Archive for Picture Books

Boy eBooks and girl eBooks?

I know that boys are different to girls but I prefer not to generalize. I personally bit the head off my sister’s Barbie and had a farm set. So not all girls like pink and are sweet and not all boys are trouble and like noise! Regardless of what your personality is like there are eBooks and downloadable audiobooks to suit all tastes on OverDrive. I have added some images of new OverDrive titles for you below –  lines of eBooks aimed at girls,  lines aimed at boys and then lines for those who  feel neither blue nor pink! See if you can pick which line belongs to whom!

Snake attack!

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Drawing mutant carnivorous plants: a chat with Sabrina Malcolm

How do you turn ordinary looking plants into walking, talking mutants? That’s what the wonderful illustrator Sabrina Malcolm has to do in The Fly Papers books. I asked her a bit more about how …

sabrinaWhen you start coming up with ideas for turning particular carnivorous plants into sentient mutants – what are some of the things you think about?

Sabrina: I always need to think about how the creature will move around, and how it will perform whatever actions are required by the story. Dion’s roots, for example, became his way of getting around; and his traps came in handy for things like opening louvre windows.

The eyes have always been particularly important, because they’re one of the most important ways of showing the creature’s thoughts and emotions. Other parts of the creature can be helpful with that, too — for example, Dross’s leaves can look bedraggled, or lively and excited; and similarly with his eye stalks.

Of course, these things are always decided in consultation with the author and designer!

dionDo you use real plants or photos for reference (or both)?

Sabrina: I use real plants when I can, but photos can be useful too, especially if I’m drawing while a plant has died down for the winter. Venus flytraps, for example, can look very poorly during the winter months.

How do you make the plants’ eyeballs express emotion?

 Sabrina: Eyelids are the crucial thing: without them, it’s much harder to show emotion. They can take on some of the job of eyebrows — pulling down for a frown, narrowing together to show suspicion, or rolling right back in fear.

The eye stalks can be helpful, too — if they’re rearing back, it can convey fear, and lunging forward can show aggression.

Okay, if you were Bette Noire – and you could create a mutant plant or animal in your lab – what might it be?

 Sabrina: A cow with cheesecake-flavoured milk. Oh, and edible brussels sprouts.

 

Sabrina is the illustrator of all The Fly Papers books, and also an author. Last year she wrote and illustrated a beautiful picture book: Blue Moon Bird.

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How to edit a magazine (part 2)

In my last post I talked about planning each issue of Wild Things magazine. That’s fun – but here’s what’s MORE fun:

Deciding who to invite (or beg) to contribute.

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Who are your favourite authors and illustrators?

Imagine you could create a magazine and invite them all to do something for it. Who would you ask to do what?

Who would you ask to design and draw a beautiful maze?

Who would you ask to write an article about your favourite animal?

Who would you ask to write a hilarious skit? And whose illustration might go brilliantly with that skit? You can team them up.

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I can hardly describe how exciting it is to send off emails to writers and illustrators I admire, enquiring if they’d do a particular job for Wild Things, and then waiting for their reply.

Occasionally they’re too busy, but usually they say yes. (Yay!) Then I send them more details about the job, so they can get going. I try not to give  TOO MUCH detail – it’s better if they have loads of freedom. Because what’s the point in asking creative professionals to do a job if they can’t be creative?

Here’s the most brilliant thing of all:

The finished work that they send back is ALWAYS different from how I thought it would be – and way better. I’m in awe of how these people’s imaginations work. New Zealand has many amazing professional writers and illustrators!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter this exciting bit, I have to do boring stuff: make sure the contributors send in invoices so they can get paid, and sometimes ask them to fill in tax forms.

Strange things can happen …

Have you seen the book, Watch Out, Snail!? It’s about Powelliphanta – incredible, rare, giant snails that live only in New Zealand. They’re way more awesome than the common garden snails that eat your precious vegetables.

The book’s illustrator is Margaret Tolland, and for one issue of Wild Things, she made us a beautiful maze where you have to help a Powelliphanta snail find its food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I think the common garden snails that keep trying to live in our letterbox must have been jealous, because when she sent me her tax form, they ate it! All they left were a few shreds of holey paper.

I had to email Margaret, apologise profusely, and ask her if she could send another tax form, because snails had eaten the first!

More about editing a magazine soon. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for your favourite NZ authors and illustrators in any Wild Things issues you see. (And beware the letterbox snails.)

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Gorgeous eBooks and eAudiobooks from OverDrive

Oh I just love fresh reading ideas and here is a selection just for you at OverDrive!

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Fresh and free e-books and audiobooks for kids!

OverDrive is our e-book and downloadable audiobook platform. It is free to use for library members. All you need is your library card number and PIN. It contains lots of fun books for kids to read. Here are some examples!


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Lovely to be here

Hello and it’s lovely to be here. Well, not exactly here, as I am writing from my desk in Raglan, a little town half up the West Coast of the North Island, but still it feels as if I am down there in Christchurch with you.

I really am very pleased to be part of this wonderful book-fest blog, and especially pleased to be following hot on the heels of David Hill, who is a wonderful and very funny author, in my opinion. So, a double treat.

Unlike David, I am not an established children’s author, but just a beginning one. That’s exciting in itself, as (other than a brief time between the ages of 6 and 9 when I wanted to be a pony), being an author is the only thing that I have ever really wanted to be. So it is wonderful now to have written a couple of books and to be able to do proper author things, like take part in this blog.

I don’t always find it easy, at the moment, to find time to do author things, as I have four small children who are very, very messy, and very, very noisy. Now I know you’re thinking, “oh yeah, everyone says kids are messy and noisy”, but I’m telling you the truth; my kids are extremely, excessively, rampageous-ly messy and noisy.

I think this might be because they have quite a lot of Scottish blood in them, and they have seen too many of those movies where the highland warriors run around the hillsides, wearing kilts and brandishing swords and yelling “Arrrrrgggghhhh”, for extended periods of time. I think they may now be using these as a model for their own behaviour. But I am having difficulty proving it.

Anyway, this shortens my writing time a bit, as I spend quite a lot of the day running around the house with my hands over my ears, tripping over things and dodging sword thrusts.  But I have managed to do another writerly thing this week, and that is launch my new website.

I am very pleased with the website, as it is very beautiful, with lots of amazing pictures (taken by a friend of mine) of Raglan, the fabulous place I live. So why don’t you take a look: www.sarahjohnson.co.nz. It also has some information about my books. And if you send me an email to let me know you’ve visited, I’ll post you one of the bookmarks I had printed to celebrate the launch.

Talk soon.

Sarah

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The 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Finalists

The finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards were announced this morning.  There is a great selection of books this year, by some of our best authors and illustrators.  I think that the picture book and junior fiction categories are particularly strong and the judges have got a huge job ahead of them.  I’m aiming to read all of the finalists before the week of the Festival this year so I’ll be sharing my thoughts on each book here.

Have you read any that you really love?

Picture Book

  • A Great Cake, written and illustrated by Tina Matthews
  • Melu, written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly
  • Mister Whistler, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Gavin Bishop
  • Mr Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum, written and illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
  • Remember that November, written by Jennifer Beck and illustrated by Lindy Fisher

Junior Fiction

  • The ACB with Honora Lee, written by Kate De Goldi and illustrated by Gregory O’Brien
  • The Queen and the Nobody Boy by Barbara Else
  • My Brother’s War by David Hill
  • Red Rocks by Rachael King
  • Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby

Young Adult Fiction

  • Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran
  • Into the River by Ted Dawe
  • The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager
  • Reach by Hugh Brown
  • Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott

Non Fiction

  • 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton and Riria Hotere
  • At the Beach: Explore and discover the New Zealand seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Chandler
  • Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian and Heather Hunt
  • Taketakerau, The Millenium Tree by Marnie Anstis, Patricia Howitt and Kelly Spencer

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Picture books: latest picks

Some picks from our January Picture books newsletter including the lovely and uber-colourful sense books by PatrickGeorge:

Cover Cover Cover Cover Cover Cover Cover Cover

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

Have you read any of these books? If so, we’d love your feedback!

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Win an Oh No, George! print

Thanks to Walker Books, the wonderful publisher of Chris Haughton’s Oh No, George! we have a limited edition print to give away to one lucky person.

All you have to do is enter your name, email address and phone number in the form below and we’ll draw a winner on Monday 19 March (NZ only).

This competition is now closed.  The winner of the print was Clare.

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Interview with Chris Haughton, creator of Oh No, George!

Chris Haughton is the author and illustrator of a very funny new picture book called Oh No, George!  It’s all about a naughty dog who keeps getting into trouble and the story will have you laughing out loud.  I was lucky to have the chance to ask Chris some questions about his new book and his quirky, colourful illustrations.

  • Did you have a dog when you were a kid? If so what was it’s name?

CH: I had 3! Tammy, Tessa and Milly. Tammy was the most like George in personality. She once ate all my Easter eggs.

  • What did you do as a kid that made your parents go, ‘Oh no, Chris!’?

CH: Probably annoying my sister. Maybe running after her around the room in a similar way to George and Cat.

  • While researching the book you watched lots of guilty dogs videos on the internet. What were some of the worst things that you saw dogs do?

CH: I think 90% of them had eaten something. I was just using google images to see their guilty faces so I could draw them but I noticed there was one dog in particular that kept coming up again and again. The guiltiest dog on the internet! I wondered to myself what on earth had this dog done to have deserved such a reputation and that’s when I discovered that video… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=B8ISzf2pryI)

  • One of the reasons I love your picture books is because of your bright, bold illustrations. How do you decide what colour pallet to use for your illustrations?

CH: I just work on it as I’m going. I try to make the colours all work with each other and be bright and harmonious but be different enough to provide a bit of contrast and it just happens that it comes out like that. I ignore the ‘real’ colours of the animals and I just use colours in a way that best tells the story. For example the owl is the only thing black against the bright colours of the forest which helps define his shape. George fills so much of the book that he couldn’t be black, I wanted it to be a colourful book and for his shape to be easily recognised so I had him in one block colour which contrasted with the orange background and text. The whites of the eyes (which are the most important thing in every picture) are the only things that are ever white in any of the illustrations.

  • As well as being an author and illustrator you’re also a designer. How does your design work differ from your illustration work?

CH: There is a lot of overlap. A lot of the repeat pattern designs that I have done for dresses and clothes at People Tree have found their way into the forest and colours of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George! I think it’s nice to have a bit of variety between the different work I do because it all fuses together somewhere along the line and it helps keep it fresh in both directions.

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