Friday 24 July 2015

The Greatest Opposites Book on Earth by Lee Singh and Tom Frost

Grab a box of salty pop-corn and a Glo-stick and pull up a chair it's time to present the latest offering from 
Big Picture Press!

This celebration of all things 'Circus' ticks so many boxes for me. Taking centre stage, the illustration, I have been a fanatical fan of Tom Frost's work for many years and feel like I have been waiting a lifetime for a children's book illustrated by him. 

I was THRILLED when this arrived via the team at Big Picture Press, a brilliant collaboration with Lee Singh, deceptively simplistic in it's 'Opposites' theme it is very cleverly curated, the flaps and cut-outs completely bring this zany circus show to life. 

Little hands will relish in the variety of interactive novelty elements and cheer and shout for this book at bedtime over and over again! 

Tom's work is incredibly accomplished, whilst being bold and bright in it's appeal to young readers, it is at the same time painfully cool. 
Encore Tom! Can't wait to see what you come up with next. 

Buy a copy HERE 

I'm a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail

If I could give a copy of this book to every three year old, every school and every public library I would.  I'm a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail is an epic celebration of being proud of who you are. Beautifully empowering and delightfully dotty, this book is yet another fantastic antidote to constant pressures to reinforce stereotypes. 

Yasmeen has a deliciously vibrant illustrative style which springs and bounds off the pages and makes you want to dive head first into the book and feet first into a paint box. 

Little boys and girls will love to reference familiar scenarios  and will no doubt recognise themselves in some of the delightful characters in this book. 

If there was a story which had the potential to help create future grown-ups who are kind, accepting and adventurous this could be it. 

Visit Yasmeen's website here 

Follow Yasmeen on Twitter @YasmeenMay

Toby and the Ice Giants by Joe Lillington - Published by Flying Eye Books

EXCUSE ME! When did Information books become so incredibly beautiful?? 

Toby and the Ice Giants is the latest offering from Flying Eye Books and not only does it smell beautiful and feel incredible it has been written and illustrated with care and thought beyond measure.

This is Joe Lillington's very first picture book and lets hope there are more in the pipeline. He is certainly an illustrative talent to keep an eye on!

The Ice Age now appears on the National curriculum so this particular offering is well timed. It seamlessly weaves a charming adventure story with an abundance of bite sized, engaging and highly digestable information points - each page features an fact panel and a brilliant height comparison illustration so readers can see themselves alongside these large hairy and fearsome Ice Age Giants. 

Toby is a young bold and boisterous Bison with a thirst for adventure and as such embarks on a trip across the tundra where he encounters all manner of slightly hostile over sized beasts before returning to the relative safety of his herd and his mother with tales of his intrepid journey. 

Joe's scratchy rich style of illustration brings a comforting retro charm to the story allowing his characters to become both endearing AND menacing... now that's a talent. 

Toby and the Ice Giants is £11.99 and will be available from September in all good bookshops OR online  I think every school library should have a copy! 

I Didn't Do My Homework Because ... Doodle book of Excuses By Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud (Chronicle Books)

By Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud - Published by Chronicle Books £9.99 UK.

I'm about to review this peachy little book for my round-up in Little London Magazine, but it's just too lovely so I wanted to share it with my fellow Book Sniffers too. 

I first spotted the storybook version of this book in a shop in London - It was in French, I loved it even though I couldn't read a single word, such is the magic of Benjamin's expressive Illustration style. Some time later I managed to get my hands on a copy and it was as funny and subversive as I had hoped - If not MORE so. 

Now the clever folk at Chronicle Books have created a complimentary 'Doodle Book of Excuses' using themes and illustrations from the original book but with the addition of pages and pages of fun and completely bonkers activities. 

This beautiful book also comes with a more drool-some page of gloriously glossy stickers (which I shall be saving!) 

I think this just might make the perfect end-of-the-summer-holiday present, Although it may not enthuse those reluctant school go-ers it will encourage creativity and imagination in the most delightful way. 

Here are some of my favourite pages from inside... I highly recommend you grab a copy at your soonest convenience!

Further Information: 

Also Available: 
'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To School' 

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Interview with illustrator Nikki Dyson!

We are super-bonkers-over-the-moon to be able to welcome FANTASTIC illustrator Nikki Dyson to the Book Sniffer blog today ahead of the publication of her picture book collaboration with Kes Gray 'Zippo the Super Hippo' which officially publishes on the 16th. 

Here is our interview with her! Enjoy. 

1- What is your most favourite part of the process of creating a picture book?

My favourite part of picture book making would have to be the roughing out stage. When I first started illustrating books I enjoyed the colouring in part the most. Don’t get me wrong I love this part still - it’s always fun to colour in, especially trying out different colour roughs for a spread and combinations that bring a drawing to life. But as I did more projects, I soon discovered that the most exciting bit for me was the visual development and planning stage. This is where your imagination starts buzzing and deciding on how your characters look and feel and interact, where the flow and pace of the story develops and where you can create a setting for your characters to play out their story in.

2- Tell us about three things, which inspire you and your work?

Lots of things inspire my work and its process. My peers today are an amazing source of inspiration, I’m always in wonderment on seeing a new picture book from a fellow creative and seeing the exciting ways in which they tackle a story and push boundaries. It’s a very exciting time for picture books and it’s such an amazing feeling to have a little part to play in it. I frequently have to pinch myself - not too hard though, I bruise quite easily! Travel would also be another. I was very lucky to have a bit of time last year to do some travelling in the US and I found that this really ‘topped up’ my creative bank and gave tremendous amounts of inspiration to integrate into my work on my return. I think it’s important to have these little breaks from work to refuel but you don’t necessarily have to go around the world to find inspiration. It could be just popping out to get a coffee and overhearing a funny conversation, or a short stroll in the park and seeing something that could potentially spark a story or character idea. My family would be another, last year I became an auntie for the first time and my little niece Juliet is a constant form of inspiration! She is such a funny character and has really brought so much joy into our family. She really inspires me to make the best books I can and I would really like for her to grow up with a real love for books like I did as a child.

3- Which one piece of advice would you give to a recent graduate trying to break into publishing?

I’d say keep on pushing your boundaries as an artist and really dedicate your time to do this to develop your skills. Always approach a new piece of work with passion, enthusiasm and originality. Lastly, keep on trying! It took me a long while to get my first illustration job and there were times of self-doubt and rejection but don’t give up, stick to what you love to do and be true to yourself. It may take a little time but you will get there and it will definitely be worth the wait!

4- Which is your favourite spread in your new picture book and why?

One of my favourites would be the spread where Zippo tries his hand at flying. I purposely made this into a comic layout and thoroughly enjoyed creating the step-by-step scene of each stage of Zippo’s brave attempt! I love creating funny facial expressions and strong interactions with my characters as I feel these things are vitally important to give grounding and believability to them. So when the croc sees an 8,000 lb hippo falling from the sky, I wanted to create a look of sheer terror on his face! I’m really pleased on how this looked in the end. I’d quite like to think of myself as a ‘method artist’ not that I dress up as a hippo in a cape or anything - that’s only for the weekends. But I sometimes pull faces when I’m drawing to try and feel and capture a moment that a character is experiencing.

5- Which children's classic would you most like to illustrate?

Without a doubt, it would have to be A Bear called Paddington By Michael Bond. This was one of my favourite books as a child and I would absolutely love to draw the endearing small bear from deepest Darkest Peru. For me, I’m always drawn to kind, humorous characters in stories and I love the fact that Paddington gives a hard stare to people who incur his disapproval and gets into a right pickle although he tries so hard to get things right! In a way the character of Zippo has very similar qualities to him! Penny Fortnum, David Mckee and Fred Banbery are some of my favourite illustrators to have interpreted Paddington, so to have an opportunity to follow in their footsteps and illustrate this classic character in my own way would be an absolute dream.

 6- What has been your career highlight so far?

I could list a thousand highlights but really just being able to draw for a living, creating books for children to enjoy and doing what I love to do is the best highlight for me by far.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

How to Draw a Hippo (Zippo) with Nikki Dyson

Have you got a hankering to get those crayons out and draw a super-sized-super-hero-Hippo? 
Well you've come to the right place, To celebrate the publication of 'Zippo the Super Hippo' by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson we have an exclusive step-by-step guide for you to learn how to draw your very own Zippo the Hippo! what are you waiting for? GET SET GO! 

We'd love to see your finished Hippos so do tweet them to 
@maybeswabey and @Doodle_Dyson! 

You can buy a copy of the book here! 
and don't forget to check out Nikki Dyson's FANTASTIC website here..

Sunday 5 July 2015

Grandad's Island docks at Waterstone's Hampstead with Benji Davies


Coconut cocktails and Tropicafruit punch all round as today is the day we kick off the official Benji Davies 
'Grandad's Island' blog tour! 

The lovely folk at Simon and Schuster have been kind enough to let us have a sneaky peek at the process involved in the installation of Benji's incredible transformation of a window display at Waterstone's in Hampstead. 

As a former bookseller I can say with great pride that imagining, designing and creating window displays to promote exciting new books was absolutely one if the most enjoyable and satisfying elements of my job. 

As you can see for the photos below, Benji got stuck in and the results are truly breath-taking and a more than fitting celebration of this completely beguiling picture book.  

You can read my review for Grandad's Island HERE - Buy a copy now, GRAB A COPY NOW , no book shelf should be without one! 

Tidy but a bit dull 

Benji - actually IN the window 

Is he for sale? 

Greenery goes in! 

Syd and Grandad.. and a few technicolour parrots 

Proud as punch! 

Just beautiful! 

Pop along and pay homage to this incredible creation - and if you are passing please tweet us a photo of you with this beautiful window display @maybeswabey - Follow Benji on Twitter @Benji_Davies