The Bear Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud

More adventures await The Bear’s Song‘s Little Bear and Papa Bear. When the bears seek warmth from their chilly perch atop the Paris Opera House, Little Bear is mistaken for a toy bear and whisked away . . . to a tropical island! Papa Bear sets out on a frenzied journey to find Little Bear, traveling to a bustling wharf, beneath a sea brimming with coral and mermaids, onto a busy beach, and all the way to a sun-drenched island. As in The Bear’s Song, Little Bear is featured in every spread. Will Papa Bear—and the reader—find him? Children and parents alike will savor Chaud’s lush, detail-rich illustrations and the sweet story as well as the book’s bonus seek-and-find elements.

– Chronicle Books

Price £11.99 Hardcover

Publishing Date 09/08/2014

Height 359mm Width 235mm

ISBN 9781452127439

Worst in Show by William Bee & Kate Hindley

Albert & Sidney, the boy & his pet monster.

Albert enters Sidney in a ‘Best Pet Monster Competition’. He is very optimistic, he thinks Sidney is a most excellent monster. However, the judges have a different idea about what makes a good monster. Sidney doesn’t quite cut it.

He’s not got any warts, he doesn’t have any parasites (just a couple of holiday makers, stopping by), he can’t fly and his farts just don’t smell that bad.

Albert finds this all very embarrassing. Until he realises that Sidney has many talents, they’re just not very monster like.

Published by Walker books 02/10/2014


Memory of an Elephant – An Unforgettable Journey by Sophie Strady illustrated by Jean-François Martin

Memory and meaning are at the heart of this oversized, content-rich picture book celebrating the life of Marcel, a soulful elephant. From the towering buildings outside his window and his recollected world travels, to the friends, flora, and fauna that flourish around him, Marcel finds significance in his surroundings and, most importantly, in life’s abundant details. Marcel is writing an encyclopedia, after all, and his entries are featured in full-page spreads packed with facts, elegantly situated alongside the story of his day and his life. Part story and part miscellany, this unforgettable book with dream-like illustrations will transfix both parents and children.

– Chronicle Books

This book just ate my dog! By Richard Byrne

This book just ate my dog is a story about a little girl, a big dog, and a very badly-behaved book! Bella is taking her dog for a stroll across the page when something odd happens. Her dog disappears and it becomes apparent to Bella, her friend Ben, and the rescue services that peril lurks in the pages of this book. But where the police and fire brigade fail, you – the reader can help!

Richard Byrne

Suitable: 2+ years
32 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-19-273728-1

The New Small Person by Lauren Child

Elmore Green started life as an only child, as many children do. He had a room all to himself, and everything in it was his. But one day, everything changed. This brand new picture book from the hugely talented Lauren Child about the arrival of a new sibling is bound to be a hit with parents and children. Told with humour and with wonderfully stylish artwork, this is Lauren Child at her absolute best. 


Paperback £6.99

04 Sep 2014

5 – 8 years

On Sudden Hill – Review + Q&A with Linda Sarah & Benji Davies

Have you ever felt like a gooseberry, a third wheel? Like two’s company, three’s a crowd? (And you’re the crowd!)

That is how Birt felt when one day Shu plucked up the courage to ask him & his buddy Etho if he could play with them.

Birt & Etho are two best friends; they spend their days playing outside in the countryside, climbing up Sudden Hill, each with their own cardboard box. Using their boxes they become kings in castles, soldiers in barracks, astronauts in space rockets and pirates sailing wild seas and skies. Birt loves their two-by-two rhythm. However, when the dynamic is changed by the introduction of Shu, Birt has strange feelings, feelings of rejection, loneliness and being left-out.

On Sudden Hill is a story I’m sure most of us can relate to. As a primary school teacher, I see how group dynamics affect children all the time. Now I have a new picture book in my arsenal to use as a stimulus for circle time discussions. In fact, I will use this book for my first assembly back at school – Did someone just walk over my grave.. bbrrrrr!

On Sudden Hill fills me with feelings of nostalgia. I now live and work in London; however I spent my formative years amongst the Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire. I flew kites on Windy Hill, had an adventure club with kids on my street, we had a Golden Retriever that joined us called Pebbles, we ran through cornfields and built dens in the woods. We even had a nemesis called Mr. Fleet, the local farmer.

I was very pleased when Benji & Jade from Simon & Schuster asked me to be a part of this blog tour. For one, I love the book, secondly I’m a big fan of Benji Davies illustrations, The Storm Whale is a stunning picture book. Also, I am honoured to be on a line up with two excellent bloggers who I have been following for some time, The Book Sniffer & Read it Daddy.

Enjoy the following Q&A with Linda and Benji…


Q & A with Benji Davies , illustrator of On Sudden Hill

benji-davies magpie benji

How would you describe you work?

Indulging my mind’s eye on paper, perhaps.

Can you describe your creative process?

Make a cup of tea, pace up and down a bit, look out the window.
I think when illustrating someone else’s words, there is much more of a sit down and start drawing approach… everything I need is there in the words, I just have to get on with it.

When writing my own stuff, whether its for a picture book or for animation, its more of a writing/drawing/thinking process than sitting at a keyboard and waiting for words to flow. It might take several months or years for an idea to come to full fruition. If I have an idea when I’m on the move I’ll jot it down as a simple note or sentence, something that I can pick up sometime later and remember what I was thinking at the time.

I think its all mainly about the thought process that comes before the actual ‘doing’ though. Often I am adding colour to some roughs when I’m walking to the shop – in my head – then when I sit down to do it, I know what i’m planning to do and hopefully that makes getting started much easier.

Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from?

Anywhere they happen to pop up. Although they don’t really appear from nowhere and materialise on to a blank sheet of paper… you have to be actively looking, waiting.

What were the last 5 pictures books you bought?

The Dangerous Journey by Tove Jansson

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

The Sad Book by Michael Rosen & Quentin Blake

Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs (not really a PB)

N’y a-t-il personne pour se mettre en colère? by Toon Tellegren & Marc Boutavant (I don’t speak very much french, but it’s got nice pictures!)

Which new picture book creators do you find exciting and why?

The ones who live and breathe it, their work really stands out.

I love the look of Victoria Turnbull’s The Sea Tiger from the bits I’ve seen online, but i’ve not picked up a copy yet. Work like that, that comes from a place of traditional drawing but has a fresh feel, like Alexis Deacon or Shaun Tan.

Also, writing that feels understated or simply constructed but is hiding something huge, like Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat.

What’s it like to be an writer/illustrator?

Equally exciting, fulfilling, terrifying and exhausting.

What job would you be doing, if you weren’t creating picture books?

If not in the creative industries, I think I would have tried to go down a route of something linked to sciences in the natural world. It has fascinated me from a young age.

Will you be attending any book festivals this year?

I’m going to be taking part in the South Ken Kids Festival in November, and also The Children’s Book Show when it travels to Bristol in October.

What are you working on at present, what’s next?

Working as illustrator I have several books on the boil with publishers in the UK and in the US.

I have just finished writing my second book for Simon & Schuster which should be out this time next year, although its all under wraps for now. Hopefully I can share more soon.


Q & A with Linda Sarah, author of On Sudden Hill

me in cafe (2)

What inspires you to write for children?


And then…so many things, including all the things that are not right in the world for young people. And books – when I was little, and still now, books are like these amazing friends that not only show you you’re okay as you are, but also allow you to grow, explore, find your own voice, wings…journeys and adventures ( ).

To be part of this amazing world now, actually getting to write and draw stories for young people, is a huge dream! To write for the wisest, most open, free-thinking, imaginative, funny, thoughtful etc. members of society, and the idea of maybe making a sad, small someone giggle, or a lonesome young person feel more loveable and valued, that is a beautiful, brilliant thing. I am so lucky! And others’ words, poems, music, films. Everything!

Does the story of Sudden Hill come from your own childhood?

Maybe unconsciously it does – I think everyone has experiences of these situations: feeling left out, unwanted, pushed aside. But it actually came from a story I’d written as an attempt to write something for slightly older readers and had been forgotten in my stack of notebooks full of ideas/poems/story fragments. Then, every now and then, I sift through the pile, I re-read it and felt it could work for younger people too – and it re-wrote itself easy and felt right – so yay!

What were the last 5 picture books you bought?

Errrm, my memory is a bit topsy turvy, but I think they were:
Wild – Emily Hughes (just WOW! Everything about this book I love. It felt like Maurice Sendak was somehow breathing into it his magic, but it is also altogether new and unique and awesome!

A Rule is to Break – John and Jana (This superb book about the breaking of rules should be in every home, school, library etc. It exudes warmth and a fierce sense of: I am cool and special just by being my very self! I love it. The pictures too are gorgeous).

Bubble and Squeak – James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy (Oh! the meltiest story about friendship and courage between a most adorable elephant and a sweet, noble mouse. Again, the illustrations seem to come to life, like watching the best cartoon when little).

Barbapapa – Annette Tison and Talus Taylor (I had this when I was little, but no longer had my copy – so this was a replacement. What’s not to love: genius in the form of a huge, pink, shape-shifting lovely, friendly creature, with a highly interesting and eccentric family!).

I Love You Dude – V. Radunsky (I only discovered this incredible children’s writer/illustrator recently and now devour all his books. They are silly, brilliant, absurd, ridiculous and inspiring. Radunsky is one of my new heroes – up there with Sendak and Scarry).

Oh, and – The Guinness Book of Beards and Moustaches  – Leslie Dunkling and John Foley (For research – a few of the things I’m working on right now involve hairiness).

What are you working on now? What’s next?

So, of the things on the following list, four are definitely true, three might be true and five are definitely, completely not true:

1) I am making a portable studio-on-wheels from a bath and a motorbike.
2) Working on a story about Love, lots of Love, Big Love, HUGE LOVE.
3) Researching facial hair, especially that which is larger than its owner.
4) Composing a soundtrack to a film about a street lamp that stops working.
5) Learning how to eat meringue and sing traditional Yiddish folk songs all-at-the-same-time.
6) Lifting weights in preparation to enter the World’s Strongest Man Competition.
7) Applying to become the England football team’s artist/poet-in-residence.
8) Writing and illustrating a story about a small, snouty creature who’s a painter by day and an electrician at night.
9) Learning everything there is to know about pigeons (they are SO cool!).
10) Seeing how long post takes to arrive if you address it with waterproof ink and chuck it in a river, or other body of water (no results thus far).
11) Making an Eiffel Tower from Loom Bands
12) Writing a poem about a tiny thing that wants to be a musical conductor, but is too small to be seen and noticed by musicians.

Other than Benji Davies, which illustrators would you like to work with?

I’d love to work with so many illustrators! Here are a few:

Wolf Erlbruch writes and illustrates like a wizard. My favourite book of his, The Butterfly Workshop, is just superb – colour, shapes, feelings, weirdness, imagination…everything amazing!

Jon Klassen – his work, words and pictures, is just genius – and when illustrating others’ stories, like: Extra Yarn by  Mac Barnett, he make the story sing and dance with his lines and colours. Just brilliant.

Mei Matsuoka – wonderful, such a talented illustrator – my favourite book being: The Great Big Bottom Swap.

Florie Saint-Val – amazing, bright, bold, sweet, funny, incredibly imaginative pictures.

Stein Erik Lunde – his picture book: My Father’s Arms Are a Boat, is so beautiful, touching, with melty illustrations.

If I could bring them back: Tove Jansson, William Steig, Richard Scarry, Dr Seuss, Antoine de Saint-Exupery…ohh…so many amazing artists there are, past and present!

And me! (hope that’s not too big-headed!). I also illustrate children’s books and love it when words and pictures tumble out and dance together. My first picture book, Mi and Museum City, was written and illustrated by me (Show off link to one of the lovely reviews: …and there are more of these waiting to leap, jump, trickle, whisper…out :-).

But the brilliant thing about writing stories for others to illustrate is, you get to write about things you don’t feel that confident about drawing – so there are no restrictions. For example, I’m not so cool at painting sweeping landscapes, trees and all-things-green – so the story: On Sudden Hill, was transformed by Benji into lush, green scenes, magnificent, waving trees, rolling hills and swaying grasses – a complete magician!

And, lastly, if I could choose a fictional character to illustrate a story I’d written, I would love Gandalf – I know he’d be a most almighty illustrator, creating pages that come to life, swirl with magic and beauty. And working with him would be awesome fun as well.


Q&A with Sophy Henn (Where Bear?) – Her 1st EVER interview!

What were the last 5 picture books you bought?

This is going to sound very bad, but I try not to look at picture books too much! There are so many lovely, wonderful, witty and brilliant books getting about all the time that it makes me wonder what on earth I think I’m doing having a go myself!

The last book I bought was “A Great Day for UP” by Dr Seuss, who is a hero, and illustrated by Quentin Blake, who obviously is a legend. I was curious to see how the two would blend. The answer is, very nicely!

I am constantly buying copies of “Oh the places you’ll go” by Dr Seuss as gifts. It is such a marvelous book, covering all the ups, downs and complexities of life in such a clear and simple way, with so much warmth and humour. And if you don’t well up a little or at least get goosebumps when you read the last page you are dead inside!

But looking through my book shelf I think the other three were…

The Boys by Jeff Newman which is a really lovely linear story with characters that span the generations, a favourite subject. The illustrations that are so full of movement and spirit, but also really sparing and graphic, gorgeous.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket and the genius that is Jon Klassson. It’s so clever, with beautiful clean illustrations and a little bit scary, in a good way.

Walk to Paris by Saul Bass & Leonore Klein which is just so super stylish.

What was your favourite picture book as a child and why?

I loved Cops and Robbers by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. I was recently reunited with my original copy I had given up for lost. I loved the detail on some of the pages and the visual gags tucked into the illustrations. And it has such a great rhythm, making it fun to read and have read to you. Ho! Ho!

I understand you previously worked in advertising, did you work on any advertising campaigns we might be familiar with?

Probably not! I worked in what was then known as ‘Below the line’ advertising, so everything except telly! We “brainstormed”(!) and designed everything from merchandise, on pack promotions, events, newspaper/magazine ads and displays. I worked on promotions for Evian, Orange, Robinsons, Cosmo Girl, Wella, Disney and many more! So chances are you’ve seen the stuff I worked on, but I very much doubt it would have stuck in your memory!

You quit your job to do a masters in illustration at Brighton Uni, what inspired you to make the change to writing and illustrating children’s books?

I stopped working full time in advertising when my daughter was born, though I was freelancing. Moving out of London made that harder so I started a greetings card company called My Giddy Aunt. That got me back into drawing and I slowly regained a smidge of confidence about it, having neglected it for many years. All the while I had been bombarding my daughter with books, which really re-ignited a love of children’s books and how exciting and magic they can be. I had some ideas, and sketched a few out but still felt less than confident about my work. So I decided to make myself official and signed up to the MA in Sequential Illustration at University of Brighton. This forced me to work on the briefs I never normally would have and, crucially, to show my ideas to a room full of people – GULP! It also justified spending time developing a style and ideas. 

If you could collaborate with any other picture book writer/illustrator, past or present who would it be and why?

That is such a hard question! Erm…..Well, as I said earlier, Dr Seuss is a hero, and a story of his, “My Many Coloured Days”, was post-posthumously illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher then published, and I love it. It’s not as fast paced as many of his other books, so I think I could illustrate for him if he was writing in that mood!

I’d love, love, LOVE to work with Kay Thompson. Eloise is an utter legend, and Hilary Knight captures her spirit so beautifully, it’s untouchable. That spirit is infectious and I would love to work with someone who can conjure that kind of character up. And we could sing “Think Pink” from Funny Face and look sophisticated all day long.

Oh and Astrid Lundgren is another hero, I knew this was impossible and I have even got onto the living yet!

Also, a bit off the question but, I’d love to illustrate a picture book written by Wes Anderson. Genius.

It’s a smashing debut picture book, what’s next for Sophy Henn?

Thank you! Well, my second picture book is at the printers. It’s about a grumpy Panda called Pom Pom. He’s been developed from a character I created for my MA project ( a comic for KS2 girls to offer and alternative to the magazines they are currently targeted with), called Angry Panda. It’s called Pom Pom Gets the Grumps and is quite different from Where Bear. I think it’s got more humour, but I guess you’ll be the judge of that! Oh and it has a Wibbling cover, I know I’ve probably spelt it wrong, but basically its a fabric covered hardback, which is beyond exciting. There’s a couple of other bits & bobs in the pipeline, but I’m sworn to secrecy. They made me cross my heart and kiss my elbow so there’s no way I’m telling!


Bubble Trouble by Tom Percival

Rueben and Felix are best friends, and what they like doing best . . . is blowing bubbles – the bigger, the better! It all starts to go wrong when Rueben challenges Felix to a bubble-blowing competition. When they sabotage each other’s bubble machines, the results are disastrous. It’s time to stop fighting against each other and pull together!A charming story about friendship, fights, and making up.