The Beatles song “Paperback writer’ is stuck on a loop in my head, although with a slight tweak to the lyrics.
So I wanna be a picture book writer Picture book writer
I blame the new picture book, Chase Those Witches, by Elizabeth Dale! It’s just such great fun, so interactive, and fabulously illustrated. I absolutely love it. I’m definitely going to use it in some of my after school clubs.
Now bizarrely, I got sent this book to review a few days after I’d bought the new Tom Fletcher picture book, ‘There’s a witch in your book‘. It seemed such a coincidence to have two witch-themed interactive picture books on my desk at the same time, so I was very curious as to the differences.
Actually, they are both absolutely brilliant, and surprisingly different.
In a nutshell, Tom Fletcher has bright, bold graphic illustrations, easy actions, and a simple plot so is ideal for the youngest picture book reader.
On the other hand, Elizabeth Dale’s rollicking, globe trotting adventure has more detailed illustrations and slightly more complex actions, including a very funny “Whatever you do, don’t …” which of course I did, and every other reader will too! I laughed out loud at falling for that one. Anyway, as a result, it’s ideal for the older picture book reader.
Definitely no need to wait for Halloween to enjoy these witchy treats, although I can see both books being best-sellers when the spooky season arrives! Have fun 🙂
Blurb for Chase those Witches
When Bernie, a boy’s pet frog, is stolen by a coven of wicked witches, the reader has to help rescue Bernie by turning, shaking and blowing on the book as the boy ventures through ice caves and aboard pirate ships on his mission. A fun and interactive picture book adventure!
Elizabeth Dale worked as a writer of fiction for magazines before becoming a full-time author of children’s books. Her work has won multiple awards, including in the picture book category in the 2019 Northern Lights Book Awards. She was also a runner-up in the 2015 Dundee Picture Book Award.
Sian Roberts graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Illustration from the Arts University in Bournemouth in 2018. She works as a freelance illustrator of children’s books.
I can honestly say that’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d write! Until I received a review copy of Billy and the Balloons by Elizabeth Dale.
I confess I was a little worried that the title and cover might give away too much, but there is just so much fun and magic in this book, that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Think Peter Pan meets The Snowman and you’re on the right lines.
The “up up and away” fold out page was a complete surprise. I’d actually love a poster of this page for my Christmas decorations.
I also have to sing the praises of illustrator Patrick Corrigan. Not only are the colours are absolutely divine – rich and warm – but the illustrations manage to find that perfect blend of nostalgic and fresh.
PS – pass the mince pies – unlike Santa, I’m not planning to climb down any chimneys!
Fly up, up, and away with Billy! When the wind takes Billy and his colorful balloons on a ride in the sky, he ends up having the most magical Christmas ever.
A small boy + a big bunch of balloons = magic! Billy’s dad has a special touch with balloons, turning them into every imaginable shape and creature. But one Christmas Eve, the wind whips up and tiny Billy finds himself and his father’s balloons floating away through the clouds. Lots of friends, both human and animal, scurry to the rescue–but instead of bringing Billy down to earth, one by one they end up coming along for the ride. Will Billy succeed in landing safely . . . and help Santa and his tired reindeer deliver their presents too?
I began writing magazine fiction and have sold thousands of stories all over the world, but when my daughters were born and I started reading to them, I was reminded just how wonderful children’s books are, and decided to try writing them myself. They are the most fun of all and I have had over eighty books published from picture books up to novels for up to age 12.
Some of them deal with issues I have faced with my own children such as a pet dying – Scrumpy (Andersen) or an over-adventurous hamster – Hammy (Orchard), others cover issues common to many children, such as being scared of monsters – Nothing Can Frighten a Bear (Nosy Crow), being different – Delightfully Different Dilly (Quarto 2021) and being small – Billy and the Balloons (Salariya) and Off to Market! (Frances Lincoln -a runner-up in the Dundee Picture Book Award and based on my journey on an over-crowded minibus in Uganda filled with villagers, furniture and animals!
I have also written a couple of interactive picture books where the reader has to be a hero and pull faces, shout, stamp and twist and turn the book to help save a child from impending disaster – Chase Those Witches!(Salariya) and Save The Day for Ada May (Willow Tree Books.) The latter has won two Awards and been short-listed for a third. Of course there is always room for books which are just pure fun, whether they’re rhyming – Mix Up Monday (Maverick) coming in 2021 or non-rhyming – When Betsy Came To Babysit (Tamarind, read on the Cbeebies Bedtime Hour).
I have recently moved into writing Non-Fiction picture books – Trailblazer (Maverick) is the story of Lily Parr and her battle to play Woman’s Football in the early 20th Century.
As well as my picture books I have written a lot of Early Reader texts – fun stories that help young readers develop their reading skills – for Franklin Watts and Maverick Books as well as Junior Fiction for Egmont.
Patrick Corrigan worked as an art director at a design studio before becoming an illustrator of educational and picture books for children. He illustrated Save the Day for Ada May!, which won the picture book category in the 2019 Northern Lights Book Awards.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I I’m a fan of everything Carol Thomas writes, for grown-ups and for kids. We’ve done her first picture book, Finding a Friend, in my book club, so I was excited to see a sequel is out. And I’m a sucker for a Christmas book. So I invited Carol to chat …
Hello Lexi, thank you for having me on your blog to chat about the release of my latest children’s book, Being a Friend at Christmas.
It is the second in my Little Pup series of books, but each can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone story. In this book, Little Pup is looking forward to his first Christmas in his new home. But he remembers the dogs he has left behind in the shelter. He has a plan to ensure they have a happy Christmas too, but he needs Father Christmas’ help to make his wish come true.
Aimed at under 7s, the text is purposefully rhythmic and written in rhyme to make it accessible to its young audience, who can join in and anticipate words and phrases. The pictures are bright and colourful. I illustrated the book myself and had great fun capturing the puppy’s thoughts, feelings and expressions. The book has been described as the ideal gift for all young dog lovers, which is lovely to hear!
As I like my books to be shared and to inspire a conversation, the story also carries a message about being kind, thoughtful and generous. These things are important all year round, but especially at Christmas. At the end of Being A Friend, there is an opportunity for children to make their own Christmas wish.
I always love hearing from readers. At the end of Finding a Friend, readers were asked to name Little Pup; I enjoyed hearing all of the wonderful names he was given. This year, I hope to hear all about the Christmas wishes Little Pup has inspired. If readers would (with help from their parents and carers) like to get in touch, they can do so here: https://www.carol-thomas.co.uk/contact-me/
Since meeting author and primary school teacher Sue Wickstead at an event, and remembering playbuses from my own childhood, I’ve followed the playbus series for a while now.
Glora’s story is, at heart, an old fashioned tale of learning to play together. But to me, this series is much more than the individual plots, it’s about the discussion topics each book opens thanks to the true stories behind the books, from general topics like
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Gloria is a special Playbus. She is painted with bright colours that makes her stand out. Now she is ready for a summer of fun, but will Max enjoy the adventure. Why don’t you join in the fun, too?
Sue Wickstead is a teacher and an author and writes children’s picture books with a bus theme. She has also written a photographic history book about the real bus, which is where her story writing began.
Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. The ‘Bewbush Playbus’ book was published in 2012.
Sue then began to write a fictional tale about the bus. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name and has now been followed by more picture books which all indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.
Gloria is the most recent book and is based on the summer play-schemes which operated during the school holidays providing a safe place for children to meet and to play.
Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while will know that as a former rugby player myself, I’m passionate about encouraging girls into sports. Last year, I featured a book about Gaelic football (“Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”) and that author is working on one about Camogie which I’m really looking forward to, so when I heard of a new picture book about Lily Parr, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Lily Parr made women’s football possible. I still struggle to believe that women’s football was banned when I was born (Ok that rather gives away my age)!
I do want to add that although the book is about women’s football, this should be read by all young football fans, regardless of gender. There is nothing pink or fluffy about it. Pure grit and determination.
Trailblazer is written by Elizabeth Dale and illustrated by Caroline Coroa, and as part of the publication book tour, I’m delighted that Carolina has agreed to chat to us.
1.Trailblazer is about real events and real people. What research did you do to ensure that you illustrated them correctly?
I didn’t start from zero. Elizabeth Dale, the author, and Kim from Maverick Books sent me an amazing compilation of info: websites with history, photos, names, events, etc. They were very careful with who was who, especially the Dick Kerr Ladies team and Alfred. There are plenty of websites that tell us events and stories of women in football since the beginning of 1900s in Europe, Americas, Africa, etc, so I started my research to find out more about women’s football worldwide and why UK and French female teams were so famous at the time. Then I focused on the girls of Dick Kerr Ladies. As they use uniforms most of the time, I needed to find physical and personal characteristics to distinguish them from each other. When you “know” someone it gets easier to draw, so the more I learned from them, the more their personalities would appear in the pages. As they didn’t have many pictures in 1900s, it’s even more impossible to find about a specific person, so I tried to find as many as I could to refine expressions. I was always thinking if they could ever imagine one day someone was going to research their lives and draw about it. I feel very honoured to do so.
2.You include a wide variety of clothes worn at that time. Were there any problems depicting them?
I have a degree in fashion, and I was always very curious about fashion history in Europe. I already knew the consequences of World War I in the wardrobe of people. It was nice to revisit some books and see those nice hats, silk dresses, pearls, and tuxedos. I also use Pinterest for research faster. The challenge was the colors. As the photos from those decades are all black and white, I had to keep an eye on the croquis and old fashion magazines to draw.
3. Were the headlines you include in the illustration of the US newspapers, real headlines from the time?
They’re part of Elizabeth and Kim’s research. Lily was a star; my impression is that every newspaper wanted to highlight her at some point. I received the headlines with the briefing, and I had to research images so both could work together.
4.The final double page spread – showing that female footballers today are playing due to the struggle of the ones who went before – is very moving. Was that scene your idea and was it difficult to get just right?
The scene was part of the briefing too, I also found it very moving to imagine that girls who play now have the support from those ladies.
5.You portray the football action scenes very well. Are you a football fan? Were you aware of the fascinating story of Lily and her team-mates struggle before you read this book?
Thank you! I played football after school for some months when I was 15, as left-wing, though I was a terrible player. In Brazil, we have a very strong soccer/football culture, especially at school. Even if you don’t like it you always end up learning something or you have a friend that is “sick” about it, as we say there. My husband and my brother-in-law helped me with some scenes by playing FIFA. We paused some moves so I could sketch. Marta, for example, is a very famous player worldwide today and she’s left-footed as Lily was, I studied her playing a little bit to improve the sketches. I also took care of the book “flow” to make sure Lily was well placed as left-footed. I remember seeing something about Lily’s statue being revealed last year during the Women’s World Cup in France, but I didn’t know much before the book.
6. Do you and the author have plans for more books e.g. to make this into a series?
That would be great to have more of Lily and her team-mates! Florrie Redford, Alice Kell, and Alice Woods, for example, have nice stories to tell too. If Elizabeth and Maverick decide to make this into a series, I’m super available to work on it and, of course, learn more and improve scenes and characters.