Monthly Archives: October 2012

Picture Book Nook: One Gorilla – A Counting Book by Anthony Browne

As a kid I loved Anthony Browne’s Willy the Wimp books and The Piggy Book is one of my Mum’s favourites (and probably mother’s everywhere).  It wasn’t until I was older that I really appreciated his books for the illustrations, but once I did I was blown away by the magic that he could create in his pictures.  Anthony Browne has just released a new picture book that’s quite different from anything else he’s done before – a counting book.  But One Gorilla is a counting book like no other.

In One Gorilla children count from one to ten, while exploring the family of primates.  They’ll meet Chimpanzees, Baboons, Gibbons and Colobus Monkeys.  As well as teaching children about numbers, Anthony conveys the message that we’re all alike and members of the same big family, so we have to protect these wonderful animals.

One Gorilla is an eye-catching book, with a big gorilla face smiling at you on the front cover.  The most wonderful thing about this book is that Anthony has given each of the primates a different personality.  Even on the page with 10 Lemurs, no one Lemur is alike.  Each Lemur has a different expression, slightly different colouring, and different shaped heads.  So even though, like humans, they’re the same species, every one is different.  I love the page with the Chimpanzees because you can see every wrinkle of their skin and every hair on their chin, and the adult is looking right at you.  The very last page is fascinating, because you can stare at all the human faces and match them up with a primate from the previous pages.  I can imagine that children will have great fun doing this too.  I also love Anthony Browne’s self-portrait because it’s incredibly life-like.

One Gorilla is a counting book that children young and old can enjoy, and it’s a book that fans of Anthony Browne should absolutely have in their collection.

5 out of 5 stars

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Books to Treasure: Around the World in Eighty Days, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Robert Ingpen has been one of my favourite illustrators since I first set eyes on his illustrated edition of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy.  Each year, since this first illustrated classic back in 2004, Walker Books Australia have published a classic children’s book illustrated by Robert Ingpen.  My favourite one of these is Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, because I love the way that he illustrates animals.  Robert Ingpen and Walker Books Australia have just released his latest illustrated classic, Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

Set out on a thrilling voyage with the quintessential English gentleman, Phileas Fogg. To fulfil a wager made at the Reform Club in London, Fogg and his newly appointed manservant, Passepartout, embark on the race of a lifetime to circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days! Travelling by steamboat, train, and even elephant, and with adventure around every bend, the intrepid duo find themselves rescuing a young Indian woman from sacrifice, escaping kidnap, and battling hurricane winds and all the while, tenacious Detective Fix of Scotland Yard is in hot pursuit, believing Fogg to be the criminal mastermind behind a Bank of England robbery. Rich in humour and excitement, Around the World in Eighty Days deservedly remains one of Jules Verne’s most popular books.

Robert Ingpen’s Around the World in Eighty Days is an absolutely gorgeous book, and this edition is the perfect way to enjoy this classic adventure tale.  It’s a book that you want to share with a child, sitting in a comfy chair, so that everyone can enjoy Robert Ingpen’s beautiful, atmospheric illustrations.  This edition is a book to treasure because you feel like you’re holding something special in your hands.  Not only has Robert produced illustrations both big and small throughout the book, he has also included sketches of the characters in the front and back, and the end papers are the map of Phileas Fogg’s journey around the world.  The book is also beautifully produced, with lovely thick pages with an aged look, that make you feel like each page is a work of art.

Robert Ingpen has a real skill for illustrating vehicles and there are lots in this story.  Robert also perfectly captures the different countries and cultures in his illustrations.  You can look at the illustrations and tell that he is in India, Japan or America.

Robert Ingpen’s illustrated classics are a wonderful Christmas present for children and adults alike.  Get Around the World in Eighty Days and start your Robert Ingpen collection.

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Guest Author: Why I Read (And Write) Scary Books by Will Hill

Will Hill is the author of one of my favourite books of 2011, Department 19.  The sequel, Department 19: The Rising came out earlier this year and was even better.  To celebrate the release of The Rising, Will Hill wrote this fantastic guest post about why he reads (and writes) scary books.  Since it’s nearly Halloween I thought I’d re-post it. Enjoy his post and make sure you grab the Department 19 books for some seriously creepy, gory and action-packed reading.

When I was about 12 I was so scared by Stephen King’s It that I slept with the light on, having placed the book, a beautiful old library hardback with a terrifying oil-painted amusement park clown on the cover, in the middle of my bedroom floor where I could keep an eye on it.

It was the prologue that did it.

George Denbrough chases a paper boat down the flooded streets of his hometown, until he loses it down an overflowing drain. A drain in which he finds a friendly, charming clown. A clown that suddenly changes shape and pulls George’s arm off at the shoulder, leaving him to bleed to death in the rain and the rushing water.

That was it for me.

Not only was it the moment when I closed that particular book and asked my mum to take it back to the library for me, as I was too scared to touch the thing myself, but it was also when I first understood the power that certain books can possess. The power to scare you silly.

I wrote Department 19 because I wanted to tell a story, about an ordinary boy called Jamie Carpenter who is thrown into an extraordinary world where he is forced to sink or swim, where he finds out who he really is. But I’ll be totally honest – I wanted to scare readers as well. Not because I’m mean, or vicious, or some kind of sadist, but because I think that books have a unique quality that I wanted to take advantage of – how scary they are is limited only by the power of the reader’s imagination.

I can describe the vampires in Department 19 in as much detail as I choose, but the picture of them that appears in one reader’s head is still going to be very different to that in someone else’s. In films and TV, the monsters, the villains, the frightening and scary things, are fully formed and shown, decisions that the director and the makeup department have made and then presented to you, whole. That doesn’t mean they can’t be scary, not at all – The Exorcist, The Omen, the original A Nightmare On Elm Street, all scared the hell out of me when I was younger than I am now. But they’re a communal experience, where everyone who sees them sees the same thing.

Books are different. With books, it’s just the words on the page and the power of your own mind. It’s personal.

When I was a teenager, I went straight from reading children’s books to reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert etc. My mother, who always encouraged me to read, and who would regularly bring me horror paperbacks home from the second-hand shops near where we lived, even though she didn’t really approve of them, would often ask me “Why do you read all that horrible stuff?” She still asks me that question, but now she also adds “How can you think of the horrible stuff you write?” I didn’t have an answer for her when I was younger, but I think I understand it a bit better now.

I loved (and still love) horror because nothing makes you feel more alive than staring into the darkness and confronting the things that scare you.

It’s placing yourself in harm’s way, without actually taking any physical risk. It’s like being on a rollercoaster – you know full well that it’s safe, you know that nothing genuinely bad is going to happen to you, but your heart is still pounding, your palms are still clammy, and you’re still wearing that slightly hysterical grin that is meant to show you’re not scared, but in fact gives you away completely. And while the ride may be horrible, may be a terrible, gut-churning ordeal that you never, ever, ever want to do again, when you get off at the other end, your legs wobbling and your face pale, the sensation of being alive, of having survived, is wonderful. It’s adrenaline and it’s probably mild hysteria, but ultimately it’s the primal, joyous sense of being alive.

That’s what scary books did for me.

Still do.

You can confront terrible things, evils both great and small, violence and pain and anguish and loss, and you can do it all from the comfort of your favourite chair, or lying in bed with a lamp on, the one that’s light doesn’t quite reach the corners of the room, the dark corners where things can hide, and wait. And if it gets too much, you can simply close the book, and come back to the real world for a while.

For some reason, the human brain seems to contain a tendency towards the masochistic; it’s the bit of your mind that looks at the rollercoaster tracks and thinks it can see cracks in the metal, that looks at the dog being walked innocently in the park and imagines it suddenly accelerating towards you, its jaws wide, foam frothing from its mouth. This is the bit of our brains that give horror its power. And it’s why I still read scary books, and why I write them. Because I love the thought of tapping into something primal, of experiencing something visceral.

Because being scared is good.

It’s one of the ways that you know you’re alive.

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Guest Author: Joseph Delaney’s Top 5 Scariest Creatures in the Spook’s Stories

Joseph Delaney is the author of one of my favourite series, The Spook’s Apprentice.  It’s seriously creepy and full of all sorts of horrible creatures.  As the Spook’s Apprentice, Thomas has to keep the County safe from the evil that lurks in the dark.  The latest book in the series, Spook’s: Slither’s Tale, has just been released, and to celebrate Joseph has joined me today to talk about his Top 5 scariest creatures in the Spook’s stories.

The Haggenbrood

This creature is used in ritual combat to determine the outcome of disputes between citizens of Valkarky (See ‘Slither’).  It has three selves which share a common mind and they are, for all intents and purposes, one creature. It is fast and ferocious with fearsome teeth and claws.

Grimalkin

This is the witch assassin of the Malkin Clan (See ‘The Spook’s Battle’ and also ‘I am Grimalkin’). She is deadly with blades and stores powerful dark magic in the thumb-bones that she cuts from her dead enemies with her snippy scissors in order to wear around her neck.

The Bane

This creature from ‘The Spook’s Curse’ is trapped behind a silver gate in a labyrinth of dark tunnels under Priestown Cathedral. It is a shape-shifter with a terrible power; the Bane is able to press a victim so hard that his blood and bones are smeared into the cobbles.

Golgoth

This ‘Lord of Winter’ from ‘The Spook’s Secret’ has the power to plunge the world into another Ice Age. If summoned from the dark he can freeze you solid and shatter you into pieces like an ice stalactite falling on to a slab of rock.

Morwena

She is the most powerful of the water witches (See The Spook’s Mistake). Fathered by the Fiend, she has a blood-filled eye which is usually closed, the lids fixed together with a sharp thin bone. But anyone she gazes upon with that eye is immediately paralyzed and she is able to drink that victim’s blood at her leisure.

Best wishes,
Joseph Delaney

Get a copy of the latest book in the Spook’s Apprentice series, Slither’s Tale, from your library or bookshop now.

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My Favourite Seriously Spooky Authors for Halloween

Some of my favourite stories are ones that creep me out and send a chill down my spine.  When I was a kid there weren’t many authors who wrote horror stories or ghost stories.  R.L. Stine’s books were about the creepiest I could find and he’s still writing them today.

If you like horror stories, ghost stories or stories about the supernatural there are now lots of authors who write these stories.  My favourite seriously spooky authors are:

I also have to add Michelle Harrison, even though she writes all sorts of books.  Her recent book, Unrest is one of the creepiest books for kids or teens that I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it!

Who are your favourite spooky authors or spooky books?

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The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes

Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named (respectively) John and Abigail Templeton.

Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh, please. It would so.

Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and who enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!).

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and anyone who likes a story with lots of mystery, adventure, and tight spots to get out of.  It’s clever, witty and funny, but also a little bit crazy.  The story is told by the Narrator, a rather strange fellow, who is always trying to convince us (the Reader) how wonderful he is.  It takes the Narrator quite a few tries to actually get the story started, but when he does he keeps you on your toes.  The Narrator helps to point things out to the Reader, but also throws you off track by asking bizarre and random questions, like ‘Can you spell moustache?’  At the end of each chapter the Narrator has some Questions for Review, to test what you can remember about the story or just help to boost his ego.

You meet some curious characters in the story.  The twins themselves are quite unique – Abigail is very clever with words and John is extremely clever when it comes to devising plans and putting them into action.  These skills, as you can imagine, come in very handy throughout the story.  The villain of the story is Dean D. Dean, who accuses the twins’ father of stealing his idea for an invention.  Dean D. Dean is good at hatching plans, which involves kidnapping the Twins to hold for ransom.  If you think his name is silly, it only gets worse when he tells the children he wants to be a university dean.

Abigail said, “But that would make you Dean Dean D. Dean.”

“Exactly!” the man said with a wild, crazed smile.

“Dean Dean D. Dean?” Abigail said. “It sounds silly.”

“It sounds like ‘Here Comes the Bride,'” John said.

The book is illustrated throughout by Jeremy Holmes, with diagrams of inventions by the twins or their father, explanations of schemes that they have cooked up, and pictures of the characters.  There is some little illustration on each page, whether it’s Cassie the Ridiculous Dog or just the cog around the page number.  I think the illustrations will really appeal to boys and hook them in, especially if they’re not big readers.

Visit the very cool Templeton Twins website, where you can learn more about the book, the author and the illustrator, and watch the book trailer.

4 out of 5 stars

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Win The Looky Book by Donovan Bixley

The Looky Book is a cool new puzzle book by New Zealand author/illustrator Donovan Bixley, with 11 different puzzles, all with colourful New Zealand landscapes, birds and animals.  There are heaps of things to find in each picture, like find the numbers with the crazy All Black lambs, spot the difference with the mischievous keas, find the animals hidden deep in the bush, and match the farmers to their animals. You can read my full review and my interview with Donovan here on the blog.

I have a copy to give away and all you need to do is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Thursday 1 November (NZ only).

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Interview with Donovan Bixley

Donovan Bixley is my favourite New Zealand illustrator.  He has illustrated Kiwi versions of The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald, written and illustrated a book about Mozart, called Faithfully Mozart, and illustrated work by other authors, including Kyle Mewburn (the Dinosaur Rescue series) and Brian Falkner (Northwood and Maddy West and the Tongue Taker).  Donovan has just published his amazing Kiwi-themed puzzle book, The Looky Book (which I reviewed here on the blog).  I was lucky enough to be able to ask Donovan a few questions about his illustration, his new book, and working with other authors.

  • Your illustrations they seem to glow on the page.  What materials/tools do you use to create them?

Most of my work is hand drawn and digitally painted. I come from a painting background, and when I was a AUT the first computers came in. I began scanning my paintings and drawings and mucking about with them in Photoshop 1 – ha ha, you couldn’t do much. I’ve kinda just kept working on it for years and years and now that is the thing I am really highly skilled at. If I were more highly skilled at water colours or oils I would use that medium. I usually treat my digital work as a normal painting – however I’m not precious about it (I’m not here to preserve the sanctity of ‘the art’). I have a vision in my head and I’ll use any means necessary to achieve that. I once had a woman come up to me at a Storylines and ask about my illustrations. When I told her they were digital paintings she stormed off in disgust, as if the computer had done all the work – however some of my paintings, such as those from my book “Faithfully Mozart”, take 70-80 hours.

  • Who influences your illustration?

Well I’m still trying to live up to my heroes, like Norman Rockwell. I am huge fan of the turn of the century illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parish and Edmund Dulac and also their modern equivalents, like the brilliant Russian illustrator Gennardy Spirin. A lot of my work features that kind of old-fashioned ornamentation – swirly things just seems to naturally come out. They often get cut out of the final illustrations for various reasons. There are an incredible amount of illustrators who I follow avidly, like Dave McKean, Shawn Tan or John Howe, but usually this is simple admiration rather than influence. It would be pretty hard for someone of my generation not to be influenced by people like Bill Peet or Dr Suess – in fact I spend a lot of time now consciously trying to be influenced by my childhood memories, I especially like a bit of humour such as Mad Magazine or Mordillo. In that way I don’t often seek out other illustrators to inspire me. I find that I am drawing influences straight out of myself – which I suppose is where you get your own style from – all that stuff goes into you and gets all mixed up and eventually after many years you stop trying to emulate your heroes. You are just you.

  • You’ve created Kiwi versions of The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald.  What do you enjoy most about putting your own Kiwi spin on these classic rhymes?

I was a bit apprehensive about doing those two books actually, but what thrilled me about them both was the challenge as an illustrator. One: they’re often stories that get done so badly and I was determined that they had the potential to be really cool. Two: was the open-ness of the text. I often use “Wheels on the Bus” as a perfect illustration example when I’m doing workshops with school kids – because the words don’t constrict your imagination. All it says is “the wheels on the bus go round and round …” and the rest is up to you. So in that respect both of those books were a real pleasure to add my spin and create a whole world outside of the basic text. I loved some of the things that came out of it like ‘The All Black Lambs’ and ‘Squidly’ the colossal squid. Having said that, you’d probably guess from the variety of my other work that I really hate to be pidgeon-holed as an illustrator. I didn’t want to become ‘the guy who does kiwiana versions of old songs’. So that’s how I ended up doing “The Looky Book” – I wanted to take all those characters and situations from “Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald’s Farm” and do something different with them. So I started thinking about the type of books I loved when I was a kid.

 

  • Your latest book, The Looky Book, is amazing! There is so much to find on each page.  How did you decide what puzzles and scenes you would create?

It was actually much more difficult that it appears. Since the book is aimed primarily at pre-schoolers, a lot of more complicated ideas had to be thrown out. Yet at the same time I always try and make my books have something to appeal to all ages. There are little things in there that the kids won’t get until they are older, maybe not until they are adults. As an illustrator, that’s an important thing for me, it keeps the illustrations alive, even after years of the reader looking at them, because they’re seeing things in a new light. It also makes the books entertaining for parents to read. Kids are little explorers and I strongly believe in giving them lots of opportunities to discover new things on each page. You’d be surprised how a kid will pick up on a tiny little aspect of a story or illustration and they’ll go off and find out all about it. If you don’t give them those opportunities then the book becomes flat and boring and will only be read a few times. As far as the puzzles that ended up in the book, I really wanted to cover a variety of entertaining visual tasks for pre-schoolers. So among the general ‘I spy’ elements are things like finding numbers, matching colours or patterns, and putting things into groups.

  • How long did it take you to create each spread?  Did you have to plan them in great detail before you started?

I’m not sure how long each spread took, the whole book was a few months work spread over half a year. As I mentioned above, a lot of initial work on sketches for spreads got thrown out for being too complicated. I guess the longest would have taken a week and generally involved quite a lot of planning – more in composition, just to fit everything in. With most of my books I brainstorm a lot with my wife and three daughters, at the dinner table or in the car, coming up with ideas. So I’d have this big list of things that needed to fit somewhere in a spread and then have to figure out where that ‘where’ would be. In terms of sketch planning, I’ve stopped doing highly detailed roughs. I find that I enjoy illustrating, and get much better results, if I leave a lot of room for creativity in the final illustration. For a recent Scholastic book, “The Three Bears Sort Of” by Yvonne Morrison, I didn’t actually do any roughs at all. Instead I sent the publisher a letter telling them what I was going to do and created each page as I went. Luckily they really had faith in my ability to pull it off, and the result was a real creative explosion rather than just the technical process of turning a sketch into a finished illustration.

  • Which spread was your favourite and which was the hardest to get perfect?

My favourite is the underwater scene. It’s a homage to one of my favourite books as a kid, “Patatrac” by Jean Jacques Loup. “Patatrac” is this funny French book from the 70s without words, just crazy pictures with lots going on and no actual story. Books like that and books like Richard Scarry’s were part of the inspiration for the “The Looky Book”. As a kid I could sit for hours just looking at the pictures (actually I still do as an adult). The most difficult illustration was the forest scene, where plants and bushes make up shapes and outlines of New Zealand animals. I often have a really good idea in my head, but then making it work in the real world is a challenge. That picture took a lot of planning and was the longest to create (actually the complete opposite of how I just answered the previous question ha ha). I still worry that it didn’t work quite as well as I’d imagined it.

  • You’ve created some wonderful illustrations for other authors’ work, including Brian Falkner (Northwood, Maddy West and the Tongue Taker) and Kyle Mewburn (the Dinosaur Rescue series).  What’s the best thing about working collaboratively?

I love being able to work with other authors, it means I get the best of both worlds. When there is something I really want to illustrate I create it for myself, but working with other authors allows me to create things that I never would have chosen to do on my own – it always helps if that thing fits into your areas of interest. Brian’s “Maddy West” was a real treat for me – the chance to do ninjas, break-dancing monkeys, witches, wolves and ravens and creepy old gothic houses – all these things fit right into the more serious and darker side of my work, but are far from the humourous subjects I am usually asked to illustrate. “Dinosaur Rescue” is a particular favourite. I mean, I’ve been drawing dinosaurs since I was able to pick up chalk, so it’s a dream come true to be doing it as a professional! It’s also a thrill because there’s so much room for humour and it’s a true collaboration. Kyle creates something, then I take it and add to it, then Kyle comes back and takes the something I did and adds onto that … and so on. Often the best developments are when one of us takes a little aspect, a word or a corner of an illustration, and develops a whole new branch of story from there. Best of all it’s tremendous fun which I hope is apparent to the readers.

  • What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just this week begun work on a Margaret Mahy book which is a huge honour for any illustrator, and very exciting. Margaret’s work is unlike anything I’ve ever illustrated before. Often I’ll have a very obvious text that drives the illustrations, and within that I create my unique part of the story. Margaret Mahy’s works are perfect for an illustrator because (as mentioned with “Wheels on the Bus”) they don’t constrain you. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a lightness and freedom. She has an incredible way with words which is just so lovely – words for the joy of words and the sounds they make in you mouth. It’s also a lovely little story too with a nice plot and darling characters. It’s the type of work that could fall very flat or soar, depending on how you illustrate it – and I have to say I’m a little bit nervous, but I have a feeling it’s going to be very delightful.

I’m also working on my next book for Hachette, which is another of my own called “The Weather Machine”. It’s a bit like those books I was talking about above, Mordillo and “Patatrac” – a book without words – which I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s about a man who makes a machine to control the weather, with Frankenstein-ish results.

 

Thanks for joining me Donovan.  I loved your answers and it’s always great to get an insight into an illustrator’s work.  You can find Donovan at his website, www.donovanbixley.com and on Facebook.

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Picture Book Nook: I Love Lemonade by Mark and Rowan Sommerset

Most Kiwi kids will be familiar with Little Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey, the characters in Mark and Rowan Sommerset’s award-winning picture book Baa Baa Smart Sheep.  I had no idea they were planning a sequel, but when I saw I Love Lemonade in a bookshop last week I had to read it.  When you end up getting dirty looks from other customers because you’re laughing out loud in the middle of the store, you know it’s a great book.

I Love Lemonade features the same characters as Baa Baa Smart Sheep, Little Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey.  After being tricked into eating Little Baa Baa’s ‘smarty tablets,’ Quirky Turkey decides it’s payback time.  But has Quirky got what it takes to pull the wool over Baa Baa’s eyes?

I Love Lemonade is absolutely hilarious and is, I think, even better than Baa Baa Smart Sheep.  It’s told in the same way as the first book, with Baa Baa and Quirky having a conversation with each other, using the back and forth speech bubbles.  At first I thought it was just going to be a role reversal of the original story, but it is far better (and funnier) than that.  Eating ‘smarty tablets’ definitely hasn’t made Quirky any smarter, but he’s out for revenge.

I love a story with some good toilet humour and Mark and Rowan write these stories so well.  I certainly don’t think I’ll look at lemonade the same way again (especially when it’s freshly squeezed!).  If you’re cracking up laughing while you’re reading it (like I was) you know that kids are going to love it.

Mark and Rowan are the perfect team and it’s the combination of their text and illustrations that make the book so funny.  You could act out the story, just using Mark’s text and kids would be rolling around on the floor, but Rowan’s illustrations give the characters their personality.  Their facial expressions tell you so much, especially Quirky Turkey’s expressions.  At the beginning, you can tell by the look in his eyes that he thinks he has tricked Baa Baa, and you can see him getting more and more excited as the story progresses.

If you want a picture book that will have you and your kids in stitches grab a copy of I Love Lemonade from your bookshop or library now.

 

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Introducing new local publisher – Book Island

When I was contacted recently by Greet Pauwelijn introducing me to her new local publishing company, Book Island, I was very excited.  Apart from the fact that her company has a FANTASTIC name, I was excited because she told me that they will be publishing the very best Dutch children’s books in English.  I absolutely love the first three books that they will be publishing and you will love sharing them with the children in your life.  You can read more about Book Island’s first books and Greet’s journey to realising her dream below.
Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich, Sir Mouse to the Rescue and Bernie and Flora are three stunning picture books soon to be released by Book Island, an up-and-coming children’s book publisher located in the Kapiti Coast.
Owner and publisher Greet Pauwelijn’s goal is not only to publish outstanding children’s books in English and Dutch, but also to add an extra dimension to the stories by organising activities inspired by them – enabling children’s enjoyment of each book to extend far beyond its pages.
In Book Island’s first title, Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich, a small boy builds the biggest sandwich in the world. Following in his footsteps, we invite you to come and help us build our own gigantic sandwich at the book’s launch on 11 November using recyclable materials – bring your own recyclables and see how high we can get!  There will also be exciting activities based on Sir Mouse to the Rescue, which chronicles the adventures of Mouse, a stubborn knight and her long-suffering friend Dragon, and Bernie and Flora, a heart-warming tale of friendship and flowers.
The publication of these three titles will fittingly mark the three-year anniversary of Greet and her family’s move to New Zealand – a country, she says, that has been incredibly supportive of her endeavour to become a children’s publisher.
The inspiration for this career move came as Greet was translating New Zealand author Barbara Else’s The Travelling Restaurant (Gecko Press, 2011) for a Belgian publishing house. “While translating this book – my first from English to Dutch – I suddenly realised that, instead of telling other publishers about possible bestsellers, I might as well translate and publish these books myself.”
Publishers, editors and translators were all fortuitously present in Greet’s social circle – “Even our accountant had been working in publishing for years!” she laughs. “I also met a publishing consultant while waiting at the traffic lights in Wellington, and my son’s friend’s parents turned out to be well-known book designers here…”
Greet says it felt “like lucky stars were falling from the sky”, and knew that she’d made the right move. She welcomes you and your family to join her on 11 November to celebrate both the release of these books and the beginning of a new chapter in the Book Island journey.

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