Monday, 31 August 2015

How to draw a Fairy with Briony May Smith!

Continuing our celebration of the publication of Briony May Smith's Imelda and the Goblin King we have a very special rainy day treat for you! It's a step-by-step guide to learn to draw a fairy just like the ones in Briony's book! 

We'd love to see your creations so please tweet your drawing to @maybeswabey! 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Imelda and the Goblin King creator Briony May Smith shows us a sneak peek inside her sketchbook!

Flying Eye Books are legendary for creating magical heirloom books and award-winning future classics. Each book is created with passion, integrity and a true belief in making books to be treasured and cherished. 

One of the most stunning offerings this year comes from illustrator Briony May Smith, with a gaggle of impressive awards already under her belt Briony is without doubt destined to be a HUGE talent 

Briony's debut picture book Imelda and the Goblin King is a delightfully traditional and completely unique fairytale, shimmering with a gold embellished cover and fluttering with charming fairy creatures.
As fanciful as an actual fairy this story weaves a magical tale of brave and rambunctious Imelda and her quest to free the Fairy Queen from the simply gruesome Goblin King. 

With the help of a legion of delightful fairies of all shapes and sizes Imelda defeats the King and releases the Queen, henceforth becoming the queen of the Goblins and restoring calm to the once peaceful forest. 

This delicious fairy filled book flutters head and shoulders above the swathe of pink and glittery titles on offer, providing substance and magic in bucket loads and thoroughly embracing the wonderful innocent nature of a young imagination. 

We have an interview with Briony coming very soon along with a super handy step by step guide to drawing your very own fairy!

In the meantime just to whet your appetite here is a VERY exclusive sneak peek inside her sketch book - A work of magical wonderment - Three cheers for new illustrators on the block! 

FOLLOW THESE GUYS ON TWITTER @FlyingEyeBooks and @BrionyMaySmith 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Pocket Pirates AHOY! an interview with Chris Mould

Ahoy M'hearties tis Captain Book Sniffer here! the most famous rum swilling pug pirate to have sailed the seven seas. On my most recent voyage we ran into something very strange indeed. We had set off from the Isle of Dogs off on our way to Sardinia. There we had to drop off a supply of sardines to an awfully nasty, yet awfully rich, group of cats, I digress, 9 days into our journey we spotted a tiny island not found on any of our maps.

We sailed in to take a closer look. The island was no bigger than a kitchen table. in the distance sat a figure who appeared to be fishing with one hand and drawing with the other. It was right then that I recognised this chap! It was none other than world famous Greenaway Shortlisted Author and Illustrator Chris Mould... Captain Mould and how advantageous we should meet on the very month of publication of his latest illustrated series Pocket Pirates! (Published by Hodder Children's Books) 

With a dastardly eye on his treasure chest we promptly sailed  to the island and dropped anchor. I threw him a cup attached to a very long piece of string which he held up to his ear. I began to speak into my cup on the other end of the string... or so the tale goes...

Ahoy Captain Mould. Captain BookSniffer here... I have just finished your wonderful pirate adventure book 'Pocket Pirates - The great cheese robbery' How long have you been a fan of pirates?

Ahoy there mi Booksniffing bredrin. Good to hear you've been taking a gander at them there miniature sea faring rascals. Mmmmm I think me and Pirates go back a LONG time. Many years ago I discovered a dusty old copy of Treasure Island and fell in love with the idea of rogues and rascals and treasure seeking business and I haven't been able to shake it off since.

Another Chris Mould Pirate adventure Pirates 'n' Pistols also published by Hodder Children's Books
- the best Piratical compilation around AND shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2014! 

A very wise path to take Sir. I noticed that these pirates are very small... smaller than I! Why did you choose to make them so tiny (yet mighty)?

Well it was an idea that was a cross contamination of influences and inspiration. I used to LOVE The Borrowers and Old Mrs Pepperpot when I was little. The idea of tiny people was, and still is, universally appealing. I'd been re-reading The Borrowers and came across a ship in a bottle when I was on holiday at the same time and  I thought 'Aha yes, tiny pirates would live in there.' and so it began ...

That is brilliant. I do love seeing the tiny pirates in the wonderful pictures found in this book. Is it true you write and illustrated this title?

Thank you. Yes, first and foremost I'm an illustrator. And writing is something that came to me out of the creative process. I wouldn't call myself a writer as such but it allows me to create my own world and I'm happy there among the pirates and giant spiders and things of the night. It beats growing up any day of the week.

I hope you were paid two gold pieces for this!?

Ah times have changed. Cheese is the currency of the mini buccaneer. A good lump of Gorgonzola or Gruyere is worth a million doubloons. Such is the nature of the tiny world they inhabit.

Time for a joke I heard from my last voyage... What is a pirate’s favourite subject at pirate school?

Fire away with the joke cannon, a pirates favourite subject at school is ...?


Arrrr I like the cut of yer jib there, first mate. Now tell me what did the pirate say when he got his leg stuck in the freezer?

I don't know that one... fire away!

Shiver me timbers!  Oh I meant to say 'wooden leg'. Aha
I think I just about saved that one from sinking!

JUST! You almost had to walk the plank. I couldn't help but notice that the pocket pirates have a ships cat. I’m not a huge fan of cats... their fur balls get caught up in the cannons and ships rigging. Would you ever think about maybe swapping the cat for a ... pug?

Well no offence to yer muttliness there mi old chum but we'd be lost without a ship's cat. He's essential to life on a ship. There's no one lazes around in an old hammock as well as a cat. Not even a pooch.

Very true! Do you have a favourite member of the pocket pirate crew?

I think that would have to be Old Uncle Noggin. He's always got a daft story to tell, he's full of 'not very' funny comments and he's constantly eating. Actually I've just realised , I think he's me !

Will there be more adventures from the pocket pirate crew... a second book perhaps? My crew would love that!

Aye, t'is the first of four I'm happy to say.

Find out more about Book 2 HERE 

Four! Hazar! That is great news! We shall keep our eyes on the horizon for those new adventures!
I hear our ships cook calling... apparently our dinner is ready. Pedigree Squid tonight. Yum yum. He is a fantastic cook. A sausage dog by the name of Long John from Lands’ End.
Thank you very much Captain Mould for your time. I shall get the ships cabin puppy to type this all up and send it to shore.
Just one more thing... What did the pirate buy from the Apple Store?

I don't know what did the pirate buy from the Apple Store?

An i-patch     ... Arrrrrr!!! I love to tell a good joke whilst standing on my 'poop' deck

Arrrr yer a top crew member with those old chap. Why does it take pirates so long to learn the alphabet?  Because they spend all their time at C.

Arrrrr.... top joke. Farwell Captain Mould and may you continue to spread the good word of us pirates far and wide for many more tides!

Aye farewell ship mate and thank yer kindly. Much appreciate yer time.

We quickly pulled up anchor and continued our journey towards those filthy cats in Sardinia. It was fantastic to catch up with Captain Mould. Such a jolly fellow.
I wonder if he wanted a lift?

Here are some stunning snippets from Chris Mould's Pocket Pirates sketch book... Inspaaaarghrational, a true master of pen and ink. 

Buy the book HERE!  Follow Chris Mould on Twitter! @chrismouldink for japes, high jinx and piratical mischief! 

With HUGE thanks and imaginary doubloons to star guest interviewer Danny Pearson King of the High Seas who has done a sterling job and made this marvellous interview happen - Follow him on Twitter here! 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Are you ready for the Grande Reveal?...

We are totally thrilled, profoundly proud and completely honoured to be able to exclusively reveal the cover for Meg Mclaren's brand new picture book with Andersen Press 
'Life is Magic' 
So with a giant drum-roll, spectacular tooty fanfare and a thousand funny bunnies..ABRACADABRA and ALAKAZAM ..... here it is! 


We can't wait to see this beautiful debut picture book in real life, but we all have to wait a teeny bit longer...Sigh Publishing in March 2016!

Until then here are some other sneak peeps from inside the book too... What a treat. Bravo Meg and the team at Andersen Press. 


Meg is just an absolute treasure... Roll on the next book! 

FOLLOW Meg on Twitter @tinyrexwrecks and visit her brand new website
Find Andersen Press on Twitter here @AndersenPress 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Templar Summer Blog Tour with Helen Hancocks!

We are OVER THE MOON to be able to welcome fantabulous illustrator extrodinaire and star of the show  Helen Hancocks to the Book Sniffer blog today as we em'bark' on a week long summer blog tour with some of our very favourite blog buddies. 

As Helen's latest picture book masterpiece
'William Heads to Hollywood' hits the bright lights of the high street book store we are thrilled to be able to share with you an exclusive insight into how this book was created, Helens inspirations and a little bit about the elusive REAL William! 
What a treat. Slap on some lippy and a feather boa, we are about to set off towards the hollywood hills! BUCKLE UP!

William is very excited to be on the Booksniffer blog, not just because he wants to swap tips on cravats and bow ties, but also show you behind the scenes of his second book -  William Heads to Hollywood.  

 The story was partially inspired by this set of photos from LIFE magazine of lots of black cats queuing to audition for a film. William was very taken with the photos, he thinks he has the perfect airs and graces of any old classic movie star so it seemed the perfect setting for book two. Although I did have the idea for William hitting Hollywood long before Missing Masterpiece hit the printing press, it just took awhile to get the idea down.

It went through a lot of changes to get to the book you see today. Some of the ideas I had didn’t work out but I may use them in something else in the future, who knows.
I watch a lot of films (if you are interested I write a monthly post on my blog about what I have seen each month)  But here are a few films I watched that stood out in helping inform some aspects of the book. 

The Purple Rose Of Cairo, Sunset Boulevard, Paris When It Sizzles, The Big Sleep, Blazing Saddles, The Third Man, Singin in The Rain, 8 1/2, Bringing Up Baby.

This photo of the Disney Canteen and the MGM lion were also pinned up on my wall whilst working on the book. 

One scene/page of the book I had thought about including from day one was the party scene, after watching Paris when it sizzles I had a bit of an obsession of fitting a party scene in to some art work some how 

It was an excuse to go a bit crazy with costumes and things. William especially liked the idea too - he was very keen on mingling with the stars. Below is a few photos, from a very small initial thumbnail through to the painting of the party scene. So many fun things to spot in this page too. You may notice the Hollywood sign in these photos - but you may wonder why it isn’t in the book - well what I didn’t know and only found out once I had sent off the art work was the sign is copyrighted! Who would have thought?! 

Although this is one of my favourite spreads it is also the one that caused the most anguish in creating it - so much detail (my own fault) and a tight deadline, equaled  a random shakey hand and many tears. But I think it was worth it. I am just a little sad that the perfect Jelly I drew ended up in the page fold - I was so annoyed when I discovered that would happen. That and the fact i forgot to paint on Williams whiskers! shh don’t tell anyone.

The Hockney documentary came out just before I started painting up the art work, I think his use of colour rubbed of on me and helped to inspire the California feel. 

I always try and keep a sheet of paper to try out the colours before committing them to work, its like an extra bit of work. I also wipe my brushes on rags/kitchen roll and found they create nice textures too. 

Most of the time I never mix up enough for the big areas! But I do like the texture, tone and brush marks this can lead to. I use gouache paint and I think it has a mind of its own - i haven’t quite worked out if I am using it properly. oh well, sometimes the best bits are the result of happy mistakes.

I also use pencils to map out the page, i have just got in to using mechanical pencils, they are very pleasing to use. Also a rubber to rub everything out when it all goes wrong - it always means theres a lot of eraser lint to vacuum up afterwards. 

I hope you all enjoy Williams latest adventure, he is off to have some prawns and a cat nap - its hard work being an international cat of mystery!
In the mean time I thought I would leave you with a picture of what I am currently working on....

Don't forget to stop by and check out the other stops on the tour which are listed in the banner on the right hand side of this page! 

THANK YOU Templar Publishing for organising this. 

HUGE thanks to Helen Hancocks (and William) 
for taking part. FOLLOW HELEN ON TWITTER @helenhancocks