Articles tagged with: children's drawing
Posted by Kate on Jul 05, 2011
Two weeks ago, we published the third of Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson’s funny, clever and innovative new Mega Mash-up series of Draw-Your-Own-Adventure books, Mega Mash-up: Aliens v Mad Scientists under the Ocean.
An alien and a mad scientist eye one another suspiciously.
We always want to know what people think about our books and apps, whoever they are.
This time, we have had some terrific feedback from a friendly bookseller. Matt Black (pictured doodling above) is Children’s Bookseller at Waterstone’s High Street Birmingham. We know him from Twitter (where he rejoices in the name @marquiscarabas). Here’s what he says:
“Mega Mash-Up: Aliens v Mad Scientists Under The Ocean is by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson and well, you when you add to the pictures! If you haven’t seen any of the previous books in this fab series, then you are in for a treat. The whole point of these great stories is to bring the reader in on the action: you get to make up parts of the narrative as the story progresses, creating and illustrating elements of the story yourself. Using pencils, pens and felt tips (with hints on how you might want to do so from the authors) you can fill in the gaps in the story and pictures and make it your own little adventure.
This makes a great alternative to the usual doodle books available, which don’t have stories. Here, the narrative adds so much more to the book, making interacting with it much more fun. Also the illustration is very loose and simple – very child-friendly – which, I think, helps to encourage children to draw and to use their own imagination.
I love the idea of aliens and mad scientists being put together in one book set under the ocean: just such a good idea! Why just doodle, when you can create?”
We really like to hear from booksellers, whose role in getting our books into the hands of readers is so important… but it’s also great to hear from readers – or their parents – themselves. Yesterday, we got an email from a mum who had taken the trouble to contact Nosy Crow via our website after Nikalas and Tim did an event at her child’s school. This is what she says:
“Hi I just wanted to send you guys a quick email to say thank you for doing a talk at my son’s school, Bellenden Primary School, last Friday. He was shy about talking to you after school when we bought a couple of your books, but then was full of excitement and enthusiasm telling me all about your talk to the children and about your drawings, and all weekend he has been drawing aliens, asteroids, smelly socks and sound effects like “ZAP!”: he is totally inspired and loves your website and your books. The kitchen table is covered with his drawings and I will keep them all.
It does make a difference when you talk in a school. It gets kids excited about reading and drawing as well as making for a bit of fun!”
The first books in the Mega Mash-up series have reprinted, and rights have been sold to the US, France, Germany, Korea and Israel so far. We publish the fourth book, Pirates v Ancient Egyptians in a Haunted Museum, in September, and three more next year.
Posted by Kate on Jun 01, 2011
Nikalas and Tim’s Mega Mash-up event at the Hay Festival yesterday was fast, furious and funny.
They took the – big and lively – audience through the creation of the series, a unique and silly blend of doodle book and young novel that they describe as “draw your own adventure” which they both write and illustrate.
They said that some of their ideas come to them on the Thinking Couch in their studio. Here’s Nikalas on the Thinking Couch:
And here’s Tim on the Thinking Couch:
However, they also confessed that they traded ideas for cookies with the elves at the bottom of their garden.
Conveniently, Nikalas is right-handed and Tim’s left handed, which means that they can illustrate the same picture at the same time without either getting in the other’s way… and they demonstrated this on a flip-chart at the event:
They pulled in audience suggestions and questions brilliantly. Here’s Tim getting a suggestion from half-way up the theatre:
They asked, for example, what the roundish object might be that they’d drawn being spotted through a telescope hurtling toward the Romans’ and Dinosaurs’ Martian city, Romasauria. “A grape!”, suggested one child (it was an asteroid). In turn, they were asked whether they liked brussels sprouts. So we covered a lot of ground, not all of it fruit-and-vegetable-related, as well as drawing mashed-up characters together.
There was a long queue of enthusiastic children waiting for them to sign books, and I was surprised and pleased to see how many girls were in the audience, as I’ve always thought that these books skewed towards boys, and reluctant boy readers in particular:
Described by Library Mice as “… exactly the kind of books us parents need to be able to hand to our offspring in school holidays or on long car journey!” you can find out more about the Mega Mash-up books on the Mega Mash-up website, where you can also post your own pictures, like this one by Alex Kosowicz:
Posted by Kate on Mar 04, 2011
World Book Day was the big books-and-reading news of yesterday, but it was also the publication day for the first two books in our Bizzy Bear series by Benji Davies, Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm and Bizzy Bear: Let’s Go and Play.
In celebration, Benji drew us the very fine crow:
We’ve got very cheering videos of a pair of two year-olds reading each of the books in the “extras” tab for each book.
These books have simple rhyming texts and really sturdy mechanisms and are really great for children from 18 months to 3.
We’ve got some to send to reviewers and bloggers. So, if toddler books float your boat, let us know: contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, Reviewing Bizzy Bear.
And if you are in East London today (4 March), you could come to our Bizzy Bear event at 11.30am for 45 minutes of songs, stories and colouring at the Discover Centre’s Big Write festival, where we’re doing other events, too:
Nikalas and Tim will be doing a Mega Mash-up event at 3.30pm to 4.15pm on Sunday 6 March.
I will be doing an event with Neal Hoskins of Winged Chariot about apps at 6.30pm to 8.00pm on Thursday 10 March.
And Axel Scheffler is doing a Pip and Posy event at 1.00pm to 1.45pm on Saturday 12 March.
Posted by Kate on Mar 01, 2011
Guest blogger Nikalas Catlow writes about his event with co-author/illustrator of the Mega Mash-up series, Tim Wesson.
Our Mega Mash-Up tour kicked off last week with a rehearsal in our own studio to a rather silent, but very appreciative imaginary audience. On Friday morning it was time for the real deal: we found ourselves in Chelmsford at Just Imagine, Write Away’s, brand new storytelling centre and children’s book shop where we were to perform our first Mega Mash-Up gig.
We launched into our double act, a stunning and dare-devil display of extreme live drawing. Sections of our Romans v Dinosaurs book were acted out for the amusement of our brilliant audience. Kids, DO TRY THIS AT HOME! To finish the event a ‘how to draw’ session on dinosaurs and Romans inspired fantastic artwork from many eager young artists.
We were delighted with everyone’s drawings and enjoyed chatting with the crowd after the show. One boy by the name of Jake bought three copies of Romans v Dinosaurs.... Now that’s what we call a Mega Mash-Up fan!
The event was even covered by BBC Essex Radio
And we’re now making badges for our next event at Discover on Sunday 6 March at 3.30pm.
Posted by Kate on Feb 21, 2011
The Mega Mash-Up author/illustrator team, Nikalas Catlow (far right) and Tim Wesson (next to him, first from right) gathered together a handful of privileged friends in London yesterday to serve up a Romasaurian feast in celebration of the publication of Mega Mash-up: Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars and Mega Mash-up: Robots v Gorillas in the Desert.
Romasauria is the glass-domed city in Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars which Romans and Dinosaurs bicker and co-exist until their civilisation is threatened by an asteroid spotted heading towards Mars by Augustus Astronomus.
Food for the feast included mooncow and poogoid stew (no poogoids, were, however, harmed in the making of this stew, as, not being on Mars, Nikalas was forced to substitute chorizo), and the tablecloth was printed out spreads of the book. We were equipped with pens so that we could do what everyone should do when faced with a page of Mega Mash-up: read the story, and complete the illustration and fill in the speech-bubbles. I am happy to say that my camel, in the desert that the Robots and Gorillas race across to settle scores, drew particular compliments.
The books have been out for a week or so, and are being promoted in Sainsbury’s and Waterstones. They are quite unique in their combination of fiction and doodling.
We’ve had a couple of reviews so far:
Parents in Touch said: “This new series from Nosy Crow is an innovative and clever combination of novel and doodle book and I think is an absolutely brilliant idea for reluctant or struggling readers, especially that notoriously hard market – boys… Zany stories and quirky illustrations make these books great fun.”
Sarah’s Book Reviews wrote: “There is plenty of room for a child’s own imagination… I will be recommending it to friends as a great idea for their children.”
There’s a fun, interactive dedicated website, too.
Posted by Kate on Feb 12, 2011
There’s a bit of news that we’ve been keeping unusually quiet about. We published our first two Mega Mash-up titles last week: Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars and Robots v Gorillas in the Desert.
Each book is a really innovative combination of a novel and a doodle-book. They’re proper – and very funny – stories, divided into chapters and with relatively little text per page. Each page is illustrated in an accessible but zany style, and the reader is invited to complete the pictures, add to the speech-bubbles, and draw their own additional characters.
It’s fiction, Jim, but not as we know it… and there’s nothing else like it.
The first two books are being promoted by Waterstones and Sainsbury’s and we’ve sold the rights to translate the books to several countries already.
It’s early days, so we’ve had just a couple of reviews… but they’re really positive:
The Library Mice review said, “Seriously, check this out this series, whether your little readers at home are reluctant, struggling or more than willing! This is exactly the kind of books us parents need to be able to hand in to our offspring in school holidays or on long car journey!”
The Parents in Touch review said of Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars, “In this hilarious story, imagine Romans and dinosaurs harmoniously living together on Mars – and a gigantic asteroid about to crash into the planet. Readers, especially boys, will revel in the funny story while having fun completing the pictures. Ideas are given to help creativity, making this fun for everyone.”
And now there’s a lively reader-orientated website up and running, with videos and printables as well as information about the series.
We’re really proud of this series, and these two books are the first of many: the next one is Aliens v Mad Scientists under the Ocean, publishing in June.
Nikalas and Tim, the creators of the series, have events lined up at Chelmsford and at the Big Write festival at Discover, in Stratford, East London and then later at the Hay and Edinburgh Literary Festivals.
And we’re still really keen to find reviewers for the books – so far, we haven’t shown them to anyone who hasn’t really liked them – so if you’re a children’s book reviewer or blogger and would like a copy, we’d love to hear from you, so do contact us.
Posted by Kate on Jan 30, 2011
Over the last week or so, the question of girls’ drawing has come up both in an interesting submission from an author and in a conversation about future publishing ideas.
Of course, there’s an entirely separate conversation to have about whether and why girls’ drawing subjects and styles are different from boys’ drawing subjects and styles. As a publisher, I am not aiming to publish in a way that excludes any reader, and I personally can’t imagine publishing a book called something like “Drawing For Girls” or “Stories For Girls”, though such books often sell well. However, but I am realistic and recognise that books – and drawing, for that matter – exist in the context of other factors, whether genetic or social, that predispose many children towards subjects that conform strongly to stereotypes of what the different sexes are interested in. Most girls really do seem to like fairies and princesses, and most boys really do seem to like dinosaurs and diggers. We can’t change the world, as publishers. We exist in a commercial environment. When we choose to publish a book, we do so with a strong sense of the ultimate likely reader in mind, and, generally, but not always, the attributes of that notional reader include the reader’s sex.
Anyway, several people have already been really helpful, via Twitter, on the question of what girls of 10 and 11 draw and in what style. Here are some of the – very helpful – answers we got:
“She loves drawing people, animals, still life, landscapes. Works in all mediums but her favourite would be soft pastels.”
“My 9 year-old draws her WebKinz plush toys. Right now her WebKinz are also cast as characters from Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver. So drawings are of Husky WebKinz as Wolf.”
“My 12 year-old daughter (turned 12 two weeks ago) draws everything. A main theme is girls her age in various settings. She experiments with all sorts of styles, playing with them. She has her own style arrived from a synthesis of many. She also adds little poems to the drawings. She draws endlessly and writes endlessly.”
“[My 10 year-old says she draws] ‘Other girls, I draw eyes a lot, random animals, stars, lips, faces – friends draw beauty products’. She also draws cartoon-style large-headed characters with small bodies or captioned cartoon pictures. It was really interesting talking to her about it. Some of them are ace! A cow stuck in a bog entitled Silly Cow!!”
“[Drawing] is by far her favourite thing. Girls, dreams, cats, birds, freaky people, fantasy houses, people turning into animals… Fairly stylised but [she has] a distaste for cartoon/Manga style as it’s not unique to her. It helps that her dad draws a lot. I see most other kids by her age decline in drawing appetite & confidence, in comparison.”
“[My] nieces say they copy cartoons, especially club penguin, and animals.”
“[My daughter] draws everything: scenes, cartoon characters (SpongeBob, Moshi, Facebook game characters), animals, designs (floor plans/fashion/shapes) us (the family) … she just loves to draw!”
“[My daughter is] a bit older now, but she did draw lots: people she knew including the family, animals, and lots of anime-style pictures of people & ferrets.”
“It’s manga all the way.”
“Mine  draws houses & gardens mostly.”
“[Of 11 year-old} Jedward. Herself and Jedward.”
“My 9 year-old draws mainly figures and fashion.”
“At the moment she designs t-shirts/clothes for her friends/family. Flowers, hearts etc. popular too. She draws/doodles a lot. She’s 10.”
If you’ve additional comments about girls in this older age-group, please tweet or comment below, telling me the age of the child you’re talking about.
But this post is also about younger girls aged 6 to a maximum of 8. What do they like to draw and what does their drawing look like?
A number of twitter response really show why we’re right to be spitting up the age-groups:
“My daughter drew rainbows and princesses 6/7, fashionable girls and puppies 8, rock stars age 9 (now).”
“My kids draw a lot and they often draw their family when they’re really little and friends when a little older.”
“I have girls in both age groups. They both LOVE to draw. 7 draws profiles & characters. 10 draws reptiles & maps.”
“[Girls aged] 10/11: clothing styles, horses, portraits of others; 6/7: themselves, their families & friends (stick figures), generic ‘landscapes’.”
We’d be really grateful if you could tell us what your younger girls draw, and, even better, send us some samples, or links to samples of your girl’s drawing. You can send samples to email@example.com. The images won’t actually appear in a book, and we won’t post the image or name the child without your permission, but the images you send will help to shape a particular book or books that we plan to make.
The image above, Rainbow Bunny by Ella Chia, came via Twitter, and we are very grateful for it.