Welcome to the stunning new portfolio of our favourite work by Arena’s talented band of illustrators. We kick off this year by welcoming a brand new artist, Marie-Alice Harel whose exquisitely delicate watercolour work is already turning heads, winning the prestigious Folio Society’s Book Illustration Competition.
We unveil the magical world of fantasy fiction with a new adventure by Joe Lillington, a quest for the rarest dragons on The Dragon Ark by Tomislav Tomic and see Harry Potter’s world through the eyes of Levi Pinfold. We give you a whirlwind tour of some fabulous illustrated comic fiction from Steve May, Aleksei Bitskoff and Emily Fox and celebrate the best-selling non-fiction Football School illustrated by Spike Gerrell. We romp home with some new picture book characters, an underwater sleuth from Graham Carter and a parade of pups and penguins by Anna Chernyshova.
We round off with Arena highlights including recent award nominations.
We were so proud to see Adam Stower’s Space Chase Summer Reading Challenge campaign breaking records by reaching nearly three quarters of a million bookworms and paving the way for his third exciting King Coo adventure.
We’re looking forward to a new royal Claude adventure from Alex T. Smith and with the animated Claude sauntering onto ITVBe, there’s a host of eye catching tie-in publishing from Hodder Children’s Books.
Our very own Eco Warrior, Neal Layton, is on a mission to highlight the plight of our planet and what we can do to help to save it.
The TV series based on Jonny Duddle’s Gigantosaurus roars onto Tiny Pop in the UK this summer with Templar creating a new range of picture storybooks and Jakk’s producing a fantastic range of toys hitting shelves soon.
We love nurturing new talent and last year were thrilled to welcome supremely talented young illustrator Matthew Land to Arena. We thought we would add some new illustrations to Matthew’s online portfolio showcasing his particular skill in character work. His online gallery now features some stunning pattern design, recent editorial work and some rather lovely illustrations for His Dark Materials and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Here’s a small selection of new work, but do pop over to look at Matthew’s online portfolio in its entirety.
Let’s find out a little more about Matthew. He grew up on a dairy farm somewhere in the welsh hills and in spite of his great love and appreciation of the outdoors he steered clear of a career in the family business (mostly but not completely because he doesn’t digest dairy well). Instead, he read and drew almost compulsively and has continued to do so because he never especially wanted a proper job. He graduated from University College Falmouth in 2012.
Wanting a change of scene Matthew moved to Edinburgh and worked as a children’s bookseller in Blackwell’s Bookshop, which then took him to Oxford and rekindled his passion for fiction and storytelling. Matthew has picked up his pencils again and for the time being is back in Wales, currently skulking in the studio he’s rigged together in his grandmother’s attic.
Matthew is influenced by heroes from the golden age of British book illustration, including Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and William Heath Robinson. He utilizes ink linework and watercolour and a touch of digital tweaking to breathe life into his unusual characters.
In his spare time, Matthew is ticking National Trust properties off his ‘to visit’ list from which he draws a lot of inspiration and detail and because of the gift shops.
Here is a special illustration Matthew created for this news post, it’s an annotated diagram of his workspace, which is currently situated in his grandmother’s attic as of March 2020.
All the way from state side comes an utterly charming picture book illustrated by Anna Chernyshova publishing in America with Worthy Kids Penguin and Moose looks set to fly sky high with its jolly illustrations and Hannah C Halls gently lyrical text.
Penguin and Moose enjoy and unlikely friendship, portly little penguin and cumbersome Moose together try to conquer the skills required to fly. From balloons, treetop starts, cocooning like a caterpillar. The more they desperately try to get airborne, but no matter how hard they try, Penguin remains firmly on the ground. At the end of the day, a tired and disappointed Penguin realises that he has something better than the ability to fly, he has a friend that supports and loves him no matter what. This series debut celebrates the power of friendship and acceptance.
Anna’s skill for creating engaging and entertaining characters beams from the pages of this special book. Hearts will be stolen by this delightful black and white penguin and we look forward to seeing what adventures this delightful duo come up with next.
Having trained in academic drawing in Russia, Anna spent her MA discovering her own personal visual language by experimenting with a looser quality of mark making and simplifying form – she continues to enjoy experimenting with different media and textures which she combines digitally. Anna takes her inspiration from Soviet and American illustrators of the 1920’s to 50’s. She’s also inspired by the world around her and loves to sketch the places, people and animals that she observes on a daily basis.
It has been a thrilling time for awards nominations and the excitement continues with the announcement of the Alligators Mouth Awards for Highly Illustrated Fiction.
The Alligator’s Mouth children’s bookshop and The Bright Agency launched the children’s book prize last year to celebrate the best books for 6-8-year-olds. Ten books have been long-listed for The Alligator’s Mouth Award 2020, which champions both authors and illustrators of highly illustrated children’s fiction.
Books wholesaler Gardners, an official partner of the award for 2020, are offering independent bookshops across the UK a 52.5% discount on all ten longlisted titles throughout March, April and May.
Tony West and Margaret Wallace-Jones of The Alligator’s Mouth said: ‘It is a highlight of our year to see the submissions for this award. We are so excited by the quality and range of the longlist – every school should have copies of these beautiful and engaging books, which will help children to become confident readers.’
The Curse of the Mummy’s Gold is the second hilarious illustrated fiction title in Adam’s King Coo series as ever adventure levels are still set to HIGH, Ben Pole is back at school and back in trouble!
A band of burglars and an ancient mystical curse have him in a terrifying tangle. Who will save the day? Will they catch the Midnight Mob? Will Ben survive breakfast? He needs a genius. He needs a fearless bearded girl. He needs KING COO! These books are highly illustrated throughout with Adam’s charming characterful creations and provide the perfect rip roaring, laugh out loud stories for newly immersing independent readers.
Read more about King Coo and the Curse of the Mummy’s gold on our previous blog post HERE
Here is Adam introducing Coo and her Wombat side kick in a special video from his studio in Brighton.
The awards shortlist will be announced on Thursday 30th April. The winning book will be announced at a ceremony in London on Thursday 4th June.
Keep up to date with the awards at www.thealligatorsmouth.co.uk/award and on Twitter by following #AlligatorsAward
Wishing Adam and Coo the best of luck and fingers firmly crossed for the shortlist. If you would like to know more about working with Adam please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or view his online portfolio HERE, Adam can also be found on Instagram and Twitter.
The CILIP Kate Greenaway longlist has been announced, we always await the listings with baited breath hoping to see some of our supremely talented illustrators recognised for this prestigious award.
Celebrating the best in children’s writing and illustration respectively, the Medals are unique in being judged by children’s librarians, while the Shadowers’ Choice Award, recently added to the Awards ceremony celebrations, is voted for by children and young people who shadow the Medals. The 40-strong list of titles for the 2020 Medals (20 on each longlist) was selected from a total of 162 nominations, read by an expert volunteer team of 14 children’s and youth librarians from across the UK.
This year we were thrilled that former medal winner Levi Pinfold has been long-listed for the 2020 medal for his stunning collaboration with author David Almond in The Dam, published by Walker Studio.
The Dam is a poetic tale based on the true story of the flooding of the Kielder Valley. Rich in folk music and legend. Years ago, before a great dam was built to fill the valley with water, there were farms and homesteads in that valley and musicians who livened their rooms with song. After the village was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, a father and daughter returned there. The girl began to play her fiddle, bringing her tune to one empty house after another — for this was the last time that music would be heard in that place. With exquisite artwork by Levi Pinfold, David Almond’s lyrical narrative — inspired by a true tale — pays homage to his friends Mike and Kathryn Tickell and all the musicians of Northumberland, to show that music is ancient and unstoppable and that dams and lakes cannot overwhelm it.
Levi’s peacefully dramatic paintings gently complement David’s delicate text in this immersive and soul penetrating picture book.
You can a selection of our favourite most breath-taking paintings as featured in The Dam published by Walker Books HERE.
Levi previously won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his picture book Black Dog published by Templar Publishing and most recently Won the CILIP Amnesty Honour for A Song from Somewhere Else written by A F Harold and published by Bloomsbury. You can see Levi talking about his work on that book over on our Video blog HERE
Levi currently lives with his wife and dog in New South Wales, Australia with a lot of open space and very few distractions. His online portfolio including his work for the Harry Potter series and a number of his award-winning picture books can be viewed HERE or you can follow him on Instagram HERE