Thursday 28 February 2013

Introducing David Roberts ...and the Great Puggish Bake-Off!

This week we are lucky enough to welcome Victoria Sponge fan and illustrator extraordinaire David Roberts to Book Sniffer Towers.*insert tooty fanfare*
David worked as an ubercucumbercool fashion illustrator in Hong Kong before becoming one of the UK's foremost illustrators. David has worked with an enviably glittering list of writers including Sally Gardner, Phillip "the beard" Ardagh, Georgia Byng, Carol Ann Duffy and Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson.

He has won the prestigious Nestle Children's Book Prize Gold Award for Mouses Noses on Toast in 2006, and was shortlisted  for the 2010 CILIP Kate Greenaway medal for The Dunderheads. 

We are utterly thrilled on a stick to have David here with us and it's a double celebration because not only is it the 10th Birthday of David's grubby little creation Dirty Birtie ... (website coming soon)...

but the second eagerly anticipated utterly triumphant fiction collaboration with Sally Gardner Three Pickled Herrings part of the Wings & Co Series is also published this month by Orion Children's Books.  

SO in a Great Puggish Bake-off style we would like to welcome David to our specially erected tent-kitchen in the picturesque grounds of Book Sniffer Towers to take part in his very own quick fire interview Bake-Off challenge…

Now it’s time for your Signature Bake… 

In a world of slick full colour illustration in your face graphics do you think black and white pen and ink artwork in fiction still relevant / admired/ enjoyed by children?
Absolutely yes, it’s always relevant and I can’t imagine any good reason why an image shouldn’t sit alongside a piece of text.

What challenges does illustrating a fiction title present that differ to that of illustrating a picture book?
In a picture book the images are often telling the parts of the story that aren’t written. Whereas in illustrated fiction you are I suppose creating an atmosphere and perhaps leaving things out is as important as what you show so as not to give too much of the story away through the image.

What can you see from your studio window?
Imperial War Museum, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the Gherkhin, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and the BT Tower! And a variety of cats passing through the garden!

What do you listen to when you are working?
BBC Radio 6 Music, I particularly like Shaun Keveny and Lauren Laverne in the morning. The afternoon will be spent either listening to an audio book or singing along to a CD.

Do you have a foolproof recipe for the perfect Victoria Sponge? 
Yes! Buy it from M&S

Have you sniffed any good picture books lately?
Yes, I bought an old copy of a book called ‘Richard’ by Charles Keeping about a police horse.

You have been paired up with a glittering spectrum of great authors in your career, Are there any authors who you haven't yet collaborated with who you hanker after working with? 
I’m a big fan of Jeanne Willis and I’m really keen to work with her.

Technical Challenge...
List three essential tools of your trade? (Two of which can be pickled herrings if you wish)
My radio, a pencil and a cup of tea

At your peak working on the illustrations for Operation Bunny how many rabbits do you think you were drawing each day…
A lot! But I like drawing rabbits, as I like their funny ears so it was a pleasure not a chore

Best piece of advice you received while training as an illustrator ?
I trained as a fashion designer so I suppose the best advice I received was when someone said ‘Have you ever thought of being a children’s book illustrator?’

You recently illustrated Wind in the Willows for Oxford University Press, and you are well known for your re-tellings of classic fairytales, Which other children's classic would you most like to illustrate?
There’s a long list! The ‘Wizard of Oz’ is up at the top alongside ‘Beowulf’ and I’m just finalizing the details of a fourth fairytale retelling with my sister.

Which one piece of advice would you give to an author working with an illustrator on a joint project?
Give them the freedom to interpret the text in the way they see fit but also do comment if you think they’ve missed the point.

What are you working on now?
I continually work on the Dirty Bertie books written by the wonderful Alan Macdonald. I’m also working on my fourth picture book with Julia Donaldson then later in the year more exciting stuff with Sally Gardner.

What are your thoughts on the digital future of picture books?
The whole digital thing has left me behind and I haven’t a clue about any of it! I suppose an advantage to viewing things digitally is that they have a lovely light coming through them so artwork can sometimes look particularly enchanting viewed this way.

Do you create a character before a story or visa versa?
I created the character of Dirty Bertie before I started writing for him but as everything else I illustrate is written by other people the character comes to me within the context of the story.

Is there anything that you CAN’T draw? 
‘Can’t’ is a very defeatist word however horses are a challenge that I try to avoid!

And now for your Show Stopper challenge, here are some questions submitted via the Book Sniffer Facebook and Twitter pages…

Strangest question a child has asked you at an event?
I once had to draw dolphin poo in a candyfloss! I only had myself to blame as I was asking for yucky things to draw in the candyfloss but dolphin poo was particularly bizarre!

Who's your hairdresser? 
As of July 31st last year I haven’t had my hair cut! I’m letting it go wild.

Three things you would take to a treasure island? (two of which again can be pickled herrings if you wish but I doubt you’ll be short on sea food)
As much I am partial to a pickled herring, I think I’d get plenty of fish on a treasure island so I’ll choose a map showing where the treasure it, a spade to dig it out with and coat with big pockets to smuggle it away!

Tell us a secret....

Dirty Bertie has shockingly dirty habits, from nose picking to eating sweets off the ground. Ugh!What's the most disgusting thing you've ever eaten? 
Parsnips in custard!

What's your favorite smell? 
Bakewell Tart

Have you ever had to call on the services of a Fairy Detective Agency?
Not yet…

What colour socks are you wearing today?
Blue and white stripes

We would like to say a HUGE profiterole tower sized THANK YOU  to David for stopping by to visit us, and a big pat on the back for Corinne from Orion and Antonia from Stripes for helping make this wonderful union of cake and joy happen.

Visit David’s website here

Get hold of a copy of his marvellous collaboration with Sally Gardner here

And grab a copy of Dirty Bertie here…

Find out more about Author Sally Gardner here

Visit the Little Tiger Press website here to find out more about Dirty Bertie

Keep your eyes peeled in April for a brand new Dirty Birtie website<>

Follow Orion and Little Tiger Presson Twitter @orionbooks<> @LittleTigerUK

Sunday 24 February 2013

Ding Dong!

He's BIG, he's hairy, he looks great in a dress... No it's not Bill Bailey, it's bloomin hulking hunk of wonderfulness
Ding Dong Gorilla, written by delightful mustachioed gal about town Michelle Robinson and illustrated by lovely Leonie Lord. (published by Orchard Books)

DING DONG! ...better get that door there's an unexpected guest of gigantic proportions looming and he's looking for mischief and mayhem.

Well the 'poor little unsuspecting' boy in this story does just that and far from the extra cheesy pizza he ordered he finds a honking great gorilla!

Chaos ensues and in a flurry of twists and turns, that mischievous ape gets up to all manner of naughty business including dressing up in a fetching yellow frock, depositing a bundle of DVDs down the toilet and attempting to bake a cake.

You've guessed it no corner of the house is left unscathed but there is a cunning twist in this clever tale ...Little Sniffers will just love anticipating the pickles unfolding on every page.

Leonie has created what I would consider to be THE perfect picture book Gorilla.. PERFECT!

Will Ding Dong gorilla pay for his misdemeanours? Will the pizza delivery boy ever get paid? Will mum discover who really picked all the flowers in the garden and broke the window with a football... More importantly what will Mary Berry think of Ding Dong gorillas attempt at his signature bake?
A rip-roaring-double-crossing-giggle-a-minute
picture book with extra cheese!

All will be revealed. I urge you to pop out and buy a copy before one just turns up on your doorstep!

This dynamic duo are a magical partnership of creative wonderment. Michelle is utterly masterful and completely insightful in her cleverly appealing chucklesome texts and Leonie has created what I would go so far as to say is a darned near perfect picture book gorilla.

Follow Michelle on Twitter @MicheRobinson and check out her page on Facebook.

You can purchase your very own Ding Dong Gorilla here...

Sunday 3 February 2013

Claude takes center stage!

*toot toot* 

Presenting EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at
Claude in the Spotlight 
by Alex T Smith
Published by Hodder Children's Books


Step aside Su-Bo, on your dog sized motorised bike Pudsey the acrobatic pooch and move over newly reluctantly reformed STEPS... There's a new star in town! and he's making showbiz waves. 

I've long since suspected that Claude would end up in showbiz, after all that canine was certainly born for the stage! but as you can imagine in the fifth in the Claude series he does so with trademark panache and vim! 

Claude and Sir Bobblysock happen to chance upon a rather fabulous dance class and quicker than Louis Spence can do the splits they have been invited to join in. 
As you might expect it's not long before the dynamic duo are high kicking and bottom shaking their way onto a local variety show with the promise that on winning they will win all the cakes you can from the delectable Mr Lovelybuns (titter) Bakery. 

Claude is quietly confident  that both his balletic prowess AND capacity for cake scoffing mean that this prize is in the bag....

But wait *gasp*... there's a Miss Marple-esque twist to this tale...  

Claude would have happily been gobbling his way through a sack of cream horns had it not been *dun dun duuuun* for a dastardly and very naughty man trying to scupper Claude's moment in the limelight and bag the cakes for himself. 

In true ScoobyDoo fashion Claude is whipped up into a world of ghostly apparitions, voluptuous glass smashing vikings, giant rabbits, limp wands and VERY dramatic mild peril (not for the faint hearted) 

Will Claude get his moment to shine on stage? 

Will the dastardly naughty man vamoosh with all the cakes?

Will Claude's trademark botty shaking take the dance world by storm? 

Claude in the Spotlight publishes in April so you pesky sniffers are just going to have to pre-order a copy and find out!

I would be up to my armpits in understatement to suggest that the Book Sniffer was merely a fan of the Claude series, they are without doubt and comparison works of utter joy and delight. 
Alex has created a character with such bountiful jollification and pure innocence that without hesitation I would spend my very last five pound note on the next in the series. 

In recent weeks I have heard librarians shouting praise from the very rooftops of their libraries (and not in an indoor voice either) and teachers clamouring to give Claude gold stars for helping encourage less enthusiastic readers to get stuck into books, parents who previously with fatigue dishearteningly read the same manufactured fiction with newly independent readers finally get to enjoy Claude books together and authors and illustrators of the highest calibre who hold Alex and his work including Claude in the very highest regard. 

I don't mind telling you, Alex's use of 'carry-on' visual humor and his masterfully crafted texts have on many many occasions caused me to snort tea out of my nostrils and one simply couldn't ask for anything more from a book. 

Utter-canine-besequinned-wonderment in book form! 
BRAVO Claude and BRAVO Alex. 

But wait, there's more! *GASP* what's this I hear you ask? 

A letter from Claude!...

Dear The Book Sniffer,

How lovely to hear from you! Thank you for your letter. We like getting post, mainly because once you've taken the letter out of the envelope, you can use the envelope as a hat which can come in RAWTHER useful I can tell you!

We are delighted to see that you enjoyed our latest adventure.  It was jolly fun, although poor Sir Bobblysock's collies had never been so wobbled when that ghost kept surprising him... 
He's fully recovered now, but we have had to turn down several offers of a midnight feast in an abandoned Tudor hotel with Derek Acorah on account of Sir Bobblysock's nerves.

Thank you also for the lovely questions you sent. I've answered them below for you and I hope they are ok.
 We really hope to see you soon. I'll keep combing my ears so that I'm looking my best for when we meet again, and Sir Bobblysock promises to keep his bobbles looking lovely too.

With lots of love, waggy tails and cream horns from your very best friends,

CLAUDE and Sir Bobblysock 

Claude in the Quick Fire Cannon ...KAAABOOM!

Who would play you in an epic television drama adaptation of your life thus far?

Well, now that IS a question. Who indeed? Obviously I think I would be quite a good person to play CLAUDE because I know him quite well because I am him. If I wasn't available ( my diary has become RAWTHER full since my adventures have been published - parties, premieres, opening local branches of discount supermarkets etc) I think someone like Ronnie Corbett would be good because is is small like me, and does a nice line in natty knitwear....

Which dance move would you use for attracting attention to yourself if for instance you were at a groovy shindig?

Oh me and Sir Bobblysock LOVE a groovy shindig. Sometimes we throw a wild party at home when Mr and Mrs S are out at work.  The curtained are drawn, on goes ' How Much Is That Doggy In The Window' on the record player, and we get our nice friend Everard from next door to pop over and flick the light switches on and off repeatedly whilst we whirl around the living room. shaking our bottoms

As for dance moves, I have to say I do enjoy a shoulder shrug, where as Sir Bobblysock says that a bit of energetic shimmying of his chest has always served him well in the past...

Which three guests would you invite to your dream swish tea party?
Obviously you are top of our list because you are such a chum! The other two guests would have to be Tommy Cooper as we do like the odd bit of magic and  Sir Bobblysock always likes a man in a fez. Lastly, it would have to be Mr Lovelybuns from Lovelybun's Bakery. He could bring the cakes because we aren't allowed to cook in the kitchen anymore after we accidentally set fire to it when we were making macaroons. Poor Everard had to come running round in his kimono to put it out with one of Sir Bobblysock's moist flannels.

What ever happened to Bobbly Socks other half?
*whispers* THAT is a long story and it's all very mysterious. I can't tell you very much except that all will be revealed when Sir Bobblysock publishes his autobiography "Sock It To 'em - The Life of Sir Bobblysock So Far...".
 I can give you a clue though...  *siddles up close* You know how when there are twins sometimes one of them is lovely and the other one is *mouths 'everso naughty'*... well... you can imagine...

Do you have a recipe for your favourite cake/bun/pastry, which you can share with us?

Oh well like I said earlier, we aren't really allowed to bake in our kitchen now, but we were keen cooks and have too many recipes to choose from. What I can tell you is a bit of advice. If you are making a Mississippi Mud Pie, you don't HAVE to use real mud, but we've found that it does jazz things up a bit.

Tell us a secret…

In our next book 'CLAUDE on the Slopes', which is out in October, *some* of us get into a bit of trouble on a snowy mountain when *some*of us forget that using your Outdoor Voice around snow can cause avalanches...

TEHEHEEEE We can't wait for Claude 6 - THANK YOU for popping by Claude send our best regards to Alex.T.Smith 

You simply MUST follow Alex on Twitter @Alex_T_Smith
you won't be disappointed 

Follow Alex's wonderful blog here