down one of the best cover illustrations EVER! Clever old Lydia, this is one of my favorite Monks titles.

Introducing Babbit, in this brand new adventure. Funny old Babbit simply can't stop rabbiting on about is day, Picnics, piggy-in-the-middle and evading capture by scary monsters, all in a day's work for this talkative carrot-lover.

Follow Lydia on Twitter @LydiaMonks

Guinea Pig Party by Holly Surplice published by Nosy Crow.

This iced gem of a picture book is quite literally packed with chubby warbling guinea pigs in party hats, what's not to love! 
Any book with a guinea pig conga, mild peril in the form of pin the tail on the donkey, scoffing too much cake, space hoppers and balloons gets a big licky seal of approval from the Sniffer. Counting to ten has never been so much fun. Holly has created a jolly counting book and her candy colour illustrations and spongy cover are the cherry on what is a quite delightful picture book. 
Lovely treats for tiddly peeps!

Visit Holly's website here... and check out her wonderful blog !... you can also follow her on Twitter ...@HollySurplice

Fondant Fancies all round! TOOT TOOT

Written and Illustrated by Jo Empson published by 
Child's Play - Read the full blog review here 

Rabbityness celebrates individuality, encourages creativity and positively introduces children to dealing with loss in it's many forms in a sensitive, accessible and positive way.

Olive and the BIG Secret - 
Written and Illustrated by Tor Freeman - Published by Templar Publishing - Read the full blog review here 

This is an utterly charming tale of an unfortunate game of Chinese whispers orchestrated unwittingly by Olive who simply can not keep a secret however hard she tries.

Molly tells Olive a secret which in turn Olive tells Jessie.......and Ziggy........and Joe.. who then tells Matt, who blurts it out to Lola and Bea.. by which point you too will be bursting to find out what Olives BIG secretis..
Then full circle Bea tell Molly who’s secret it was in the first place.. eeeeek! ..I bet you think I’m going to tell you what the secret was now… Well of course I’m not, you’ll just have to grab a copy of the book and find out!

Olive and the Big Secret oozes retro charm from every page with a fresh Richard Scarry–esque appeal, and you know how much I love a picture surprise underneath the dust jacket, well clever old Templar have gone above and beyond and hidden delightful pictures front and back – what a treat! (great attention to detail). 
With clever use of white space and delightful touches of hand written copy this is a lovely looking book indeed.

Follow Tor on Twitter @tormalore

Dog Loves Drawing
Written and Illustrated by Louise Yates 

Dog loves books, but one day he receives a very strange book in the post - it's blank!
Dog soon realises that this book is not for reading, but for drawing in, and before long Dog is doodling and drawing himself into a new world, full of wonderful friends, smashing surprises and fabulous adventures.

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep
Written and Illustrated by David Melling - Published by Hodder Children's Books 

With more fluffy little sheep than you could safely shove into a pillowcase we once again snuggle up with our favorite chunky bear Douglas as he teaches the forest creatures the importance of a good bedtime story and an early night. 

More sublime artwork from Melling "master of the paintbrush." 

Follow David on Twitter @DavidMelling1

A Zeal of Zebras - 
By Woop Studios Published by Chronicle Books - Read our blog review here

Highlights include "An Implausibility of Gnus" a "Leap of Leopards" "An Embarrassment of Pandas" and an "Ostentation of Peacocks".. I think the collective noun for pugs should probably be an ostentation but is in fact one of the following, a grumble, a squish a snug and a snortling of pugs

Tamara Small and the Monsters Ball - Written by Giles Paley-Philips and Illustrated by Gabriele Antonini - Published by Maverick - Read our full blog review here

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 - wonderful stuff! AND it's been nominated for The Peoples Book Prize!!

Follow Giles on Twitter @tenderbranson10

Cinderelephant - Written and Illustrated by Emma Dodd, published by Templar 

Everyone needs a bit of glamour in their lives even hefty elephants! this Emma Dodd masterpiece has the glitz and sparkle of Strictly Come Dancing and the romance and intrigue of Blind Date, all wrapped up in a technicolor package of sheer delight.

Prince Trunky is on the lookout for a bride and the whole kingdom is invited to a ball. The Warty Sisters are determined to keep Cinderella at home and snag the handsome bachelor for themselves, but the Furry Godmouse has other ideas. The moment Cinderelephant trips into his arms, Prince Trunky knows that she is his one true love, but can he track down the lady who fits her dainty (well - almost dainty) slipper? Emma Dodd is on rip-roaring form with this hilarious take on a well-loved fairy tale.

Odd Dog
Written and masterfully illustrated by Claudia Boldt 

Helmut is a hound with a passion, a raging ball of passion for apples, he just can't get enough. Fortunately there is a particularly fine apple tree right outside Helmut's kennel. 
As the days pass Helmut becomes consumed by fear as he suspects his very best most juicy and ripe apple might just fall the wrong side of the garden fence and end up...GASP SHOCK HORROR, in the hands of his nextdog neighbour Igor. Helmut goes to extreme lengths to ensure that this doesn't happen but even the best laid plans sometimes fail and Helmuts worst nightmare comes true. 

Odd Dog is a perfectly executed tale of jealousy, turmoil, love, loss and friendship. Claudia is quite simply 

Check out Claudia's inspiring new Children's Newspaper The Loop here and also if you like the look of Odd Dogg you should also sniff out Claudia's other amazing picture books published by Child's Play UUGGHH! and Stargazers, Skyscrapers and Extrodinary Sausages.. wonderful stuff! 

Follow Claudia on Twitter @ClaudiaBoldt 

Although it's not strictly a picture book but beautifully illustrated none-the less I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Operation Bunny, written by SallyGardner and beautifully illustrated by David Roberts. 

A wonderful collaboration by a new and dynamic team, at last filling the gaping void left by Ottaline. Sassy protagonist, cantankerous cats and gazillions of bunnies as well as a dusting of fairies and a magical bunch of keys. Dive in, you won't want to come out. 

FINALLY - closing the show...

Hey Presto - Written and Illustrated by Nadia Shireen 

Presto is a very talented magician, think the feline equivalent of Paul Daniels but with more fur, His friend Monty the dog  is a very confident performer but not at alot like Debbie McGee. So when they start a magic show at the carnival, things look good for the dazzling duo.  But as their success grows, so does Monty's head. Much like many showbiz couples things turn sour, Soon, he's the one who's always in the spotlight, and he's becoming bossier and more demanding: "Hey, Presto! Get my hat!" "Presto! These bunnies don't work." "I need chocolate ice cream with extra sprinkles..and I need it NOW!"  When Presto gets fed up and decides to leave, what will happen to the show? And more importantly, to their friendship? 
There are lots of hilarious little details to spot on every page to ensure this story is enjoyed by parents and little sniffers alike. Encore Nadia! BRAVO!

Once again THANK YOU - to everyone who has got involved to make 2012 a fabulous Book Sniffing year, publishers, authors, illustrators and booksellers! THREE CHEERS TO YOU ALL! 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Glaring into the crystal ball of 2013 ...

In a moment of utter madness I'd like to take a quick peek forward at 2013, so here are just a few exciting peeplettes which you should keep your eyes open for.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam -  
Written by Tracey Corderoy and expertly illustrated by Steven Lenton - Published by Nosy Crow and arriving May 2013

'A bountiful, sniggersome, canine crime ridden romp.'

Have a sneak peek inside this book here 

It is hard to believe that it was only this time last year that I first interviewed Mr Lenton and now he's an interstellar star, speaking on panels with the likes of Axel Scheffler and more book deals than you could comfortably fit in a picnic basket. Three cheers for this wonderful new addition to the world of picture books. Full review to follow in 2013

Join Steve's fabulous Illustration Facebook page here

Captain Beastlie 
Written by Lucy Coats and Illustrated by Sniffer chum Chris Mould - Published by Nosy Crow, arriving on the horizon sometime soon ...

" Move over Pugwash there's a new Captain on the high seas in this piratical gem of gargantuan proportions with rum barrels of laughs on every page. Walk the plank all ye who dare not pre-order this little treasure"

A proper good old tale of adventure and mayhem with a smattering of mild piratical peril and a monkey in a fez, what's not to like. Bravo Lucy and Chris. 

Paul Thurlby’s Animal book -
Written and illustrated by Paul Thurlby - Published by Templar Publishing arriving Spring 2013

The follow up to Paul's phenomenally successful Alphabet book (which you can read more about hereAnimals is another beautifully produced work of art. With artisan prints on each page and a smattering of intriguing animal facts this book has something for everyone. A true design icon in the making. Visit Paul's website here 

Fasten your seat belt – here comes Dixie O’Day!

We are waiting in eager anticipation for Clara Vulliamy's sublime collaboration with her mother, the one and only dame of Children's Publishing Shirley Hughes. 
A brand new series featuring the one and only dashing hound in tweed (apart from me) Dixie O'Day and his sidekick Percy! Rip roaring-horn-tooting-dapper-dog-detective-tales. 
We quite simply cannot WAIT!

Visit Clara's wonderful blog  here  and read more HERE


On the subject of blogs....and dogs, I have to give a special mention to wonderful Emma Chichester-Clark and her utterly inspirational and eye-bogglingly charming blog  Plumdog Blog
Delightful daily illustrative insights into the world of Emma's canine companion Plum. The incredible amount of work and sensitive characterization which go into each post will make your eyes water with total admiration. 

Visit Emma's website here 

Collaborative Blog post COMING SOON 

Image (c) Emma Chichester-Clark - featured on the Plumdog Blog

Don't forget to check out our new permanent spot in TBK magazine, and keep a beady eye on the App Puppy blog for our feature on developing apps with Matt 'lovely beard' Haworth and Chris 'the joker' Mould. Read More HERE

So all in all, a good year gone and an even better one to come. With more author/illustrator interviews and book reviews than you can shake a large stick at.

All Aboard the good ship Book Sniffer! Toot Toot we sail at dawn!