One of the absolute best and most satisfying experiences for a publisher is to hear from our readers – and last week we really hit the jackpot. A Year Two class at our local primary school had all been reading the Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble books by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger – both the picture books and the new young fiction series, which began in October with Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake-Off – and they enjoyed the books so much that they wrote and delivered some absolutely brilliant letters to us.
Feedback like this isn’t just very heart-gladdening: it’s also an invaluable way for us to learn what parts of our books children respond to the most. In the case of the Hubble Bubble books, these six-year-olds particularly liked the humour (“very funny” came up a lot), the illustrations, and, in the case of The Glorious Granny Bake-Off, the length – which is carefully designed for a newly independent reader (“I enjoyed the book because it is long” and “I like to read chapter books” both came up).
And even better still, the letters were all fantastically illustrated – you can click each of the images below to enlarge.
There were lots of grannies:
The giant rabbit (and carrot) in The Glorious Granny Bake-Off was also very popular:
And there were even some Nosy Crows!
…And here’s the envelope it all arrived in (with some sage advice – they’ve got my number):
Thank you very, very much to all the pupils at the Charles Dickens Primary School for these wonderful letters!
We’ve posted lists of Hallowe’en reading in the past (here and here), but every year some great new books come along, and so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to share some more seasonal titles – here are our spookiest books from 2013…
We’ve published a third fantastic picture book in the Hubble Bubble series by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger – Spells-a-Popping, Granny’s Shopping. A trip to the supermarket is anything but ordinary for the little girl and her Granny, who may just be – whisper it – a witch. Granny just loves to magic everything along, and soon there are fish fingers flying everywhere! But when Pandora spots a couple of robbers up to no good, an extra-ordinary Granny is exactly what’s needed. Here’s a look inside:
AND we’ve also launched a young fiction series featuring the stars of the picture books, Pandora and her Granny. Perfect for newly independent readers, these heavily illustrated chapter books are full of fun, charm, excitement… and, of course, magic! Here’s chapter one of Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake-Off, the first volume in the series, featuring three brand new stories:
This year we’ve also published the first paperback edition of Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster by Axel Scheffler. When Pip comes to Posy’s house wearing a scary monster mask, he gives Posy a bit of a fright. But when she works out it’s only Pip, she feels much better, and they share the biscuits she’s made. Hooray! Here’s a look inside:
And in 2013 we released the second volume in Christopher Edge’s phenomenal (and award-winning!) Twelve Minutes to Midnight trilogy – Shadows of the Silver Screen. A mysterious filmmaker approaches The Penny Dreadful with a proposal to turn Montgomery Flinch’s sinister stories into motion pictures. With Monty installed as the star of his production, filming begins but is plagued by a series of strange and frightening events. As Monty pleads with Penny to help him, she is drawn into the mystery, but soon finds herself trapped in a nightmare penned by her own hand. Can Penny uncover the filmmaker’s dark secret before it’s too late? Here’s the first chapter:
And there’s lots more great Hallowe’en reading in last year’s list, here, and 2011’s, here! If you’d like to stay up-to-date with all our book news (and be sure not to miss any of our themed recommendation lists), you can sign up to our monthly books newsletter here, and we’ll write to you about all of our upcoming titles, along with interviews with our authors and illustrators, information on upcoming events, and exclusive competitions and giveaways.
Yesterday evening we hosted our fifth Reading Group event, which this time shone the spotlight on illustrated fiction. For the first time we discussed a group of books rather than a single one, and the titles in question were a fantastic trio of illustrated fun: Claude on the Slopes by Alex T. Smith, Dixie O’Day by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy, and our very own Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake-Off by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger.
Normally at this point in a post-Reading Group autopsy we’d warn that spoilers lie ahead, but in the case of these books that doesn’t feel particularly relevant (on which more shortly), so please proceed whether you’ve read them or not!
Once again we split into two groups, and loathe as I was to turn the evening into a competition, in which one book would “win” (this wasn’t the evening’s other premier literary event, after all…), the first question my group discussed was which book was our favourite. I’m pleased to report that each of the three books was picked by someone: some people felt that Dixie O’Day had the strongest “story”, some felt that Claude was the funniest, and some that Hubble Bubble the most suitable or accessible for children.
This last point lead into an interesting discussion – which remained a context for a lot of the rest of the evening – about exactly who these books are “for”.
A number of us felt that although we found Claude particularly funny, we were unsure how much of this humour would translate for young children (particularly the humour in the text – the illustrations we thought were universally funny and charming). Those who thought that the book had an “adultness” identified a sort of arch knowingness in the voice of the text which felt sophisticated and also, in the references to Tea Services and Foot Spas – very English (or – to some – Middle Class). However, one person reported that their six-year-old had read all three books on their own and declared Claude their favourite “because it was the best one”. And several people in both groups thought that Claude was no lesser a book for children, but had “extra” levels of enjoyment for parents – like a good Pixar film (or Simpsons episode) which has something for everyone.
Although several of us thought that Hubble Bubble was “for” slightly older readers than Claude or Dixie O’Day (it certainly has the most text), it was also the book that many of us thought was the most child-friendly: the humour is perhaps the most accessible and visibly written “for” children rather than adults. Some of us noted that it was perhaps the least “gender-neutral” and was skewed toward girl readers, which is perhaps an inevitable outcome, as its two protagonists are female (whereas Claude and Dixie O’Day are, of course, both canine characters).
The packaging for Dixie O’Day – like Claude it is a hardback, and also jacketed – made it feel like quite an “adult” book for some of us: it has a beautiful, vintage style in its illustrations and lettering, and some of the introductory material feels quite grown-up. One person in my group, a primary school teacher, thought that this was the book that she would be able to give to her year-2 class most happily, on the basis that the language was most appropriate and the story easiest to follow – and someone else noted that the story was particularly strong, saying that “Shirley Hughes experience as a storyteller reveals itself – it’s effortless, the way it flows”.
We all felt that all three books would be particularly good for reluctant readers, and for children who are starting to read independently – the illustrations make them not-too intimidating, and the short chapters make them easily digestible and satisfying to get through (with our resident primary school teacher noting that this was particularly important – children want to feel proud of how much they have read). Hubble Bubble was picked out in particular in this regard, and several of us liked that it was split into three stories. Some of us also thought the format of all three books would work well for reading aloud – with one chapter a night for bedtime reading.
Several of us recognised that “story” was not as important in all three books. Some people felt that Claude was “humour-led” rather than “narrative-led” (and, as a consequence, that Claude and Sir Bobblysock were more stand-out as characters than Dixie O’Day and Percy) and enjoyed this aspect – the idiosyncratic use of language and strings of jokes – and it was also pointed out that in some ways, this narrative approach mimics the way children tell stories.
We discussed the fact that there are varying degrees of distance between author and illustrator in all three books – in one case, Claude, they are the same person; in another, Dixie O’Day, they are a mother-daughter team; and in the third book, Hubble Bubble, they are a conventional author-illustrator team working separately. Some of us thought that producing both the text and illustrations meant that Alex T Smith had a freedom to create a second, quite separate, set of jokes and story in the illustrations to the text, where as in Hubble Bubble and Dixie O’Day the illustrations were more straightforward representations of what’s being described. Several people pointed out that this meant Claude wouldn’t “work” as well without the illustrations, whereas Hubble Bubble in particular could stand up on its own as a text.
I think there was still a fairly unanimous sense, though, that the words and pictures did work well together in all three titles: a point we kept returning to was that all three books were beautifully produced and lovely objects to look at and hold. The three art styles feel quite distinctively retro (and one person observed that the use of colour harked back to printing processes from the last century) but not necessarily dated: this sort of heavily illustrated fiction seems to be having something of a “moment”.
And in fact we enjoyed the format of the evening – and discussing books for younger readers – so much that we’ve decided to do something similar next month. We’ll be discussing a trio of full colour picture books next time: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers, and Weasels by Elys Dolan. The group will meet here at the Crow’s Nest on Thursday November 14 at 6.30pm – if you’d like to attend, send me an email at email@example.com.
If you joined in, we hope you enjoyed this month’s titles, and we can’t wait to see you next month!
The event will take place here in the Crow’s Nest (10a Lant Street) on Tuesday, October 15 at 6.30pm – and if you aren’t joining us in person, we’d love it if you took part online. We’ll be partnering with The Guardian once again, and you’ll be able to join in with the discussion online at a page of their website and on Twitter with the #NCGKids hashtag.
As usual we’ve prepared a few discussion points to get you thinking in advance – here’s some of what we might talk about:
1) Who do you think these books are “for”?
2) Did you find the books funny? Do you think children would find the same parts funny?
3) What impact do you think the varying “distances” between the authors and illustrators of each book (one author-illustrator individual, one mother-daughter pair, and one combination of entirely separate author and illustrator) had?
4) What do you think the illustrations achieve that the text doesn’t?
5) How important do you think “story” is in each book? What do you think the most important elements are?
And here’s something that’s somewhat apropos to question three: author Tracey Corderoy talking on what it’s like to be illustrated by Joe Berger:
If you’d like one of the last remaining place for the group event here, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month we launched a very exciting new illustration fiction series – Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake Off, based on the Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble picture books by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger. In these three hilarious episodes, Pandora’s granny brings comic chaos to a televised bake off, delightful disaster to a school fair and tons of trouble to a stately home! But she puts everything right in the end, with a bit of help from Pandora. Everyone loves Granny, especially her long-suffering granddaughter! A bewitching brew of domestic dottiness, fizzy fun and chuckle-inducing charm, this delightful series is ideal for newly independent readers with a thirst for magic and mayhem.
And you can watch Tracey introduce the series in the video at the top of this post. There’ll also be more from Tracey on the blog later this week – keep an eye on this blog!
If you’d like to stay up-to-date with all our book news, you can sign up to our monthly books newsletter here, and we’ll write to you about all of our upcoming titles, along with interviews with our authors and illustrators, information on upcoming events, and exclusive competitions and giveaways.
Today’s an extra-special publication day: our final one of the year! We’ve got lots of great books out today – perfect for christmas gifts and reading together, with lots of wintery-y themes and something for all ages. Here’s what you can find in bookshops today:
Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray is out now – a tactile treat of a picture book with glitter on every page! Follow Princess Penelope as she runs through the palace and the palace grounds, including a maze, garden and the royal stables, chasing her naughty runaway kitten – the kitten is all tangled up with wool, which makes a crazy pink glitter trail of shapes behind her as she leaps and jumps through the book. With strong contemporary art, this is a perfect present for would-be princesses. Here’s a look inside:
It’s publication day for Because I Love You by David Bedford and Rebecca Harry. In this charming and delightful story, it’s bedtime for Little Bear, but as his mummy tucks him into bed, he wonders if he’s had enough love that day. So Mummy Bear takes Little Bear on a journey, reminding him of all that they’ve done that day – of the laughter, the discovery, the joy – but most of all of the love they’ve shared. And Little Bear goes to bed happy, warm – and loved. Here’s a look inside:
You can also find the first paperback edition Snow Bunny’s Christmas Wish by Rebecca Harry in shops today – a very satisfying, warm and fuzzy Christmas story with winter baby animals, lots of Christmas cheer, and foil on every spread for that extra special something. Here’s a look inside:
And for slightly older readers, we’re publishing the second volume in the brilliant Space Pirates series, Space Pirates: Stranded! by Jim Ladd. These fast-paced, funny books are perfect for 7+ readers (particularly boys), with a truly FANTASTIC combination of themes – pirates and space – and brilliant black and white illustrations by Benji Davies. Here’s the first chapter:
It’s also publication day for Zoe’s Rescue Zoo: The Playful Panda by Amelia Cobb, the third story in the Zoe’s Rescue Zoo series – another great story for 7+ year olds (and with very strong appeal for animal-obsessed readers). Two cuddly panda cubs arrive at the zoo – and they’re twins! Zoe isn’t sure how she’ll be able to tell them apart, until she finds that one of them is really, really naughty! Here’s the first chapter:
And finally, we’re publishing the second incredible Faeries Tribes novel by Paula Harrison – Faerie Tribes: The Wildwood Arrow, an incredible fantasy series for 9+ readers. Laney and her friends have managed to find and keep safe the Crystal Mirror. But there are still four more hidden Myricals. If they fall into the Shadow Faerie’s hands, his power will strengthen and the faerie world will fall under his dark reign. Can Laney bring her unruly magic under control in time to find the Wildwood Arrow and continue the faerie fight? Here’s the first chapter:
It’s time for our monthly book giveaway – and our final one of the year! October will be another exciting month of new books for us, with something for everyone. And if you’re a resident of the UK or Ireland you can win any of next month’s releases simply by subscribing to our Books Newsletter and either tweeting to @NosyCrowBooks or leaving a comment underneath this blogpost, telling us the name you subscribed with and the book you’d like to win. Here’s what you could win…
We’re publishing Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray – a tactile treat of a picture book with glitter on every page! Follow Princess Penelope as she runs through the palace and the palace grounds, including a maze, garden and the royal stables, chasing her naughty runaway kitten – the kitten is all tangled up with wool, which makes a crazy pink glitter trail of shapes behind her as she leaps and jumps through the book. With strong contemporary art, this is a perfect gift for would-be princesses. Here’s a look inside:
You could win Because I Love You by David Bedford and Rebecca Harry. In this charming and delightful story, it’s bedtime for Little Bear, but as his mummy tucks him into bed, he wonders if he’s had enough love that day. So Mummy Bear takes Little Bear on a journey, reminding him of all that they’ve done that day – of the laughter, the discovery, the joy – but most of all of the love they’ve shared. And Little Bear goes to bed happy, warm – and loved. Here’s a look inside:
And if that’s not enough, we’re also publishing the first paperback edition of Snow Bunny’s Christmas Wish by Rebecca Harry – a very satisfying, warm and fuzzy Christmas story with winter baby animals, lots of Christmas cheer, and foil on every spread for that extra special something. Here’s a look inside:
You can win Space Pirates: Stranded! by Jim Ladd – the second volume in the Space Pirates series, a fast-paced, funny series with gags galore that will have you cackling from start to finish! Sam and the crew of the Jolly Apollo are still searching for Planet X, where they hope to find Sam’s parents and a whole load of treasure! But the dastardly Black-Hole Beard is on their tail, which is why they are forced to hide in the scariest, most deadly nebula in the universe. Here’s the first chapter:
And finally, we’re also publishing Faerie Tribes: The Wildwood Arrow by Paula Harrison – the second title in this excellent fantasy series for 9+ readers. Laney and her friends have managed to find and keep safe the Crystal Mirror. But there are still four more hidden Myricals. If they fall into the Shadow Faerie’s hands, his power will strengthen and the faerie world will fall under his dark reign. Can Laney bring her unruly magic under control in time to find the Wildwood Arrow and continue the faerie fight? Here’s the first chapter:
You can subscribe to the books newsletter here (if you’ve already subscribed you’re still eligible for this competition) – and every month we’ll write to you with details of our upcoming titles, author events, exclusive interviews, and all of our news. So have a good think about which book you’d like to win (we can only accept one entry per person), and good luck, until next year!
We’ll also be meeting at a slightly different time of the month to usual (as the Frankfurt Book Fair is interrupting our normal date), and so this time the group will take place on Tuesday October 15 (but still at 6.30pm), here at the Crow’s Nest (10a Lant Street).
Some things aren’t changing, though – we’d still love it if you took part online, either through Twitter, with the #NCGKids hashtag, or on The Guardian’s website, where there’ll be a page for discussion.
If you would like to come, send me an email (email@example.com) – we’ll post some questions for discussion closer to the date. Claude on the Slopes and The Glorious Granny Bake-Off haven’t been published yet, but they will have been by the time of the group – you can pre-order Claude here and Bake-Off here, and buy Dixie O’Day here.
Our September books are out now and it’s our biggest publication month of the year! Here’s what you can find in bookshops today:
Playbook Pirates by Corina Fletcher and Britta Teckentrup
Is it a pop-up book? Is it a 3D playmat? It’s both! The follow-up to the phenomenally successful Playbook Farm, this ingenious package unfolds and transforms into a pirate seascape playmat, revealing a pop-up pirate ship, ship-wreck, mermaid island and more! With cut-out cardboard rowing boats, pirates and sea-creatures, this makes for a great pirate adventure – perfect portable fun for journeys, playdates and bedtime too. Here’s a video trailer:
Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm by Axel Scheffler
What do you get when you cross a goat with a turkey? Why, a gurkey, of course! What about a pig with a sheep? Well, that would be a peep, naturally! With 121 possible combinations, silly names and animal noises to make you giggle, this innovative, split-page spiral-bound board book is perfect for pre-schoolers. Little readers will adore flipping Axel Scheffler’s animals again and again to see what crazy creatures they can create – and to find out what strange noises they make too! Here’s a video trailer:
Spells-a-Popping, Granny’s Shopping by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger
The third hilarious adventure in this picture book series about a little girl whose Granny is (shhh, whisper it!) a witch. While Pandora likes things to be normal (ish), her Granny just loves to magic things along, and their trip to the supermarket is anything but ordinary. As fishfingers start flying around, Pandora tells Granny to behave herself. But when Pandora spots a couple of robbers up to no good, an extra-ordinary Granny is exactly what’s needed! Here’s a look inside the book:
Pip and Posy: The Bedtime Frog
In the latest installment in Axel Scheffler’s wonderful pre-school picture books series, Posy goes to stay at Pip’s house and they have lots of fun together before bedtime. But just as they switch out the light, disaster strikes: Posy realises that she has forgotten her favourite frog toy. Desperate to help his distraught friend, Pip offers Posy a range of different toys to substitute for her frog, including his own favourite frog money box. But none of them will do – it’s only when Pip gives Posy his own, very favourite, pig toy that Posy is comforted and that the friends can get a good night’s sleep, at last. Here’s a look inside:
Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster
We’re also publishing the first paperback edition of another volume in the Pip and Posy series. When Pip comes to Posy’s house wearing a scary monster mask, he gives Posy a bit of a fright! But when she works out it’s only Pip, she feels much better, and they share the biscuits she’s made. Hooray! Here’s a look inside:
My Brilliant Life and other Disasters by Catherine Wilkins
Jessica is back, and everything in her life seems to be going swimmingly – she’s got her best friend, she’s about to launch her comic, and her nutty Aunt has come to stay. The only ink blot on the landscape is Scarlett, Amelia’s super-cool, super-annoying cousin… who just happens to draw cartoons too. Soon Jessica is fighting for her cartoonist life. It’s a good job she has an enormous badger on her side… Funny, heartwarming, and BRILLIANTLY realised, this sequel to the (equally hilarious) My Best Friend and Other Enemies is perfect reading for 9-12 year olds. Here’s the first chapter:
The Rescue Princesses: The Silver Locket
In the newest volume in the Rescue Princesses series, Rosalind and the other princesses are in the Kingdom of Taldonia for the Autumn Ball. They love playing with a little puppy called Patch. But they can’t stop arguing, and Rosalind decides it’s easier to be friends with animals than with silly princesses. She goes off on her own, and that’s when disaster strikes! Patch gets lost in the woods and Rosalind needs the other Rescue Princesses to help find him. But what if they’re not her friends any more? Here’s the first chapter:
A bewitching brew of domestic dottiness, fizzy fun and chuckle-inducing charm, this delightful series is ideal for newly independent readers with a thirst for magic and mayhem.
The first book – containing three separate stories – will be The Glorious Granny Bake Off. In these three hilarious episodes, Pandora’s granny brings comic chaos to a televised bake off, delightful disaster to a school fair and tons of trouble to a stately home! But she puts everything right in the end, with a bit of help from Pandora. Everyone loves Granny, especially her long-suffering granddaughter!
Here’s the first chapter:
The Glorious Granny Bake Off will be out in October, and you can pre-order the book from Waterstones here – and if you sign up for our books newsletter, you’ll have the chance to win a copy next month. And if you can’t wait for your next Granny Trouble fix, you can also buy Spells-a-Popping, Granny’s Shopping (which comes with our free Stories Aloud audio feature with the paperback edition) here.
It’s time for our monthly book giveaway – and this is no ordinary month! September is our biggest time of the year for the new books, and we have some TRULY extraordinary titles coming out. If you’re a resident of the UK or Ireland you can win any of next month’s releases simply by subscribing to our Books Newsletter and either tweeting to @NosyCrowBooks or leaving a comment underneath this blogpost, telling us the name you subscribed with and the book you’d like to win. Here’s what you could win…
We’re publishing the phenomenal Playbook Pirates, the follow-up to the equally ingenious Playbook Farm, with paper-engineering by Corina Fletcher and illustrations by Britta Teckentrup. Combining a pop-up storybook with a fold-out 3D playmat (complete with separate cut-out cardboard pieces), Playbook Pirates is perfect portable fun for journeys, playdates and bedtime too – and it makes an incredible gift! Here’s a video trailer for the book:
We’re publishing Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm, which we previewed here on the blog yesterday – an hilarious rhyming flip-flap book in a brilliant, innovative split-page spiral-bound format, with wonderful illustrations by Axel Scheffler and 121 possible combinations. Here’s a preview:
The sixth Pip and Posy picture book by Axel Scheffler will be out next month – Pip and Posy: The Bedtime Frog. When Posy goes to stay at Pip’s house they have lots of fun together before bedtime. But just as they switch out the light, disaster strikes: Posy realises that she has forgotten her favourite frog toy. Can Pip save the day and comfort his friend in her hour of need? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Here’s how it begins:
If that’s not enough from Pip and Posy, we’re also publishing the paperback edition of Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster, which comes enabled with our innovative Stories Aloud audio feature. This time around, Pip comes to Posy’s house wearing a scary monster mask, and he gives Posy a bit of a fright – but when she works out it’s only Pip, she feels much better, and they share the biscuits she’s made. Hooray! Here’s a look inside:
And for slightly older readers, we’re also publishing two great fiction titles in September. It’s publication month for My Brilliant Life and other Disasters by Catherine Wilkins, the HILARIOUS sequel to last year’s (equally hysterical) debut, My Best Friend and other Enemies. Jessica is back, and everything in her life seems to be going swimmingly – she’s got her best friend, she’s about to launch her comic, and her nutty Aunt has come to stay. The only ink blot on the landscape is Scarlett, Amelia’s super-cool, super-annoying cousin… who just happens to draw cartoons too. Soon Jessica is fighting for her cartoonist life. It’s a good job she has an enormous badger on her side… Here’s the first chapter:
And finally, we’re publishing The Rescue Princesses: The Silver Locket – the latest volume in Paula Harrison’s excellent Rescue Princesses series, perfect for newly independent readers. Rosalind and the other princesses are in the Kingdom of Taldonia for the Autumn Ball. They love playing with a little puppy called Patch, but they can’t stop arguing, and Rosalind decides it’s easier to be friends with animals than with silly princesses. She goes off on her own, and that’s when disaster strikes! Here’s how the story starts:
You can subscribe to the books newsletter here (if you’ve already subscribed you’re still eligible for this competition) – and every month we’ll write to you with details of our upcoming titles, author events, exclusive interviews, and all of our news. So have a good think about which book you’d like to win (we can only accept one entry per person), and good luck – we’ll pick the winners at random next week.
This morning we received a tremendous volume of very exciting post – advance copies, proofs and foreign language editions of lots and lots of books! You can seem some of them in the picture above – in fact, there was so much that it didn’t all fit on the table. Here’s a rundown of what arrived, and what’s in store for the months ahead.
At the very back, there’s a stack of advances for a very exciting new picture book, out in October – Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray. Follow Princess Penelope as she runs through the palace and the palace grounds, including a maze, garden and the royal stables, chasing her naughty runaway kitten – who’s all tangled up with wool, which makes a crazy pink glitter trail of shapes behind her as she leaps and jumps through the book. With glitter on every spread, strong contemporary art and a very appealing subject, this is truly something special. Here’s a look inside:
You can’t really make out the glitter in that preview, though – here are a couple of glittery cover close-ups:
In the middle on the left you can see advance copies of Spells-a-Popping, Granny’s Shopping, written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Joe Berger – the third fantastic picture book featuring a little girl and her slightly mad granny, who might just be (whisper it) a witch… In this hilarious adventure, a trip to the supermarket becomes somewhat chaotic after Granny decides to magic things along a little. As fishfingers start flying around, Pandora tells Granny to behave herself. But when Pandora spots a couple of robbers up to no good, an extra-ordinary Granny is exactly what’s needed! Here’s a look inside:
In the middle on the right there are some foreign editions of Playbook Farm by Corina Fletcher and Britta Teckentrup – some are re-prints, and some are brand new editions, bringing the total number of languages the series has been published in to a very respectable 11. Here’s a trailer for our version:
And finally, at the front and in the middle there are copies of the US and Dutch editions of Snow Bunny’s Christmas Wish by Rebecca Harry. The first ever paperback edition of Snow Bunny will also be publishing in the UK this October – here’s a look inside:
If you’d like to be kept up to date with all of our upcoming print titles, you can sign up to our books newsletter here – we’ll write to you once a month with details of all of our fantastic new books and what we’ve been up to, along with interviews with our authors and illustrators, competitions, and more.
Earlier this week we had some festive drinks and canapés in the Crow’s Nest with our authors and illustrators, along with agents, librarians, booksellers, journalists and other friends to celebrate the end of another year – and here, by popular demand, are some of the pictures. The picture at the top of this page is of one of the many handmade crows (a decorative stroke of genius masterminded by Stephanie) with which we decorated the office.
Stories Aloud is a new way of bundling together digital content with our print books: from January, every one of our paperback picture books (and existing picture book titles, as they come up for re-print) will come with a FREE audio reading using children’s voices, complete with sound effects and original music. To activate the audio reading, all you have to do is scan a QR code on the inside cover of the book, and the audio will be streamed from the web (over 3G or WiFi).
We think that this is something that will work well for booksellers looking for ways to bundle together digital and print content, for parents who don’t always have the time to read with their children (or want to keep them occupied) and for children, especially those who don’t quite have the skills to read independently yet.
“My own children loved listening to audio recordings of their favourite picture books. Years before they could read for themselves, audio recordings meant that they were able to listen to stories wherever they wanted to. It was a really empowering thing for them that helped to build their understanding of books and their literacy skills.
“We’ve been looking for ways to invite all booksellers, not just those who deal in ebooks, into the world of digital content, and this seems like a really great way to do it: every bookseller who stocks one of our picture book paperbacks will be offering their customer free digital content when they sell a copy of a book.
“Our innovative idea brings together digital listening and reading print books in a way that uses today’s technology and that works for booksellers, for parents and for children, so now families can listen to a story, wherever and whenever they want: just pick up the book, pick up a device, scan the code and hear the story.”
Stories Aloud books will be on sale from January, and we’re launching with seven titles:
Today has been one of those days that I have accidentally spent without moving from my desk once, such has been the speed at which it’s flown by – and I’ve just looked out of the window and thought, ‘Gosh, what miserable autumn weather’.
I fully intend to spend as much of this weekend as possible in bed reading autumn-y sorts of books. And if you’re in need of a little inspiration for autumn reading – look no further! Here are some of our most seasonally-appropriate titles.
Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster is a FANTASTICALLY autumnal picture book. Axel’s palette in this title is full of wonderful purples, oranges, and browns, and the pages are full of leaves falling from the trees, indoor activities, and (mild spoiler alert) one very warm looking outfit. Take a look inside:
And this final title is cheating a little bit – it’s clearly a post-autumn book – but Olivia’s Winter Wonderland, the fifth volume in the Olivia series by Lyn Gardner, is great reading for getting in the mood for some snowy Winter weather. Read the first chapter:
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Let joy be unconfined: the Roald Dahl Funny Prize shortlists have been announced, and include, in the ‘Six and Under’ category, The Baby that Roared, written by Simon Puttock and illustrated by Nadia Shireen. This is the first Nosy Crow book to make the Funny Prize shortlist, and we’re absolutely thrilled!
“I am disproportionately very pleased indeed! (Idiotically mugging emoticon.) Words do not fail me, but I shall be mercifully brief: Yikes!!”
“Roald Dahl has always been a hero of mine, so to be included on this fantastic shortlist is an absolute honour. It also makes those hours of pulling silly monster faces in the mirror all worthwhile!”
The full shortlist in the Six and Under category is:
★ The Baby that Roared by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Nadia Shireen (Nosy Crow)
★ My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (Random House Children’s Books, Jonathan Cape)
★ Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
★ The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle (Templar)
★ Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
★ The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
And the shortlist in the Seven to Fourteen category is:
★ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrated by Joe Berger (Macmillan Children’s Books)
★ Dark Lord: Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson, illustrated by Freya Hartas (Hachette Children’s Books, Orchard Books)
★ The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey, illustrated by Garry Parsons (Andersen Press)
★ Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
★ Goblins by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Dave Semple (Marion Lloyd Books)
★ Socks are Not Enough by Mark Lowery (Scholastic Children’s Books)
The Baby that Roared has already received some great reviews. The Guardian called it “A deliciously entertaining story that takes a fresh look at the arrival of a new baby and the problems it can bring.” The Daily Mail called the book “A wonderfully wicked story with monstrous behaviour, magnificent burps and a terrible twist at the end. Enormous fun and perfect for roaring out loud.” And Publishers Weekly wrote that “Part of the charm of this mischievous story from Puttock is that readers know more than the main characters … Shireen is a smart choice to illustrate, given the similarly wicked humor that propelled her Good Little Wolf; her mixed-media art plays up both the baby’s maniacal tendencies and the other animals’ cluelessness … The repetitive structure and subversive humor should make this a storytime favorite.”
You can read more about the prize on Booktrust’s website here, buy The Baby that Roared online here and take a look inside below. Congratulations, Simon and Nadia!
It’s a bumper picture book publication day, and from revolting monsters, to unruly witchy grannies, and pea-hating princesses, there really is something for everyone in this wonderful selection of picture books.
For our preschoolers, we have Jo Lodge’s brilliant new offering, Icky Sticky Monster. As a mother of two (now teenage) boys, Jo Lodge knows only too well what makes small boys laugh and that is, put simply: silly things, yucky things and scary things. It was with this in mind that she came to create Icky Sticky Monster which, with a walloping great dose of all three, is just about as silly and yucky and scary as a book can be – in other words, perfect toddler fare!
Icky Sticky is an unapologetically disgusting monster and his appearance on the first page (from the loo) sets the tone for the whole of the rest of the book. Exploding with snot and slime, gloop and goo, it is a riot of yuckiness – brought to life by Jo’s ingenious pop-ups. And with a super-revolting ending, though it will probably leave adults feeling queasy, we think this is going to be a winner with pre-schoolers this autumn!
The brilliant Tracey Corderoy and extremely clever Joe Berger have come together again for another fantastic installment from the little girl whose granny is (whisper it!) a witch, in Whizz Pop Granny Stop! In a theme that will no doubt be familiar to lots of children, the little girl in Granny Stop is having a birthday party and is keen to discover the merits of doing things herself (without the help of Granny’s magic). And while a homemade cake and dress might not be perfect, when you’ve made it yourself, that’s all that matters!
This book is a visual riot, told in Tracey’s trademark funny rhyme – and is perfect for little people who are keen to do things under their own steam!
Told in hilarious rhyme by the super-clever Caryl Hart and illustrated by the fantastic Sarah Warburton, The Princess and the Peas, will strike a chord with all those who’d really rather not encounter a pea – or anything resembling a vegetable in fact. Lily-Rose May will do anything to avoid eating her peas and is certainly not going to fall for any of her father’s tricks of pea smoothies or cupcakes (and who can blame her?). The doctor diagnoses a very serious case of Princess-itus and packs her off to the palace to live the charmed life of a Princess. But, unfortunately for Lily-Rose May, life as a Princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… A witty and beautiful picture book – and an original take on this classic fairy tale.
Sarah’s charming and funny artwork is the perfect match to Caryl’s hilarious rhyme. This is the first time Caryl and Sarah have worked together, but it certainly won’t be the last.
It’s been two months since we launched our books newsletter on the blog, and September will be a bumper edition (its our busiest publication month yet!), so we thought we’d run another competition to celebrate. You can win copies of ANY of our September titles just by subscribing.
The books we’re publishing next month are (deep breath!):
And the chance to win any of these isn’t all you get by subscribing! Our newsletter also contains exclusive interviews with our authors and illustrators (last month we spoke to Penny Dale, author and illustrator of Dinosaur Zoom), details of upcoming events, a first look at what we have coming up in the future, and news from the Crow’s Nest.
You can subscribe to the newsletter here, and once you’ve done so, are automatically eligible for this competition if you’re a resident of the UK or Ireland – just write to us in the comments underneath this blog or on Twitter @NosyCrowBooks, with the name you subscribed under and the book you’d like to win.
I thought this was very amusing and said as much, and the two of us got into a discussion about the possibility of Axel illustrating works by Joyce (which I think is a very fine idea indeed). Well, Dr. Creasy, a Joyce scholar, not only suggested the perfect text for Axel to start with (Mookse and the Gripes, which is, apparently, “just The Gruffalo and Wyndham Lewis”), but also – very obligingly – supplied an excellent rough draft for “the Scheffler Gruffamookse”, which you can see above. There’s more on the origins of the Gruffamookse on his blog here.
Anyone who spends much time on Twitter will know that you’re never more than two steps away from a hashtag game, and I immediately began to think – what other pairings of contemporary illustrators with classic texts would I like to see?
“There’s something ineffably British about “Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble,” which is, in fact, a British import. It may be the Lauren Child-style illustrations, with their bold black lines and washes of brightly contrasting color. Perhaps it’s the brooch Gran puts on when she tries to pass as a “normal” grandmother. In any case, the book’s premise — Granny is really a witch — is liable to cross the Atlantic with ease. Especially when it describes — in verse, no less — the witchy Granny’s ways … Corderoy’s rhymes are zappy and amusing, and Berger’s drawings are charming”.
Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble is published by Candlewick Press in America, and you can order it online here (for the UK) and here (for the US).
It’s been such a success that this autumn, we’re publishing a fantastically funny follow-up. Whizz Pop, Granny Stop will be out in September and you can take a look inside below:
Since Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble was published in September 2011, I’ve been on a whirlwind of magical events. I’ve travelled on trains, in buses and on the Tube surrounded by a menagerie of bats and frogs and cats, and often with a broomstick poking out of my suitcase on my way to events of various kinds.
Tracey Corderoy at a Hubble Bubble event
I’ve loved these times, loved introducing children to Granny and her slightly straight-laced granddaughter, and watching their reaction as the story unfolds.
The experience has taught me many things, but a key thing that is how much pleasure children get out of rhyme, and how it seamlessly eases them into stories.
The very talented illustrator of Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble, Joe Berger, and I have made spider cakes, batty hats and bouncing spiders with children, and we’ve painted the faces of more toads and witches than we can count. (You can see an example at the top of the blog post).
And there’s a lot more to come!
In the several months since its publication, Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble has had a steady stream of great reviews. The hardback’s been printed twice, and the paperback’s on its third reprint. Rights in the book have been sold to the USA and France, with lots more interest at the recent Bologna Book Fair, and at least one Australian library has used the book to attract grandparents and grandchildren to libraries.
So I’m currently writing more Granny stories. Whizz, Pop, Granny, Stop! will be published in September 2012 and Nosy Crow will publish a third picture book to follow in September 2013, when we’ll be taking Granny up the age-range with the first of a series of young fiction titles. I can’t wait…!
My pictures show moments from recent events, as well as Granny’s “helping kit” comprising one cauldron, spell book, wand – bat – cat – hat … and frog, of course!
Some of the Granny’s “helping kit”
Children love dipping into my Granny Story Sack then we mix up potions together (using sludge, slime, bits of froggy poop – all the usual stuff!). And no – I’m never short of witchy volunteers!
So, look out for us in the future as we might be flying near you. You’ll know us when you see us, trust me!
I’ve obliquely touched on the question of rhyming picture book texts in this blog before, most notably in this blog post about Julia Donaldson on her appointment as Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, and in the comments section of this blog post about Axel Scheffler.
The success of Julia Donaldson’s texts are a real proof of the power of rhyme as a story-telling medium.
Many of my own children’s very favourite picture books and board books – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Goodnight Moon, Duck in the Truck, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Peepo – rhymed and scanned.
My children learned these texts fast, and could recite them by heart. Even new texts were predictable – when an adult reader paused before a rhyming word, they were able to supply that word, or at least guess at it.
When I am looking at rhyming texts, I am really looking for three things:
1. A consistent, clear rhyme scheme with words that really rhyme… and, ideally, rhyme in many English accents. Many texts that I receive rhyme only if you speak RP English (or at least the accents of Southern England), so I always run the text through my head in a Scottish accent (I am from Edinburgh) as well as an attempt at a US accent and an Australian accent.
2. Consistent, clear scansion. This is really key, and a point on which so many texts I see fall down. I tend to use slash-and-breve notation when I’m looking at a rhyming text, and will think to myself, for example, “OK, so this is trochaic tetrameter” (like Wadsworth Longfellow’s Hiawatha), but you don’t, to write a good rhythmic text, have to know your spondee from your iamb. Julia Donaldson said (somewhere – I can’t find it now) that she gives her texts-in-progress to her husband, and asks him to read them aloud. If he hesitates over where to put the stress, then she revisits the line. I think this is a great discipline.
3. And finally, a real story. We’re a UK-based company, and our production of books printed in full-colour depends on our selling rights to other countries. So rhyming, rhythmic texts have to be translated. If, essentially, all that they are IS their rhyme and rhythm, then they are much less likely to be of interest to foreign-language publishers. Most publishers do try to translate rhyming, rhythmic texts into rhythmic rhyme in their own languages. Here are the first four lines of “(new-window)The Gruffalo:http://gruffalo.com/ in English:
A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
“Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house.”
And here they are in German:
“Die Maus spazierte im Wald umher
der Fuchs sah sie kommen und freute sich sehr.
‘Hallo kleine Maus, wohin geht die Reise?
Bei mir im Bau gibts Götterspeise.’”
If you speak German, you’ll see that the sense is the same but the word-for-word translation has been sacrificed to the exigencies of the rhythm and rhyme.
But publishers don’t always translate rhyming texts into rhyme, and, even if they do, it’s going to be harder work for them to find the right translator, and something will inevitably be lost. Many are therefore hesitant to take on a rhyming text. So, as a publisher, you have to consider whether there is enough to the story for it to survive if it were translated into prose. I think that most children want a picture book to tell a story, and I find that that’s what most of our translation rights publishers are looking for too. In fact story can be the most important thing in a picture book – more important than words: Rosie’s Walk is a really good example of a picture book with a story – an exciting and funny one at that – that relies on no words at all.
This is not to say that there isn’t room for poetry for children: I was particularly proud, when I was at Macmillan, to publish lots of poetry for children, including an illustrated edition of Charles Causley’s poetry for children, but I published it as poetry for children (with accompanying line illustrations), and not in picture book form: because the illustrations were in black and white, it was financially viable to print this book for the UK alone.
And I am not saying that there isn’t room for highly-wrought, lyrical language in picture books: I was also particularly proud, when I was at Scholastic, to publish Jeanette Winterson’s The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me. Here’s her description of Bethlehem:
“Oh but it was a musty, rusty, fusty, pudding of a town turned out for a show, its people cussed and blustering, all buy and sell and money, taking their chance while the going was good before the goods got going again. Taxes, and everyone here to pay up, and everyone had to be put up, for this one night, so that even the mice were renting their mouse-holes, and there were travellers hanging out of birds’ nests, their beards full of twigs and old worms, and the ant hills were full up, and the bee hives had three families apiece, and there was a man tapping on the frozen lake asking the fish to let him in.”
This is prose, but it’s very close to poetry. It just doesn’t have a formal rhyme scheme or scansion, which makes the prospect of translating it less challenging.