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15th February 2017

Steve May: Attack of the Alien Dung!

Steve May‘s illustrations for Gareth P. Jones’ latest comic caper, Attack of the Alien Dung, fit perfectly with this hilarious, action-packed adventure. This is the first in the Pet Defenders series published by Stripes and is about secret agents with a difference.

This is TOP SECRET! Did you know that Earth is under constant alien attack? The Pet Defenders is a secret society of domestic animals, dogs, cats, rabbits and rodents. While their humans are off at school or work, they keep the Earth safe. Now that you know all this, it’s important that you don’t because humans tend to panic and are likely to blow up the very planet the Pet Defenders are trying to defend so they need you to forget and just make sure you carry on as normal. Their specially trained seagulls will take care of that with their Forget-Me-Plop! SSSPLAT!

Secret agent Biskit the dog discovers his new partner Mitzy is a cat and is not best pleased at first. Even though cats and dogs usually don’t mix, they must put their differences aside as the safety of Planet Earth is at stake and humans MUST NOT know the truth! Their job is to save Earth from a cluster of cow pats which have flown into town and are whipping up quite a stink… Move over Mulder and Scully, it’s time for Biskit and Mitzy to kick some serious alien butt!

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Attack of the Alien Dung! illustrations by Steve May

Biskit & Mitzy

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Attack of the Alien Dung! illustrations by Steve May

The beetle squeezed its pincer around Mitzy’s throat…

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Attack of the Alien Dung! illustrations by Steve May

He pondered how unusual it was for a cat to be chasing a dog, but the thought vanished when he felt something splat on his head…

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9th February 2017

Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten

Happy Publication Day to Kristyna Litten and her wonderful new picture book, Norton and Alpha. Norton is an industrious robot, collecting all the detritus around him and testing and experimenting on all the rusty cogs and bits and bobs. But it’s a lonely life and Norton makes himself a companion, Alpha, who looks a little bit like a robot dog, helps Norton on his collecting rounds and one day they find a mysterious thing, an ‘it’ what is it and what does it do, why is it here? Kristyna tells her story with a palette of orange and blue until the spectacular double gatefold spread which erupts with colour and life and is Beautiful! to behold, showing the natural world in all it’s glory.

 

Already published in many different languages, Norton and Alpha is set to be a hit with some great reviews and a warm welcome on booksellers bookshelves. Wonderfully designed by Mike Jolley and published by Simon and Schuster, tended with love and now out in the world.

 

 

 

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Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

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Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

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Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

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Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

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Reviews:

Love Reading For Kids:

February 2017 Book of the Month A sweet, comical tale about little robots, Norton and Alpha will make children look at the world around them with new eyes. Norton lives in a desolate place surrounded by derelict factories and heaps of rusting machinery. He collects things that catch his eye – battered wheels, rusty cogs and broken springs, and out of these he creates Alpha, a little robot dog and companion to help with his collecting. Out together they discover something Norton has never seen before, which resists all his experiments. Children will recognise that the mysterious ‘It’ is a flower and be just as delighted as Norton and Alpha when it grows into a field of colourful ‘Its’. A story of friendship, ingenuity and the indomitable beauty of the natural world.

 

Read It Daddy:

“Norton and Alpha” is the story of a lonely trashbot who spends his days wandering the wastelands filled with rubbish.He’s an extremely clever ‘bot though, turning his hand to making amazing things out of the rubbish he finds. One day he manages to create something ultra-cool – a robot dog to act as his companion, and come scavenging with him.Norton and Alpha are the best of friends but when they find something that even Norton doesn’t understand or recognise, it’s a whole new challenge. What is this odd object with petals and leaves? It’s beautiful so the two take it back to the workshop. Sadly the new object resists all attempts to fix it, and it seems to have lost a lot of its colour and lustre too, so Norton throws it out of the window! But that’s just the start of something amazing…for what happens to a flower full of seeds when it’s discarded? A joyous tale very much in the same mould as “Wall-E” and “The Flower” but with lots of brilliant characterful fun for Norton and his robot dog chum.

 

The Book Bag:

We are used to the world around us and every day take amazing things for granted; a sunset, or that cold bite in the air that makes you want to go and walk the dog. To a robot, our world would look pretty strange as everything would be new. What would you think the first time that you happened upon a flower?Robots are cool, but robots that build other robots are even cooler. Norton is an inventor and one fine day he created his robot pal, Alpha, the robot equivalent of a dog. Together they go outside to gather more materials so that even more things can be built. In a world of scrap they are surprised when they stumble across IT. This strange thing seems to be organic in nature and has a nice smell, what on Earth is IT, and is IT worth keeping?

Norton and Alpha is a deeply charming book that starts with a slightly melancholy soul, but opens up wonderfully towards the end to warm the cockles of one’s heart. To begin with Norton is alone, but Alpha soon arrives bringing with him companionship and a partner to go out hunting. The first half of the book is just a joyous trip around an amazing scrap world with two robots. It is not until they stumble across a flower that the plot truly thickens. Litten is able to engage the reader by keeping the character of Norton curious. What would a robot inventor do should they come across a flower? Experiment on it of course! The fact that it does not fit into any known algorithm he has means that the flower appears useless, but is it? It is the surprise at the end of the book that lift the reader.

The wonderful, touching story is helped in no small way by Litten’s own illustrations. The planet is painstakingly realised with loads of things to look at. The characters of Norton and Alpha are also very cute and you can imagine them as a children’s cartoon series or a set of toys. Litten uses the entire page and has a slight pastille feel to her work. There is also a nice touch with the surprise element of the book as a double spread page opens up even further. Norton and Alpha is a simple story well told that feels like it may be sad, but is actually uplifting. Any child will love it, but a fan of robots will adore it. Adults will appreciate the art and the fact that it has a warm heart. It also teaches an interesting lesson that just because something does not appear to have a practical function does not mean that it should be automatically discarded.

 

8th February 2017

Adam Stower: Animals Behaving Badly

Adam Stower‘s lively illustrations just leap off the pages of this fabulous new book, Animals Behaving Badly, by Nicola Davies and published by Walker Books. This non-fiction children’s book is unsurprisingly about animals “behaving badly”, often outsmarting humans. From pick-pocketing parrots to baby-snatching monkeys and not forgetting farting fish. This is a wonderful reminder that although animals might not be able to drive cars or build skyscrapers, they are clever in other ways and have learned to adapt and survive in every kind of habitat.

We start with the wolverine in Canada, who will trash your home and everything in it, and then meet the kea in New Zealand – park your car in kea country, and you’ll find out the hard way that these clever birds have sharp beaks and a love of mischief. Next we visit India and learn about macaque monkeys, who have shoplifting, highway robbery and baby-snatching on their impressive rap sheet, before jetting off to the US. In Florida we find drumfish, whose strange humming calls will keep you up all night long, and in Alaska Sitka whales, who gang up to steal thousands of dollars’ worth of cod from under the noses of fishermen.

If you and your kids were glued to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, then you’ll love this book. The award-winning children’s author and biologist, Nicola Davies brings humour to this collection of fascinating and true stories about mischievous animals, matched equally by Adam’s witty take on the subject matter.

 

Animals Behaving Badly illustrated by Adam Stower

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Animals Behaving Badly illustrated by Adam Stower

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Animals Behaving Badly illustrated by Adam Stower

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2nd February 2017

Aleksei Bitskoff: Who Let The Gods Out

Aleksei Bitskoff‘s striking illustration for the cover of Maz Evans’ debut novel, Who Let The Gods Out, is published today and is Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month!

Elliot has a lot on his young mind. He is the only child of a single mum who is ill and his home is under threat. But then a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo –  a young Greek Goddess on a mission. Things go a bit bonkers as Elliot is drawn into saving the world with the Gods from Greek mythology, both good and evil and all of them pretending to be mortals on Earth. But can his problems be solved too?

Who Let the Gods Out fits the bill perfectly, a freewheeling and properly-funny fantasy where the deities who so once powerfully presided over the affairs of the world (Zeus, Hermes, Charon and the rest) are now reduced to bumbling, self-obsessed buffoons in the face of contemporary mores. Into the mix is thrown 12-year-old Elliot, a caring but slightly reluctant hero who finds himself at the centre of adventurous chaos as an entombed demon, buried somewhere beneath his home near Stonehenge, is unwittingly set free to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.” - Waterstones

Who Let the Gods Out is the first book in this series, published by Chicken House.

Who Let the Gods Out cover illustration by Aleksei Bitskoff

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1st February 2017

Arena February Calendar by Anna Chernyshova

It’s February already and this month’s calendar illustration is by Anna Chernyshova from the picture book, A Letter to Father Frost commissioned by Mosaic Synthesis Publishing.

A Letter to Father Frost illustrated by Anna Chernyshova

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