Monday, 22 April 2013

It's always good to find out what others think ...
This one is from Bookchat in  South Africa

Book of the Month
Home Now
Lesley Beake
illustrated by Karin Littlewood

A hugely rewarding picture book about a lonely girl and a little elephant – by one of our top South African authors. Luminous, vibrant illustrations.

Lesley Beake is justly famous for such youth novels as The Strollers (now in its 22nd edition) and Song of Be which has been acclaimed internationally. Home Now is not her first picture book but it is certainly the most moving and lustrous so far. It shares the story of Sieta, a sad girl who thinks back to her previous home over the mountains when her parents were alive. They died of Aids, though this is only mentioned in an explanatory Afterword. Also lonely is a young orphaned elephant. Text and glowing pictures tell how they become friends and both find a new “Home Now”.
This should become a jewel in the crown of South African picture books, and added congratulations to Pan Macmillan for adding it to their Giraffe list and thus making it available in African languages. The story speaks in a language which is universal anyway. Welcome it to your home, your school and your library.
First published in UK by Frances Lincoln.
Now available in the Giraffe Books series from Pan Macmillan in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Setswana and Sotho.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I still have lots of books from my childhood and whenever I look at them I still have the same feelings as I did when I was a are a couple of favourites but there are plenty more where these came from !

Joba and the Wild Boar' - 'Joba und das Wildschwein'  by Gaby Baldner, illustrated by Gerhardt Oberlander    published by Constable & Co Ltd (a dual language book )

The Useful Dragon of Sam Ling Toy'   by Glen Dines  Constable & Co ( original US version The Macmillan Co NY)

I really wanted to be one of these children and have a dragon as a friend, especially a dragon with one red eye and one green eye 


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

I'm always being asked how I come with ideas for stories and my first reaction is 'I don't really know!' But I was asked to write an article about my book 'Immi' for Books For Keeps which explains the process a bit!

Karin Littlewood lives and works in London. Originally from Yorkshire, she studied graphic design at Northumbria University, followed by an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she specialised in illustration. She has been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal three times and her most recent picture book, Immi, has just been shortlisted for the Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award 2011. Here Karin explains the technique and thinking behind the illustrations for Immi.

The story of Immi began without any great thoughts at all, apart from the fact that it was almost Christmas and I needed to do a card to send to friends – and quickly! I drew a very loose pencil sketch of a little Inuit girl’s face on a scrap of tracing paper, added a few brushstrokes of gouache, and there she was… That original sketch remained pinned above my desk in my studio, her slightly forlorn, wondering face kept looking at me, and I looked back at her and I knew I had to write her story. It was an instinctive process and from the very beginning I felt very strongly that I had to keep the same feeling, simplicity and spontaneity in the final artwork.
I’ve always loved scribbling away at those initial sketches whenever I’m working on a book. Nothing is too precious. Everything just seems to flow – the looseness of the marks on the paper, the experimental drops and splashes of watercolour. With Immi I wanted to place an emphasis on my natural sense of line, a departure from the finished illustrations in previous books where the strength lies in the layers of strong but loose watercolour brushstrokes.

A story began to emerge from these piles of loose drawings. A little girl (I still hadn’t decided on her name) alone in her frozen white world begins to fish simple, colourful objects through an ice hole. As the story grows and she becomes happier, more and more colours fill each page. Her igloo becomes the brightest thing in the land and brings new friends into her life. There’s a surprising explosion of colour in the final pages, in total contrast to the first spread.

I visualise my illustrations almost as stills from a film, zooming in and out of scenes with careful yet simple composition on the page. There’s a close intimacy and emotion on one spread, turn the page and I play with scale in one of my favourite scenes – a tiny figure on the ice with an Arctic underwater-world beneath her and a whale too big to fit on the page!

For the final artwork I drew in quite a small scale with a soft watercolour pencil on paper. This way I could remain true to the simplicity of the thumbnail sketches. These line drawings were scanned and printed out two to three times their original size onto HP watercolour paper, again a change from my usual choice of a textured NOT paper. I then worked on top of the print with the same pencil, building up the depth and detail, finally adding simple washes of watercolour and gouache.
Inspiration came, quite often, unexpectedly. Sometimes, if I’m stuck, I try too hard and nothing happens. I have to let things find their own way in, so the little wooden bird Immi finds first is based on a silver charm of mine. During a visit to my favourite museum, the Pitt Rivers in Oxford, I spotted a little carved bear in a cluttered cabinet of objects, perfect inspiration for Immi’s necklace!
Immi’s name came right at the end. The illustrations were finished, the story written. Maybe I just had to get to know her! Immi is an Inuit name which I found out much later means ‘echo’, a name that seems very fitting for this gentle tale of hope and friendship.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A busy year of festivals and events including, amongst many enjoyable others........

Illustration workshops at Brent Libraries Summer Reading Challenge and the Word Up Festival (where I launched my brand new book 'Sea Horse'... more about that later)

Guest Speaker at the annual SCWBI conference

Kirklees Libraries Adult Learners Week

The Imperial War Museum North- where the inspirational and evocative exhibition 'Once Upon a Wartime' transferred to from London

Imagine Festival for Children at the Royal Festival Hall 

Pop Up Festival of Stories

The Cheltenham Literature Festival

And not forgetting the very wonderful (and my very local) Stoke Newington Literary Festival...always a pleasure!  
Immi appearing again at....

The Cheltenham Literature Festival
Imagine Festival for Children, Royal Festival Hall

Immi's Igloo Live !!! Pop Up Festival of Stories

This is just a little look at this wonderful day - just to bring back memories you if you were there and to see what you missed if you couldn't make it!

See the brand new Pop Up website

Check out this link and click on 'Watch the Pop Up Story' to find out more.

Welcome !
What's happening ? 
All these young artists enjoying meeting real illustrators ... here's my friend Guy Parker -Rees giving expert tuition !
And the amazing Art Gallery just grew and grew
Live music made us feel like we were following the Pied Piper... carrying balloons with special messages to fly off into the sky. The furthest reply came back from Hertfordshire but I"m sure some of them reached some wondrous locations !
Margaret Bateson -Hill captivating the audience as always with her magical storytelling
Everyone needs a break
Especially Immi!
The day is ending ...
Someone has to clear up !