Oh, Barcelona!

This is a picture of Saint Jordi by an unknown author,  I found it on a pavement in beautiful Barcelona.IMG_4206I’m back from Barcelona. I want to write about my trip and …I don’t know where to start. I’m still so overwhelmed with what I saw and who I met, the people, books, Barcelona…

I went to celebrate “Saint Jordi’s day” with my Spanish publisher EDITORIAL JUVENTUD.

Sant Jordi, or St. George, is the patron saint of Catalonia and the Diada de Sant Jordi, St George’s Day, is a festive occasion that, over the years, has become a celebration of Catalan culture.  In fact, it is a celebration of culture and love, represented by books and roses. The tradition is such, that everybody gives each other roses and books. It sounds good to me and it is GOOD!

Barcelona was full of people, books, roses and music and whole city has a full of festive atmosphere.IMG_4153Luis and Amanda.

I arrived on Friday and I met my publisher Luis Zendrera. Luis is the proud owner of the family publisher EDITORIAL JUVENTUD, the oldest publisher in Catalonia.

He is also incredibly nice and a generous host. Together with lovely Amanda they took me everywhere and they showed me places I would never be able to find myself.IMG_4160Amanda showed me the lowest mountain. It’s only 16,9m high and I climbed it on my own!IMG_4152Luis showed me the shortest street. It’s only one block long and the block isn’t very long at all. I also walked it by myself there and back, a couple of times.IMG_4168I was just looking through the photos from Barcelona and realised, that Barcelona isn’t just about beautiful buildings and architecture and history. It’s the atmosphere of the small bars and cafes, it’s about the people who live there.IMG_4194

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The next day was Saint Jordi’s Day. Together with other authors and illustrators we signed books at the square de Nicolau Salmerón in Gràcia. We were signing and talking to people for four hours, had  lunch and did more signing. Time went quickly, because there was always somebody to talk to and laugh with. I was sitting next to the incredibly talented and really nice André LetriaIMG_4219

Here he is signing books.CguohOcW0AAPZCIHere is me signing. We were given these lovely hats to protect us from the sun, but later in the day the wind and rain took my hat away and I never saw it again.image001

The other authors signing with us were Einar Turkowski, Iban Barrenetxea, Mónica Gutiérrez Serna, David Pintor, Mariona Cabassa, Rebeca Luciani, Gustavo Roldán, Ignasi Blanch, Rocio Bonilla, Anna Llenas, Liliana Fortuny, Lemniscates.

All these authors and illustrators are incredibly talented and their books are truly amazing. In fact it was rather humbling to be in such company. The day went by. It was fun and tiring and overwhelming too.

In the evening we all met in the nice book shop Casa Anita. IMG_4225Then I realised, that Barcelona is full of small publishers, who know each other. They work together, they even share their authors. There is no rivalry or jealousy. These publishers and their authors have only one intention – to make beautiful books. And they do. The books I saw were amazing. The quality of illustrations and also the quality of books themselves. Good formats, paper, colour…the smell of a beautifully printed book. This was what was so incredible and inspiring. Talking to the people who love books and who love what they are doing and who are doing it well.IMG_4293 I had time to walk around Barcelona on Sunday. I think I was pretty much everywhere. I was so tired, that later in the afternoon I fell asleep on a bench in the park and when I opened eyes again I saw this. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.IMG_4289I also went to see the beautiful garden Park Güell.IMG_4241The place I always wanted to visit.IMG_4244 I love the garden.IMG_4256 It was nice to see the colours and to watch parrots flying around.IMG_4245Walking through the city, I also saw Mr. Picasso, I think. He was sitting, rather stiffly in one of the shops.IMG_4176I saw angels too.IMG_4145On Monday I was supposed to fly home early in the morning, but my flight was canceled. I didn’t mind at all! Luis, Amanda and Elodie took me to Sitges for a walk and very nice lunch.

IMG_4314Here we are together.IMG_4319 Then it was time to go home and this is where I’m now, but to be honest, I’m still partly in Barcelona.

Thank you to EDITORIAL JUVENTUD for inviting me and for the lovely time I had in Barcelona. thumb_IMG_4333_1024

Four days in Prague

IMG_4099It was my father’s birthday, so I went to Prague for cake … and beer.

The day after I arrived in Prague, an article about my work was published in one of the most prestigious Czech magazines “Reporter“. It made my father rather happy.DSC_0056 (1)I’m always pleasantly surprised when I’m asked to do an interview for Czech media, since I have a feeling, that nobody knows my books in my country.

I  truth, four of my books were published in Czech in 2013, but they were published in something I call “an economical edition” and I didn’t expect them to be noticed, but they are.IMG_4119The format of the Czech edition is much smaller than the original books and “A New House for Mouse” was published without the holes and cut outs, which are rather important part of the book.

I was born and lived most of my live in the Czech Republic, so I like the idea that more of my books could be published in my native language. This is the reason why I never say “no” to any publicity back in the Czech Republic. I did one more interview for “Magazin Patek Lidovych Novin”. It should be published in the next couple of weeks.

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For the interview we did some photos in the beautiful  library in Prague 5.IMG_4096The library is next door to the independent book shop “Amadito & Friends“, which sells children’s books in many foreign languages. I did a talk there for a small audience last year, so I popped in to say “HELLO”.amaditoI was told that Michael Rosen is coming soon to Prague to visit the shop. They are very excited.

Then I heard more good news. Mrs. Jitka Netusilova, who owns an internet bookshop “Anglictina – Hry” in the Czech Republic and who is a big promoter of my books told me, that the, soon to be opened, Prague branch of Hamleys is going to have a display of my books in English.

I had some time to meet up with friends and I got some presents too. Lucie Hasova-Truhelkova, who writes a rather successful blog about books for children, gave me a book illustrated by one of my favourite illustrators Kveta Pacovska.Kveta PacovskaLucie’s son sent me an “abstract” picture of “A Funny Lion”.Legracni levHe is only 3 years old, but I can already see an influence of C Y Twombly.

I also went to see a great exhibition of Alfons Mucha – Slovanska epopej in the National Gallery in Veletrzni Palac.IMG_4111It’s hard to describe the quality, importance and scale of the paintings. It’s something you have to see with your own eyes.

Well, it was good fun, but also a very busy couple of days. It’s always hard to get back and start working on the books again, so I finished two pictures I did for myself before I left.ZebrasHere is a herd of zebrasOn the other planet - rhainoand one happy rhino.

On Friday I’m off to Barcelona to celebrate St. George’s day with my Spanish publisher EDITORIAL JUVENTUD, S.A. You can read more about it here. image001This amazing poster was designed by Andre Letria. I love his work and I can’t wait to meet him and other fellow illustrators and writers.

Cambridge

IMG_4076I was at the Cambridge Literary Festival last Friday. I talked and read out of my books and I was also asked to make a giant book with the children and their parents.

CfhQaBaWEAIDUpf-1The talk went really well and the audience was great. I was a bit worried about the workshop though, because the event was sold out and working with a hundred people at the same time is a bit challenging. I had lots of help and at the end everything was fine. We all had lots of fun.

I based the workshop on one of my books “Elephant”.1 cover

The book is about a little boy and his rather unusual friend.5I painted a house and asked everybody to bring their imaginary, or special friends inside for a party.IMG_4055Here is the book.IMG_4058In this case I can confidently say, that you can judge the book by its cover.IMG_4059Friends of different shapes and colours are coming to the party. Please notice the crocodile above the door, who is there to welcome everybody.

IMG_4063More party friends in the other room. Do you like the monkey swinging on the chandelier?

The children who came to my talk were rather small, but they are great artists. I really enjoyed my day at the Cambridge Literary Festival.

IMG_4073 At the end of the day I had time for a little walk around Cambridge. The sun was shining and I had my first ice cream of the year. It was worth travelling a long distance.IMG_4066

 

Easter has been and shortlisted Mouse

vesely Ja Kohoutek

I had a lovely Easter. Nice chocolate eggs and lots of snow.IMG_3998

As I’m waiting for my next book to be contracted, I’ve had time to do some painting and drawing for myself.

pan Zebra 2The picture was probably inspired by this photo I once saw.tumblr_lr4d7d5MEw1qa9b8ro1_500

Mrs. MagritteQuite frankly I had no idea what this picture is about when I was painting it. I was just playing, but when I  finished and looked at it, I somehow thought about the French painter Rene Magritte. I’ve the picture Mrs. Magritte.

FlamingoA FlamingoNa Lodicceand girl on the paper boat watching a swimming giraffe.

As I was drawing away I heard good news!The Mouse Who Reached the Sky
“The Mouse Who Reached the Sky” is one of the shortlisted books for “The Independent Bookshop Week book award“.

I’m quite excited about this news.  I really value the work of independent bookshops. People who run independent bookshops are usually real enthusiasts and they always do a bit “extra”. They also usually really know the books they are selling.

paperbackOh yes, here is the soft cover for ”The Mouse Who Reached the Sky”. Same book with a different cover.03_Facebook-IBW-Pic-Short-banner_01_v02-01

On Friday I’ll be at the Cambridge Literary Festival talking, reading and making a BIG book with anybody who is interested. I’m looking forward to it!

One more picture from the holiday…IMG_4036

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

IMG_3577I’m back from the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. I’m back, but my brain is still back in United Arab Emirates. I would like to write about what I saw and learnt, but I simply don’t know where to start.

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The festival itself was way beyond my expectations. The whole event was brilliantly organised and well attended.  As for the participants, we all were really well looked after. During the week, there wasn’t a moment when one could get bored. With the huge number of speakers, writers, illustrators and performers, one can only admire everybody, who was involved in organising such a big and important event.IMG_3770

I understand the importance of literary festivals, but as somebody who was born in a communist country, I value international festivals perhaps even more.

Being able to meet up with people from different cultures, different beliefs and religions and have the opportunity to discuss the differences between the cultures and nations was incredibly inspiring.IMG_3674

Of course I was in Dubai for too short a time to understand the place completely.IMG_3827 One would have to live there for at least a couple of months to make a bit of sense of it, but one thing is for sure; Dubai is a multi-cultural city which is changing every day. A city, which has everything but history and if you add to it all the artists and writers and people who travelled to the festival, you may get an idea how one can feel, when trying to make a sense of the last couple of days.CdU9ck3WEAAlAqi

My great memory is being at Greenwood School, talking to children and making little books with them. I just love the enthusiasm of the little child who just realised, that he is rather good at writing or drawing. IMG_3571

IMG_3568It was a great day in Greenwood and then,…..something completely bizarre happened. It started to rain! Raining in Dubai is like a snowstorm in London. Everything stopped, schools were cancelled, people were unable to travel and the government issued warnings of high risk.

Who can say that he witnessed a rainy calamity in Dubai? I can.

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IMG_3637So I’m back, already travelling around schools. Since last week I visited four of them.

I  talk and draw with children and I get little drawings as presents from them. Here are some of them.

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I wasn’t quite sure what this picture is about, but the text at the back of the picture gave me an explanation.IMG_3967

This is a self portrait done by one girl age 7.Portrait

I think it’s amazing. Matisse himself would be proud of it.

I had no time to do much art myself, but just before I left I did a paperback cover for Blue Penguin.blue penguin

As you can see, the paperback cover will be rather different from the hardback, so don’t get confused!

I should write more

IMG_3543This picture illustrates writer’s block.

I’ve been sitting and looking into empty pages for too long now.4I’m writing a new story about Little Mouse. A couple of weeks ago I had a feeling that it’s almost there, but I couldn’t quite finish it off. Since then I’m just looking into empty pages and ……nothing.2I do have some drawings and sketches, but everything takes me too long and I get easily distracted.

When I don’t know how to get on with a story I just paint and draw for fun.HadarHere is one of the pictures and I’ve no idea what it’s about. I call it “Snaker”. It’s not even a word!

On the way to London, I was reading a short story by Haruki Murakami call “A Poor Aunty”. If you want to know what it’s about click here – CLICK.

When I got home I did this illustration.Poor AuntyThe drawing helped me a bit and I got back to the mouse book.10

And then I get stuck again, so I did two more pictures.z oka do okaI call this one “From Eye to Eye”.

VazkyAnd this one is “Girl with Dragonflies”.

Oh yes, I did one more picture. This one is a present for a friend who is going travelling in India.Molly's picture

It’s called “Good Luck in India”.