Sunday 25 September 2011

The Totally Terrifying Three - Totally TERRIFIC!

The Totally Terrifying Three
Written by Hiawyn Oram and illustrated David Melling...

Do I look scared?

I was taking a long soak in the tub on Saturday morning, loufer in one paw, pink flowery shower cap atop my head and an abundance of rubber duckies bobbing about me when I was most rudely interrupted by a loud and persistent banging at the front door.

I jumped out of the bath with a start and hurriedly donned my bath robe - It was thankfully not Avon calling but my good friend The Postman - he trust a wondrous package into my hands with the familiar markings of Sir David Melling stamped upon it.

Callooh callay what delightful treats would we find inside...

I could feel the familiar corners of a hardback picture book through the jiffy which almost always causes my heart to palpitate.

Out burst a copy of The Totally Terrifying Three - written by Hiawy Oram and illustrated by old friend of the Sniffer the squeezesome David Melling.

Some of you may remember the Rumblewick stories created by Hiawyn a few years back, (illustrated most skillfully by the ever so talented Sarah Warburton).

Hiawyn writes in a most poetic fashion (perhaps a throwback from her thespian days) she a particular nack for carefully crafting fully formed characters in just a small smattering of words. Hiawyn has managed to create a text here which if it were a Witches cauldron would have a pinch of rhyme, a sprinkle of interaction, an smattering of repetition and a big spoonful of humour.

Hiawyn and David were not a partnership I would have naturally put together but this book has brought them together in perfect harmony. (must be something to do with those visionary editors and designers at Hodder Children's Books!)

The Totally Terrifying Three consist of a big fat cumbersome fire breathing dragon, a stumpy grumpy little wicked witch and a stubbly GIANT in a sharp suit. All three think they are ever so ever so terrifying and scare themselves to bits assuming they will have the same effect on the everyday folk.


The (not so) Terrifying three try their best to terrify each other but fail miserably so they set about finding an easier victim - this new victim comes in the form of a saccharine sweet little toddler dressed in a teeny weeny bunny suit. Try as they might the cunning toddler isn't scared one bit and one by one charms the Terrifying three into not being scary at all. They mend their ways and promise to be lovely and charming from that day forth...well almost they still like to scare themselves in the mirror every now and again!

Davids masterful character illustrations never fails to impress and his subtly spooky autumnal pallet bring this story to life - he is a true craftsman.

 you can follow him on twitter @DavidMelling1 to find out more about his work (he posts regular sneak peeks inside his sketch books which are a REAL treat)

This book is far from terrifying and is actually rather terrific!
A spooktacularly splendiferous riotous tale perfect for Halloween and anything in between! Purchase/pre-order it HERE

Saturday 24 September 2011

Completely and utterly STUCK! on Oliver Jeffers

Well hark, look what I found lodged in the box topiary at Book Sniffer Towers this week - only a brand spanking new hardback copy of Oliver Jeffers fabulous vision in olive STUCK!

Oliver Jeffers Stuck published by Harper Collins - OUT NOW

Regular visitors to the Book Sniffer blog will know that I am ever so partial to the work of Jeffers - his books are always a clever mix of arty wonderment, child friendly charcters, zany comedy detail and simplistic perfection (Swoon)
 Stuck provided all of these classic elements in HUGE bucketfuls.

Mouse can hardly wait for me to turn the page!!!
Stuck introduces the audience to Floyd a curious ginger kid with a very sharp plaid shirt.  Floyd finds himself in the perennially tricksy position of getting his beloved red kite stuck waaaaay up high in a tree - What to do in such an emergency? ....well chuck loads of stuff up there to get it down of course!

Hilarity ensues, A personal climax for me being the lobbing of a bewildered Orangutan into the tree by way of kite retrieval - makes sense non?  It does to Floyd!

This could only end badly!

Floyd proceeds to thrown a multitude of random items into the tree to dislodge his kite including the kitchen sink, the milkman, a cat, a WHALE!, a truck a duck and a fire engine (containing a disgruntled fireman!). 
Such such such a simple idea executed so fantastically it really warms the cockles  - when people say there are no original ideas in picture books anymore they may (in a way) be right but there are always clever twists and alternative takes which can make a seemingly obvious idea into a little perfectly formed gem.

I loved this new addition to the Jeffers catalogue it hit the picture book perfection button square on, arguablbly some of Oliver's best illustrative work to date (There will be more to come no doubt)
My only tinge of disappointment was that I absolutely love more than anything peeling back the dust jacket on a Jeffers hardback to discover a secret treasure and underneath and on this one there was none. But of course the contents was treat enough!

The Sniffer is totally Stuck on Stuck and think Harper C and Oliver have done a smashing job on creating another Jeffers classic. More joyful than a whole bucket of baby orangutans.

A Jefferific creation of hilarious blue whale proportions!

A foot note:
                     I like to cast my mind back to the very first time I met Oliver Jeffers many many years ago at an Ottakar's (RIP) dinner in London - I believe it was a "Hot New Talent" soiree - back then Oliver was an excited newbie on the picture book carousel launching his very first hardback picture book - the sublime How To Catch A Star -

I remember fondly he swiped a "free" copy from one of the displays which he promptly signed for me proclaiming "stolen books are the best kind", that picture book as predicted way back then turned out to be a huge sucess - although it was a little too popular in the Book Sniffer household and as you can see Mouse (the cat) decided it was almost good enough to eat - She has not yet been forgiven ...

Wishing Oliver Jeffers fondest tidings and looking forward to the next wonderful creation.
Don't forget to check out our review of his MAGICAL app The Heart and the Bottle here... which is also well worth a look!

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Who wants to win a SIGNED copy of Levi Pinfolds Black Dog?

Ok so whilst I was sniffing books with the delish Levi Pinfold last week he kindly signed a copy of Black Dog for us to give away to a fellow sniffer via the medium of the blog. 

"A virtuoso display of drawings - Michael Foreman on The Django

Here's a bit about this magical frosty story of wonderment (just to wet your appetite) 

Have you ever heard the legend of The Black Dog? Some believe one glimpse of this fearful creature with set the most terrible events in when it visits the Hope family home, who could blame them for being alarmed?
This is a story about being scared...and about not being scared depending on how you see things.
A mysterious black dog appears outside the Hope family’s home. As each member of the household sees it and hides, the dog grows bigger and bigger

Only Small, the littlest Hope, has the courage to face the big Black Dog. When it chases her through the forest she shows no fear, so it grows smaller and smaller. Finally, back to the size of a normal hound, the Black Dog is welcomed into the Hope household as their newest addition.
I can tell you, paw on heart this is a stunning picture book from an award-winning and exceptionally dashing illustrator - (fingers crossed for the Greenaway Medal for this one.)
Well what fun indeed - A peachy prize and no mistakes
To be in with a chance of winning this scrumptious book leave a comment below and recommend the Book Sniffer blog to a Friend - We will choose a winner at random on Monday 26th Sept

Wednesday 7 September 2011

A week of wonderous postal delights!

Tis true, I am back in one piece from a booktacular Edinburgh Festival - I was most splendidly accompanied by one Ms Helen Boyle and her super enthusiastic companion Nghiem - What smashing ladies - I couldn't have been better looked after!
That Grey Friars Bobby isn't much of a conversationalist though! (stuck up much?)

Yes chums - that's ME and Sir Shaun Tan! what a nice fella

Anyway after all that hard work and errum a small smattering of socialising I thought it wise to take a recuperative break in the tropical climes of Snowdonia. Rain? you've never seen the likes - my finely coiffured coat was like candy floss.
Heavens above, never have I been more grateful for a big bag of
treats sent to me by the following kind folk - Mark Chambers, Sir Phillip of Earl and Lady Holly "the brush" Surplice -Three cheers for them!

Most dogs I understand are not the biggest fan of the local postman but I can say, paw on heart that when he brings me such delightful deliveries I could quite frankly give him a big smacker on the lips!

Firstly these two little gems - a magnificent print of one of Marks most splendid contributions to The Doggy Doodle Gallery - He certainly has a flair for it - This is a smasher

A bloomin corker by all accounts!
Mark also sent a delightful sketch of a monkey in a fez - SUBLIME! everyone should have one! THANK YOU MARK!

Clever chap!
I had also had my greedy little peepers on a book I had spotted on the Internet some time ago - Looked like a complete corker - The Diabolical Mr Tiddles!  (by Tom McLaughlin)
I set about sniffing it out tout sweet and lo and behold the Lullingtons at Simon and Schuster sent me a copy of my very own! What nice people.

Had to enlist 'Pugling Small'
 to read a few of these they had sent so many!

I'm not saying Mouse has anything at all in common with Mr Tiddles and is anything BUT a law abiding citizen but I did catch her surrounded by loot and MY copy of The Diabolical Mr Tiddles...naughty little kleptomaniac!

Yes that's my iphone unfder her dribbly little chin!
Back to the book - which I note is endorsed most highly by my number one crush Mr Oliver "kiss the Blarney Stone" Jeffers  SWOON.

Poor Harry, lover of all things 'feline', has longed for a cat of his own for many a year - unlike oneself he was not palmed off with a fish tank full of stick insects and on his birthday is presented with one very splendid, very stripy cat! 

Introducing the one and only ever-so-suspiciously charming and innocently named Mr Tiddles ...

Harry has a lot of pent up cat love to unleash on Mr Tiddles so they spend many happy days bonding over 3D movies and slurping milkshakes together - Tres sweet. However things take an unusual turn as Mr Tiddles decides he simply must repay his host with an array of unusual gifts...starting off in the not too brash department with dead mice and the like and moving on to slightly more high value items such as jet rocket packs, electric guitars and a rather smashing clock work monkey in a bowler hat! (I must get one of these)

 Harry's suspicions are raised (and would have been more so had this same level of gift giving happend at the time of the London looting episodes) Harry decides to follow our intrepid little 'tea leaf' on his nightly excursion only to discover Mr Tiddles is a master criminal and about to rob...*GASP*..THE QUEEN! Lorks-a-lordy! someone call the coppers!

I won't spoil the ending for you and will leave you as I was on tenterhooks as Mr Tiddles glides through the air by means of the queens chandelier with her bloomin crown in one paw! ...

Not since the last series of Luther had I been immersed in such adrenelin fuelled larks! I was quite literally gripped by the excitment if this whole story - A truely original concept with contemporary and lively illustrations throughout - Mr Tiddles will steal your heart (GROAN) and your TV set given half the chance! One certainly worth a good sniffing!

We give The Diabolical Mr Tiddles 4 kipper sandwiches and an x-box out of 5!

Next up for a good old snifferooney was this delightful package...

Smug Pug! Note the little bear in the corner...

Well surprise packages are just about my favorite thing and this one didn't disappoint - inside I found a beautifully wrapped blue paper parcel ...

Sniff sniff!

Well I never very own copy of About a Bear sent by "charming as a guinea pig on a scooter" Holly Surplice!

I have been pressing my puggy nose up against the window of my local Waterstone's every day for a week gazing adoringly at this and now I have my very own copy!

Holly is a great fave and regular contributer to our Doggy Doodle Gallery on Fridays !

Her bold confident collage and brushwork style instantly drew me to this book (that and the snoggsomely snuggly big brown bear! )

The text is perfectly crafted into a lulling bedtime-esque rhyme of delightful proportions - no mean feat - very tricksy indeed to craft a complete story from so few words.

 About a Bear follows bear going about his daily 'beary' business with a plethora of technicolour butterflys and a handful of other charming critters including a rabbit, a tortoise and a (non-smelly) skunk.

Lots of opportunity for joining in and copying bear, including a tittersome lesson in botty scratching! Crack open the ovaltine and get the little ones under wing and settle down for a lovely pre-bed story and butt scratching session...

We give this book 4 butterflies and a tortoise out of 5! A splendiferous bucket full of technicolour bear filled joy!

Keep Sniffing Book Sniffers and don't forget to spead the word!

Next week: An interview with bonkers as a bag of biscuits Melanie Willaimson - and a new Pictures Books That Changed the World spot on The Very Hungry Caterpiller! TTFN! x

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Picture Books Which Changed the World : 2

Number 2:  WHERE THEWILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak

Now then book addicts, it’s raining out there again and these nights are growing dark early. So I decided that, seeing as I’ve had my evening stroll, I’d go back to my prized shelf of classic picture books and sink into my favourite reading chair for the evening.

If I tell you how old the next book is in my collection you wont be surprised that it’s a little bit covered in cobwebs and needs a moment of attention from my feather duster.

Where The Wild Things Are was first published in……wait for it…..1963. Dear oh dear, that’s a very ancient 48 years ago. Quite impressive to think that almost half a century later, that book is still having an impact on young children all over the world…and book sniffing pooches like me, of course.

Now I do love a good MONSTER story. Especially when the nights are drawing in. And what better example than Maurice Sendak’s wonderful book. A perfect mixture of fun and frightening frolics with fantastical beastly characters and mischievous Max, the young boy through which the story is told.

 When Max is sent to bed for causing chaos in his wolf costume and threatening to eat his mother, his wild imagination causes a great forest to grow around him and when a rolling, crashing sea appears he climbs into a boat and sets sail on a long journey to the land of the wild things. Max meets a whole host of terrible monster types and tames them all by staring into their yellowy eyes. He is eventually made ‘King of all the Wild Things’ when they decide that he is the wildest of all and he leads them all on a rumpus where they sing and howl and dance their way through the pages.

But Max ally he becomes homesick and though the beasts beg him to stay, he decides to make the long journey home and return to his room where, luckily, his supper is waiting for him, still piping hot.

The book is one of the best examples of the unique and inimitable style that has made Maurice Sendak one of the worlds best known and most successful children’s writers and illustrators.

Apparently, he based the monsters in the story on relatives who visited his family home as a child.

‘I knew that my mother’s cooking was pretty terrible, and there was every possibility that they would eat me, or my sister or brother.’ He said.

Dear, oh dear, what an incredible imagination that man has. But nonetheless it did him a lot of good, the book won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1964 as the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children that year and the books popularity over time has lead to it being animated as a short film, adapted into an opera and more recently, 2009 to be exact, it was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, directed by Spike Jonze.

It has now also sold somewhere near to 19 million copies. Swoooooon, that is a lot of books my dear friends!

At the grand age of 83 Maurice Sendak is still writing and illustrating children’s books having published his latest creation ‘Bumble-Ardy’ in May of this year. Well done Uncle Maurice. Keep up the good work.

Thursday 1 September 2011

SUPER Sarah McIntyre goes Piratey! arrgh.

ACTUAL Pirate treasure! ...lovely.

Hello, Booksniffer readers! My name's Sarah McIntyre, and I illustrate and sometimes write picture books and comics.  I just had a new book come out with Gillian Rogerson ] called You Can't Scare a Princess!.
I've just been mucking around in my studio, with my friend over on the next desk, Gary Northfield. We took photos of each other and he let me dress him up as a pirate. Wahey!


You, too, can make pirates with these bits and bobs! I've made up a bunch of downloadable and printable sheets and put them on my website. One lets you design a very silly pirate and the other gives you great ideas for coming up with your own Pirate Treasure Map! Here's a peek at the Draw-a-Pirate sheets:


I had loads of fun designing silly pirates for this book. Each time I came up with one I liked, I would tape the picture to the wall by my desk. Here's the rogues' gallery:

And here you can see the pirates in action!


This is a pretty complicated picture (took me ages to paint!), so I'll give you a little tour and point out a couple bits of interest. First, look at one of the paintings on the wall. Yes! It's a picture of Princess Spaghetti's space ship from their first adventure, You Can't Eat a Princess!.

 I like to think the the princess and King Cupcake have kept in touch with their alien friends.

And here's a toy with four sheep in a boat, which is my obscure little reference to my studio, The Fleece Station , where four of us creators work all together in the same little room in an old police station. We have a lot of good laughs in there. We gave ourselves that name because when we set up the studio, we were all making comics about sheep.

Do stop by my website and blog , that can keep you busy for hours and hours with stuff to print out, draw, stick together and almost every day, I post one of my own drawing or a photo of something that catches my eye. This last illustration detail is for the Sniffer, You Can't Scare a Princess! even has a dog in it, a poodle on roller skates! But my poodle's a little tied up at the moment...

CRIPES! - Poor little blighter!

A big huge thank you and a bag of lovely fancy cakes to Sarah "the super star" McIntyre - she really is a piratical legend of the highest order!
Don't forget to
buy the book here!  it's a looty book of delightful piratey adventure and a whole buckle of swash!