Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Callum’s Incredible TV Series

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve just signed a deal for a TV series of my latest picture book Callum’s Incredible Construction Kit.

It’s far more difficult to get a TV series to screen than to get a book into print, so it may come to nothing (which is what happened to the TV deal I had for Dinosaurs After Dark a few years ago) but it’s still an exciting prospect.

The series is being developed by The Foundation, the UK production company who make Waybuloo, Dani’s House and many other children's programmes. The Foundation is also behind the forthcoming Quick Quack Duck TV series that I blogged about earlier in the year and they intend to make the Callum series in a similar 3D computer-animated style.

The company expressed a very early interest in adapting Callum for TV and I first met with Director Vanessa Hill back in May, four months before the book had even been published. Vanessa asked me to get involved with the development of the series, which is already well underway and the company are about to start work on an animation sample. TV is a very different medium to picture books, with it’s own conventions and restrictions but I’m enjoying getting to grips with the new challenges that it presents.

The TV version of Callum will look distinctly different to the picture book version, but one of the reasons I’ve been asked to get involved is to ensure that the TV version retains the elements that are central to the book’s appeal: Callum’s can-do attitude and resourcefulness and plenty of cool construction kit creations!

Even if everything goes swimmingly, the series won’t air until 2015 at the earliest - so don’t hold your breath ...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Princess and the Pig — UK Paperback

Out last year in hardback, my second picture book with illustrator Poly Bernatene, The Princess and the Pig, has just come out in a UK paperback edition published by Macmillan Children’s Books

It's the story of a princess and a piglet who are accidentally switched at birth and brought up in each others places. The characters in the story try to make sense of the situation by referring to fairy tales in which similar things happen.  So the king, having just read Sleeping Beauty, assumes that his daughter has been turned into a pig by a bad fairy in revenge for not being invited to the princess's christening.

When I was writing the story I was torn between giving it the conventional fairytale ending, favoured by my then four-year-old daughter, and a more surprising and slightly subversive ending, which I thought was funnier. In the end I plumped for the latter and fortunately many readers and reviewers seem to share my tastes.

Here are a couple of the books reviews
"All the ingredients of a sure-fire winner ... The pictures are beautiful, bold; the story is very funny ... What’s not to like?"
Yvonne Coppard, CAROUSEL

"Emmett and Bernatene have concocted a pretty much perfect fractured fairy tale, with wry, Thurberesque prose and gorgeously funny digital drawings that both embrace and wink at the genre."
The hardcover edition recently won the Hillingdon Picture Book of the Year Award in the UK and was shortlisted for last year’s CYBILS Awards in the US.  The book is currently shortlisted for three other US awards: the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award and - as I've only just discovered - the North Carolina Children's Book Award.

Here’s the trailer I made for the book in which I look extremely regal and distinguished, in a porcine sort of way - and not at all foolish.

And here’s one of the spreads.

As usual, you can find out more about the book’s creation by reading my author’s note on the book’s page on my main web site.

As well as the new UK paperback edition published by Macmillan, the book is available in a US hardcover edition published by Walker Books.

Buy at amazon UK Buy at amazon US

And, before I go, here’s a sneak peek of the next book Poly and I have done together. It’s called Here Be Monsters and is a swashbuckling tale of dastardly pirates and mischievous monsters. Macmillan have taken the book to the Frankfurt Book Fair this week and it should be published around this time next year. Here's a detail from one of Poly’s magnificently misty illustrations.

Monday, 1 October 2012

THE SANTA TRAP springs in the US

I’m delighted to announce that my picture book, The Santa Trap, has just been published in the US.

Peachtree Publishers have produced a hardcover edition of the book, which is brilliantly illustrated by Poly Bernatene.  The Santa Trap is the first book that Poly and I did together, but it took a while to find a US publisher which meant that The Princess and the Pig, which Poly and I did afterwards, came out first it in the US.

Here’s how the story is described on the dust jacket:
Bradley Bartleby is bad. Very bad. 
All the adults in Bradley’s life are running scared – except for Santa Claus, who refuses to give him anything but socks. But Bradley vows to get what he deserves. Determined to nab Santa and make off with his loot, Bradley transforms his house into a trap so fearsome even his parents refuse to enter it. With Dynamite, trapdoors, guillotines and tigers in his path, Santa doesn’t stand a chance.
Or does he?
And here’s one of my favourite spreads from the book.

The US edition has already picked up some great reviews such as these:
“Bernatene’s cinematic mixed-media illustrations work wicked magic with Emmett’s darkly comedic prose, as Bradley’s plans backfire explosively. An ideal Christmas present for children who prefer Halloween.”
“The cleverly constructed plot unfolds with perfect comedic timing and dry wit, complemented by digitally produced mixed-media illustrations that have a suitably sinister, magnetic charm. Bernatene's artwork uses dark colors, shadows and cinematic perspectives to bring Bradley's world into believable focus.”
KIRKUS REVIEWS - Starred Review

This diagram shows the final trap I built and includes a
recreation of the Lego seesaw device used to trigger the alarm.
If you go to the book’s page on my main web site, you can read how the story was partly inspired by my own childhood attempts to catch Santa Claus. My motives were far more innocent than Bradley’s – I just wanted to get a glimpse of the elusive old gentleman – I didn’t want to rob him of all his gifts!

You can also read about the three year search to find exactly the right illustrator. The book’s UK publisher, Macmillan, and I considered several illustrators, from both sides of the Atlantic, before settling on Argentinian Poly Bernatene, who rewarded our patience with a stunning set of illustrations.

To mark the publication of the US edition, I made this video!

One of my hobbies is designing and making furniture and the backdrop for the video is a playroom cupboard I've made. You can see more of the cupboard on this page of my website. It’s designed to be climbed on and has a couple of dens built into the top, one of which is entered by a trapdoor. Speaking of trapdoors, if you look carefully at the video, you’ll see a few books from Bradley’s library on the bookshelves behind me, including one on that very subject!

The bookshelves behind me include several volumes
borrowed from Bradley’s library.

I’d originally intended to use Poly’s cage illustration from the book at the end of the video, but it didn’t look quite right when I tried it out, so I ended up creating a CGI model of a similar cage. If you freeze the video, you’ll see that I could easily escape as there are no bars at the back! I had to miss these out or (without a lot more time and effort) it would have looked like the cage had dropped in front of rather than over me. However the cage is on the screen for such a short time I didn’t think anyone would notice.

I created this CGI cage to look like the one
Poly drew in the book.

As well as the new US hardcover edition published by Peachtree the book is also available in a UK paperback edition published by Macmillan.

You can find out more about the book on this page of my web site.

Buy at amazon US Buy this book at amazon UK