Tuesday 8 July 2014

Welcoming deliciously delightful Clara Vulliamy

Happy days! the summer holiday's are almost here, our ice cream cones are topped with flakes and brightly coloured sprinkles and we have a brand new Martha book to enjoy!

OUT NOW - Buy here 

Martha is back with her little bunny brothers in the third and perhaps most triumphant of her delightful pre-school picture books. 

Martha I Heart Holidays invites us along of the bunny family's annual seaside holiday, an idyllic depiction of a typically British family holiday complete with moments of chaos, inclement weather and melty lollies.

Created by Clara Vulliamy the Martha books perfectly encapsulate important occasions in a small bunnies life, written with utter  joy and incredible attention to detail, Clara pours hours and hours of love and care into each exquisite illustration.  

I especially loved the inclusion of the traditional dreary holiday traffic jam and swimming in the sea in the rain, memories particularity dear to my heart..sort of.


This is the perfect picture book to read before embarking on a family holiday or day trip, a beautifully touching depiction of family life and the intricacies of sibling relationships.  

I can't think of anything more magical than whiling away several hours in a traffic jam completely absorbed in a beautiful picture book just like this one.

A special postcard from Martha just for you!

We are thrilled to be able to welcome author illustrator Clara Vulliamy to Book Sniffer Towers as part of the 
I Heart Holidays blog tour. 

Clara Vulliamy
Clara Vulliamy 

This is the third in the tutti-frutti fabulous Martha series, you must have drawn thousands upon thousands of bunnies by now, has drawing Martha and her bunny brothers become second nature? Is it nice to go back to them after experimenting with other characters?
Books one and two Martha I Heart School  and Martha I Heart Bedtime 

It is SO LOVELY to draw Martha, Monty and Pip again! To me they are pure sunshine in picture book form. I have really missed their cheerful moon-shaped faces, soft pink noses and spectacular bunny ears.
Do you plan the entire story before you begin or do they sometimes evolve along the way? Do you have separate sketchbooks for development work for each of your projects? (we’d love to have a top secret peep inside!) 
I always plan before I begin, working out the whole shape of the story on a thumbnail scale: how the text and pictures will sit together, and where the big dramatic moments will happen.
Here is a page from my notebook when I was first dreaming up the story. I used the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons make lemonade’, so the mention of lemons in my notes signifies one of the many setbacks for the bunnies which makes this book funny.

A sneak peek inside Clara's notebook 

The marvellous thing about the Martha books and something which has become a trademark of yours is the eye popping intricate detail in each book, intoxicating for little readers as they frantically search for their favourite little treasures on each page. Which is your favourite spread in the new book? Are there any particular little treats we should try especially hard to spot?
I think my favourite spread is the one that introduces Bluebell the camper van. We see all the details both inside and out. 

Small readers might like to spot the stickers, and also try guessing which sleeping bag belongs to which bunny. 

It’s the first time in the entire series we have ever glimpsed Mum and Dad!

There are lots of beautiful collage elements in these books – where do you source you reference material?  
Thank you! The first book in the series, I Heart School, was a big stylistic breakthrough for me, using collage and textures in a new, more graphic way. Some of the patterns are completely made up by me, like the curtains and upholstery inside the camper van.
But getting back into the bunny groove has also meant rummaging in my fabric and paper collections for delicious patterns to use.  I found the nautical ribbon for the cover of Martha’s sketchbook in a vintage store on Portobello Market.

Your website claras.me is absolutely one of the best author / illustrator websites on the whole of the internet, such rich exciting content and such an abundance of lovely photos, do you find your website and social media are key in promoting your books? 

I’m so glad you like it. I think it’s pretty crucial these days. I see my website as an extension of my front room: visitors can call by whenever they fancy, sit a while for a chat over a virtual piece of cake… I try to arrange the cushions prettily and have new bits and pieces to show.

Do you have fond memories of balmy summer holidays in England as a child?

The great British seaside – YES! No summer holiday is complete without goosepimples on the beach, dropped ice lollies and sand in the sandwiches. I had never been abroad until I was 12. My Mum wasn’t very sporting about camping – although we did sometimes go with our Dad – so we stayed in a cottage with no electricity and no bathroom, which probably wasn’t much better!
Your charming characters have exquisitely observed childlike mannerisms which can only add to their appeal to both adults and children alike.  Are your characters sometimes based on real children or memories of your own bunny babies?

It’s a funny (bunny) thing: I don’t intend to base my fictional characters on real children, either mine or others, but I just can’t help it. My two are grown up now, but those early days seem merely minutes ago…
Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on next?

I am working with a very brilliant new author on the first story in a young fiction series. She has the ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time, which to me is pure genius.

Will you have a busy schedule of event over the summer? and where can people come and see you in action?

I am packing my bucket and spade and heading to the seaside!
I’ll be putting on an I Heart Holidays workshop event at Bags of Books in Lewes on July 12th, The Book Nook and Waterstones Brighton on July 29th, and Waterstones Tunbridge Wells on July 30th. Which isn’t by the seaside but we will be designing the perfect ice cream nonetheless. 

With huge THANKS to Clara for joining us to answer our questions and for creating such beautiful charming and joyful picture books for us all to enjoy.

Follow Clara on Twitter @claravulliamy  


Now pop along to the Child Led Chaos blog for the next instalment of this magnificent blog tour!

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