Where to find a picture book

Last Friday I visited the friendly  Marnel Infant School in Basingstoke. I had a lovely day talking to the children, reading and painting. I like school visits. Children are funny and inspiring. At the end of the day a third of them wanted to be writers, a third illustrators and the other third wants to be both.

The school also organised a session for parents. One of the things we discussed was “how to find a good picture book”.

On my way to the train station I popped into a Waterstones bookshop.ksksdijI noticed 20 bookshelves. 5 of them were filled with a variety of Gruffalos including soft toys, 5 of them were dedicated to Peppa Pig and 10 bookshelves were for “picture books”.IMG_2377The picture books section was a bit chaotic, but it is o.k., because there weren’t too many books to look at.

Since hardbacks take too much space on the shelves, only paperbacks are allowed. Looking for a paperback book squeezed into a bookshelf is adventurous. A kind of lucky dip. You can’t read the title, or the name of the author on the spine, so you start randomly pulling out. Everybody does it, so the alphabetical order at the end of the day doesn’t work.

I was amazed what books I pulled out by chance. Oliver Jeffers, Anthony Browne, Korky Paul, I even found a copy of John Burningham’s  ‘Mr Grumpy’s Outing’. There were other beautiful books I had never heard of. Later on I pulled out a copy of my book as well! Puffin Peter, how lucky I am.hvq2

I have absolutely nothing against  the Gruffalo and I don’t mind Peppa. I have been doing books for too long not to be bitter or surprised, but I feel sorry for people who think they can pop into a bookshop and perhaps discover and buy a nice picture book by a new author.

I am talking about the culture of selling books.  Do soft toys in bookshop take less space on a shelf than an out-facing cover of a new picture book? IMG_0668

World Book Day is approaching and just as every year the media will for one day talk about books for children and the importance of books and how vital it is to read to children. Maybe a real author will be invited on the television! It will be over soon.

Wouldn’t be nice if World Book Day was at least every month, if the media, newspapers and magazines gave a bit more space to books? How refreshing it would be to see colourful pictures and illustrations in the weekend newspaper supplements instead of pictures of plates of food and endless car reviews.

So how to find a good picture book?  Ask people who are passionate and interested about children books. You can find them in libraries and in independent bookshops (if you still have one in your town), read blogs and support organisations such as  The Federation of Children’s Book Groups… I don’t know…

It was nice chatting to the parents who like books and I came home with some presents as well. Scan

I got a picture of this beautiful jumping frog.

Last Tuesday I was in the lovely Malvern Wells Primary School. The sun was shining and with the children we made this 2m long picture.Workshop - Lucy 2 13.14.24

More school visits are ahead of me this month. I am looking forward to it!

Scan copy

who likes board books?

Board books

This is not the first time I have been writing about board books. The reason is, that I love making them and I care about them too.

I like the idea that a board book is the very first book a child takes in his hand. It is also one of the first visual art forms the child is introduced to.

For me making a board book is like writing a very short poem. I like the challenge of fitting a short story or a message into the rather small space of seven double spreads. Children are not silly and they are very investigative. I don’t like “lazy board books” with just random images without a proper story or a visual joke. My publisher and I spend lots of time making the board books work. I often design board books with holes and cut outs.

Every time I finish a board book I think that this is probably the very last one, because I can’t imagine getting another idea for another one. But strangely, I always do.

My next two board books will be published in 2020. Here is a quick preview.1

The first one is about a submarine…and lots of fish.

3

The other one is about a spaceship …

2

and a star.

7I loved working on the illustrations for these board books. I still have the covers to do, but that has to wait until after Christmas.

The Moon Christmas

From now on I am finishing all the bits and pieces and slowly tiding up my studio. I like my table empty over the New Year. I am looking forward to Christmas and I am also looking forward to start working on my next book. The idea for it has been on my table for some time now. I can’t wait to start painting the pictures, but let’s do Christmas first!

I am wishing you all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

12 Trp