Saturday 1 July 2017

Here comes the SUN....

To celebrate being part of this fabulous blog tour Little Sniffer and I decided to make a picnic tea inspired by some of the things we spotted in Sun the latest seasonal delight from illustrator and author Sam Usher

The first little chap to catch our eye was the charming little green parrot on the front cover. With his delightful green plumage and perky yellow beak he leant himself perfectly to a fabulously fruity CruditĂ©s creation!

We collected together as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as we could find and made this technicolour treat! complete with mango beak, pepper plumage, a nectarine tummy, apple face and a tiny black bean for an eye, as you can see he's perched quite magnificently on a strange branch of basil. Mini Sniffers verdict, a BIG thumbs up. 

And now for something a bit more substantial!

Next to catch our eye this groovy looking chimp. Immediately we had a "Monkey Bun" in mind. So we set to work chopping snipping and shaping all of our favourite  ingredients and fashioning them in to what I think you will agree is a rather marvellous looking sandwich! 

We forgot to make a bow tie! 

Olives for nostrils, eggs for eyes (with obligatory black bean pupils) BIG green cucumber ears, a pepper mouth with a goofy ham tongue.... all in all quite unexpectedly delicious. 

Now for Little Monkey's favourite part of any meal, picnic or otherwise. 
Time of pudding! We were quite taken by the magnificent glittering sandcastle on the cover and Little Sniffer is unusually partial to jelly so we made a passionfruit jelly pot complete with sand made from crunched up biscuits. 

I hardly had time to photograph this particular component of our picnic as it was gobble up in a flash.  


We have always been huge fans of this beautifully illustrated series of picture books, first the wintery delight which was Snow, then the atmospheric triumph which was Rain and now a scorching celebration of sunshine Sun


Sun is nothing short of a triumph, beaming with illustrative charm and unashamedly revelling in traditional storytelling with nothing but joy and adventure at it's core. I always delight in the beautiful intuitive depiction of the relationship between a boy and his grandfather in these books and this one in particular radiates love and friendship at it's most pure. The gentle evolution of the story is told so cleverly by at first the most subtle of detail, gently unfolding as heat parched landscapes dominate the pages. You'll never guess who boy and his grandfather unexpectedly chance upon. 

Hold on to your sun hats the almost unbelievable adventure which is about to unfold...


Wednesday 14 June 2017

Book Sniffing With Dad


Steven Lenton interviews Director of "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" Robin Shaw about his brand new picture book Me and My Dad published by Hodder Children's Books 

Here is a list of some of my favourite reads for very little book sniffers which might just be perfect for sharing on Fathers Day (or any other day)! #BookSniffingWithDad 

“A is for Adventure” in this supremely stylish nautical themed introduction to the alphabet. The bright, humour-filled illustrations will be the perfect trigger to inspire a love of learning.

If you like this you will also like A Sea Voyage! published by Thames and Hudson 

Confusion ensues as a little girl realises her beloved Grandad has been replaced by a rather mischievous Penguin. A delightful tale of mistaken identity and the importance of grandparents.

If you like this you will also LOVE Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea also by Morgan Hood! Published by Two Hoots 

Perfect for pre-school palaeontologists! This little girl has her sights set on a pet that is slightly larger and considerably scalier than the norm. A joy to share anytime.

If you like this you will also like WHY? by Tracey Corderoy illustrated by Tim Warnes 

With familiar animals, shapes and scenes to spot, and plenty of detail to enjoy. This fun exploration of before and after consequences is perfect for exploring over and over.

If you like this you will also love This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien 

Follow the cut-out hole and lead the reader on an intergalactic adventure into outer space and beyond. Encounter aliens and help steer the spacecraft on its mission.

If you like this you will also like That's Not My Plane published y Usborne 

A brilliantly anarchic feud between a triangle and a square evolves using stark black and white illustrations and a clever simple text. A fantastically funny read.

If you like this you will also like Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley - Published by Flying Eye Books 

Chopping down trees means Big Jim Hickory needs to find a new home for his woodland friends. Perhaps his beard would make the perfect temporary residence?

If you like this you will also like The Bear Who Stared also by Duncan Beadie (on of my faves book ever) 

A visual feast, this introduction to trucks will have little ones entranced for hours on end, with characters to seek and find on each page. Bright, bold and brilliantly bizarre.

If you like this you will love Mr Tweed's Busy Day by Jim Stoten Published by Flying Eye Books 

What Ted lacks in stature he certainly makes up for with his big imagination in this delightful new pre-school series. Familiar themes are explored with charm and delicate humour.

If you like this you'll love Pom Pom is Super also by Soppy Henn 

A joyful observation of the special relationship between parent and child. The perfect gift and a lovely reminder that children cherish the little moments as much as us adults do.

If you like this you'll LOVE Me and My Dad by Robin Shaw 

Saturday 22 April 2017

I have long been a fan of Helen Hancock's deliciously vibrant painterly illustrations so when Ella Arrived in all her suave and sophisticated beauty I was, as you can imagine Agog.

"Ella Fitzgerald sang the blues and she sang them good. Ella and her fellas were on the way up! It seemed like nothing could stop her, until the biggest club in town refused to let her play… and all because of her colour. But when all hope seemed lost, little did Ella imagine that a Hollywood star would step in to help.
The inspiring, true story of how a remarkable friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe was born – and how they worked together to overcome prejudice and adversity."

Instantly transported back to a golden age of glamour and smooth ear melting Jazz I was drawn in to what I had assumed was a straight forward biographical story, this was more so much more. At times It's an at times desperate tale of a struggling Ella yet to reach the dizzying success she was destined to reach. Denied access to perform at numerous clubs and bars due to her ethnicity things were't looking hopeful for Ella and her band. 

Enter Marilyn Monroe perhaps the most iconic movie star of all time who as a friend and fan steps in to support Ella and in times of segregation and struggle and together helped bring Ella's music to the masses elevating her to her rightful position as The First Lady of Song. Winning many many awards along the way and treasuring the friendship that never wavered Ella and Marilyn proved you can achieve anything with good fiends there to support you. 

Ella Queen of Jazz published by Francis Lincoln takes centre stage in book shops across the country next week (Or now if you are reading this next week, there's a buy-it link on the right if you would like to grab a copy!) 


We were incredibly privileged to be able to welcome Helen and her stunning sketch books to the London branch of Book Sniffer Towers yesterday so here for your delectation and delight are a few tantalising photos from the time we spent ruffling through original artwork, sketches and pallet sheets from Ella Queen of Jazz...

Helen creates all her artwork in single pieces painted using rich gauche paints, these are then scanned or photographed, as you can see Helens passion and talent pours out on to the page in bucket loads and this is clear to see when you turn the pages of this lavish picture book.   

Follow Helen on Twitter @helenhancocks 
You can also visit her website and shop here 


You can watch our interview with Helen here... Ignore my double chin and focus of Helens gorgeous little face and all the cakes! 

Cakes Cakes Cakes Cakes.... 

And there's more... 
Helen recently spent 3 months in America where she sampled over 100 different cakes! she is now fastidiously illustrating each one! 

You'll find out which is her favourite in the Vlog... In celebration of Helen's passion for patisserie we treated ourselves to a huge plate of cupcakes and vanilla filled doughnuts... You're welcome. 

AS ALWAYS a HUGE Thank you to my side kick and partner in crime Mr Steven Lenton... Who happens to have a new website!