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Articles tagged with: dinosaur dig

Jurassic-ally fantastic storytelling

Posted by Dom on Aug 25, 2014

This year we thought Nosy Crow’s Edinburgh International Book Festival jaunt was so epic, we just couldn’t do it justice in a single blog post. So, this one will be the first of a few – and where better to start than the Triassic Era? Penny Dale’s digging, zooming and rescuing dinosaurs made their appearance in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh last week … and they were not alone. After lots of Jurassic-ally fantastic storytelling and quite a lot of shouting like various emergency vehicle sirens, Penny led the audience in the assembly of a dinosaur made out of stickers, so each child would have his or her own dinosaur to take away. On a flipchart at the front Penny stuck parts of the dinosaur, one by one, in the correct place and the audience was encouraged to follow suit on their own sheets of paper. Which, by and large, they did. SOME dinosaurs did have ice-creams, plasters – and even eyes – in some odd places, but that all added to the joy of the event. And who’s to say in a few years we won’t ALL be making dinosaurs that way? There was just time to sing the Dinosaur Song, complete with ROARING and plenty of teeth/claw/digger mimes before the time was up. My 5 year old self would have instantly dropped to the floor and had a tantrum. My 38 year old self ALMOST did. Everyone was having such a good time singing and dinosaur-decorating I don’t think I was ready for it to be over…

But, ever the professional, I forewent the histrionics and helped Penny’s husband, Bryan, take down the dinosaur bunting we’d previously- and artfully- draped the venue with. We’d all had an absolute ball and I would like to thank Penny and her husband Bryan for all the preparation they put into a truly cracking event! Below are some audience dinosaurs for your delight…

You can take a look inside Penny Dale’s most recent dinosaur book, Dinosaur Rescue, below, or buy the book online here.

Have you heard about our upcoming children’s publishing conference? Early Bird tickets are available now.

Dinosaur Rescue - the agent's tale (a guest blog by Caroline Sheldon)

Posted by Caroline Sheldon on Jan 10, 2014

Today’s guest post is by agent Caroline Sheldon, founder of the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency on the joys of Penny Dale’s Dinosaur books.

My story starts in March 2010 when the sort of project that makes an agent’s life a joy arrived on my desk. Carefully wrapped in tissue paper, three full colour pictures lay before me which featured in glorious realism a triceratops driving a loader, a tyrannosaurus operating an excavator and a stegosaurus crouched over the wheel of a dumper truck. This was the birth of the bestselling Dinosaur Dig series, created by writer and artist Penny Dale. For me, as for the many children who have since become enraptured by Dinosaur Dig and its successors, it was love at first sight.

I’d represented author and artist Penny Dale, as her agent, for over fifteen years when this new parcel arrived and had previously gloried in the two million copy bestselling success of her gentle classic Ten in the Bed. Dinosaur Dig was a complete departure: a full-on celebration of the macho world of dinosaur brawn and a fantastical flight of fantasy about the way such creatures would interact with heavy machinery, all served up with Penny’s delicious wit. This fresh new world seemed to need a fresh new publishing approach and Nosy Crow, the vibrant new kid on the children’s publishing block, seemed the perfect home. Kate Wilson and Camilla Reid shared all my enthusiasm and within three days of my showing them the material the dinosaurs and their trucks had a home.

Dinosaur Dig was published in May 2011; Dinosaur Zoom in August 2012 and Dinosaur Rescue) now in January 2014. Each book has its favourite moments for me – the insouciance of the megalosaurus as he drives his convertible though the Arizona desert with all the cool of Hunter S. Thompson; the care with which the tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops organise the backing of lorries in the forest glade; the dormitory scene of dinosaurs sleeping in their bunks at the end of Dinosaur Rescue. Nothing in either text or illustration talks down to the child. The dinosaurs are gloriously realistic and questions such as how to fit five dinosaurs in the front of a rescue truck are tackled by the artist with exactly the same seriousness as that with which a child would address such a problem. The books represent a rare conjunction of fantastical flamboyance and minute attention to detail which precisely reflects a child’s mind.

I knew the books would be a success: had the hairs not stood up on the back of my neck when I first saw Dinosaur Dig? But it was still thrilling to check in every bit of good news as it arrived from the Crow’s Nest. First co-edition sales of over 70,000 copies for Dinosaur Dig to Candlewick in the USA, Carlsen in Germany, Gallimard in France, Makela in Finland and Heibei in China. Strong retail support for each new book on the high street with particular enthusiasm from Waterstones and WH Smith. Promotional attention from wholesalers such as Gardners and Peters. The emergence of chunky board book editions for each title. Stellar sales in Australia where the publisher made its own promotional video. Success in America, often rare for a UK-originated picture book. Fabulous reviews including ‘a roaring delight’ from The Guardian and a description as a winner in ‘the nighttime battle over bedtime stories’ by the Sunday Telegraph. And watch this SPACE because in the not too distant future those dinosaurs will be cramming their heavy bodies into rockets. One small step for a dinosaur, one giant leap for dinosaurkind!

Caroline Sheldon runs the eponymous Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency and represents a bestselling roster of writers and illustrators for children. Dinosaur Rescue is out this month – you can take a look inside below, and order the book online here.

Drawing dinosaurs

Posted by Tom on Jul 24, 2013

Last week on Twitter, (adult) book blogger John Self wrote that, “Our boys’ favourite book right now is Dinosaur Dig! Basically someone has taken Calvin & Hobbes’ dinosaurs in rocket ships and run with it.”

I thought this observation was absolutely spot on, but I was a little surprised that it had never occurred to me before. I love Penny Dale’s brilliant series of Dinosaur books, and Calvin and Hobbes is my favourite comic strip OF ALL TIME. In fact I’ll go further than that: it’s one of my favourite things of all time. I can’t think of many books (or films, television shows, songs, or anything else, for that matter) that had a greater impact on me as I was growing up, and I suspect it’s part of the reason that I decided that I wanted to work in children’s publishing.

For those of you aren’t familiar with the strip, it tells the story of six-year-old Calvin and his toy stuffed tiger, Hobbes, who is an entirely real, living animal for Calvin alone. The strip ran from 10 years, from 1985 – 1995, and covered a dizzying span of themes over its run – life, death, love, Christmas, babysitters… and dinosaurs.

The dinosaur stories were some of my favourites: like a lot of Calvin and Hobbes, they took place entirely within the imaginations of the two main characters, which was denoted by the dramatically different art style in which creator Bill Watterson drew them. The juxtapositions between the strip’s signature cartoon style and the much more ‘realistically’ drawn dinosaurs, and between Calvin’s unbridled dinosaur enthususiasm and the indifference of everyone else (including Hobbes) around him, produced some hilarious moments – here are some of the best ones (you can click each of the images to enlarge):

I mentioned John’s comment to Penny, and sent her some examples of Watterson’s dinosaurs, and she was very impressed by the practicalities that he’d overcome to fit dinosaurs into today’s world (a challenge she faces with each of her Dinosaur books) – here’s what she said to me in an email:

“These are so amazing! It’s fascinating to see how someone else has squeezed a T rex into a vehicle … and I think a fighter jet cockpit has probably – apart from an F1 car perhaps – the tightest fit for the pilot or driver!”

Here’s a look inside the first two books in the fantastic Dinosaur series (the third book, Dinosaur Rescue!, will publish in January next year).

Dinosaur Dig!


Order the book online.

Dinosaur Zoom!


Order the book online.

You can buy The Complete Calvin and Hobbes here (no home is complete without it). I could talk about Calvin and Hobbes (and dinosaur books) ALL DAY, so if you have a favourite of either, tell us in a tweet to @NosyCrowBooks or leave a comment below!

Name that Dinosaur!

Posted by Tom on Feb 13, 2013

Last month we published the board book edition of Penny Dale’s wonderful Dinosaur Zoom, the follow-up to Dinosaur Dig. These smaller, robust board editions are absolutely great for young toddlers, and the stories and illustrations themselves – filled with dinosaurs, vehicles, lots of fantastic visual detail, and even some counting – have, on the basis of the anecdotal responses we’ve had, a particularly appeal for boys.

The only things that are missing from the board books are the endpapers published in the original editions, which have the names for all of the dinosaurs and vehicles in each book. We recently heard from a parent who told us how much their son enjoyed naming each dinosaur, and so we thought we’d make the endpapers available for free to everyone. Click on each image to enlarge, and click the links below to download large, printable PDFs.

The vehicles from Dinosaur Dig

Download PDF

The vehicles from Dinosaur Zoom

Download PDF

And, last but not least… the dinosaurs!

Download PDF

You can also take a look inside each book below (these are from the hardback editions):

Take a look inside Dinosaur Dig:


Buy the board book edition online.

Take a look inside Dinosaur Zoom:


Buy the board book edition online.

Have fun naming dinosaurs!

Summer Reading

Posted by Tom on Jul 29, 2011

Now that Summer is most certainly upon us (evidenced at Nosy Crow by the fact that almost everyone is on holiday), the ritual of reading round-ups has been getting its yearly airing in the press. Without wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth – we’ve been very pleased with the inclusion of our books in so many round-ups – there seems to me to be something a little… unsatisfactory about the criteria for these lists. Surely, in order to qualify as a great Summer read, a book ought to have more going for it than a recent publication date.

There is, of course, all kinds of ways one could choose to define a good Summer book. Some – like our Mega Mash-Up series – are brilliant for keeping children occupied on long journeys or during days at home. Others, like Noodle Loves the Beach and Bizzy Bear: Off We Go!, evoke Summer quite literally. And stories like Dinosaur Dig! somehow encapsulate the outdoorsy, spirit-of-adventure feeling that Summer represents when you’re young – or, as Camilla put it to me in an email from the road, “Summer is about liberation isn’t it – from school, parents and routine, and in theory, the weather.”

When I asked for everyone’s suggestions here (before they all left), we decided to restrict ourselves to books that actually take place over the Summer. Needless to say, as with every previous discussion on the subject of favourite books of one sort or another, the debate swiftly dissolved into endless one-upmanship, but out of this, I’m pleased to say, came some truly excellent suggestions.

As ever, we’d love to hear your favourites, so please leave your comments at the bottom of the page or on Twitter.

Adrian suggested some true classics – Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, as well as a long-forgotten gem, The Inviolable Sanctuary by GA Birmingham.

Dom, pipped to the post for The Wind in the Willows, chose Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie, saying that, “Some of the scenes from that book were so vivid, they’ve become practically my own memories. It’s the book equivalent of Inception!”

Kirsty has nominated L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between, Falconer’s Lure by Antonia Forest, and Winnie the Witch at the Seaside, by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, for “the best infinity pool ever.”

Camilla’s first suggestion is The Enchanted Wood, by Enid Blyton – and she has exactly the measure of a lot of Blyton’s books:
“Ginger beer, doorstep sandwiches and smugglers coves – in fact the very holiday I am just embarking on, though of course it never seemed to rain and I bet they didn’t spend hours sitting in a traffic jam on the A30.”

Some of her other choices are Iggy and Me on Holiday, by Jenny Valentine and Joe Berger, and Shirley Hughes’ Lucy and Tom at the Seaside.

Kate seconded Kirsty’s nomination of The Go-Between, and has also added Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden and What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, both for older readers. Her other suggestions include Lyn Gardner’s Olivia’s Enchanted Summer, out next year, Greenwitch and Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which I believe has the distinction of somehow being included in every single one of the “Best of” lists that we produce.

My choices are, for much the same reason as Camilla, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, as well as A Spoonful of Jam by Michelle Magorian and Raspberries on the Yangtze by Karen Wallace, both of which have sort-of magical qualities about them. And finally, I believe I would be remiss not to mention the summer strips of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes cartoons (pictured above), which, like all of our choices, cannot capture everything that’s wonderful about Summer, but certainly go a long way towards trying.

Now – over to you!

We’ve had some Twitter recommendations with the hashtag #summerreads:

@rogue_eight suggested The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner

Kate (@nosycrow) pointed out that S.C. Ransom’s books Small Blue Thing and Perfectly Reflected both have strong sense of a London summer.

Penny Dale at Art in Action

Posted by Penny Dale on Jul 27, 2011

Art in Action is a four day event held at Waterperry House and Gardens in Oxfordshire. Every year around 25,000 visitors come to observe hundreds of artists demonstrating how they work.

This was my second year demonstrating in the illustration and calligraphy marquee. Along with four other illustrators and five calligraphers we drew and talked and painted as well as selling some prints and originals and lots of books.

I was showing how I am working on sketch layouts for my next book, Dinosaur Zoom, using an iPad, alongside examples of the layouts for Dinosaur Dig! (which were done on paper).

I showed how rather than sticking lots of layers of paper one on top of the other when working up plans for illustrations, and ending up with a very bumpy paper sandwich, I could work the layers separately and smoothly on the iPad. People were amazed at the degree of subtlety that can be achieved drawing directly on the screen with a capacitive stylus. Some children had a go at drawing a dinosaur on the iPad themselves, and loved the way the brushes app we use would replay their drawing step by step. Pure ‘Art in Action’! (You can see a video of how the process works here.

I did reassure people that I would still produce the actual artwork for DINOSAUR ZOOM using watercolour and pencil crayons on real paper, but the iPad is certainly great for roughs.

While this was going on some very hardworking friends were also talking to people and selling books – lots of books! Ten in the Bed and Once There Were Giants were favorites and Dinosaur Dig went so fast we started to run out on the first day with Friday and the weekend still to come! Imogen was brilliant at Nosy Crow HQ, and managed to send another load which arrived the next day. All of those went too! Here’s the last copy being sold!

It was lovely to see the range of ages who liked Dinosaur Dig. A rather hot and tired 6 month old baby in a facing out sling carrier stopped crying and laughed when he saw the cover – excitedly shouting and flapping his arms and legs! Bigger children liked reading it and asked lots of questions about making the book – some even said “Cool!” when they got to the end. Many nursery and infant teachers said how it was just the thing for reading AND number work with their children. We were really delighted with all the reactions.

I want to say a huge thank you to the organisers of Art in Action and all the volunteers for making it such a unique and wonderful event! Now it’s time to unpack everything back into the studio and start on the actual artwork for Dinosaur Zoom… so which box did I put the drawing board in?

Axel Scheffler's Pip and Posy report from the Hay Festival

Posted by Pip and Posy on May 31, 2011

Hello, everyone. Pip and Posy here, posting from the Hay-on-Wye festival. It’s fantastic here – there are millions of books, quite a few clever grown-up people talking about books, and loads of wet other people wearing wellies. We even saw a royal Duchess (Camilla – no crown, but no wellies either).

The first thing we did when we arrived was run down to Penny Dale’s Dinosaur Dig! event. Here’s Penny reading the story:

It was brilliant fun. We didn’t have to sit still, or behave ourselves properly or anything. Penny showed us how she drew the pictures which was really interesting – how do you get a T-rex’s tail in a dumper truck cab? But the best bit was when she got us all to stamp and stomp, and to roar a lot, just like in the book!

We had such a good time that Pip very nearly had a little accident, but we got to the (really nice) toilets just in time, so it was ok.

After that it was time to meet up with Axel Scheffler, for our very own show. He and Kate were on a big stage, with bright lights and loads of people watching. They told our stories, Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle and Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter. Axel did lots of pictures of us doing funny things, and Kate made everyone laugh by talking about wee and sick and things.

Axel even drew a picture of us meeting the gruffalo, because, of course, even though people were very pleased to meet us, they all love the gruffalo:

At the very end, we were allowed to come in and say hello to all the children:

It was lovely because absolutely everyone wanted to give us a cuddle:

Afterward, in the bookshop, Axel signed and signed copies of our books. And then he signed and signed some more. He was signing for an hour!

Then we all went back to the house where we were staying for dinner cooked by Adrian. With gooseberry fool for pudding – Hooray!

Nosy Crow's May Publications: Dinosaur Dig, Noodle Loves To Cuddle and Noodle Loves the Beach

Posted by Kate on May 19, 2011

Really, I think, because I was in Australia on publication date, we haven’t taken time this month to celebrate the distillations of children’s book goodness that are our May publications.

And May was a big month for us: for the first time, we were publishing more than one print “thing”.

Just to remind those of you who are interested in a kind of “previously on Nosy Crow” kind of way:

In January, we published Small Blue Thing, so the list launched with a single romantic fantasy novel.

In February, we published Mega Mash-up: Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars and Mega Mash-up: Robots v Gorillas in the Desert. Two titles, yes, but both launching the same innovative “doodle books meet chapter books” series series. In February, we also published our first app, The Three Little Pigs, so that was a big month too.

In March, we published Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm and Bizzy Bear: Let’s Go and Play, our first board books. Again, two titles, and, again, one series.

In April, we published Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter, and Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle.

And, now, in May, we published Penny Dale’s Dinosaur Dig and Marion Billet’s Noodle Loves to Cuddle and (in time for summer) Noodle Loves the Beach. So three titles and two very different things.

Dinosaur Dig was inspired by Penny’s pre-school grandson Zachary’s love of all things mechanical. It’s a counting book with (very benign) dinosaurs, mechanical earth-moving equipment, a bit of suspense and a swimming pool finale. It caters quite shamelessly for the obsessions of many, many children, particularly, it seems, small boys. One of the things we thought that they would respond to is the carefully-realised detail of the dinosaurs and the diggers: you can see every claw and every piston. This was a book that came in to Nosy Crow from Penny’s agent just weeks after we’d started up. It was a book that we’d made an offer for within an hour of opening the envelope with Penny’s beautifully detailed sketches in it. Here’s a little flavour of what the book looks like inside:

And, to give you a sense of how Penny works, here’s a movie of Penny (re)drawing the cover artwork on an iPad:

She’s written about the process of creating the book for a boy audience in a guest post for the Book Trust blog.

Noodle Loves to Cuddle and Noodle loves the Beach are rhyming touch-and-feel board books illustrated in a fresh, graphic style by popular French illustrator, Marion Billet.

Here’s a little home movie of toddlers enjoying Noodle Loves to Cuddle:

And here’s one of the same children reading Noodle Loves the Beach:

Let us know, by commenting below, if you’d like to know any more about any of our three May books.

Toddling along nicely

Posted by Kate on May 12, 2011

Yesterday, the Nosy Crows had a bit of a lunch-time knees-up to celebrate (nearly) 15 months of existence and (nearly) 5 months of publishing. It was a non-birthday party, because we hadn’t been able to get ourselves organised enough to celebrate earlier. We’d love to have a photograph to show you what it was like, but our usual Nosy Crow photographic incompetence precludes this.

I wrote about our real birthday in our blog post of 22 February.

Adrian cooked, mainly Ottolenghi stuff as we have some vegetarians/borderline vegetarians in our group, and, besides, the recipes are great. I wheeled out the old pavlova trick. We ate like hogs, and staggered off into the early evening.

Because of how we work – three of us work from home, and some of us work part-time – and because we have as few formal meetings as possible, we don’t spend much time round a table, so it was great to have us all (well, nearly all: Deb’s in Rome but we couldn’t bear to postpone any further) in one room just to talk.

And it was a welcome moment to stop (because we hardly ever have time to stop) and think about what we’d achieved so far.

We now have nine books published in the UK:

Small Blue Thing

Mega Mash-up: Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars

Mega Mash-up: Robots v Gorillas in the Desert

Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm

Bizzy Bear: Let’s Go and Play

Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter

Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle

Dinosaur Dig!

Noodle Loves to Cuddle

Noodle Loves the Beach

The first few are also published in Australia /New Zealand via Allen and Unwin, and many will be published in the second half of the year in the USA/Canada by Candlewick Press under the Nosy Crow imprint. So far, we’ve sold rights to translate these books to publishers in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Germany, France, Israel, Korea and China.

We have one app, The Three Little Pigs, available in the App Stores throughout the world, which has been named as one of the top 10 children’s book apps by the New York Times, and been extensively reviewed and praised by people who’ve bought it, bloggers specialising in apps and some of the increasing number of children’s book reviewers who are turning their attention to children’s reading experiences on the iPad (you can see most of the reviews on our The Three Little Pigs page of the Media Kit section of our website. The app will be published in German by Carlsen and in French by Gallimard Jeunesse.

We feel lucky to have pulled together the team we have – people with the best possible experience in fields as diverse as computer games coding, picture book design and children’s fiction commissioning (you can find out more about each of us in the Who Are We? section in the About As part of our website.

It’s not all cakes and ale: these are exceptionally tough times to be a print publisher, and the apps market is in its infancy, but, 15 months on, we reckon that we’ve made the best possible start and are toddling along nicely.

Nosy Crow in the USA and Canada

Posted by Kate on Apr 08, 2011

Well, things got very real – and exciting – this week for Nosy Crow in North America.

Those of you who follow the blog will know that on March 10 (gosh: just under a month ago – things have moved fast since then!) we announced in our blog post that day that Boston-based Candlewick Press will co-publish the majority of Nosy Crow’s full-colour and illustrated titles in the US and Canada and Nosy Crow will become a new imprint of Candlewick Press.

Since then, as I say, things have moved quickly, and we’ve finalised the first Nosy Crow list for the US and Canada which will be published between August and December 2011. The books that will be published on the first Fall list are:

Dinosaur Dig! (publishing August in the US)

Noodle Loves to Cuddle and Noodle Loves Bedtime (publishing September in the US)

Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm and Bizzy Bear: Let’s Go and Play (publishing December in the US)

Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter and Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle (publishing December in the US)

Mega Mash-up: Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars, Mega Mash-up: Robots v Gorillas in the Desert and Mega Mash-up: Aliens v Mad Scientists under the Ocean (publishing December in the US)

I’ve spent the last few days with friends at Candlewick.

First, I went to Boston to present the SPRING 2012 list (because publishing never stops, folks, and we are now working on the titles that Candlewick will be publishing under the Nosy Crow imprint from January to July 2012).

Then I went to New York (and I do love New York), to present the Fall list to Random House Special Markets team (because Candlewick is distributed by Random House in the US and Canada and they do some of their specialist selling through Random House’s sales force) to present to the people who do deals with things as diverse as museum shops and Pampers. Then on to Scholastic (for whom I used to work and an organisation I hugely admire) to talk about the Nosy Crow/Candlewick list to David Allender of US clubs before a lunch with Lisa Dugan, Barnes and Noble’s baby, toddler and picture book buyer.

While I was in New York, I managed to meet up with Andi Meyer, who is clever, dedicated and nice, and who works on publicising our apps in the US and does a lot or our @nosycrowapps tweeting. It was, as it happens, the eve of the mention of The Three Little Pigs on CBS (you can see the clip here, but we didn’t know it was happening until it was happening, if you see what I mean. We had a lot to talk about over our pasta.

And now I’m writing this in a hotel near Niagara (the Canadian side – the photo is of the Canadian side of the falls and it was – really – glorious to see it yesterday evening), having presented the Fall list to the very nice people at Random House Canada (who do Candlewick’s selling in Canada).

It’s been a busy three days, but there’s nothing like being able to present great books – in person – to the people who will then be the advocates of those books as they make their way to readers more than five thousand miles away from the place that those books were created.

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

Posted by Kate on Jan 21, 2011

One of the great joys of working in children’s books is the degree to which the publisher has – and I have often used this metaphor before – a seat at the creative table.

At Nosy Crow, we think that we bring decades of experience combined with good ideas to help authors and illustrators, whether they are established or new, shape their books at every level, from overall storylines, to the shape of a nose, the choice of a word or the point in the story that a page is turned.

Penny Dale entirely knows her onions when it comes to writing and illustrating children’s picture books, but she too welcomes publisher input. This is Penny and Camilla discussing the storyline for the sequel to Dinosaur Dig!, which is open in front of them, in Nosy Crow’s offices this week. Sorry re Penny blinking: my photography failure again.

We even asked @nosycrow’s twitter followers what their pre-schoolers’ favourite vehicles were to inspire us along the way. Do let us know what your pre-schooler’s favourite vehicles are if you haven’t already by posting a comment.

It's that time of year... when you present highlights to key accounts

Posted by Kate on Jan 07, 2011

Kate writes:

“I was off to Waterstones today, to show them material on our books from May to August. May is the first month in which we have more than one book or pair of books from the same series, so that felt like a bit of a breakthrough.

The photo is a glimpse of the inside of my case.

Some of the books, as the eagle-eyed among you will see, were continuations of series published between January and April of this year. Mega Mash-up: Mad Scientists and Aliens under the Ocean is the June follow up to February’s Mega Mash-up: Romans and Dinosaurs on Mars and Mega Mash-up: Robots and Gorillas in the Desert ; Perfectly Reflected is the sequel to Small Bue Thing ; and Bizzy Bear: Off We Go! (in which Bizzy Bear goes on holiday and seems to meet a very nice female koala) and Bizzy Bear: Let’s Get to Work! (in which Bizzy Bear works on a contruction site… presumably to finance his travels) are June sequels to March’s Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm and Bizzy Bear: Let’s Go and Play!.

However, there is much that’s new:

Lyn Gardner is a terrific children’s writer and a Guardian theatre critic, who has brought her skill, her passion and her knowledge together to create the Olivia books, which are classy-but-commercial Ballet Shoes meets Malory Towers for today’s 8+ reader. The first book in the series, Olivia’s First Term publishes in June.

Dinosaur Dig! is Penny Dale’s innovative combination of two things many children, and many little boys in particular, love: dinosaurs and diggers. These dinosaurs are (spoiler alert!) digging a swimming pool and making a lot of noise about it. The book was inspired by Penny’s construction vehicle-obsessed grandson, Zachary, to whom the book is dedicated. The book publishes in May.

The Noodle books by French illustrator Marion Billet are touch and feel books with a very attractive panda character whose life reflects the daily activities and excitements of most babies under the age of 18 months. Two books publish in May and two in August.

Where possible, we try to make sure that books with a summery themes, featuring holidays, or swimming, or beaches, which are, therefore, possible summer reading promotion contenders, are published in these months, so the ocean setting of the third Mega Mash-up, the beach holiday theme of Bizzy Bear: Off We Go! and of Noodle Loves the Beach, as well as the swimming pool finale of Dinosaur Dig! all make them books we think babies and children would be in the right frame of mind for as the weather gets warmer. Trudging through the rain, weaving round discarded and desiccated Christmas trees this morning, it was hard to believe we’d ever see summer again, but publishing is always about thinking ahead: full-colour books take months to get from the printer to the warehouse, and we are selling rights and doing highlights presentations up nine months, and even more, ahead of the books being available to readers.

The first presentation – to Waterstones – went very well. Lots more presentations to come…”

Artist in Action

Posted by Camilla on Jul 15, 2010

Thursday saw Camilla continuing her tour of the summer festivals – this time she was off to Art in Action, a hugely popular arts and crafts festival held annually in the Oxfordshire countryside and which continues till Sunday (18 July).

She was there to cheer on Penny Dale who was installed in the Calligraphy and Illustration tent, in theory to demonstrate her brilliant illustration skills on a spread of Dinosaur Dig, but there were so many people who wanted signed copies of Penny’s books, and who wanted to chat to her, that there was probably not much actual work being done.

But not to worry, it was a great chance for Penny to talk to fans, young and old, and to get in a few pre-orders of Dinosaur Dig too!

Penny Dale Digs Deep

Posted by Kate on Jun 08, 2010

When she was at Hay, Kate had the opportunity to meet up with Penny Dale to talk through the progress of Dinosaur Dig (Penny, pictured, in a tent in Hay with a print-out of the second spread from the book). It’s such a pleasure to see the book developing.

Penny was inspired to write and illustrate Dinosaur Dig by her vehicle-obsessed toddler grandson. But, as she explains, her decision to do a book featuring construction vehicles happily coincided with something not every householder welcomes:

“By happy coincidence, there have been major road works going on in our street lately. Lots of diggers and dumpers have been trundling up and down providing the perfect soundtrack to the production of artwork for Dinosaur Dig!

I’ve been covertly sneaking the odd close-up photo of hydraulics and digger details, but was a bit cautious about telling the drivers and engineers – quite a large crew at times – what I was up to. But yesterday day they were right outside our house so I had to confess. I went outside, armed with a print-out of a T-rex in a loader and showed it to the Ganger. The engines suddenly stopped, and they all had a look, and immediately identified their digger driving colleague as the T-rex. They were very appreciative of the detailed observation of their vehicles… but nodded in understanding when I explained that I’d had to redesign some of them to accommodate the dinosaurs’ massive tails.

They took the print-out for the wall of their portacabin: a different kind of pin-up!”

See Penny’s photos on Facebook

After Bologna: normal service has been resumed as soon as possible...

Posted by Kate on Mar 27, 2010

We are sorry. We haven’t posted since last Sunday, and we apologise to those of you – and we know you exist and we love you! – who’ve been coming to the site every day for our daily Nosy News. We’ve been at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair since Monday and have had no time at all to post, though Kate’s tweeted a bit.

The picture of Kate and Camilla on the stand with an author was taken by lovely Liz Thomson from Book Brunch.

Kate has her schedule to hand and sees that she had over 50 appointments in three-and-a-half days just counting the ones which she spent showing non-UK publishers and a couple of UK retailers the material on Nosy Crow’s books for 2011. Camilla had a full schedule too. Given that, as some of you know, we initially planned to come to Bologna just to have a few chats with old friends, this wasn’t bad going.

Of course, because we’d been launched for exactly four weeks when the fair began, we didn’t have a huge amount of material – though Imogen did manage to pull together bound proofs of Small Blue Thing which went like hot cakes. We couldn’t be more pleased with the response to all that we had to show, though. Several key people came back to the stand, some with colleagues, to look again at things that particularly interested them. Kate got five requests to come to visit publishers/groups of publishers to talk through the programme over the next few months. There wasn’t a single project on which we don’t have a lot of interest to folllow up, and we’re really grateful to the authors, illustrators and other creative people we’ve been working with over the past weeks for all their hard work as it meant we could make a really strong debut.

People were really compelled by the concept and storyline of Small Blue Thing, for which Kate’s shorthand pitch was, “Twilight in London but with memories instead of blood”.

They responded really well to the “mash up” element of Mega Mash-Up, and doodle books were doing well in many markets so the idea of doodle novels was really popular. As has happened to Kate before, Alan Boyko of Scholastic Book Fairs USA made a brilliant observation that will improve the books as we develop them: thank you, Alan! This is one of the excellent by-products of selling to really good people: their comments really help you to refine the books. Here’s how Book Brunch reported on the books.

Benji Davies’s Bizzy Bear character was tremendously popular – accessible and cute but still distinctive and classy – and people responded well to the very simple and well-thought-through mechanisms.

The idea of being able to tell the story of life on earth from blobs to us in 32 pages in Evolution went down very well, and there was real interest in narrative non-fiction for young readers. This is the book that’s furthest off in terms of scheduling for us (we plan to publish in September 2011, while the rest of the books we were talking about are for the first half of next year), and we’ve yet to confirm an illustrator for it, so it will have it’s first real outing at Frankfurt.

Like us, others recognised Penny Dale’s spectacular brilliance in combining dinosaurs and diggers in Dinosaur Dig. As one interested publisher said, “It’s got dinosaurs, it’s got diggers, it’s got counting, it’s got a story. It’s even got suspense!” Here’s how Book Brunch reported the acquisition

We could sell Pip and Posy many times over in every major market. Axel’s work is known and loved in so many countries, but people also really liked the idea of reflecting the realities of toddler life, including the bits that make toddlers cry. And here’s how The Bookseller reported the acquisition.

We were on the Publisher’s Association stand with other independent publishers who were exceptionally friendly, though we’re not sure we were the best of neighbours as we were both noisy and messy. Gloria and Helen from the PA looked after us brilliantly.

Both off the stand and on the stand, we met authors, illustrators, agents and journalists as well as non-Uk publishers, and there’s a handful of really interesting ideas for us to follow up as possible additions to the list.

Book Brunch gave Nosy Crow a mention in its Bologna Book Fair round up, and did a great write up of this year’s Bologna party of parties: Scholastic’s 90th birthday.

As we were flat-out, we can’t really say that we spent much time taking the temperature of the fair, but we think that the general view was that it was pretty lively and buzzy. UK and German children’s books markets at least did well last year, and people seemed open to buy. A lot of people were talking about US fantasy The Emerald Atlas, which Nosy Crow saw, but decided not to bid on, and which Writer’s House had done a very good job of hyping up before the fair. It went to Random House in the US and Germany and HarperCollins in the UK.

Here are a few photos that we took – we’ll remember to take more next time.

Another new book for Nosy Crow!

Posted by Camilla on Mar 05, 2010

We have bought a new book: Dinosaur Dig!, by Penny Dale, a fabulous picture book for toddlers. It’s also our speediest acquisition yet: 2 hours after it was posted through the door, we made our offer to Caroline Sheldon, Penny’s agent! Read all about it in Books, and find out about Penny in Authors etc.