IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

There's one week left to apply for a Marketing Executive position at Nosy Crow

Posted by Tom on May 22, 2015

A couple of weeks ago we announced that we’re hiring a Marketing Executive – and there’s just one week left to apply for the position: the closing date for applications is next Friday, May 29th.

Our new, rapidly growing sales, marketing and PR department needs a Marketing Executive whose key functions will be:

  • To work closely with the in-house sales team to constantly devise ways of supporting our key accounts, plus our UK, Ireland and Export Sales teams to maximise sales and liaise with international sales partners and rights customers over POS requirements and production.
  • To contribute innovative marketing ideas to agent and author acquisition pitches.
  • To write copy, and manage design and print of three substantial catalogues/rights guides (liaising with a freelance designer).
  • To devise and implement a range of strategic marketing campaigns around key titles/series/authors and identify appropriate, effective advertising opportunities and write briefs for print and online ads.
  • To manage external marketing agencies where appropriate.
  • To produce and arrange print for a number of pieces of printed point of sale, including leaflets and flyers, posters, bookmarks, and other bookshop-friendly material as required.
  • To act, where appropriate, as an ambassador for the company, presenting new titles and marketing plans at sales, retail and library conferences, for example.
  • To communicate marketing plans and activity in-house, and to authors, illustrators and agents.

We expect that you will already have had some experience in a publishing marketing environment – preferably in a children’s department. This is a key job in a fast moving young company which enjoys and is successful at what it does. You’ll need to be flexible, determined, and good at getting on with a tightly knit team and its external customers. You’ll have the right to live and work in the UK. You’ll report to the Head of Sales and Marketing and will liaise closely with our sales and PR team.

Applications (stating current salary) to Catherine Stokes ([email protected]) by Friday 29th May.

The Nosy Crow Reading Group verdict on Anyone But Ivy Pocket

Posted by Tom on May 21, 2015

Last night the Nosy Crow Reading Group met to discuss Anyone But Ivy Pocket, written by Caleb Krisp and illustrated by John Kelly, which We Love this Book describe as “funny and engaging […] sure to delight any reader who seeks adventure and mischief”.

This was one of those books that provoked a real debate amongst our reading group members, with a fairly even split between those who really liked it and those who did not: there was healthy, enthusiastic, and (to me, at least) sometimes surprising debate about what constituted its merits and its flaws.

Narrative voice

One of the most immediately striking things about this book is its narrative voice: that of the irrepressible Ivy Pocket herself. Ivy’s voice asserts itself on every page of the book – it is an incredibly distinctive, stylised creation, and one gets the impression that Krisp began with Ivy’s voice and built a book around it.

The narrative voice lends the book a sort of marmite-quality: you will either love it or hate it, but it is impossible to ignore. For me, that narrative voice is the novel’s greatest success, and the thing that will carry a reader through the entire book – and overall, I think that our attendees enjoyed Ivy’s voice: we liked her delusions of grandeur, her (equally deluded) self-belief, and her over-the-top affectations. Krisp has noted in interviews that he owes a debt to Vanity Fair’s Becky Sharp, and several of our members recognised this similarity.

Ivy’s voice is the source of much of the book’s humour, and to many of us, its comic potential was its greatest strength. Krisp’s use of repetition, in particular, worked well here: we liked the recurring uses of phrases like “all the natural instincts of…”, and the effect these phrases had in building layer after layer of delusion and absurdity. The narrative voice even, according to one of our attendees, gave the book the quality of a mock-epic pastiche, with hints of tragi-comedy (alongside Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, I suspect that another of Krisp’s influences has been Pope’s The Rape of the Lock).

This isn’t to say that the book’s narrative voice didn’t have its detractors, however: several of us found it irritating, one or two of the group did not find it terribly funny, and a few of us felt that it did not have “heart” – and that, subsequently, the overall experience of reading the book was a slightly cold one.

The unreliable narrator

The two words that seem to come up in every review, discussion and summary of this book are “unreliable narrator”. On the surface, Ivy seems like a quintessential unreliable narrator, and this was something that a lot of us liked about the book: several of our attendees found Krisp’s use of the trope funny, interesting and clever. A number of us also felt that the book did a very good job of introducing the idea of the unreliable narrator to a young audience: where some of us found the allusions to Ivy’s unreliability heavy-handed, others found them – like the very deliberate repetition – helpful and appropriate for a readership that may never before have encountered a narrator whose account cannot be taken at face value.

One or two of us were less than enchanted with this element of the book: one member said that while they usually enjoyed unreliable narrators and unlikeable characters, they were frustrated in this instance by what they found to be inconsistency – they felt that Ivy was only inconsistently unreliable, and that this undermined the effect.

And there are, we decided, valid questions to be asked about whether in fact this IS a book which strictly conforms to the necessary conventions of the unreliable narrator: Ivy deceives herself constantly, of course, but she does not really deceive the reader.


Typically I begin these blogposts with a warning that spoilers lie ahead, but I’m not sure how relevant this would be on this occasion: even now, after reading the book twice and discussing it for an evening, I’m not confident that I could satisfactorily relay the book’s plot.

The book’s actual story was not, it must be said, as praised by our group as it’s voice and humour were. Some of us felt that the book had too much plot, and a few of us did not love the introduction of supernatural elements to the story (in the words of one person, the book would have been better “if it stuck to being an Agatha Christie-style mystery”). A number of us found the ending frustrating (noting that it was very heavily setting up events for a sequel) and several of the group felt that the book lacked a strong narrative arc: that it was made up simply of a sequence of events, one after the other, that were not properly connected.

But the plot was not without its admirers: several people liked Krisp’s evocation of the period and genre, and a number of us enjoyed the book’s pantomime quality (one of our attendees said that they wanted to shout “it’s behind you!” at every situation that Ivy blindly walked into). And to at least one person, the book DID have a lot of heart – because they felt that it was about how life can be terrifying, and how Ivy eventually realises this.

So, a book that attracted both ardent defenders, and frustrated critics – but a striking, interesting debut, whatever the case.

The Nosy Crow Reading Group will be back in June to discuss My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons. The event is currently completely booked, but if you’d like to add your name to the waiting list, or be notified about future events, email tom at nosycrow dot com, and I’ll add you to our mailing list.

Words - pictures - music!

Posted by Penny Dale on May 20, 2015

Dinosaur Rocket - Penny Dale

Today’s guest blog is by Penny Dale, creator of the Dinosaur picture book series, on an unlikely overlap of interests with some of her favourite musicians…

I have always listened to music in my studio while I’m working. Years ago I listened to recordings much more than to radio, but since BBC 6 Music came along everything’s changed, and now the reverse is true, and it’s radio most of the time.

Not only is the music played on 6music varied and eclectic, but it’s curated and presented lovingly by knowledgeable people who sprinkle the playlist with rare classic tracks as well as lovely things that just don’t get heard on other more mainstream stations. And there’s lots of great new work played too.

Some favourite discoveries have included: Metronomy, Field Music, Teleman, and particularly, Public Service Broadcasting. They first diverted me, in a good way – i.e. paintbrush frozen mid air kind of way – a couple of years ago, when I heard ‘Spitfire’ from their first album, ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’. We saw them play at Cardiff Globe, which was amazing!… Not only musically, but visually as their performance includes tightly edited archive film clips.

So… about a year after we saw them live, a happy coincidence unfolded. Last October I had just delivered the final artwork for Dinosaur Rocket. I was finishing work on a simple trailer featuring images from the book. The 1.5 minute clip ended with a slow zoom in, to a close up of a T rex footprint on the moon, “That’s one small step for a T rex… One giant leap for dinosaur kind!”

Still image from my trailer

Imagine my surprise when around that time, I saw the first teaser trailer for PSB’s new Album. (I didn’t realise there was any overlap at that point) It featured a slow zoom out… from an indecipherable black and white image with minimal music playing and an extract of a recording of President Kennedy’s ‘Go to the moon’, speech. It slowly zoomed out until it resolved and revealed itself to be an image of the famous boot print on the moon!

Still image from Public Service Broadcasting’s Trailer

I realised in a rather “Wow!” moment, that for the past year I had been working on very similar subject matter, with similar source material and inspiration as some favourite musicians! It turned out that PSB’s new album was titled, ‘The Race for Space’!

It has a stand out single “Go!” which features all the mission control voices, that check the myriad systems before lift off and landing; the sequence of actual voices recorded at the time saying ‘Go!’ just before the moment the Eagle lander touched down on the Moon. So much of Dinosaur Rocket follows similar moments of highly focused group endeavour.

Here’s their video:

Their video is absolutely in a different league to mine. The weaving of the music, voice samples and visuals is awesome!

My 10x more homemade effort features music from a youth wind ensemble my daughter played in – which actually fits quite well as it has a 1950’s/60’s B Movie feel – but the animation is pretty clunky and wobbly. (Disclaimer!) But how lovely to discover such synchronicity in subject matter!

There are mission control-like teams in many fields. Most definitely in music and publishing and space exploration! Here’s to teams, and to Synchronicity!

Detail from Dinosaur Rocket featuring mission control dinosaurs!

PS It would be interesting to hear if any other writers or illustrators, listen to music when working, and if there are other examples of musical influence or overlap or shared inspiration.

Thank you, Penny! You can take a look inside Dinosaur Rocket below, and buy the book online here – and you can find out more about Public Service Broadcasting here.