Sunday 19 May 2013

A Mammoth HIT from Michelle Robinson and Kate Hindley - EXCLUSIVE SNIFFER PREVIEW

There's an unexpected wafty scent of fusty-musty-mammoth about the place, I can ignore it no longer, there comes a time when you need to get your Matey Bubbles and loofah out and give your stinky-dinky Mammoth a good scrub!

'How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth' is the perfect guide should you find yourself in such a situation, and quite frankly if you are in a situation where you need to bath your mammoth  you're going to need as much help as you can get. 

This unique picture book is a fully comprehensive step-by-step guide to bathing your woolly mammoth as quickly and efficiently as possible. With clever contemporary page layouts interspersed with hilarious (YET ESSENTIAL) tips such as cake bribery and using a broom handle for gentle encouragement. 

Each turn of the page reveals yet more hilariously chaotic attempts at squashing the huge pachyderm into the small bath tub to the point at which you almost start to think it might be worth just giving up!

I laughed so much my cheeks hurt at the bemused looking Mammoth squashed uncomfortably into the tub with his droopy trunk lolloping over the edge of the bath as his  behind-ear-area are given a thorough scrub with a broom

I practically snorted tea out of my nose as I perused the various hairstyles achieved with a generous splot of shampoo, Have you ever seen a mammoth with a mullet? ... a comb-over? ... no me neither until now, and that alone has made my world a happier place. 

Development sketches - EXCLUSIVE to the Sniffer blog

A fresh funny picture book with a happy sweet smelling ending. Perfect for reading before, after or even during a nice hot bath.

I heartily recommend this tittersome rollicking tale, and we give How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth 4 bath bombs and a flowery show cap out of 5 - Utter soapy perfection, a huge shaggy triumph. 

Michelle Robinson and Kate Hindley are a match made in picture book heaven and go to show that such perfectly clever intuitive pairing can really make the magic happen, I have rarely come across an author with such a spontaneous and natural sense of humour and Hindley's unique and awe-inspiring vintage illustrations quite frankly make me want to weep with joy. 

I can't recommend this book highly enough, How to Wash a Mammoth written by Michelle Robinson and Illustrated by Kate Hindley is published by Simon and Schuster this August - PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!!!!! 

We are lucky enough to have a procured a bloggish contribution from this wonderfully talented team so over to you...

Michelle's bit:
It’s a good job I’'m an author and not a washerwoman. If something is'n’t labelled ‘Easy Care’, I guarantee I will shrink it, stretch it, put mysterious holes in it or inadvertently turn it grey. Woolen garments give me the shivers. Washing my children is just as difficult, even though there’s no risk of shrinkage (I think?).

Just getting them into the bath is hard enough, let alone the trauma of hair washing, fights over plastic turtles, fingers getting stuck in taps, etc. Then they end up having so much fun they’re impossible to get back out. Ask any parent: bath time is a challenge of MAMMOTH PROPORTIONS.
HOW TO WASH A WOOLLY MAMMOTH is a bath time manual for washing the trickiest of filthy folk, illustrated by MAMMOTH TALENT Kate Hindley. Over to you, Kate...

Kate’s Bit:
Its always exciting to receive new texts from a super-duper-author-extraordinaire like Michelle, but as a proud member of the Royal Society of the Appreciation of Mammoths, I was particularly chuffed about illustrating this one.

Hygiene is a very important part of responsible prehistoric mammal ownership. After a good dash round the park and paddle in the duck pond it’s more than likely you’ll have to give your Mammoth a thorough bathing. However, getting your mammoth into your average home-sized bathtub is no mean feat. The diagrams in this book will hopefully illustrate how to successfully lead your mammoth to (clean) water. Just make sure he doesn’t drink it all.

You can read more about how this mammoth picture book came to be on Michelle's blog - READ IT HERE 

We are very lucky to be able to show to you some utterly exclusive mammoth development sketches from the fair hand of Hindley. 

Kate is without doubt one of the hottest new illustrators on the block she is imaginative, unique and so SO jaw droppingly talented (she's nice too AND she looks good in a fake tash!) - It gives us Sniffers hope that the future of picture books is as bright as the sun with a top hat on. Three cheers to that. 

So here's your exclusive sneak peek, What a treat! 

Follow Michelle and Kate on Twitter - you'll be in for a treat! @MicheRobinson and @hindleyillos

Thanks ever so to dearest Kate and Michelle, Toodle-Pip for now my dear Sniffers! Toot Toot 

Friday 10 May 2013

Dearest Chums ...

WARNING: I'm about to gush like Gwyneth Paltrow plunging down the Niagara Falls and no mistake..

I've been pondering this post for many weeks now, following a flurry of wonderful deliveries at Book Sniffer Towers.

SO in a mammoth extravaganza here are reviews by some authors and illustrators (and friends) so very dear to my heart I might just pop with pride. 

Troll Swap 
By Leigh Hodgkinson 
Published by Nosy Crow

Here for your delectation and delight is a modern day tale of mischief and mess!
Ever feel like you don't fit in? Well, that's just the problem Timothy Limpit the troll has, he's far too tidy and neat (a troll after my own heart). Fortunately Timothy meets Tabitha Lumpit who happens to be a girl with the manners of a stinky troll so together they embark on the great Troll Swap. 

A book with just the right balance of smelly burps and spick and span tidiness. Have you ever in your life seen such a bright and bonkers book jacket, it literally bounces off the shelf, Leigh's illustrations just get better and better. Grab a copy of troll swap as quick as you can!

We give Troll Swap 3 whiffy socks and some shake'n'vac out of 5! 
Smelly Footnote : OBVIOUSLY my own manners are faultless and I've not tooted in years 

Follow Leigh on Twitter @hoonbuton and check out her marvellous non-stinky blog here

By Alex T Smith 
Published by Scholastic 

Roll out the red carpet Sniffers this latest offering is a picture book worthy of a huge stamp of royal approval. 
Princess Primrose is a flame haired bundle of joyful frivolity but is her behaviour fitting of that of a perfect princess? HRH Grandma pays an emergency visit to teach the straight laced royals a very important lesson (in having fun!). 

Primrose is clever, entertaining, refreshing and most of all a jolly good chortle. 
This picture book will put a right royal spring in your step. 

Those Sniffers who are lucky enough to have a copy in their mitts may notice a certain familiar face in the form of Percy the royal pug who I am assured by Mr Smith himself is ever so slightly based on ME! Would you Adam and Eve it.  Actually-absolutely THE proudest day of my life!

We give Primrose 5 plump pugs on a platter out of 5 

Actually-absolutely THE proudest day of my life!
I had to breath into a paper bag and sit on my comfy cushion for a good while when this little gem arrived on the doorstep. 
It is well documented that I am and always have been a HUGE fan of 
Alex T Smith, (read here...and here .. and here ) his work is clever, unique, charming and hugely tittersome, his characters and attention to detail are second to none and he is without doubt just an all round nice chap, you MUST follow Alex on Twitter @Alex_T_Smith - #bloominhilarious! #allhailprimrose #toot-toot

Bubble and Squeak 
Written by James Mayhew Illustrated by Clara Vulliamy
Published by Orchard Books
I always new my heart would be fit to burst if Clara and James created a book together they are without doubt a total dream team with a cherry on top. I had heard whisperings about Bubble and Squeak some time ago, a magical legend I dare not believe it until I laid my actual peepers on its magnificent pages.. It is a thing of purest wonder and joy. 

Roll up Roll up for a thrilling tale of dare devil adventure. With all the glamour of the golden age of the circus and a good smattering of mild peril Bubble the elephant and Squeak the mouse forge a very special friendship.

This beautifully written story is perfectly complimented with sumptuous and joyfully bright illustrations which are good enough to eat and bounce like a clown on a trampoline off the pages.

A picture book as sweet as candyfloss and as bright as a string of technicolor fairy lights.

We give Bubble and Squeak 4 hot dogs and a bucket of glitter out of 5 

Follow James and Clara on Twitter @claravulliamy and @mayhewjames also visit their blogs! here and here 

Mabel and Me Best of Friends 
Written by Mark Sperring Illustrated by Sarah Warburton 
published by HarperCollins 

An utterly charming story following the hilarious friendship between Mabel and her well meaning chum. Beautifully expressive illustrations bring this hilarious tale of misunderstandings to life. I have recommended this book over and over, it's just beautiful and funnier than a monkey in a fez.  

One to relish reading over and over with your very best friend. Congratulations to this dynamic new team who have created a very special book. Lets hope we see more of Mable very soon! 

We give Mabel and Me 4 love hearts and our last Rolo out of 5 

For a hilarious and touching insight into the creation of this book read this blog post by Sarah herself.. truly inspiring! 

Visit Sarah's blog here and follow her on Twitter @SarahWarbie 

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam 
Written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Steven Lenton 
Published by Nosy Crow  

Move over Boney and Clyde, there's a new pair of mischief makers in town!

Two more lovable rogues you're not likely to meet, as Shifty and Sam turn their backs on a life of tricksy pinching to open a magnificent bakery. 

A sublime and chuckle-some rhyming text with illustrations good enough to eat. Move over Mary Berry, Shifty and Sam are the new patisserie du jour. This book will tickle your funny bone and have you immediately reaching for a sticky bun....or two 

We give Shifty and Sam  4 cream horns and a macaroon out of 5 

Read our full review here   

Follow Steven on Twitter @2Dscrumptious and visit his website here  and follow Tracey on Twitter here @TraceyCorderoy 

 With thanks to the publishers / authors and illustrators for sending me such a mind bogglingly fabulous array of pure gold picture book wonderment  - TOOT TOOT! 

Monday 6 May 2013

Jack's Amazing Shadow! - An interview with the delightful Tom Percival

SO here it is, Jack's Amazing Shadow by ever so delightful and multi-talented Tom Percival. (He made the Oscar worthy book trailer himself - what a clever old bean! Crack open some pop-corn and watch it here )

Jack doesn't have a care in the world, days are all about playing and having fun with his best buddy who happens to be his very own amazing magical shadow. But when Jacks shadow gets up to mischief and Jack himself gets the blame they decide to go their separate ways. 
Will Jack and his shadow ever be reunited? 
Super cool edgy illustrations and a lively fast paced story make this book perfect for anyone who's ever wondered what their shadow gets up to when they're not looking!   

Well guess what sniffers, We are as lucky as a cat in a fishmongers because we've bagged an interview with Tom himself. What larks! 


Here he is in the Book Sniffer Quick Fire Cannon

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Jack's AMAZING Shadow is an everyday sort of book about a blue haired boy's adventures with his amazing magical shadow.
It was really good fun to work on as I changed my style slightly with this book. I used to use a lot of photographic elements in my images, basically making digital collages, but on 'Jack…' I drew and painted everything instead. I still composited the different elements digitally to give me a bit of leeway when it comes to the composition. I have huge respect for people who work purely traditionally as you can't just 'move the character over to the right a bit' if you feel the image is off balance. You just HAVE to get it right first time - argghh, the pressure!

The story came about after seeing how my eldest son, Ethan, reacted to his younger brother coming along. When Joey was a baby Ethan doted on him, but as soon as Joey became a toddler, Ethan realised that he now had a constant companion and I think this was a bit tricky for him to deal with. They get on brilliantly now, but we had a few 'ups and downs' along the way, including the infamous 'You are not my friend ANY… MORE!' incident, which I basically stole verbatim for the story. Although in real-life Joey didn't fade sadly away thankfully - he's made of pretty stern stuff!

Rather than using two brothers as my characters I tried to think of other relationships where you're kind of co-dependant on each other. I wanted to use characters that would enable me to include some good visual gags and make the story really fun and a bit more unusual than the basic 'best-friends' kind of story. After trying out a few ideas I decided that a boy and his shadow could work really well. I liked the idea that Jack's shadow is almost the embodiment of all the naughty things that Jack might want to do, but doesn't allow himself to as it immediately gave me a sense of his mischievous character.

I try to explore a singular theme with each picture book that I do, and in Jack's AMAZING Shadow, it's definitely about the highs and lows of a really strong friendship.

I really enjoyed working on Jack's AMAZING Shadow and hope that I can re-visit the characters further down the line as I have a couple more journeys that I'd like to take them on.

What was the last children's book you brought? 
Fantastic Mr Fox for my two sons. They love it!

What do you listen to while you are working? 
It depends if I'm drawing or writing. If I'm writing, I can't listen to anything at all as it throws my concentration. If I'm drawing it's usually something ambient or instrumental, classical sometimes too. I find music with lyrics a bit distracting now for some reason. I used to be fine with music on in the background, but now I find I like to wholly occupy whatever 'world' I'm working on/in

Who would you most like to collaborate with? 
I would LOVE to draw for Neil Gaiman. Although I'm a huge fan of Dave McKean and couldn't better his work, so it's probably best that it never happens!

What can you see out of your studio window?
I have a BEAUTIFUL view. I can see Rodborough common in one direction and Selsey Common in another. The hill sides are thick with woodland and I can always hear birds singing. I love it!

Who should we follow on Twitter?

Which books have influenced your life most?
The Tim and the Hidden People. Flight path to Reading series of books by Sheila K McCullagh as they were the first REAL story books I read when I had grasped the basics of cats sitting on mats and so forth.
What are you reading now?
I've just re-read the Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter. I LOVE that book and re-read it every couple of years or so. I love the unsettling, magical worlds she created, all very rich. 

Are there any new authors/illustrators who have grasped your interest?
Not really 'new' in anyway, but Jon Klassen is fantastic. And this guy isn't a picture book artist, but Dermot Power who is a Film concept artist is a massive inspiration to me.

Do you have a favorite book character?
Hmm, tricky… I was about to write 'no one person stands out from the rest' but then I realised that they're not 'people' are they? I guess that goes a good way to answering your next question!

Were you a bookworm as a child and which children's books made a lasting impression on you?
Yep, very much so. We didn't have a TV in my house and I read all the time. The two books that made the biggest impact upon me were The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. The Devil on the Road by Robert Westal
What’s your favourite bookstore?
Again, tricky… There are so many great independents. My local children's bookshop in Stroud is a great place to browse around and Blackwells on Parkstreet in Bristol is fantastic. They do lots of bespoke window displays there and have a great bunch of people working there.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer/illustrator?
I have ALWAYS drawn pictures and made up stories. It's been my main source of entertainment through life. I trained as a graphic designer as I thought that illustration might be a bit risky as a career. I came from a family where money was always tight and I had no desire to take on a career that was likely to continue that pattern. Still, I kept on drawing all the way through uni and my first few jobs, so eventually I thought, lets just give it a go, I can always go back to graphic design if it doesn't work out. That was in about 2005 I think. I got the Skulduggery Pleasant illustration job not long after and that was pretty instrumental in getting me up and running.
When did you first consider yourself a writer/illustrator?
Illustration-wise it was probably when the Skulduggery books came out and I got my first letters from kids saying how much the liked the pictures and how they wanted to do that as a job when they grew up. That was a pretty cool moment in my life. Especially as I used to think that about so many illustrators work when I was younger, but you didn't have the internet and twitter etc then so it was pretty hard to voice your appreciation of people's work.

What is the hardest part of writing/illustrating a book?
Having the right idea and continuing to believe in it all the way through the process.

What are you currently writing/working on?
I'm working on four different picture book concepts which are all at various stages in the long journey to completion and a long form Y/A fiction concept which I'm about 1/3 of the way through currently. I'm making an animated eBook edition of Jack's AMAZING Shadow, which is taking a rather longer than I had anticipated! And I'm also doing a few animation projects to promote upcoming books that I've worked on. 

Do you have any advice for other writers/illustrators?
If you love it, you'll do it, there's not a great deal that I can say that would be of any real help, as everyones circumstances are different. But if I HAD to offer some general advice it would be that you need to do as much drawing/writing as you possibly can, practice until it's second nature and doesn't take any conscious thought. Learn to be as objective as you can about your own work, don't be afraid to acknowledge when something is either really good, or not as good as it could be. Be pleasant and polite, deliver work on time and to budget and if you can't for whatever reason, tell the relevant people as soon as possible! Finally and most importantly of all, don't compare what you do to what other people do, as there's NO POINT! I love this phrase 'Comparison is the thief of joy' it very much rings true with me, and I have to keep reminding myself of it. As long as you keep trying to improve, it really doesn't matter when anyone else is doing.

Here are some of of Tom's inspiringly insightful development sketches... Pop out and nab a copy of Jack's AMAZING Shadow tout sweet!

Why not visit Toms fabulous website here 
and be sure to follow him on Twitter @TomPercivalsays 

A BIG squeezy Sniffer THANK YOU to Tom for popping by! 

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam -

Move over Boney and Clyde there's a new mischievous duo in town and they are b-b-b-b-baaaad to the bone!

From the pen of Tracey Corderoy and the brush of the talented Steven Lenton comes what might just be my latest, favourite duo: hilarious robber dogs, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam.

After falling on hard times and failing desperately as tip-toeing burglars the two miserable mutts hatch a perfect plan to dig into their neighbours pockets by inviting them over for a lavish tea party. 

Despite previously never having donned a pinny OR been near the kitchen, the loveable villains are determined to make their paw penned plot a success. 

Will their plan rise perfectly like a choux bun in a hot oven? OR will it fall disappointingly flat like a soggy bottomed fruit flan? I’d love to tell you but I fear I shouldn’t or I’ll spoil their tittersome plan. I can't help but wonder if Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam might not be better off starting a line in cakes containing files... just saying 

Now I think a good rhyming text is hard to come by but this chucklesome read scans perfectly, and on top of that, Tracey's fabulous text is brought charmingly to life by talented new illustrator Steven Lenton who presents us with the perfect, comical, canine duo. 

Lenton’s ability to design ingenious and visionary characters shines brightly on these pages and sitting and 'pawing' over the myriad of anthropomorphised animals is one of its great joys. (The multi striped, patched and coloured zoo spread might just have to be my favourite...complete with baby kangaroo in the swag bag).

With droolsomely-delicious end papers that are good enough to eat, and a subtle palette that works beautifully on the page, this has to be one of my top ‘tails’ of the year so far ! And on top of all that, it’s from that ‘ever so clever’ team at Nosy Crow.

Just one more thing…now I do like a moral behind a good picture book story and we all know crime doesn’t pay, so dig into your pockets, get down to your local bookshop and hand over the money...You won’t regret it.

Book Sniffer and Co give 
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam 
5 cream bones out of 5! 
An absolute TRIUMPH..The best swag in the bag! 

Pop by and visit Tracey's website here and PLEASE follow Steven Lenton on Twitter @2dscrumptious, check out his charming website here 


DISHY McLenton