Yesterday our lovely office dog – Imogen’s whippet/Italian greyhound cross Blue (in the picture at top of this post) – was in the Crow’s Nest – he’s a truly excellent addition to the workplace environment. And this afternoon, looking over our upcoming publishing schedule, it occurred to me that we have THREE fantastic picture books-with-dogs making their way in the world over the next few months.
In July we’re publishing Just Right for Two by Tracey Corderoy and Ros Beardshaw. Dog has everything he needs in his big blue suitcase – it’s the perfect fit for all the little treasures he has collected along the way, and Dog feels he has all the needs in the world. Until one night, Mouse comes along and Dog discovers that life is richer and more fun with a friend and his big blue suitcase is actually the perfect fit for two.
We’re also publishing Digger Dog in July, by William Bee and Cecilia Johansson – the story of a very energetic and determined dog! Digger Dog loves to dig up bones . . . the bigger the better. But for the biggest bone in the world, what will Digger Dog need? The biggest digger in the world, of course!
This month we published Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini – a joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory, with a simple, gently rhyming text brought to life with delightful and nostalgic illustrations.
The paperback edition of the book comes with one of our Stories Aloud audio readings, available through your smart phone or tablet by scanning a QR code. But that’s not all! There’s also a Books Always Everywhere song (also available with the QR code) to accompany the story, complete with originally composed music, which you can hear in the video trailer at the top of this post.
Today’s an extra-special publication day, because it’s also World Book Day! We’d love to hear what costumes you’ve been making, how you’re celebrating, and – most importantly – what you’re reading! If you’re stuck for a good book, you certainly wouldn’t go wrong with one of these…
Perfect spring reading can be found in the form of Lyn Gardner’s latest Olivia novel for 9+ girls. Olivia and the Great Escape sees Olivia’s dad getting ready to perform an amazing feat of endurance – he’s going to be living on a high wire strung across the Thames for thirty days and thirty nights. Olivia is so proud of him, and he’s doing so well, until the accusations of cheating start… Can Olivia clear her father’s name and escape from a tricky situation of her own at the same time? It’s another 5-star adventure from Lyn that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
And March sees a whole new set of Rescue Princesses in their first daring animal rescue! Lizzie, Clarabel, Lulu and Jaminta, our four original plucky princesses, have gone away to school and have handed their magic rings, ninja moves and sense of adventure on to Lizzie’s little sister and tasked her with finding three friends to join her. Lottie is really excited, but she feels the responsibility weighing heavily upon her. How will she find three more girls who have the skills, the commitment and the bravery to be Rescue Princesses? Her new recruits are royally challenged when they stumble across some horse-rustlers in the middle of the night. Can they work as a team and save the animals from danger? Or will they argue and see the horses disappear for ever? The Magic Rings is another great addition to Paula’s excellent series that’s perfect for 7+ girls who like animals, adventures and a dash of princess pizzazz!
Packed with robust pull-tabs and clever touch-and-feel elements, Baby and Me is an ingeniously interactive book for toddlers who enjoy playing mummies and babies.
Designed to stimulate speech and build vocabulary, Littleland is full of familiar scenes and fascinating details. With a ‘Can you see?’ feature on every spread and a simply, chatty narrative, this busy book mimics the daily conversations between parent and child and makes the perfect step on from board books. Here’s a look inside:
And Books Always Everywhere is – very appropriately for today’s date – a joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory! A simple text is brought to life by Sarah Massini’s delightful and nostalgic illustrations of babies and toddlers discovering the magical world of books. You can read how Sarah illustrated the book on Tuesday’s blog post, and here’s how Jane celebrated publication with the family and friends who’ve accompanied her on her journey to becoming a published children’s author:
“I thought Nosy Crow might like to share my unofficial launch party which was really a birthday party with a launch tagged on to the beginning. I love parties and this was a wonderful excuse to thank my friends who shared the ‘getting to be published experience’ with me over the last 2 years. So someone bought the bubbly; someone else found a good bit of cardboard which already had the word BOOKLAUNCH on it. Another friend bluetacked the catalogues onto it. My husband tied a very neat bow around my books (mostly the foreign copies as I must have given the English ones away). I found 10 percussion instruments in the playroom and when our friends arrived they each chose an instrument and we all shook, banged, blew and scraped in a circle and sang “Happy Book Launch to you, Happy Book Launch to you, Happy Book Launch to Jane, Happy Book Launch to you”. Then I undid the red ribbon and handed the books around (wish I had the Japanese and Korean books) and I did a reading in French and German to a very captive audience and we sipped our bubbly and made a huge amount of noise. Such fun to be back in nursery school.”
Sarah Massini,illustrator forBooks Always Everywhere(published this week) has kindly submitted herself to our 5-minute Q&A in this month’s edition ofour Books Newsletter,and her answers give such a good insight into the illustration process that we wanted to re-print them here. You can enlarge each image by clicking it.
Where do you work?
From home. We live on the edge of a village and my workroom window looks out over a lovely view along the valley.
The photo at the top of this post is my workroom whilst taking photos for this book. This was the point at which I stopped and was both alarmed and amused at the chaos around me. The set-up on the table is for the “Book Build, Book Mat” spread. Note the ink bottle propping up the cloth book, the light box and angle poise pretending to be studio lights, and books everywhere!
What was the hardest thing about this book?
The many, many little books in the book. I’m not a good photographer and so I took several photos of each book with different exposure and aperture settings, trying to ensure that at least one of them would be good enough to use.
Then, in Photoshop, I deleted the backgrounds and any text and pictures on the books.
I then softened the photos by creating rough lines and shadows in pencil; these were scanned and stripped into place.
I’ve never counted all the books in Books Always Everywhere but there are a lot and they were the most time-consuming aspect of the art. Most people don’t realise that the books are photographic, but I think they still hint at realism, and that’s important. Their hard structure counter-balances the soft line of the rest of the art and helps makes each book very much a focal point.
Here’s the finished spread:
What distracts you from work?
Everything. Working from home isn’t always a good thing. Music and especially radio dramas on iPlayer help keep me in my chair.
Can you think of something that has inspired you recently?
Not directly but I was in The Dover Bookshop on Monday which is a fabulous resource for copyright free images, textures and patterns. The shop is closing down next month and I spent about two hours there trying to decide what books I really couldn’t do without. I’m going to miss that shop!
Is there a children’s book you could never got bored of re-reading?
As a very visual person I love any book that is beautifully illustrated or designed. Library Mice asked me to select my Favourite Five books recently and I have certainly never been bored by any of my selections, and I’ve read them all countless times.
Thank you, Sarah! Books Always Everywhere is available in shops from Thursday. You can pre-order it onlinehere,or take a look inside below:
After a very enthusiastic take-up last month, we’re repeating our Nosy Crow Books Newsletter competition for our new March titles. If you’re a resident of the UK or Ireland you can win any of our upcoming 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. And here are the books that you can win!
This month we’re publishing Baby and Me by Emma Dodd, a delightfully girly and ingeniously interactive book for all toddlers who are enjoying playing mummies and babies – with robust pull-tabs and clever touch-and-feel elements.
We’re also publishing Littleland by Marion Billet (illustrator for our Noodle series) – a picture book for the very young, designed to stimulate speech and build vocabulary through familiar scenes and fascinating detail. With a ‘Can you see?’ feature on every spread and a simple, chatty narrative, Littleland mimics the daily conversations between mother and child and makes the perfect next step up from board books. Here’s a look inside:
We’re releasing Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini – a joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory. A simple, rhyming text is brought to life by Sarah Massini’s delightful and nostalgic illustrations of babies and toddlers discovering the new, magical world of books. Here’s a look inside:
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 on Thursday.
Today is Nosy Crow’s third birthday. That is, it’s three years since we announced that Nosy Crow existed, though we’ve only been publishing for two years, so we are sort of two years old as well. There were just four people working at the company on February 22, 2010… and today, as it happens, partly because it’s half-term and lots of us are parents, and partly because we have flexible working arrangements (which is also pretty parent-friendly), there are only four of us in the London office today as well. None of today’s four is one of the founding members, which is perhaps why today’s cake (pictured above, with Ola, Mary and Kristina) is only shop-bought.
We got a birthday card from Benji Davies via Twitter:
We’re pretty proud of what the company has accomplished in such a short time. We’ve just been shortlisted for four IPG awards, for instance, and you can read more about our achievements in 2012, our second year of publishing, here.
But we couldn’t have done without all of the people who support Nosy Crow. So today we’d like to say a very heartfelt thank you not just to our authors and illustrators, but to the agents, retailers, sales organisations, members of the press, librarians, teachers, parents and children who’ve helped to make, sell and share our books, bought our apps, visited our website, talked to us on Twitter, and spread the word.
To really say thank you, we played a small Twitter game. We asked people to complete the sentence “My favourite @NosyCrow book/app is…” in a Tweet with the hashtag #Crowis3, and we gave three people, chosen at random, who Tweeted before the end of the UK working day a Nosy Crow mug.
Even though the competition has finished, we’d love to hear what your favourite Nosy Crow book/app is. Do please use the #Crowis3 hashtag.
As regular visitors to this blog will have noticed, we often post previews of our print titles ahead of publication – you can see the first few spreads for all of our picture books and read the first chapter of all our fiction titles for free on each book’s web page. We use issuu to power this service, which provides a nice reading experience and is great for keeping track of all our titles and allowing other people to post each preview on their own website. The platform is now also available (in beta mode) on the iOS Safari browser for the iPhone and iPad, so that even more people can read our previews. And today I was very pleased to see we’ve almost hit 100,000 total views across our library, which, as any fan of large, round numbers will appreciate, I found incredibly exciting.
We’re really pleased so many people are reading these previews – so we thought we’d share some of our upcoming titles. Here are a few great picture books that we’re publishing over the next couple of months:
With this year almost behind us, we’re all beginning to make plans (and resolutions) for the next twelve months – so in that spirit, here’s some of what we have coming up: a look ahead to our 2013 schedule. This is actually only the first six months worth of Nosy Crow titles – if I wrote about the whole year, this blog post would be even more absurdly lengthy than it already is. Here goes!
Pre-order Shadows of the Silver Screen online here.
In February we’re publishing Open Very Carefully, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne and with words by Nick Bromley – a very clever picture book with a crocodile who’s fallen out of his own story and into this one, and a lovely book for sharing and discussing how words and pictures work. Here’s a sneak preview:
March will see the publication of a trio of triumphant picture books: Baby and Me by Emma Dodd, a delightfully girly and ingeniously interactive book for all toddlers who are enjoying playing mummies and babies, with robust pull-tabs and clever touch-and-feel elements; Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini, a joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory, with delightful and nostalgic illustrations of babies and toddlers discovering the new, magical world of books; and Littleland by Marion Billet, a wonderful picture book for the very young, designed to stimulate speech and build vocabulary. Here’s a look inside Books Always Everywhere:
There’ll also be further additions to the Rescue Princesses series and Olivia series, by Lyn Gardner, out in the month.
In April we’re launching a brand new novelty series by Jannie Ho, the Tiny Tabs books – robust, colourful board books with chunky sliders, designed for the smallest of hands, which will delight baby readers again and again. We’re also publishing Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson, a warm and witty story about a young girl and a troll who both feel a bit out of place. Here’s a look inside:
Also out in April are the paperback edition of Guinea Pig Party by Holly Surplice, a new volume in the Magical Mix-Ups series by Leigh Hodgkinson and Marnie Edwards, and Weasels, a hilarious, brilliant picture book debut by Elys Dolan. Here’s a preview:
There’s another picture book debut in May, for Steven Lenton, illustrator of Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam (written by Tracey Corderoy) – a funny, quirky story that’s full of depth of detail. Here’s a look inside:
There are new books in the Rescue Princesses and Vulgar the Viking series in the same month, as well as the first volume in a brand new 9+ fiction series by Paula Harrison – Faerie Tribes, launching with Faerie Tribes: The Crystal Mirror.
Finally, in June we’re publishing Just Right For Two – a beautiful, heartwarming picture book celebrating friendship, written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Ros Beardshaw. We’re also publishing the second book in The Grunts series by Philip Ardagh and Axel Scheffler, The Grunts all at Sea. We’re releasing an incredible piece of debut fiction for 9+ year olds, Tiger Thief by Michaela Clarke – a beautifully told fantasy adventure with amazing characters and landscapes. Here’s the first chapter:
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 is publication day for Sarah Massini and her first picture book for us – Zac and Zeb and the Make-Believe Birthday Party, which is out now in hardback and paperback, and is already picked for promotion in Sainsbury’s – hurrah! I wrote a blog post way when back in June last year about how pleased I was to have bought this book from Sarah’s agent, so I am proud and happy to see them published today and brought to life in such a wonderful way. Zac the dog and Zeb the Zebra are best friends and live in a gentle child-centric world – no dull grown-ups to challenge their day-to-day fun; think Charlie & Lola meets Kipper – and there is a real joy and innocence to them and to how they tackle their life’s small ups-and-downs that I find constantly endearing. Sarah is an amazing artist with a genius sense of design, and she has created a book that is completely accessible and also deeply stylish – so very well suited to the Nosy Crow list, I feel. Thank you, Sarah!
As soon as Sarah’s agent showed me these loveable pre-school characters, I knew I wanted to publish them. Lucky for me then that the rest of the Nosy Crows shared my enthusiasm! And, since having met up again with Sarah to see how she is getting on with our first Zac and Zeb book, my enthusiasm has gone into overdrive, as has Steph’s. So much so, I thought I’d better become a true Nosy Crowite, and learn how to blog. Help, Tom, is this right?
Sarah Massini and I had crafted the first story together, and then it was down to her to think about how the story might work illustratively and graphically on the page. She rocked up with a sketch book simply overflowing with thumbnail sketches for the whole book – about three times over. Suddenly, these two characters were coming to life in front of our eyes – it was so exciting! The great thing about working with an artist like Sarah is that she is simply overflowing with creative ideas and vision, as well as having a fantastic sense of graphic design and how a story should work as a visual narrative for young children. It’s so wonderful to be picking out the best ideas from a whole wealth of ideas, and I do believe that the best picture books come out of these kind of meetings. It’s often tempting to cram every single good idea into one book but that might lead to a lack of visual clarity, and Sarah was fantastically open to us cherry picking through her thumbnails. Thank you, Sarah, and at least we know the second Zac and Zeb book will also be a visual delight.