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 The Gruffalo 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.