Thursday, April 22, 2010

Winged Chariot Press

I'm hugely excited when I hear of publishers such as Gecko Press, who translate and publish quirky and innovative children's books, making otherwise inaccessible titles available to the english speaker. So, I'm delighted to have been made aware of Winged Chariot Press, a UK based publisher who does just that. Their list features beautiful books from authors and illustrators from across the globe. You can find out more and flick through the books here

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The First Charity Shop Children's Book of the Month

This month I've been scouring the charity shops of Bray in search of children's book gold. And I found it! There was one book that trumped the lot but first there's a couple of others I'd like to share:

This Robin Annual from 1976 is both kitsch and creepy. It's chock full of bizzare little poems and comic strips including a story about 'Dick and Danny' in which the reader is asked 'Now, can you guess what Dick was planning to do with his hose?' Hmmmm... There's also the strange and pointless story of Snap the rabbit and his friend Snip- the massive talking scissors.

The second gem I stumbled upon was Pigs Might Fly by Liz Underhill which was first published in 1984 and seems to be long out print. The illustration is rich and intricately detailed and each page has windows which you can peek through to the next one. I got a bit sentimental when I found it because it reminds of a book I had when I was little which I loved and lost :(

The humdinger of the haul though is a tiny book called Daniel's Mysterious Monster by Inger and Lasse Sandberg, and this is my Charity Shop Children's Book of the Month. It was originally published in Sweden in 1968 under the title 'Mathias och trollet' and was published in english in 1973. It's a sweet little story about a boy who asks his mum if she believes in monsters to which she replies that there aren't such things. But Daniel says "I know a monster and it lives here." and he goes on to describe the monster as hating cats and having no hands having great big brown eyes and rows of sharp white teeth. There's a clue and an illustration on each page and in the end the monster turns out to be...the dog! Mystery solved! I love the simplicity, the playfulness and the childlike drawings. It's a wee, twee winner!

P.S. The total cost of the three books was 1.50. What a bargain!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Invention of Noah Barleywater

Here are a couple of things that I’m very excited about:

Firstly, the forthcoming childrens novel from John Boyne which is illustracted by the fantastic Oliver Jeffers. The novel will be published on September 29th and is called ‘Noah Barleywater Runs Away’. John Boyne says “It’s a fairytale about a boy- Noah Barleywater- who runs away from home one morning deep into a forest. At the heart of the forest he discovers a small toy shop owned by an old man who has a host of stories to tell”.

Speaking of toy shops owned by old men, the second thing that I await with baited breath is 2011’s realease of Martin Scorcese’s film adaptation of ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’. The book has been a firm favourite of mine since I picked it up a few years ago. The book itself is so cinematic in style that it should make for seemless transition to the silver screen. The movie will star Sacha Baron Cohen (?!) as the station master, Ben Kingsely as George Melies, Kick Ass’s’s’s Chloe Moretz will play Isabelle and Asa Butterfield will be playing Hugo. Here’s an interesting interview with author Brian Selznick:

That's all for now :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

My First Blog

Today I decided I would start a blog about children's books and the world they come from. And so, here it is! This blog will basically be a mishmash of children's book news, reviews and general musings. I hope some of it will be of some interest to someone...or some such.

I thought I'd dive straight in by talking about my recent discovery of New Zealand based Gecko Press and their 'curiously good children's books from around the world'. I came across a couple of their picture books last week and I’m so excited that such a publisher exists. Gecko Press translates books from around the world which brings a whole new wave of picture books to the english language. The books published by Gecko are ‘quirky’ in terms of the mainstream picture books being published in the U.K. and Ireland as we tend to veer heavily towards the cute and cuddly and quite innocuous ilk of picture flat. There is however, a strong trend throughout the rest of Europe, Scandanavia and Asia of using picture books to illustrate weightier issues through both text and visuals and their interaction. This excites me greatly because I think it’s innovative and vital and also because it cultivates visual literacy which I feel is greatly overlooked in these parts.

You can find out more about Gecko Press here

‘Duck, Death and the Tulip’ by Wolf Erlbruch is a beautiful and strange picture book which deals with death in a warm and sensitive way. Childrens Laureate Anthony Browne says “Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch is a superb picture book from Germany, that tells a gentle story of the relationship between Death and a duck. Death is portrayed as a sympathetic figure in a dressing gown who is with us all the time, but who only comes into Duck's consciousness towards the end of his life. It is warm, poignant and witty.”

Also published by Gecko Press is ‘Selma’ by German illustrator Jutta Baur who recently won the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The awards are presented by IBBY (International Board of Books for Young people) to “a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to childrens literature”. Which brings me to the author who won this years prize; David Almond. David is one of my favourite living children’s authors and I’m particularly fond of his collaborations with British illustrator Polly Dunbar namely, ‘My Dad’s a Birdman’ and just published, ‘The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon’.

Both are published by Walker Books and are well worth a look-see.