Wednesday, 6 January 2021

A SPOT OF BOTHER remains my most borrowed UK library book!

I've just received last year's UK library loans figures for my books, courtesy of the Public Lending Right (PLR) organisation. Although my top 2 most borrowed books remain the same, the top 5 features two new entries and the return of a former number one.

A Spot of Bother, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, is my most borrowed book for the third year running. The sequel to The Pig's Knickers was taken out of UK libraries over eight thousand times last year.

Prince Ribbit, illustrated by Poly Bernatene, has remained at number 2, while How the Borks Became: An Adventure in Evolution, illustrated by Elys Dolan, and Danny Dreadnought Saves the World, illustrated by Martin Chatterton, are new entries at numbers 3 and 5 respectively. 

The number 4 slot is taken by Bringing Down the Moon, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, which took the number one slot in 2013 and was last in the top 5 in 2015.

The PLR figures show that my books were borrowed from UK libraries a total of 96,514
 times last year.

PositionTitleNยบ of loansRelative Position
1A Spot of Bother
illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
8,344
2Prince Ribbit
illustrated by Poly Bernatene
6,085
3
How the Borks Became
illustrated by Elys Dolan
5,961
4Bringing Down the Moon
illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
5,558
5
Danny Dreadnought Saves the World
illustrated by Martin Chatterton
5,419

A big THANK YOU to everyone that borrowed my books, the wonderful librarians that made them available and the UK PLR scheme for helping authors like me to earn a living.

Friday, 30 October 2020

SHE'LL BE COMING ROUND THE MOUNTAIN • New Print-On-Demand UK & US Paperbacks


I'm delighted to announce that Deborah Allwright and I have just published new UK and US print-on-demand paperback editions of She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain, our picture book adaptation of the classic US folk song that was originally published in 2006.

There are several versions of the song in existence; the book is adapted from a campfire version that features accumulative sound effects. Each verse introduces a new sound effect which is repeated at the end of subsequent verses resulting in a long string of sound effects at the end of the final verse. To break down the repetition of the original, the picture book version substitutes a rhyming couplet into each verse.

The picture book includes several verses that will be familiar to readers who know the campfire version, such as "She'll be driving six white horses" …

… and several new verses of my own invention, all of which are accompanied by Deborah's wonderful illustrations of boisterous cowgirl Bonnie Bandit.

Although the original UK and US editions have been out of print for about a decade, the book has remained popular with schools and when lockdown began earlier this year I noticed that several teachers and librarians were sharing readings and singings of the book with their stay-at-home students via YouTube and other video-sharing platforms.

Here's a smashing sing-along rendition from a US elementary teacher.

 
These videos prompted me to create my own sing-along YouTube videos of the book for stay-at-home families which were shared online by Booktrust among others. When I got in touch with Deborah to discuss making the videos we decided that now would be a good time to bring the book back in a print-on-demand edition. 

The book is as popular in the US as the UK, so we created a separate edition for US readers. In addition to revisions to spelling and grammar (ie: pyjamas/pajamas or flavour/flavor) there are some changes in vocabulary. So Bonnie juggles with jello rather than jelly and drinks from a trash can rather than a dustbin in the new US edition. For some reason, neither of these changes were made to the original US edition.

To mark the publication of the new editions, I've remixed the videos of the book to match the new cover and page layouts. You can watch both the sing-along version and the extended version of the video (which teaches you the actions that accompany each sound) below.

Sing-along Video




Extended Sing-along Video with Actions




Readers of the new editions can also download a FREE MP4 audio version of the book from the Hatchling Books website.

You can order the new print-on-demand editions using the links below.


Tuesday, 18 August 2020

RUBY FLEW TOO! New Ingram Spark Print-on-Demand Paperback Edition

The new Ingram Spark print-on-demand edition of Ruby Flew Too!

A few years ago, illustrator Rebecca Harry and I published a print-on-demand edition of our picture book Ruby Flew Too! (titled Ruby in Her Own Time in the US). As I wrote on this blog at the time, I've received more emails about this book than any of my other books, with many readers telling me how Ruby's story had touched their lives. You can read excerpts from some of these emails in this blog post. So when the book went out of print with its UK publisher, Rebecca and I decided to re-publish it ourselves. We originally published the book using Amazon's Createspace print-on-demand service as — at that time — it offered better print quality than its main competitor Ingram Spark. However in the last three years this gap has closed and we've now published the book on Ingram Spark as well.

The main reason for publishing the book on both print-on-demand services is that the Createspace (now KDP) edition is only available through Amazon, whereas the new Ingram Spark edition can be ordered through local bookshops as well as non-Amazon online stores like Hive and Wordery.

Here are couple of spreads from the new edition.

"Then one bright morning, the eggs began to hatch."

"And sure enough, she did."

And here is a read-along video of the book.


If this edition proves popular, Rebecca and I hope to make the sequels, This Way, Ruby! and Go For It, Ruby! available through Ingram Spark as well.

Order the Ingram Spark Edition with FREE DELIVERY from Hive



(Note: Because the book is print-on-demand it may be listed as "Out of Stock" at Hive,
but you can still order a copy which should be dispatched within a week).

Download the activity sheets for this book by clicking on the images below


Board Game

Draw Ruby

Colouring Sheet

Click here to find out more about this book on my web site


Sunday, 5 July 2020

Lego Blockbuster Movie Poster Quiz

The Classic Novel Word Cloud Quiz I posted here last month proved popular, so here's another picture quiz I originally created as a round for a lockdown Zoom quiz.

This one combines two of my favourite things: Lego and cinema! I've taken ten of Empire Magazine's 50 Best Movie Posters Ever and used a little Photoshop magic to render them in Lego blocks. How many of them can you identify? Tip: If you're struggling to recognise any of them, try sitting back and squinting at the screen.

Click on each image to reveal the answer

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.


6.


7.


8.


9.


10.



How did you do?

10Oscar-winnerPerfect, with no piece out of place!
7–9Blockbuster: A solidly-constructed performance.
4–6Straight to DVD: Not bad, but you left some bits in the box. 
1–3Outright Flop: You really went to pieces.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Classic Novel Word Cloud Quiz

Since the first week of lockdown, my family have been getting together with a group of college friends for a weekly Zoom quiz. Each quiz is usually made up of several themed rounds and after thirteen weeks of quizzing, themes are getting increasingly inventive. This week I prepared a round of word clouds created from classic novels, which I thought I'd share here too.

Each of the word clouds below was generated from the complete text of a classic novel. The more often the word appears in the novel, the bigger the word appears in the cloud. Common words (such as "the", "a" "and") are excluded. The shape of each cloud is also a clue to the novel. The shapes make guessing the novel relatively easy, so to claim a point, you must be able to name the novel's author as well – and no half points for getting one but not the other!

The novels were all taken from Project Gutenberg's top 20 most downloaded ebooks for the last 30 days (at the time of compiling) and the word clouds were generated using the word cloud creator at wordart.com


Click on each image to reveal the answer

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.


6.


7.


8.


9.


10.


How did you do?

10On cloud nineYour knowledge of classic literature is exemplary.
7–9Cloud-burster: You know your Stevenson from your Shelley.
4–6Cloudy with sunny spells: Could do better, but not too shabby.
1–3Under a cloud: You need to brush up on your classics.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A PRESENT FOR ROSY • New UK Picture Book


I have a new picture book coming out in hardcover in the UK today! A Present for Rosy is illustrated by Polly Noakes and published by Walker Books. The story follows the ups and downs in an unlikely friendship between a dainty bird and a burly bear and is the eighth picture book I’ve done with Walker books. The previous seven, starting with Bringing Down the Moon, were all created with the wonderful illustrator Vanessa Cabban. Sadly, Vanessa passed away in 2014; you can read a short tribute I wrote about Vanessa here.

A Present for Rosy was written in
memory of illustrator Vanessa Cabban.

When Walker Books encouraged me to write a new picture book for someone else to illustrate, I decided I would try to write a story that was in memory of Vanessa. Vanessa had suffered from depression, which I’ve also had some experience of, and I started writing a story called Rabbit’s Bright Spark that explored this theme. However after a year of working on various unfinished drafts I put it aside as the story felt too sombre and melancholy – which were not qualities I readily associated with the Vanessa I’d known.

When I started afresh a while later, I took a different approach and tried to write something that captured the nature of my friendship with Vanessa. The two of us came from very different backgrounds and, although we agreed on a lot, we had very different perspectives on some issues. One of the reasons I valued our friendship was that we were able to exchange our views frankly and accept each other’s differing opinions – a quality that’s become rare in recent years. So I wrote a story, initially titled Rosy and Rory, about an unlikely friendship between a bear and a bird who explore their forest home together.

The story is not autobiographical in any literal sense; neither I or Vanessa are meant to be either Rosy or Rory, but it draws on conversations I had with Vanessa and reflects the ups and downs our friendship had over the years.

When I finally had a draft I was happy with, I sent it to Nic Knight, who had edited the last couple of books I’d done with Vanessa at Walker Books. Much to my relief, Nic loved the story, but it was a while before Walker accepted it and even longer before we found an illustrator who was right for the characters and setting.

Polly Noakes has done a wonderful job of bringing Rosy and Rory and their woodland world to life. The beautiful spread below, with Rory discovering the waterfall and the fireflies is a favourite of mine and Nic’s.


Polly has shared some of her development work for the firefly illustration on her instagram account (click the arrows on the side of the image below to view the other images).



Polly tells me this was not intentional, but the way that Rory and the moon are both shown among the branches of a tree echoes a detail from one of Vanessa’s illustrations for our first book, Bringing Down the Moon.

A detail from one of Vanessa Cabban's illustrations for Bringing Down the Moon.

Polly created this gorgeous illustration of a rainbow for the end of the story.


When I wrote the story, four years ago, I could not have foreseen that the image of a rainbow would have the resonance it has now, as the book is published in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. As I write this, the windows of many of the houses in my neighbourhood and across the UK are decorated with children’s paintings of rainbows, created as signs of hope during the current lockdown when families are having to stay at home. A Present for Rosy is a story about companionship and finding beauty in the world around us, gifts that many of us have learnt not to take for granted in the last few months. 


Here's a trailer I made for the book.




And you can download Rosy's Forest Maze sheet and Rory's Rainbow colouring sheet
by clicking on the images below.

Rosy's Forest Maze

Rory's Rainbow Colouring Sheet

Buy this book at amazon UK


Friday, 24 April 2020

New RUBY FLEW TOO!, SHE'LL BE COMING ROUND THE MOUNTAIN and HOW THE BORKS BECAME read-along and sing-along videos

Following on from last month's post about authors recording and broadcasting from their computers, I've recorded some new videos of my own.

Here's my reading of Ruby Flew Too! illustrated by Rebecca Harry. You can find out more about this book and download activity sheets on this page of my web site: scribblestreet.co.uk/pictures/ruby1/ruby1.html



You can order the print-on-demand edition of Ruby Flew Too!
from Amazon using the links below.


Buy this book at amazon UKBuy at amazon US

My picture book adaptation of She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain illustrated by Deborah Allwright seemed like an entertaining sing-along for stay-at-home families, so I decided to record a version of the song using the new lyrics I wrote for the book. If you listen to it, you will understand why I write rather than sing for a living.

I've created two versions of the video; this one with just the song …



… and this longer version which teaches you the actions that accompany the words.



You can order the print-on-demand editions of She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain from Amazon using the links below.

Buy this book at amazon UKBuy at amazon US

And find out more about the book on this page of my website: scribblestreet.co.uk/pictures/mountain/mountain.html

And I wrote about this book in this post about adapting picture books from songs: scribblestreetnews.blogspot.com/2018/10/picture-books-adapted-from-songs.html


And finally, here's my reading of How the Borks Became: An Adventure in Evolution illustrated by Elys Dolan. You can find out more about this book and download activity sheets on this page of my web site: scribblestreet.co.uk/pictures/borks/borks.html



You can order the paperback edition of How the Borks Became
from Hive and Amazon using the links below.


Buy this book at Hive UK Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US

I hope you enjoy watching the above videos and perhaps joining in with the last two! If any of you fancy videoing your rendition, send me a link and I may even add it to this page.