Painted hare

It will be almost two years since my book ‘Dlouhá cesta – Long Journey’ was published.
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It’s a book which I published in the Czech Republic, my home country,  with the publisher  ‘pinwheels’ and the great help of many enthusiastic picture book lovers. The book is now with my agent, looking for a foreign publisher. You can read about the publication of the book in the blog ‘Long Journey to Dlohá cesta’.’ Long journey’ is a life story and the journey of one garden gnome.
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The theme of ‘a journey’ and finding the way back comes to me again and again. I tried to ignore it, because I didn’t wont to write a book with a similar subject so soon, but then I couldn’t help it. I felt as if not everything I wanted was said.
The Nicest Place to be
‘The Best Place in The World’ (working title) is a story about a rather inquisitive hare asking himself a question ‘where is the best place in the world?’.
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I like to work on books which I carry in my head for some time. I can almost see the finished pictures in front of me and I can’t wait to finalise the text and start painting.I thought illustrating this book would be a walk in the park. I was wrong.

I was changing the pictures all the time.  I was frustrated to start with, but then I actually enjoyed redoing the illustrations. I enjoyed walking through the same path.
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The artwork is now with my publisher and it’s quite possible that some changes in the text, artwork or both will need to be done, but so far I am happy. It was a nice couple of months with this hare.

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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!

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