Thursday 7 April 2016

Before I wake Up ... A guest post by Britta Teckentrup

This book has always been a project very close to my heart.
It has been with me for more than 4 years…
I think that the first images and ideas for it developed in 2012.

The book was called ‘The Girl in The Woods’ back then.
Here is an image of one the first images of the book.

The girl looked quite different back then and I had a different take on the story.
It was the story of a little girl that lived deep in the woods.
The girl in my story embraced that special place inside of her…
That place where all creativity is born and where the imagination can run wild …
That place that can get lost along the way so easily…
That place that feels like home.

Here is a little extract of my original text:

“…There once was a girl who was wild and fierce.
She lived deep in the woods and her heart was full 
of wonder.
She had a bed under the stars and could talk to all animals.
She would ride on the back of the lion, fly with the birds 
and play chase with the rabbits …
She was fearless and didn’t have a worry in the world…”

When the little girl is taken to the big city and is expected to become like everybody else, her colours are beginning to fade and the book turns grey. But there is still a tiny trace of yellow inside of her…
There are other children living in the city that still have a trace of colour left inside of them…Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red… all the colours of the rainbow…
When they all find each other, the book’s finale is a glorious animal parade with all of the children riding out of the city on the backs of their lions, bears, birds and all the beasts you can imagine … back into their beloved wood.
(I still quite like this original idea but I never managed to get it just right but writing about it now makes me want to look at it again…)

I continued to develop the book in a slightly different direction and called it ‘My World’.
I felt that the text I had written was somehow interfering with the images and decided to use no text at all apart from the following introduction on a completely black page:

“… I close my eyes. All is black.
If I close my eyes for long enough,
I can see things. …”

Out of the blackness a magical world appears until the book ends with the ‘narrator’ opening his/her eyes.
Here are some images:

I chose a very large format for this version of the book to allow the reader to immerse himself completely in the images.
But it all became quite abstract and maybe a little too difficult for children?
It was also not very easy to sell. 
But I still really like this version and it took me a very long time to let go.

After almost a year the final version of ‘Before I Wake Up’ started to emerge.
I decided that I had to go back to using text but instead of using a lyrical text I chose to write short poems….and it all seemed to fall into place.
The poems were quite random at first but the outline of a story…well more of a journey … emerged.
I decided against a ‘proper’ storyline and just added the framework of the little girl falling asleep and waking up. I wanted the book to feel like a real dream with no beginning and no end.
Suddenly and quite unexpectedly the book started to work on many different levels and it all clicked together and made sense.
My original idea and concept is still there but is now hidden underneath the layers of the dream.

A big thank you for giving me the opportunity to write about the making of ‘Before I Wake Up’.

And look out for our review in the next edition of 
WRD Magazine

FOLLOW Britta on Twitter - HERE 


Monday 4 April 2016

Nibbles The Book Eating Monster - BLOG TOUR-A-GO-GO

There have been some strange goings-on at Book Sniffer Towers of late...mysterious little snippety nibbles, suspicious rips here and there and books OUT OF ALPHABETICAL ORDER! 

I have been pondering for some time as to what the problem could be and WHO could be causing such mischievous chaos.... There could only be one culprit! That cheeky little yellow monster Nibbles, word has it he is now on the loose so LOCK UP YOUR BOOK SHELVES. Nibbles the Book Eating Monster is OUT NOW and he's heading straight for your favourite reads. 

'Nibbles' is a book with breath-taking production values, one which leaps off the shelf before you've had a moment to ponder, filled to the brim with familiar faces, a joy to read aloud and a treasure to be kept well away from book eating monsters. Clever thoughtful story telling and breath-taking vibrant illustrations (combined with a deliciously mischievous twist ) make this a book for every child to treasure and remember for decades to come. 

...The Making of a Monster


It is with great pleasure that I can now hand you over to Nibbles Official Monster Handler the ever-so delightful and super talented Emma Yarlett, so she can explain her actions and give us some insight in the creation of this most delightful tinker and his dietary misdemeanours. 

Nibbles the Book Monster wasn’t just a book about a monster, it was also a monster of a book.

The first process I began work on within the project was creating his Royal nibbliness himself; Nibbles. Designing him took a great deal of paper and lead-pushing, as I wanted to try and create a creature that was cute (whilst cheeky), friendly (whilst naughty), cuddly (whilst toothsome) and unlike any other picture book monster (whilst also feeling familiar).

This wasn’t easy!

But eventually I stumbled across him on a page of other designs and knew I had met my monster. I threw some paint down and suddenly Nibbles came alive and began to waltz his way through my sketchbook and my mind.

Then began the really tricky bit… Writing the story. I had recently seen elsewhere the idea of having physical books within books, and so this was very much on my mind as I began the book writing process. I had the premise of the idea of a monster being released, escaping, nibbling his way into other books and then being captured (or not as the case may be!) but getting this down onto paper in some sort of loose form was incredibly hard… And trying to explain my ideas of concepts to Little Tiger Press was even harder! They were incredibly patient with me and also gave me their trust and the freedom to just go for it. I’m more than sure I was incredibly annoying to work with at times during this project, so am so super grateful to them for believing in the book and I (and putting up with me!).

Eventually through much mind bending agony a loose form of a book emerged and it got ‘the nod.’

And so began the meticulous process of creating the artwork. Being what I now term; A completely ridiculous kind of illustrator, I decided in my well-thought out way that the best way to create the artwork for this book was entirely by hand.

Now, my reasoning for this was and still is that I am completely in love with creating physical art with my physical hands. There’s just something in me that cannot resist the magic of paint, glue, paper and all other types of things I use to create my art. This love is something I’ve really come to understand in my last few books and so it made sense to me to continue along that thought vein by relishing physical art again.

As lovely as this sounds, it was also incredibly stupid in more than one way, especially for this project….

1.     Art can go wrong. Not everything is a ‘happy accident’ and sometimes you just have to start again when a ‘not-so-happy accident’ appears on your page
2.     It’s a novelty book. That means everything needs to be precisely placed on the page with not a millimetre of movement in any direction
3.     It’s especially annoying when you create very precise art based on your roughs only to realise your roughs were wrong.
4.     This page.

5.     I could go on…

But as stupid a decision as it was… Would I do it differently if I were to do it again?

Not a chance.

Here are some exclusive photos of the original illustrations in all their glory... such a treat  to see first hand all of the hard work and enthusiasm that goes into creating each piece MAGNIFICENT and completely inspiring... 

 You can buy signed Nibbles prints and more HERE! Grab one before they sell out! 

NOW head over to FABULOUS Picture Books Blogger for the next instalment of this monstrous Blog tour! 

FOLLOW Little Tiger Press HERE  @littletigeruk