Tag Archives: Picture books

Picture Book Review: Sometimes by Stephanie Stansbie illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Sometimes by Stephanie Stansbie illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Your body’s full of feelings: like the tide, they ebb and flow. Sometimes they lift you high and sometimes they bring you low.

An absolutely joyous picture book, gently explaining the many and varied emotions we might feel in just one day. Shown through the eyes of a brother and sister as they play outside, the rhyming narrative captures each moment and how we might respond in a given situation. The joy of leaping over waves, the wonder of flying a kite in the wind – and the fear we might feel or frustration when the kite gets stuck in a tree. Each theme is cleverly matched with the colour and tone of the illustrations.

At the back of the book is a descriptor for some of the more tricky emotions we feel, and a suggestion of what you can do to make yourself feel better. Sometimes would be a great way to explore emotions with young children, as a family or a class. But it’s also a lovely, gentle story to enjoy, reminding us that the strongest and most important emotion of all, is love.

With thanks to Little Tiger for sending me this book to review.

Picture Book Review: Pip and Egg by Alex Latimer illustrated by David Litchfield

Pip and Egg by Alex Latimer illustrated by David Litchfield

Pip and Egg are like two peas in a pod. But as their friendship grows, so do they. For Pip, this means growing roots. For Egg it means growing wings – and she can’t wait to use them. And though their lives take them away from each other, true friends always find their way back to one another, and there are no truer friends than Pip and Egg.

What a beautiful story. At a time when many of us haven’t seen our friends for such a long time, this really does remind us that true friendship never ends. From the first page, Pip and Egg are utterly enchanting as they meet and begin their friendship of a lifetime. As they each change, they adapt and find new ways to play together. When Pip grows into a sapling, Egg still visits him every day.

And when Egg becomes a beautiful blue bird, discovering her wings and the world to explore, Pip tells her she’ll always know where to find him. Young readers will be captivated by their friendship and identify with the care they have for each other. The narrative is brought beautifully together through the warmth of the stunning, detailed illustrations. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, it couldn’t be more a more perfect illustration of friendship – in both words and pictures.

With thanks to Scholastic for sending me this book to review. Pip and Egg publishes on 6th May 2021.

Picture Book Review: The Busy World of Richard Scarry published by Faber

I was utterly thrilled when Faber sent through not one but FOUR Richard Scarry picture books to review. The renowned children’s publisher has launched a new list of books by the internationally adored Richard Scarry. Packed with zany humour and warmth, these four classic titles, promise to restore Scarry’s place as a national treasure and bring his best loved characters to a new generation of young readers.

Richard Scarry is one of the most-loved children’s illustrators of all time. He wrote and illustrated more than 250 books, which have gone on to sell more than 150 million copies globally. He once wrote: ‘It’s a precious thing to be communicating to children, helping them discover the gift of language and thought.’

I have incredibly fond memories of these books and can remember pouring over them drinking in the detailed illustrations and wonderful world of fantastic animal characters. Not only this, but they are full of fascinating facts and information providing entertainment AND education! The four titles published by Faber include Richard Scarry’s Best Busy Year Ever, Peasant Pig and the Terrible Dragon, The Adventures of Lowly Worm and the ABC World Book. And they are just as brilliant as I remember – so much to see and lots of interaction. Children will LOVE getting know the characters who are so full of fun. And they’ll love looking at all the amazing illustrations and getting drawn into Richard Scarry’s wonderful world of imagination.

If you’ve never been to the Busy World of Richard Scarry – or perhaps your children haven’t – now is the time to visit! These books offer a shared reading experience you’ll enjoy again and again and they are the ideal entertainment for any day of the week.

With thanks to Faber for sending me these books to review. Find out more at https://www.richardscarry.com/

Picture Book Review: A Way with Wild Things by Larissa Theule illustrated by Sara Palacios

A Way with Wild Things by Larissa Theule illustrated by Sara Palacios

Poppy loves bugs, butterflies and bumble bees, but she’s less confident around people. When a very special dragonfly lands on her grandma’s birthday cake, Poppy finds herself in the limelight. Could this be her moment to shine?

An uplifting story about a nature-loving girl Poppy, who finds her confidence just when she needs it most. Colourful, lively illustrations bring Poppy and her insect friends to life, celebrating the wonder of nature. And they cleverly capture Poppy’s shyness as she has to navigate family events, showing her blending into the background.

Young readers (and probably some grown ups too) will identify with that feeling of having no confidence and maybe hold their breath as Poppy inadvertently takes centre-stage. Thankfully, it’s her love of nature that enables her to shine and the warmth of her grandma’s embrace reminds her how special she is. Simply told, and wonderfully drawn, A Way With Wild Things is a poetic tale to warm the heart.

With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review.

BLOG TOUR: The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann, illustrated by Padmacandra

It’s DAY THREE of the blog tour for The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann and Padmacandra. I’m so pleased to share a guest post from illustrator Padmacandra with insight into the artwork from the story, as well as my thoughts on the book.

The Tale of the Whale is undoubtedly a stunning debut from both author and illustrator, telling the story of a child and whale journeying through the oceans. Their beautiful friendship captures the symbiotic relationship between humans, the sea and the creatures who live in it, and their discoveries show the extreme harm plastic is causing. A lyrical narrative combines with beautifully drawn scenes from under the waves and brings to life the reality of pollution. A brilliant book to support children’s understanding of environmental issues and show just why we need to act now to save our seas. Not only this, it’s a really beautiful book to read and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on award shortlists in months to come.

Welcome to the blog Padmacandra!

“Hello! I am Padmacandra, the illustrator of the Tale of the Whale. I am an ordained Buddhist which is why I have a funny name! Many people think this means the I should be wearing robes or have a bald head, but within my Order it means that I have made a commitment (with quite a long training process) to do everything in my life in the light of kindness and awareness, with the aim of waking up more and more to the truth of the interconnectedness of all life. I was delighted to be asked to illustrate The Tale of the Whale which speaks to this interconnectedness so lyrically and beautifully. Karen and I talked about the importance of the connection between the child and the whale and their friendship throughout the book, as well as connecting with the awesome beauty, joyfulness and depth of the ocean. It was so inspiring to research and make the images of all the ocean creatures, and their home, trying to communicate this beauty and connectedness.

One other detail about me is that I also work part time as a carer for the elderly, mostly living in for a week at a time. I enjoy the simplicity and practicality of the work: it can be such a straightforward way to be of service to others.  I have the privilege of often being alongside people when they are facing the challenges of old age – when they have stopped feeling the need to “put on a face”- which feels like a real meeting.  Perhaps also this flavour of joy in meeting comes across in the tale of the whale!

My Art Processes

I remember trying to learn Salsa some years ago and finding myself challenged by following step by step instructions. However, when the music started and I was in a group with other people dancing I found myself picking up some of the steps and moves by simply feeling my way. Likewise, with art I’ve found I seem to learn best by playing around and making mistakes. I also find it invaluable to look at the work of others that I admire. Not to copy, but to educate my eye. I find Instagram a good place for this.

I love to experiment with mark making.  This was very much encouraged on the Cambridge Art School MA, and I continue to do so.  I seem to have settled with oil pastels and wax crayons as a main medium, sometimes (as in The Tale of the Whale) combining these with monoprint textures (the monoprints are created by rolling ink and paint onto paper).  I usually create images by laying down lots of lovely colours in layers first. Then I will either create images by scratching away layers to reveal what is underneath, or I add lines and shades on top with more crayon, coloured pencil, and occasionally acrylic pens. Usually, it’s a combination of these!

The Tale of the Whale was a lovely text to illustrate, and particularly as it was my first book as illustrator – I felt in good hands with the designer Ness Wood, and editor Janice Thomson. It was obvious that Karen had really thought about the illustrations in a very skilled way when writing her text. One challenge was to render the underwater scenes as well as the scenes above water. In the end, the method of layering waxy crayons with soft oil pastels on top worked very well, and I combined monoprints with these digitally.

Bringing texture to images is important to me – especially for this older age group of 4 to 8-year-olds who are starting to have a subtler appreciation of it. I hope texture brings more psychological depth, interest and sensitivity to my images. It reflects the way that nature is.  Of course, it’s important to get the balance right between simplicity and complexity in an image – an area I find interesting to explore.”

The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann, illustrated by Padmacandra, out now in hardback (£12.99, Scallywag Press. Find out more at scallywagpress.com. With thanks to Scallywag Press for inviting me to host a stop on the blog tour. Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour: