Friday 24 August 2012

BOOM! Deeeelightful Nadia Shireen in the Quick Fire Cannon

As a lovely bonus Friday treat for you sniffers we have managed to track down Nadia Shireen (author and Illustrator of Hey Presto AND Good Little Wolf) AND she has agreed to let us fire her out of the Book Sniffer Quick Fire Cannon!

Get your helmet on Nadia, Here goes! .....


1- Who would you most like to saw in half?
A worm, because they can survive that sort of thing, can't they?

2- What would you most like to pull out of a hat right this minute?
A comfortable work chair. A bowl of melon and grapes. And David Bowie, just to check he's alright.

3- Fancy dress of choice?
Prince, during his Purple Rain era – it's worryingly easy for me to put together.

4- Tell us your best joke....
Why does Edward Woodward have so many d's in his name? Else he'd be called Ee-war Woo-war... (this only works if you are of a certain age and know who Edward Woodward is.)

5- Fave biscuit in the biscuit tin?
Plain chocolate digestives. Now I'm going to have to visit the corner shop and get myself a packet!

6- Secret of your trade?
When it doesn't feel like work, it's working.

7- Last picture book you read?
"The Frank Show" by David Mackintosh. It's great.

8- Who should we follow on Twitter?
Hmm. That's tricky. No one person can improve your twitter experience. It's all about getting the right mix of people. Books and drawing-wise, @davidmaybury and @jabberworks always seem to know what's going on.

9- Top tip for an illustrative talent to look out for in the future?
My old college, Cambridge School of Art, does an MA show every year which is always full of exciting new people. I try not to look too hard in case I get scared and give up.

10- What did you want to be hen you grew up wen you were a child?
I wanted to be a cartoonist, a vet and join the Pet Shop Boys. I'm still working on the last two.

11- Best present you ever received?
My husband took me to Africa to see the lions.

12- Choose three toppings for your ice cream OR pizza?
Chocolate flakes, chocolate buttons and chocolate sauce (for the pizza, obviously...)

13- What's in your packed lunch today?
A fish finger sandwich and an apple.

14- Which three illustrators would you most like to have a tea party with?
Assuming living or dead, I'd say Dr Seuss, Ronald Searle and Brian Wildsmith (he's still alive, of course!) Ronald Searle only liked to drink Champagne, so I'd let everyone get tipsy and wait for them to divulge their secrets.

15- Best piece of advice you ever received?
"Don't worry so much," which everyone seems to tell me at some time or another.

16- Which animal would you most like to kidnap from the zoo?
A cantankerous bear. For the challenge of it.

17- Best thing you've ever found...?
I found a little white kitten limping by the road when I was younger. I took him home and he used to suckle on my earlobe and fall asleep on my shoulder.

THANK YOU NADIA - you are a sooooper star.
Visit her website here AND follow her on Twitter@NadiaShireen
check out out Hey Presto Book Sniffer competition here

Thursday 16 August 2012

INTRODUCING - Hannah Cumming

Well ahoy there Sniffers! Toot Toot, I'm back from my  holibobs, all refreshed and ready for some intense sniffing (I've mssed you!).

I have a lovely treat for you this week, and it comes in the form of another exclusive first interview with ANOTHER intensely talented author and illustrator the ever so delightful Hannah Cumming (creator of such delights as The Red Boat, The Lost Stars and The Cloud)

So here's a little interview we put together - get the kettle on, make a brew and have a sniff!

What can you see from your studio window? 

I overlook an adventure playground full of trees, and a city farm- so get lots of gorgeous greenery and the sound of animals on a daily basis! Quite lovely when you’re in the middle of a city. The only downside though- I’m a terrible daydreamer and find trees a bit hypnotic. I’ve procrastinated hours away in an open mouthed trance staring at nice trees.

Who would you most like to get lost with and why?
Well if it can’t be my amazing boyfriend then maybe the Dalai Lama. Because he would probably be able to keep me zen-like calm and happy in any situation. And If he happens to have bought along his Ray Mears book we’re going to be fine!

Which sport real or otherwise would you be most likely to win a gold medal in?
If being disorganised was a sport I would win gold. Though ironically I’d also get gold for making lists. I make lots of great lists, just writing them is often enough to make me feel organised- sadly that’s where it ends, I haven’t quite cracked the bit where you cross everything off them!

What is the best thing you've ever found?
It sounds silly but I found an old bunch of keys when I was little. I had no idea who’s they had been or what they had been for- they became magic keys, naturally, as if it was The Secret Garden and they each unlocked a door to an amazing place.

What do you listen to while you are working?
It depends, quite a mix. Paul Simon, the Eurythmics, Crosby Stills and has to suit the project a bit (children’s books and Guns n’ Roses don’t mix). I listen to radio 4 and podcasts like Adam and Joe, and discovered a website with every single Poirot and Miss Marple radio play on last year, that was amazing! (I’m an Agatha Christie geek.)

Can you show us your fave page from your most recent sketchbook?
Every so often I have a ‘shapes’ page. I draw lots of squiggly shapes and try to turn them into characters. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a handy little way to fire up your imagination a bit! You never know who a story idea will pop up from.

Do you collect anything? if so what and why and can we see?
I love old things and anything that tells a story. I love antique shops and car boot sales! There’s a wonderful shop in Bridport, Dorset called Palmers that sells old postcards and photo’s. I’m a magpie for history.

Tell us about the story/inspiration behind your latest picture book?
The Red Boat came about from one doodle, as they often do. I’d doodled a little boat then loved the idea of it being a magical flying boat instead of an ordinary I started to think about why a little girl might want to fly away all the time, and the story came from there.

 I had in my head some of the great ‘flying’ books...some favourites of mine are The Flying Postman by
VH Drummond

and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs.

Have you sniffed any good picture books lately?
I’ve discovered and rediscovered some great books! We got down a box from the loft at my parents, the last box of books from childhood we had begged to be kept years ago. Amongst them were The Great Blueness And Other Predicaments by Arnold Lobel,

and Stanley and Rhoda by Rosemary Wells (she draws the best animals ever).

I also found my copy of ‘The Little Flower King’ by Kveta Pacovska the other day, she’s fantastic. More recent a-little-bit-in-love-with discoveries are Jon Klassen, Rebecca Cobb and Kevin Waldron.

If you happened to be floating around on a cloud who would you spy on?
Oh everyone! Maybe the royal family. Anyone you can’t seem to imagine just doing every day things at home like staring vacantly into the fridge when they’re at a loose end (or is that just me?!).

Which star would you most like to share high tea with?
I don’t know if I could pick just one...but as we’re talking about illustration, I’d love to meet Raymond Briggs. Or Allan Ahlberg or Posy Simmonds. Heroes of mine!

How useful do you find social media?
I find it immensely useful. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet though. I’ve been slightly awed of twitter, in that you can be just sitting in your studio, then all of a sudden be having a conversation with someone you’ve only read about and hoped one day to meet! It’s an amazing communication device, I’ve discovered so many great illustrators and writers through twitter.

Who should we follow on Twitter?
A very small selection of the friends and talented people worth following @ChloeCumming, @laurentobia, @SarahWarbie, @rebecca_cobb, @TomPercivalsays @Alex_T_Smith, @tree_pig, @Rachel_Bright2, @Optimistontour , and my lovely studio mate @MrToodle! @qikipedia for daily factoids! There are too many...

Tell us your best joke?
I’m not sure you could say best...
What kind of cheese do you use to tempt a bear from the woods? Camenbert...

Which biscuit would you choose from the biscuit tin?
A garibaldi. And you can’t beat a good digestive.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
It was said to me about illustrating but can apply to so much; don’t give up- things worth having usually require lots and lots of hard work.

Which three tools of you trade could you not live without?
My trusty Schmincke watercolours, my Faber Castell pencils, and more recently my Wacom tablet!

What has been the proudest moment of your publishing career so far?
One friend who’s a primary teacher found using The Cloud in lessons really worked to talk about friendship and inclusion, which really touched me. It’s a good book to use as a jumping off point to talk about people who have problems or are ‘different’ with children. Similarly with The Lost Stars it’s been used in lessons as a basis for environmental projects and talking about the natural world, which makes me very happy indeed. I was quite blown away when I heard a planetarium wanted to make it into a show for children, too!

What are you working on next? and can we have a sneak peek?
I’m working on something with this mischievous little rabbit- but I can’t say any more than that at the moment I’m afraid! All will be revealed soon!

We'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to Hannah for popping in to visit us and a big thanks with a cherry on top to Child's Play for sending us Hannah's wonderful books.

Visit Hannah's website here and follow her on Twitter @hannah_cumming

Monday 6 August 2012

There's a new critter in town! Foxy by Emma Dodd

TA-DA at last he's arrived - A little cheeky old magical Foxy the latest creation penned by super-glam gal about town Emma Dodd.

This jolly picture book features a little curly red-haired girl named Emily and uber cool Foxy who just happens to have a magnificent magical bushy tail (SIGH).

Poor old Emily is worried about starting school (yelp) and fortunately her little buddy Foxy is on hand to try to help her get everything she needs ready for school.

With all good intentions Foxy's magical powers are not up to scratch and he magics up all manner if hilarious mistakes with a swoooosh of his magical tail.
Amongst other mishaps a penguin instead of a pencil and a confused looking elephant instead of an eraser! teheheeeeee and the fun continues.

If there was ever a creature to pip me to the post in his dapper nature it might well be Foxy. He's cool, clever, funny and most certainly Foxy (more so in his purple fedora!) brimming with charm and cheeky wonderment this character has heaps and heaps of potential and I think he may well be one of my new faves.
Foxy deserves every success and we have no doubt he'll bring a large pencil case full of joy to lot's and lot's of little sniffers
I'm sure we are set to see more of this little fella and I do hope he pops in to Book Sniffer Towers again soon to swoosh his wonderful magic tail right now I'd like Foxy to swoosh me a lovely big cup of tea.

Three cheers and congratulations to Emma Dodd and thank you with a magical swoosh to Harper Collins for sending us a copy! : ) toot toot to that!

Starting School

Ckeck out Emma Dodd's Facebook page Emma Dodd Illustration and follow her on Twitter @emmadodd2

Thursday 2 August 2012

The Baked Alaska Story - written and illustrated by Chris Vine

Hmmmm…now if you had told me I was going to open the front door to a flurry of snow in the middle of summer I might just have turned up my shiny wet nose? However… on this occasion, I must say that surprisingly, it was most welcome.

Well because it came in the form of Chris Vine’s self published limited edition print run of his very own cool, crisp, creation - The Baked Alaska Story. teheheee what a treat!

Chris Vine studied at the Bradford Regional College of Art, looking at the work of Rene Magritte, Saul Steinberg, Anthony Earnshaw, Roland Topor and the films of Luis Bunuel.
After lecturing in art (Cumbria and London) he became a freelance artist / illustrator in 1983.

Now this wonderful book is one of only a 1000 copies. as rare as hens teeth indeed. So I feel honoured to grasp its scrumptious pages between my paws (and yes, of course they’re clean…how dare you).

The Baked Alaska Story was born from a series of unrelated paintings that gradually grew into the wonderful story which is now told in this book.

Quick Fire Canon Anyone?

Far away in an ice cold place a single snowman appears in the night. He rolls the snow to create a perfect copy of himself and so on until the whole land is brimming with snowpeople and choc-a-bloc with ice cold snow-tacular antics, Eventually the whole planet overheats and reaches a climatic melting point. (WARNING:mild snowman peril !!)

Ice Cream stock pile - Yes please nom nom nom

Coupled with artwork that has unending commercial and comic appeal, this tale is a small gem to be locked away and treasured, (should you be lucky enough to get hold of one).
A beautiful book created by an exceptionally talented artist.
Now I'm off to grab myself a Cornetto!

You simply MUST visit Chris's website - his work is inspirational and unmissable.

You can get hold of your very own copy of The Baked Alaska Story by contacting Chris through his website the book costs £15 +P&P payable by cheque

and at
Zillah Bell Art Gallery, Thirsk
The Tube Art Gallery, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

In autumn it will be available at -

Salts Mill, Saltaire
Dean Clough Art Gallery, Halifax
Fred Wade Bookshop, Halifax
The Children's Bookshop, Lindley, Huddersfield
The Bookcase, Hebden Bridge
The Water Street Gallery, Todmorden
The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley
Radish Bookshop, Leeds

The Baked Alaska Story will be launched at Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax on October 13th along with an exhibition of all the artwork, and continues until about the middle of January.