Monday 30 December 2013

There's a Shark in the Bath - an interview with Sarah McIntyre

So you thought it was safe to dip your toe back in the picture book pool huh? 
Well think again, it's almost 2014 and we're back with an almighty flood of wonderful stories.
First up we have a huge idol of mine (not least because of her fabulous head gear) Sarah 'the scribble' McIntyre, with her latest picture book triumph 

There's a Shark in the Bath! 
(Published by Scholastic Jan 2014) 
Snap up a copy now!
Mild peril at it's very best, we find ourselves in a familiar domestic setting, as dynamic Dulcie a kid with cred, discovers not one... not two.. but a whole family of actual sharks in her bath tub, this comes as something of a surprise but Dulcie takes everything in her stride.
                                 There's a shark in the bath
These ferocious toothy sharks are intent on gobbling her up in one bite but She's a gal with a plan and comes up with all manner of extraordinary ways to distract the fearsome beasties from mission munch. 
myriad of kooky ocean critters including an octopus a crab and a hilarious lip stick embellished puffer fish join in the fun and the pages begin to fizz and bubble with the chaos that ensues. 
You'll be battling your way through swathes of frothy bubble bath and reams of toilet paper as the frenzy continues. Savvy Dulcie wraps up the crazy game of cat and mouse (almost literally) with a cunning episode of the ever-so popular 'Spick-and-Spanny' game! and just in the nick of time the fearsome sharks make a rapid retreat. But will that be the only surprise guest at Dulcie's house.. I fear not. 
There's a Shark in the Bath is an aquatic take on the boy who cried wolf with a modern twist. Sarah has a unique and unparalleled ability to create picture spreads which quite literally bounce and tumble out of the pages regardless of the boundaries of the pages (something which must come from such a great skill in adapting her work for comic strip formats), completely immersive and utterly engaging. The vibrant pallet and inclusive characterisations all work together perfectly in this winning combination.
Find FABULOUS Sharky activities HERE
We are utterly thrilled to welcome Sarah to Book Sniffer Towers for a spot of breakfast, here's our interview.  
Dulcie is a crazy-cool kid, How would you describe yourself as a child?
I wasn’t crazy-cool at all! But I was fascinated by sea life and I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. My family used to go on holiday to Canon Beach in Oregon every year and I loved staring into the tide pools, each one a magic little kingdom. And rather less magically, I liked to poke the anemones with a stick to watch them pucker up.

Do you have a shelf of special things? If so which are your top three faves?
My flat’s filled with STUFF. Stuff everywhere. But I think my favourite things are artwork. It’s hard to rank them, but I have a lino print of a Southwold beach by Chris Wormell, an original drawing of an ancient fortress by Philip Reeve from his Traction Codex...

and an oil painting my sister made of her friend sitting in a bar with sunlight coming through her beer glass.

Tells us about a detail on one of the pages we should look out for (I love the frog with the lipstick) And which is your favourite spread?
 Ha ha! That’s my favourite, too. The frog and blowfish really get stuck in with that makeup. They end up looking like drag queens in a car wreck. I also like Colin the crab, who makes an appearance from another book I’ve done. When I was nearly finished with the book, my husband spotted a page without Colin on it and got worried. (‘Where’s Colin?!’) So I painted him in.  I love the page where the sharks make silly wigs and ‘taches out of bubbles:

And I’m also proud of the final endpapers, where I’d really got up a good steam for painting those shark dudes. I think I best captured their joyous gaiety on those last pages.

If you came face to face with a shark in a bath tub how would you feel?
Very surprised! But I’m quite practical about these things. I’d probably ring the RSPCA.  
Summarise your new book in 5 words
Do you have a book by your bed at the moment? What is it?
Three books! A wonderful little comic made of collage and photos by Philippa Rice, called We’re Out, and I’m just starting The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean. 
And a picture book called Chester by Melanie Watt, that I keep meaning to give to my neighbours because they have a big bossy cat named Chester, just like the one in the book. But I like the book too much to give away, I really need to buy them another copy.
                                 Chester by Melanie Watt
Tell us about your bath time essentials?
I LOVE my bath! It’s always been the one place where I can read a book and no one will disturb me. It was the same when I was a kid, but if I took too long, my sister would sometimes go outside to the window, reach through and dump a glass of cold water on my stomach. (We were awfully kind to each other.)  
What are you working in now? Will the cereal bowl elephant make an appearance in its own book? 
I did think that There’s an Elephant in my Cereal would make a great follow-up! But no, I’m working on another picture book with my fabulous editor, Pauliina Malinen-Teodoro and amazing designer, Rebecca Essilifie. Pauliina gave me two words and asked if I could come up with a book themed on those two words. It was a brilliant suggestion, I went away and wrote something and now we’re working together to get it ready to illustrate. My picture books are very much a team effort. Even my Oliver and the Seawigs writer, Philip Reeve, had a look over it and gave me some helpful suggestions.  I love bouncing ideas off people, that excitement when everyone’s in the zone and coming up with hilarious details.

Who should we look out for on Twitter?
Most of my co-authors are on Twitter: Gillian Rogerson - @gillianrogerson - Claire Freedman - @clairefreedman - Philip Reeve - @philipreeve1 and Anne Cottringer - @cantilupe. You can also follow my brilliantly talented studio mates: Gary Northfield - @gnorthfield - Elissa Elwick -@ElissaElwick - and Lauren O’Farrell - @deadlyknitshade. I’m also a big fan of the weekly Phoenix Comic - @phoenixcomicuk.

What would your top three tips be for budding young illustrators? 
1. Don’t just make pictures, make books. And don’t get bogged down in epic long books, make little ones that you can make in a short amount of time, possibly even in a day. There’s something so confidence-building about seeing a whole book through from start to finish. You can play around with different kinds of bookbinding. Just having to get the pages in order makes you discover a lot of little things about how books work. …Here’s one of the very first books I made, as a kid, called My Fish. I gotta say, the sharks in There’s a Shark in the Bath are way more exciting than that goldfish.

2. Set small projects for yourself. The comics community is great for this with its Internet memes. For example, there’s Hourly Comics Day (draw a comics panel about your day, every hour you’re awake) and 24-Hour Comics Day (make a whole comic book in 24 hours). It could be something as simple as posting a drawing on your blog every day.
3. Set up a blog. It’s not just to publicise yourself, it’s also good for keeping yourself accountable, so you can see what you’ve drawn, and what sort of activities you’ve been getting up to. If you think your life looks boring on your blog, you can go out and do things to make the blog more exciting and then discover that your life is getting more exciting, too.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? 
Probably that last thing, to keep a blog. That was from my classmate Ellen Lindner at art college. It makes me feel like my life’s a story, that I’m living something exciting. And since I have a terrible memory, it helps me recall what I did last year, even last week. I feel like I’m turning into some sort of cyborg, with half my brain stored on the Internet.

You made it to the dizzying heights of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize judging panel, so tell us a joke! 
It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.
You can find amazebubbles activity sheets from each of Sarah's books on her brilliant website: - the perfect entertaining antidote for the end of the school holidays. CLICK HERE for heaps of Sharky fun! 
With HUGE thanks to Sarah & the kind folk at Scholastic! TOOT TOOT

Friday 29 November 2013

Baby's First Christmas With Baby London / Surrey / Hampshire Magazines

With the Christmas season almost upon us here is a round-up of perfect board books for baby's first Christmas, little gems to ignite a lifetime love of reading and perfect for that very special first stocking. 

First up...


£7.99 small format hardback 
Written and illustrated by Emma Dodd
Published by Templar Publishing  

Part of an exquisite collection of glorious foiled picture books with a simple rhyming text about mindfulness, friendship and family relationships. Beautifully crafted to be read and enjoyed together featuring a father bear and his adorable bear cub. We cross the sparkling frosted tundra as bear cub discovers that though life's ups and downs a father's love lasts forever. 

"When you're scared and feel unsure, you'll find me right beside you. If you're ever feeling lost you know I'll always find you."

See the complete collection here 


£9.99 board book 
Written and illustrated by Charley Harper 
Published by Ammo 

There are numerous ABC books on the market for little ones, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest simply for the stunning design lead nature of the content. 

Beautifully stylised and filled with all manner of creatures some more recognisable than others but each more utterly beguiling than the last. certainly an essential addition to the home library of appreciators of contemporary design. 

The BabyLit Collection 
£5.99 board books 
a collaboration Alison Oliver and Jennifer Adams
Published by Babylit 

A fashionable way to introduce your child to the world of classic literature. Simple themes such as colours and first words are woven through the pages of well known classics including Moby-Dick, A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice and many more ...

You can find the complete range on - Completely unique and a splendid way of sharing grown-up favourites with a very young audience. 


£6.99 board book 
Illustrated by Ellen Giggenbach 
Published by Templar Publishing

Vibrant juicy paper cut style illustrations leap off the pages of this first numbers book. Featuring lots of shiny details to spot and count on each page this engaging first concept book will be a firm favourite. 

With a specialism in paper craft Ellen has created a retro chic masterpiece. Also available for older siblings Ellen Giggenbach's My Zoo and My Town - make and do books which enable you to create an entire zoo / town form one books without the aid of glue. Marvellous stuff.  

It's a Little Book 

£5.99 board book 
Written and illustrated by Lane Smith 
Published by Macmillan Children's Books 

'Is it for chewing? Is it for wearing? Is it for calling? NO ...It's for reading. 

A companion title to the best-selling picture book 'It's a Book' which I also highly recommend, this humorous board book explores the various alternative functions of a book according to a toddler, including using it as a hat, a building block and a telephone. The hilarious expression in the characterisation is second to none and it will have both baby and parent laughing out loud. An absolute must for new parents who almost certainly enjoy at some point the real life interpretation of the themes in this story. 

Lets hope each and every little one receives a lovely book in their stocking this Christmas! I simply cannot think of a more perfect gift to open imaginations and ignite a life long love of books, reading and sharing. 

Post written in association with 

You can subscribe to these magazine here

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Tuesday 26 November 2013

A Yuletide Bonanza!

‘The Yuletide season is almost upon us dear chums, the perfect time for sharing a picture book under a huge cosy quilt so here for your delectation and delight are a selection of absolute Christmas Picture Book Crackers.‘

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan - Rules of Summer
A mesmeric addition to Shaun Tan’s eclectic array of thoughtful and surreal picture books.
Two brothers explore the boundaries of their relationship in a breath taking landscape inhabited by a menagerie of make-believe creatures. This book grows more sublime with every brush stroke and each turn of the page.
Quiet menace … a scene from Tan's <i>Rules of Summer</i> (Lothian Books/Hachette).

Herman’s Letter  by Tom Percival 
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
The best depiction of friendship since Bert and Ernie, Herman (the bear) and Henry (the raccoon) are best of friends but when Henry moves away Herman has trouble dealing with his own company and feeling jealous of Henry’s new life.
Herman decides to embark on an epic and at times hilarious journey to find his best friend.  A perfect book for sharing with someone you love.
Herman's Letter Page spread

Ernest and Celestine - Merry Christmas 
By Gabrielle Vincent
Published by Catnip distributed by Bounce Marketing
Dear old bear and little mouse are back in a beautiful classic, Using ingenuity and love Ernest organizes a wonderful Christmas party for Celestine and her friends. A wonderful traditional tale with a supremely relevant message about the joys of a homemade Christmas and sharing it with those you love. Home really is where the heart is with Ernest and Celestine, this book is as warming and comforting as an afternoon by a log fire with a cup of hot chocolate.
'Merry Christmas Ernest and Celestine'
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space 
By Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman 
Published by Flying Eye Books
Flying Eye Books are trailing a dazzling blaze with this utterly visually arresting book - Professor Astro Cat guides our intrepid space explorers on an amazing interstellar adventure – Ben's artwork is eye boggling, cool and cutting edge and compliments perfectly the fact filled text in a unique and engaging way. Complete with a fact file at the back and cheese stealing aliens – What’s not to love. 
A beautifully produced book which will leap off the shelves.
Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten 
Published by Nosy Crow
A perfectly pink rhyming ‘tail’ about a mischievous kitten and a ball of magical pink wool. 
Penelope has the run of a most marvelous palace as she chases a playful kitten tumbling and skipping through the grounds of her home. With a wonderful vibrant pink glittery trail to follow on each page. Completely delicious .

The Story of Stars – By Neal Layton 
The third in the ‘Story of…’ series , The Story of Stars contains millions of stars and the rest of the cosmos squashed into 10 pop-up pages.. that’s all!!!!!
The Story of the Stars - Hardback - 9781444901122 - Neal Layton
You will gasp and gawp at the incredible pop-up’s which spring, shoot and unfurl from the pages of this book. A chronological journey through the discovery of stars with Neal’s hilarious mad cap style and numerous funny details to spot  - this book will be shared over and over for millions of years to come.  
Stars the universe and EVERYTHING – what more could one ask for? Also a special mention to in mind boggling background research undertaken by Captain Layton – He certainly deserves a sit down and a cup of tea.
stars rockets
A Letter for Bear – By David Lucas 
Published by Flying Eye Books
A glistening gem of a book – a small hardback printed in the colours of frosted ginger bread this story tells the wintery tale of an earnest post man bear and how a cockle warming cosy Christmas cave party with his forest friends came to be.

Alice Through The Looking Glass
Published by Harper Collins:

A beautiful re-imagining of the lesser known Alice tale including
all of your favorite characters to spot.  
This version will engage and enthrall readers of all ages and make an enviable addition to any home library. 
Emma’s vibrant pallet and ability to create movement and character make this particular version a true treasure.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Babar Collection – By Jean De Brunhoff 
Published by Egmont
An exquisite slipcased edition of a much-loved collection of stories featuring a regal family of elephants. 
With a beautiful mix of 5 classic stories including Babar and Father Christmas, fans of Babar new and old will relish this wonderful book.
This timeless collection would make a wonderful gift.
The Babar Collection: Five Classic Stories
The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Special Edition
By Judith Kerr – Published by Harper Collins
A delectable celebration edition of what must be one of the most iconic picture books of recent generations. With vibrant technicolor illustrations which will transport you instantly into Sophie’s world. 
First created in 1968 this tale of an imaginary tiger and the implications of having one over to tea will continue to appeal to young readers for many many years to come.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea Slipcase Edition

Pug’s Picks of the year: 
A special mention for some of my 
particular highlights of 2013
I have been extremely lucky this year to have received an absolute abundance of wonderful picture books, but if I was pushed and HAD to choose 4 which I just KNOW you will love then these are the one's I'd pick.
The Storm Whale – By Benji Davies (@Benji_Davies)
Published by Simon and Schuster - Review here
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam
By Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton  (@TraceyCorderoy and @2dScrumptious)
Published by Nosy Crow - Review here
A future gem publishing soon illustrated by lully Steve Lenton shifty mcgifty and Slippery Sam! Classic
Primrose by Alex T Smith (@Alex_T_Smith)
Published by Scholastic - Review here
Amazing Primrose by Alex T Smith, featuring a familiar pug!
Bubble & Squeak by James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy (@mayhewjames and @ClaraVulliamy)
Published by Orchard Books - Review here
Happy Reading Sniffers – See you next year! TOOT TOOT!

Please don't forget to follow me on Twitter this Christmas season @maybeswabey and join our fabulous Facebook page here

Saturday 16 November 2013

The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of a Pig by Emer Stamp

You will spot some exclusive comic strips by Emer throughout this post which will give you a Pork Scratching flavour of this tittersome curly tale.

What'O Sniffers, I have a slightly different treat for you today, It's a FICTION title, one that is highly illustrated non-the less but something different to add to the mix for your delectation and delight. This particular story is illustrated throughout  by the ever so bonkers cool as a cucumber Emer Stamp so here it is. 

Introducing ...
The Unbelievable Top 
Secret Diary of a Pig 
by Emer Stamp 

Let me introduce you to Pig, A portly young chap chap with delusions of grandeur, Pig is best chums with Duck, and together they both hate Chicken's (who are according to Pig, evil with black beady decidedly evil eyes! 

Dear simple Pig lives a blissfully happily existence on the farm with a Farmer, who unbeknown to poor old pig is fattening Pig up to make some delicious porky products. (Pig see's this lavishment of foody treats as a gesture of pure love) 

Pigs zenlike friend Duck shows him the error of his misguided affections and together they think of a plan to escape the farm before Pigs buttocks become bacon. 

Unexpectedly the evil beady eyed Chickens are keen to 'help' poor desperate Pig with his predicament and decide to launch Pig into space. 

As you might expect from a gang of evil chickens construction of their space rocket / tractor hybrid is already well under way - Mission escape is on! (Laika the pig?) Will he make it to outer space or will his short piggy life end in a tragic tractor rocket malfunction? 

Think Mr Gum crossed with Charlotte's Web, well seasoned with snort worthy jokes and hilarious illustrations. I am a huge fan of illustrated fiction and it's great to see a new pig on the block to join the likes of iconic favourites Claude, Dixie O'Day and Mortimer Keene (Although I don't think they'll think much of this Pigs flatulence problems) 

A beautifully packaged book with slop bucket loads of appeal - this book will be leaping off the shelves into the hands of eager young readers faster than Pig can gobble down a bucket of slops. 

Bravo Emer. 

Emer Stamp author photo
  • Emer grew up on a farm in Devon and her first ambition was to be a vet.
  • She is the creative brains behind the John Lewis 2011 Christmas ad, The Long Wait.
  • She is an over-enthusiastic kick-boxer HA-YA!
  • Emer works for a top London advertising agency 
  • Diary of a Pig is her first children’s book 

This book contains farting pigs, evil chickens, gnomes, space rockets and a philosophical duck ... What more can I say to tempt you! Have a read. 

5 dazzling porky frazzles out of 5!

Watch the trailer here