Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Picture Book Quiz

This post was originally published on Picture Book Den, a blog about picture books by picture book authors and illustrators.

Christmas in the Emmett household is a time of treasure hunts, puzzles and quizzes.  So I thought I'd bring a little picture-book-based "quizzy-fun-fun" (to use a phrase coined by my son) to this blog.

Here are ten classic picture book covers that, by the magic of Photoshop, have been turned into stained glass windows. Can you guess the title of each book? Click on each image to reveal the answer.

Here's a really easy one to get you started.










And here's a particularly festive one to finish up with!


How did you do?

10/10 Picture book perfect! Congratulations. You're obviously a picture book devotee.
7-9/10 Pretty good. You know your Sendak from your Scheffler.
4-6/10 Not bad, but perhaps you should add a few picture book classics to your Christmas list.
1-3/10 That's an appallingly Gruffa-low score. You need to brush up on your picture book knowledge.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What I thought of THE SANTA TRAP show and Poly's 2016 Calendar.

I went to the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth on Sunday to see Mayflower Productions' new Santa Trap stage show, created by Robin Belfield and Simon Slater – and I'm delighted to say that I loved it!

I knew that the show was in safe hands, having seen Robin and Simon's stage adaptation of Here Be Monsters  earlier in the year and The Santa Trap show features the same very talented cast of actor-musicians.

Toby Vaughan does a great job of bringing villainous young Bradley Bartleby to life and is admirably supported by the rest of the cast playing Bradley's put-upon parents and unfortunate assistants,

Although I know the story well and had seen a little of the show in rehearsals, the finished show still held a few delightfully funny surprises. The way in which Mrs Bartleby (played by Elouise Secker) narrowly escapes being sliced by a guillotine had me and the young audience shrieking with laughter! 

Toby Vaughan (centre) as beastly Bradley announcing his plans to trap Santa Claus

Both The Santa Trap and Here Be Monsters, feature puppets made by puppet-maker Marc Parrett, so – as if showing off their acting, singing and playing musical instruments were not enough – the cast get to show off their puppetry skills as well. Here are Ben Tolley and Elouise Secker performing with Marc's tiger puppets.

The costumes and sets for both shows were designed by Rachel Fox, who came up with an ingenious double-sided "Swiss Army Knife" set that flips around and converts to form the deck of both Captain's Cut-Throat's pirate ship for Here Be Monsters and the interior of Bartleby Hall for The Santa Trap.

Rachel Fox's Santa Trap set ingeniously converts into the Here Be Monsters pirate ship

The Santa Trap book is dedicated to my father "for helping me to hone my trapping skills". By coincidence, it was my father's 89th birthday on Sunday, so as a birthday treat he and my mother also came along to see the show. I'm pleased to report that we all enjoyed it tremendously!


A couple of days before going to see the stage show I was on Notts TV's 6:30 Show, talking about the origins of the story.

You can watch the whole 6:30 show here, but the bit about the The Santa Trap starts at 8:04 mins.


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Lastly, you might be interested to know that Poly Bernatene who illustrated both books has just produced a 2016 calendar featuring a selection of his wonderful artwork including two images (March and December) taken from our next picture book Prince Ribbit.

You can download a copy of the calendar for free by clicking on the image below.  The calendar is designed to be printed out on A3 paper.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

THE SANTA TRAP • Stage Show Production Photos

As promised in my last post, here are some more photos from Mayflower Productions' new Santa Trap stage show, created by Robin Belfield and Simon Slater. The show is adapted from the picture book of the same name, written by me and illustrated by Poly Bernatene.

I greatly enjoyed seeing the first half of the show in rehearsals back in September and can't wait to see the finished production in Portsmouth later this month.

Brattish Bradley (Toby Vaughan) and his put-upon parents (Eloise Secker & Ben Tolley)

The three secretaries (Eloise Secker, Lauren Storer and Josh Sneesby) only appear on one page of
the picture book, but play a much bigger role in the stage show.

The show's music is performed live by the talented cast. 

The cast with some of Marc Parrett's tiger puppets.

The Santa Trap will play for three days (13-15 December 2015) at the Plough Arts Centre in Torrington, before its main Christmas run at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth (Sat 19 December to Sun 3 January 2016).

I'll be seeing the show at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. The theatre has has just been re-opened after a 3 year rebuild and refurbishment. Doesn't it look gorgeous!

The newly refurbished New Theatre Royal will play host to the show this Christmas.

As I said, I can't wait to see the show, but for a less than enthusiastic (downright rude) response, check out Bradley Bartleby's Twitter page.



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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

THE SANTA TRAP - New sheets and tweets!

December is here which means that Christmas is just around the corner. For many people this is a cause for celebration, not so for ├╝berbrat Bradley Bartleby, the anti-hero of The Santa Trap, the picture book by me and Poly Bernatene. I mentioned back in September that the book was being adapted into a stage show by Robin Belfield and Simon Slater (who also adapted Here Be Monsters).

The Santa Trap show will play for three days (13-15 December 2015) at the Plough Arts Centre in Torrington, before its main Christmas run at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth (Sat 19 December to Sun 3 January 2016).

Like Here be Monsters, The Santa Trap show has been produced by Mayflower Productions, an offshoot of the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, and the show premiered at the Mayflower a couple of weeks ago.

Although I saw the first half of the show in the early stages of rehearsals, I haven't seen the finished show yet, but am very much looking forward to seeing it in Portsmouth. If the rehearsal is anything to go by, it will be a real Christmas treat.

Here's a photo from the premiere - I'll be featuring several more in my next post.

Brattish Bradley (Toby Vaughan) and his put-upon parents (Eloise Secker & Ben Tolley)

I've produced two new activity sheets for the show, which can also be downloaded from The Santa Trap page of my website, or by clicking on the preview images below.

As anyone that follows him on Twitter might guess, Bradley Bartleby is far from happy about the show. Furious at what he sees as the exploitation of his private life for tawdry entertainment, Bradley spent last December using Twitter to discourage people from buying the picture book. This year he's turned his sights to the stage show. He's only posted a couple of tweets (see below) as I write this, but if I know Bradley, there'll be plenty more and they won't be polite. Watch this space for updates or subscribe to Bradley's Twitter feed to see the rest.

  Scroll inside the box to read them all  



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