Monday, 24 September 2012

Hillingdon & Washington Picture Book Awards

It’s always nice to discover that a book I’ve written has been shortlisted for a book award and even nicer to discover that a book has won one — particularly when the winner has been selected by a children’s vote. Usually award organisers contact authors when their books are shortlisted, but occasionally I don’t get to hear about a nomination until the book I’ve written has won the award. This was the case with the Hillingdon Picture Book of the Year Award 2012, which I’m delighted to announce has just been won by The Princess and the Pig illustrated by Poly Bernatene.

The award is voted for by Year 2 school children (ages six to seven) from the London Borough of Hillingdon. I’m particularly pleased that my book proved to be the most popular given the strength of the shortlist which was as follows:
Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger
The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Pinkie Mouse, Where Are You? by Alison Green and Deborah Allwright
Don't Worry Douglas! by David Melling
Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen

And, thanks to Google alerts, I’ve just discovered that The Princess and the Pig has also been shortlisted for the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award 2013 in the US.

The award is voted for by Washington State's K-3 students (ages five to six) and there is a shortlist of twenty picture books, which you can find here. The winner will be announced in April 2013.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Geekzine Interview and Twitter news

If you’ve ever met me and made the mistake of mentioning the subject of “boys not liking books”, I’ll probably have subjected you to my sermon on how many of the key ingredients that appeal to boys are excluded from most picture books and how this results in boys turning to other mediums such as comics, TV and video games where these key ingredients are enthusiastically embraced. I’ll spare you the full sermon here (or I’ll be typing all night), but one of the things I’ve realised since I’ve started writing boy-friendly picture books that include these missing ingredients is that many girls also find them appealing. 

Nevertheless, I was still surprised to see a two-year-old girl and her parents (with no older brother) at my Callum’s Incredible Construction Kit event at Edinburgh last month. The event was advertised for ages five to eight and nearly all of the children attending were boys. At the signing afterwards I discovered she was there because her favourite book was Monsters: An Owner's Guide (again, not the sort of book you'd expect a two-year-old girl to be fond of) which she’d brought along for me to sign.

It turned out that her dad, Andy, was the editor of Geekzine, the Edinburgh based website and fanzine, which went a long way to explaining his daughter’s unconventional taste in picture books!

I’ve since done an interview with Geekzine, which you can find here.

On an unrelated note, I’ve just joined Twitter. You can follow me on @ScribbleStreet or find my profile page here. Among other things, I’ll be tweeting to say when I’ve added a new entry to this blog.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Secret Worth Sharing

Published last year in hardback, the fifth Mole and Friends book, A Secret Worth Sharing has just come out in paperback. UK readers may have seen the book being read by Casualty’s Tristan Gemmill on the CBeebies Bedtime Hour over the summer.

It’s been eleven year’s since the first Mole book, Bringing Down the Moon, was published and I didn’t imagine at the time that illustrator Vanessa Cabban and I would still be creating books about Mole and his friends a decade later. Although the first four stories have proved very popular, with Mole’s adventures being translated into more than 22 languages, I decided the format needed shaking up a little for this fifth book, so I introduced a new character, Mouse, to Moles’s familiar circle. Here’s what it says on the back cover:
Mole's new friend, Mouse, is so special, he doesn't want to share her with anyone and decides to keep her a secret.  But some secrets are worth sharing. 
And here's my favourite spread from the book, the last panel of which echoes the first Mole story, Bringing Down the Moon.

The book is published by Walker Books in the UK. You can find out more about it on this page of my web site.

Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US Buy a signed copy

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Callum's Incredible Construction Kit

Previewed at Edinburgh last month, my new picture book Callum's Incredible Construction Kit illustrated by Ben Mantle, has just come out in both hardback and paperback!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the book is a bit of milestone for me, as it’s the 50th I’ve had published. You can get an idea of what it’s about (and watch me making a fool of myself) by watching the video below.

I converted my kitchen into a makeshift studio for a day to shoot
this and a couple of other videos (including the Flick-Flack video
in the previous post). I got a pop-up blue/green screen for my
birthday last year and was able to light it fairly well by
repositioning the kitchen spotlights. Fortunately my son, Max,
was on hand to help me with the “complex special effects sequence”
(ie: swapping over the Duplo models while I froze in place).

The book was borne out of my childhood enthusiasm for Lego and other construction kits and was also inspired by one of my favourite picture books, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.  That book is about a boy whose drawings come to life on the page. I wanted to write a story in which another child, Callum, could do something similar, but in three dimensions, in the real world.

You can read more about how I came to write the book and why it took six years to get into print on this page of my web site.

Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US Buy a signed copy