Friday, 26 April 2013

For the Love of Board Books

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love You, A Bit Lost, Howl's Moving Castle, A Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh.  

I am in love with board books. Even before I had a child, I had a collection of the things. (I had a pretty big general picture book collection, too.) They’re the perfect size to hold; the texture of the thicker stock is smooth and shiny at the same time, like a perfect, perfect apple. And we read them a lot when my son was in the book-to-mouth stage. And some more, when he was in the book-to-banging on the floor stage. And some more, even after he’d progressed to “big boy” books and turning thinner, more delicate pages. 

Here’s the thing about board books: they’re easy to write off. They’re often short on words;
some don’t have a story per se, but comprise collections of objects, or feelings, or sounds, or at least half a dozen other concepts. And this makes it easy to say “oh, that’s just a board book, my kid reads real books now” or “it’s boring, there’s no story”. 

Yet the very the simplicity of the board book is why I adore them. They’re often lovingly crafted with stunning illustrations. The words, while simple, are exactly right for kids learning to read. The first words my son ever read were out of Jez Alborough’s Tall: “mummy”, “Bobo”, and “fall”. Then there are textured, shiny, touchy-feely board books (think our Baby Walker series) – these, too, are full of colour and fun. They’re also a marvellous gateway into art projects. What makes that shiny? Can I do that? Why is that cardboard wobbly? Could I make a house with a wobbly cardboard roof? 

Not sure where to get started on the board book scene? Start with this list of our current ten favourites (in no particular order). 

Ten Beloved Board Books:

1. Animals (Baby Walker) Debbie Powell 
2. Hug, Jez Alborough (Hug beat out Tall in the Jez Alborough books only because I'm biased as it's the first book Mir read to me; Tall is sweet and funny and all around marvelous and deserves a read too.) 
3. Her Day/His Day, Heather Potter
4. Best Bear, Emma Dodd
5. Cars Galore, Peter Stein and Bob Staake
6. Night Night (Baby Walker), Petr Horacek 
7. Huggy Kissy, Leslie Patricelli 
8. Owl Babies, Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson 
9. Friends, Helen Oxenbury 
10. Guess How Much I Love You Colours, Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Author and illustrator Chris Van Dusen explains his artistic process

Author and illustrator Chris Van Dusen explains his artistic process.

Chris Van Dusen was born in Portland, Maine and grew up in a small town in central Massachusetts. His interest in art began at a young age when his mother gave him and his four brothers pencils and paper to keep them busy. He continued to draw any chance he could and remembers being fascinated with the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. "I would go to the library and check out as many Dr. Seuss books as I could carry," he says.

In his spare time, Chris likes to hike and bike all over the Maine coast with his family. Chris is well known for his illustrations in Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series. Learn more about Chris' books here. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Birgitta Sif Talks About "Oliver"

Birgitta Sif talks about her stunning picture book debut, Oliver. Keep an eye out for just a few of the lovely, tiny details throughout the book, and let us know if you spot the mouse and the girl in the red dress!

Read more about Oliver here.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Leila Rudge and TED

Leila working on some of the illustrations for TED.
Leila Rudge answers Booktopia's Ten Terrifying Questions - here's a snippet below, or read the whole piece here.

What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was small I used to spend hours sat on the studio floor of family friend and illustrator, Jan Lewis. I made hundreds of little books complete with blurbs and bio. When I was about twelve, Jan offered to send one of my books to her publisher for review. They responded with such a kind and encouraging letter that my mind was made up – I was going to be a children’s book illustrator. Then, now and always (hopefully!) more

A little more about TED, with a peek inside:

Ted is a smart dog, with his own jumper. But he has lived at the pet store for as long as he can remember and nobody seems to notice him. Will Ted ever find the perfect place to live?

Credits: Text and Illustrations © 2013 Leila Rudge. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A Picture Book is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love YouA Bit LostHowl's Moving CastleA Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 

The Children's Book Council of Australia short-listed books for 2013 were announced yesterday, and we're thrilled to see three Walker titles on the short-list and four in notable mentions!


The Wrong Boy, by Suzy Zail, (Older Readers Short List 2013)
Other Brother, by Simon French, (Younger Readers Short List 2013)
Python, by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson, (Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Short List 2013)

Notable mentions:

Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron (Older Readers Notables 2013) 
Black Spring by Alison Croggon (Older Readers Notables 2013)
Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space by Anna Branford, Illustrated by Sarah Davis (Younger Readers Notables 2013)
In the Lion by James Foley (Picture Book Notables 2013)

Two of the books recognised are picture books: Python, which is part of our Nature Storybooks series, and In the Lion, a playful picture book with a wry sense of humour. And Violet Mackerel's Personal Space, although not technically a picture book, is illustrated fiction.

There's something about seeing illustrated work recognised - it's so often undervalued. It's assumed to be easy to create; some even assume picture books are written inside a couple of hours. And yet, there's another, less obvious thing most of us forget when considering the picture book: how difficult it us to marry story and illustration effectively.

Many picture books are created by two people - an author and an illustrator. Sometimes these two meet; other times they work across borders, even countries. And although both people are storytellers, their media are vastly different.

Author-illustrators, despite working on both pieces of the book, are also pulling together two disparate things - even though the words and the pictures tell the same story, they complement each other and are not repetitive. 

Illustrated works are surely greater than the sum of their parts, and one of the joys of seeing our illustrated work recognised is seeing others appreciate the marriage of two ideas - and often multiple media - into a cohesive whole. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Red Panda's Toffee Apples, by Ruth Paul

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love YouA Bit LostHowl's Moving CastleA Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 
One of the many things we believe necessary to our picture books is stunning illustration - and in her latest book, Red Panda's Toffee Apples, Ruth Paul has used a very classic, very vintage illustration style we love.

For me, it harks back to my own golden age of picture books - when curling up to read with my mum or dad, this soft, gentle sort of work was always a favourite.

Red Panda is selling toffee apples. They are very sticky. But will there be enough for all his friends?

Red Panda and his friends are rendered in a style parents will remember, providing a lovely opportunity to share memories (and a love of reading, of course!) with younger children. And the story is a wonderful gateway to parental and grandparental nostalgia for anyone who has ever run a toffee apple or lemonade stand!

Ruth Paul lives in an off-grid straw bale house in the middle of a paddock under a wind farm just outside Wellington, New Zealand. As well as writing and illustrating children's picture books, Ruth is mother to two children and wife to one husband. Ruth started writing and illustrating her own picture books in 2004.

Read more about Red Panda's Toffee Apples here, or learn more about the friends in Ruth's lovely Hedgehog's Magic Tricks.