Saturday 26 July 2014

How to draw a raccoon with Emily Fox!

Find out more about Emily Fox and her work by visiting
website or following her on 
Twitter @emilyafox 

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Summer picks with a cherry on top!

Specs for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail Published by Bloomsbury 


One of my favourite up and coming illustrators award-winning Yasmeen Ismail has come up trumps with this cracking picture book.
Specs for Rex is a technicolour tale of triumph over lack of self confidence. Poor little Rex 

(king of his Pre-school) has to wear specs which he realy doesn't like very much, to avoid embarassment he tries EVERYTHING to get rid of his snazzy glasses to great comedic effect but will the thick framed uber cool goggs save the day when teacher looses her whistle. A brilliant positive story with a contemporary spice to it's storytelling. Set to be a roaring sucecess showcasing pure artistic brilliance on each and every spread Yasmeen is a super talent to keep a keen eye on, Simply magnificent. 
Follow Yasmeen on Twitter @YasmeenMay

The Hueys in 'None the Number a Counting Adventure' by Oliver Jeffers
published by Harper Collins

A hugely witty offering from picture book meastro Oliver Jeffers, the third and perhaps the most charming of the Huey books, in 'None the Number' we investigate numbers 1-10 (and zero).

A beautifully simple series of picture books origonating from a doodle in a sketchbook spotted by his publisherd and named Huey in dedication to his grandfather who called all of his grandchildren Huey. 
Wonderfully abstract and in places comletely bonkers in others. This is my kind of counting book! 

Thoroughly enjoyed and heartily recomended. 10/10

NB: for mathematical purists there is a proper explanation of the importance of the number zero at the back of the book. 
Follow Oliver on Twitter @OliverJeffers

Bing 'Something for Daddy' by Ted Dewan Published by Harper Collins

I have been a HUGE Bing fan for years and years so it was such a delightful surprise to see his jolly face again. In 'Something for Daddy' Bing sets about making a magnificent shiny, sparkly, feathery gift for his daddy, be prepared to get covered from head to toe in sparkles. 

Ted has a marvellous ability to capture to pure mischivious nature of a young toddler and encapsulate it in fun and engaing scenarios. I especially like the zenlike parental role dear old Flop plays in keeping Bing out of too much mischief - Great books to read with three years olds, stylish and full of joy. Three cheers for Bing and a huge TOOT TOOT for dearest Flop. 

I managed to dig out one of my very old mini hardback Bing books which Ted kindly signed for me - I hope he's doing well, I haven't seen him for a while. 

More hot picks coming next week! 

Monday 14 July 2014

We're Going on a Bear hunt with Michael Rosen LIVE for the RNIB at 10am 15/07/14

 Click the banner to watch Michael Rosen LIVE
Click here at 10 am 15/07/14 to see Michael Rosen LIVE

Michael Rosen celebrates 25 years of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with interactive reading lesson
Show date: Tuesday 15th July
Show time: 10am

Walker Books and The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) are celebrating 25 years of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s We’re Going on  a Bear Hunt, by attempting to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the Largest reading lesson, to raise money for Read for RNIB Day. At 10am on TUESDAY 15TH JULY 2014 Walker Books will host a giant reading lesson starring Michael Rosen, the author of the beloved picture book, and they’d like you to join them!

1,500 children will come together at Charter Hall, Colchester, to take part in The Biggest Ever Bear Hunt Largest reading lesson. To make this a national celebration, the event will also be live-streamed to children all over the UK, who will be raising money for Read for RNIB Day by bringing their teddy bears and joining in with the live lesson and you can join in too!

Four special remote venues will host in-house screening events with their local schools, these are: Seven Stories in Newcastle, Discover Story Centre in Stratford, East London, The Story Museum in Oxford and Birmingham’s New Central Library. RNIB Schools Sunshine House and Pears Centre for Specialist Learning will also be taking part with their pupils and local communities

The event will be fully accessible to blind and partially sighted children and all activities have been developed in association with RNIB to ensure that they don’t miss out on this literary adventure as well. Walker Books and RNIB are working with Just Imagine Story Centre on the event, and Nikki Gamble, Just Imagine’s founder, will lead the event alongside Michael Rosen.

The good news is you can join in right here at home! Log onto with your children and join this fun event where Michael Rosen the creator of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt will lead an interactive literacy lesson with the help of Nikki Gamble. 


One of Oxenbury’s illustrations for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Welcoming deliciously delightful Clara Vulliamy

Happy days! the summer holiday's are almost here, our ice cream cones are topped with flakes and brightly coloured sprinkles and we have a brand new Martha book to enjoy!

OUT NOW - Buy here 

Martha is back with her little bunny brothers in the third and perhaps most triumphant of her delightful pre-school picture books. 

Martha I Heart Holidays invites us along of the bunny family's annual seaside holiday, an idyllic depiction of a typically British family holiday complete with moments of chaos, inclement weather and melty lollies.

Created by Clara Vulliamy the Martha books perfectly encapsulate important occasions in a small bunnies life, written with utter  joy and incredible attention to detail, Clara pours hours and hours of love and care into each exquisite illustration.  

I especially loved the inclusion of the traditional dreary holiday traffic jam and swimming in the sea in the rain, memories particularity dear to my heart..sort of.


This is the perfect picture book to read before embarking on a family holiday or day trip, a beautifully touching depiction of family life and the intricacies of sibling relationships.  

I can't think of anything more magical than whiling away several hours in a traffic jam completely absorbed in a beautiful picture book just like this one.

A special postcard from Martha just for you!

We are thrilled to be able to welcome author illustrator Clara Vulliamy to Book Sniffer Towers as part of the 
I Heart Holidays blog tour. 

Clara Vulliamy
Clara Vulliamy 

This is the third in the tutti-frutti fabulous Martha series, you must have drawn thousands upon thousands of bunnies by now, has drawing Martha and her bunny brothers become second nature? Is it nice to go back to them after experimenting with other characters?
Books one and two Martha I Heart School  and Martha I Heart Bedtime 

It is SO LOVELY to draw Martha, Monty and Pip again! To me they are pure sunshine in picture book form. I have really missed their cheerful moon-shaped faces, soft pink noses and spectacular bunny ears.
Do you plan the entire story before you begin or do they sometimes evolve along the way? Do you have separate sketchbooks for development work for each of your projects? (we’d love to have a top secret peep inside!) 
I always plan before I begin, working out the whole shape of the story on a thumbnail scale: how the text and pictures will sit together, and where the big dramatic moments will happen.
Here is a page from my notebook when I was first dreaming up the story. I used the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons make lemonade’, so the mention of lemons in my notes signifies one of the many setbacks for the bunnies which makes this book funny.

A sneak peek inside Clara's notebook 

The marvellous thing about the Martha books and something which has become a trademark of yours is the eye popping intricate detail in each book, intoxicating for little readers as they frantically search for their favourite little treasures on each page. Which is your favourite spread in the new book? Are there any particular little treats we should try especially hard to spot?
I think my favourite spread is the one that introduces Bluebell the camper van. We see all the details both inside and out. 

Small readers might like to spot the stickers, and also try guessing which sleeping bag belongs to which bunny. 

It’s the first time in the entire series we have ever glimpsed Mum and Dad!

There are lots of beautiful collage elements in these books – where do you source you reference material?  
Thank you! The first book in the series, I Heart School, was a big stylistic breakthrough for me, using collage and textures in a new, more graphic way. Some of the patterns are completely made up by me, like the curtains and upholstery inside the camper van.
But getting back into the bunny groove has also meant rummaging in my fabric and paper collections for delicious patterns to use.  I found the nautical ribbon for the cover of Martha’s sketchbook in a vintage store on Portobello Market.

Your website is absolutely one of the best author / illustrator websites on the whole of the internet, such rich exciting content and such an abundance of lovely photos, do you find your website and social media are key in promoting your books? 

I’m so glad you like it. I think it’s pretty crucial these days. I see my website as an extension of my front room: visitors can call by whenever they fancy, sit a while for a chat over a virtual piece of cake… I try to arrange the cushions prettily and have new bits and pieces to show.

Do you have fond memories of balmy summer holidays in England as a child?

The great British seaside – YES! No summer holiday is complete without goosepimples on the beach, dropped ice lollies and sand in the sandwiches. I had never been abroad until I was 12. My Mum wasn’t very sporting about camping – although we did sometimes go with our Dad – so we stayed in a cottage with no electricity and no bathroom, which probably wasn’t much better!
Your charming characters have exquisitely observed childlike mannerisms which can only add to their appeal to both adults and children alike.  Are your characters sometimes based on real children or memories of your own bunny babies?

It’s a funny (bunny) thing: I don’t intend to base my fictional characters on real children, either mine or others, but I just can’t help it. My two are grown up now, but those early days seem merely minutes ago…
Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on next?

I am working with a very brilliant new author on the first story in a young fiction series. She has the ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time, which to me is pure genius.

Will you have a busy schedule of event over the summer? and where can people come and see you in action?

I am packing my bucket and spade and heading to the seaside!
I’ll be putting on an I Heart Holidays workshop event at Bags of Books in Lewes on July 12th, The Book Nook and Waterstones Brighton on July 29th, and Waterstones Tunbridge Wells on July 30th. Which isn’t by the seaside but we will be designing the perfect ice cream nonetheless. 

With huge THANKS to Clara for joining us to answer our questions and for creating such beautiful charming and joyful picture books for us all to enjoy.

Follow Clara on Twitter @claravulliamy  


Now pop along to the Child Led Chaos blog for the next instalment of this magnificent blog tour!