It’s an absolutely wonderful story – practically guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye – about the importance of friendship and the value of sharing, with a perfectly formed text and stunning illustrations. And you can see Tracey introduce the book, and discuss its inspiration, in the video above.
Here’s a look inside Just Right for Two:
And you can pre-order the hardback edition here (the book will be available in paperback in 2014).
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, the fantastic new picture book by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton, is out now – and the book has its own website! The Robber Dog Blog is the place to be for lots of exciting Shifty and Sam extras – and Steven has produced some brilliant colouring sheets to keep young ones occupied. Click on each image to enlarge and download the full size versions with the links underneath each sheet.
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are two hapless robber dogs who decide on a career-change after one bungled burglary too many – there’s plenty of laughs, lots of fantastic detail, and PILES of cake in this wonderful picture book. Here’s a look inside:
Three new fiction titles are released out into the world today, their faces all scrubbed and with clean hankies in their pockets.
The next Vulgar the Viking adventure, Vulgar the Viking and a Midsummer Night’s Scream, by the always-hirsute Mr Redbeard (and he knows who he is) is another hilarious tale of mayhem and mischief, as Vulgar is forced to partner Princess Freya in Blubber’s traditional midsummer maypole dance. No way is that going to go smoothly. In fact, it turns into a night the village will never forget. After all, it’s not often you see a small Viking dancing around a maypole in furry pants… Here’s a look inside:
And the first in Paula’s new series, Faerie Tribes, comes out today. Faerie Tribes: The Crystal Mirror is an exciting, absorbing story for 9+ readers who love their faeries dark and mysterious. When Laney discovers that she has faerie powers and – best of all – she can fly, she little realises the dangerous forces that are at work around her, and how crucial a role she has to play in saving the faerie realm from evil… Faerie Tribes is a brilliant new series – we’re delighted and proud to Paula’s publisher. Here’s the first chapter:
This week is terribly exciting for me as Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam is published on Thursday.
Growing up in the family pom-pom business surrounded by promotional items I have always loved a character-based product and a bit of quirky marketing.
I couldn’t resist therefore, making some fun little bits and pieces for Shifty and Sam.
Here are some of the things that have kept me busy in the (dog) lead up to the book’s publication.
My wonderful dad Martin bought me the best Christmas present this year – plush robber dogs! These gorgeous toys have accompanied Tracey and I to all the Shifty and Sam events so far – they will be exhausted by the end of the year!
I thought it would be fun to put up some WANTED posters a few weeks ago to introduce the characters.
I then designed some flyers and posters advertising the ‘Art of Shifty and Sam Exhibition’ – currently on at The Haberdashery in Crouch End. My little dog Holly and I spent a lovely sunny Sunday last week popping flyers through letterboxes and talking to shop keepers about the book.
Next, I designed some fabric featuring Shifty and Sam and got it printed by a great company in the US. My lovely mum Barbara then helped me to sew them all together – we had a lovely time chatting, drinking tea and eating her delicious home-made banana bread – thanks mum!
The book launch takes place on Thursday at the exhibition space so this week I have been preparing little party SWAG bags containing some little treats – badges, bookmarks, stickers and pom-pom spiders!
Also on publication day Tracey and I will be launching ‘The Robber Dog Blog’ which will be the best place for Shifty and Sam news, events, activity sheets and fun facts!
As soon as I started designing Shifty I knew I wanted to create a fun book trailer. I direct and design animation for television, so it was lovely to animate Shifty, Sam and some other naughty characters!
Creating this book with Tracey Corderoy and all the team at Nosy Crow has been a fantastic experience and I really hope that children and parents will enjoy the cheeky robber dogs’ antics!
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam is out on Thursday. You can pre-order the bookhere, and take a look inside below.
The chance to win any our upcoming print titles has come around once more! We’re publishing a fantastic selection of books in May, and any one of them could be yours for free. 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.
In May we’re publishing Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton – a funny, quirky story, full of depth of detail and colour, with a rhyme that will trip off the tongue and wonderful illustration by debut picture book artist Steven Lenton. It’s a real treat – especially for dog-lovers everywhere! Here’s the book’s trailer:
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.
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!
After one bungled burglary too many, Shifty and Sam decide on a career-change – crime may not pay, but cupcakes certainly do! This funny, quirky story, deliciously dished up by debut artist Steven Lenton, is full of depth of detail and colour. A real treat – especially for dog-lovers everywhere!
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam will publish in May and is available to pre-order here (with a free Stories Aloud audio reading for the paperback edition) – and if you’d like to be kept up-to-date with all of our upcoming releases (and have the chance to win new books!) you can sign up to our monthly Books Newsletter here.
We don’t know how many books were chosen, but there’s usually around seventy, and it’s great to have three slots. This year’s theme is “Creepy House”.
We are particularly pleased to see the Summer Reading Challenge’s continued support for Christopher Edge, whose first book for us was in last year’s selection. Just-published Shadows of the Silver Screen was described by Martin Chilton in The Telegraph, as “a serious (and playful) intelligent historical thriller for children”. It’s set in the dawn of movie-making and dauntless heroine Penelope Treadwell unravels mysteries as a film’s plot leaks spookily into reality.
You can read the first chapter here:
It’s good, too, to see that the Summer Reading Challenge supports new talent. Our picture book chosen this year is written by award-winning writer of picture books and young fiction, Tracey Corderoy, who has been making her mark on the UK’s children’s writing scene over the last year or so, but it’s illustrated by Steven Lenton whose first picture book is Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, a story of two rather ineffectual robber dogs, whose baking-based plot to distract their neighbours while they rob them results in their recognition that robbing is wrong and embarking on a new career.
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:
Last week I was invited to talk at the Nosy Crow Author and Illustrator panel as part of the YLG Conference in Central London.
As the title of this blog post suggests, this was my very first book event and I was rather nervous to say the least.
I am used to talking about Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam with the Nosy Crow team, my students at City Lit and my family and friends, but this was to be the first time I would talk about my experience and designs to a fresh audience.
Our merry band followed an informative and humorous talk on the future of children’s publishing by Kate Wilson, where we witnessed, amongst other things, the magic of Stories Aloud.
Philip talked about The Grunts series of books whilst Axel drew a fantastic Sunny, one of the characters from said book. They made a terrifically fun and entertaining presentation which was followed by Lyn Gardner who discussed the motivation behind her Olivia fiction series.
Then it was the turn of Tracey and myself. Tracey introduced our characters and her original inspiration behind Shifty and Sam and read, again for the first time, their story which went down a treat – phew! Tracey also debuted her newest, now infamous ‘story sack’ which we will use at all our Shifty and Sam events – cleverly designed as Shifty’s SWAG bag!
I then spoke about my design process and ideas behind the two protagonists and some of their fellow dog cast in the book – it was very strange standing in front of my designs on a large screen but I didn’t spot any mistakes, again, phew!
The audience of librarians really enjoyed our presentations and we had some great chats with them during the Q&A session and beyond.
Being given this opportunity to talk about my first book has given me a taste for future book events and I can’t wait to do more of them with Tracey throughout 2013!
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam will be out in May 2013 – but you can take a look inside now!
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:
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam – the debut collaboration by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton – isn’t out until next year, but already we’re thinking sequels! Steven sent us this brilliantly mischievous cover image, and though I fear that “Shifty Shades” may not become a reality, it’s certainly a tantalising notion…
In the meantime, you can read a little more about the REAL Shifty McGifty here, or take a look inside below.
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.
“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:
Well, the truth is that I have had a horrid cold for a ridiculous two weeks. The whole family’s been down with it, but the adults have had a particularly lingering version. This has meant that I haven’t been so up-and-at-‘em with my blog posting as I’d like to be.
We kicked off on the first weekend with a lively Pip and Posy event led by Axel Scheffler, reading the stories, drawing characters suggested by the audience from scratch and answering questions with a little help from – ahem – me and an appearance by Pip and Posy themselves.
Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson with their picture of a mashed-up character suggested by the audience: Zic Zac Zoo is a Zampoid (a vampire/zombie combination with one granny leg and one chicken leg) who eats rotting human brains and likes talking to ladies at the bus stop and playing golf
On Sunday, I spoke on a panel at a Business Breakfast about the Future of Books with James Daunt of Waterstones (whose comments were reported here), Dylan Jones of GQ, and Simon Morrison of Google.
And, finally, Helen Peters, who’d hoped to make a long weekend of it and had hired a tepee for her whole family, ended up taking shelter from the floods and wind with us for a couple of nights before sharing the autobiographical inspirations for her debut novel The Secret Hen House Theatre.
Helen Peters singing copies of The Secret Hen House Theatre in the signing tent
Hand-drawn thank you cards from Helen’s children
The festival was a triumph of organisation (thanks to the indefatigable Peter Florence and children’s programme organiser, Sophie Lording), good spirits and committed reading over bad weather. We had a great time, as authors, illustrators, publishers and, for those of us who squeezed in a few events as punters, as enthusiastic audience members.
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.