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17th September 2018

The Dam by David Almond and Levi Pinfold

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September sees the publication of a breath-taking picture book collaboration by a multi-award winning pairing David Almond the highly acclaimed author of Skellig and Arena Illustrator Levi Pinfold winner of the 2013 Kate Greenaway Medal.

The Dam published by Walker Books is a re-telling of a true story originally told by Kathryn and Mike Tickell, a striking and moving tale of loss in which David Almond pays homage to all musicians, showing the ancient and unstoppable power of creativity.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s construction began on the UK’s biggest man made lake, Kielder Water which is situated in the stunning North Northumbrian countryside, it’s creation meant a valley formerly filled with communities, farms, schools and homesteads was evacuated and slowly filled with water.

In this haunting poetic tale a father and his daughter visit the picturesque valley, where they tore down the boards over the houses, stepped inside and started to play – for this would be the last time that music would be heard in this place, celebrating the memories of communities and families who had once brought life to this now barren landscape.

 

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Expansive atmospheric landscapes painted in gouache and watercolour open up on each spread as Levi’s stunning paintings explore the fragile flora and fauna positioned alongside the vast man made construction which went on to become the dam.

 

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“The dam was sealed.

 The water rose.

 This disappeared.

 This was covered over.

 This was drowned

 The lake is beautiful”

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“Play for all that are gone and all that are still to come…”

 

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You can see the whole interview with Levi over on our Video Blog.

Buy a copy of The Dam HERE 

You can see Levi Pinfold’s portfolio HERE or follow him on Instagram HERE

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11th September 2018

The Plot Thickens in The Third Uncle Gobb Adventure

Award-winning anarchic duo Michael Rosen and Neal Layton have created yet more magnificent mayhem in the third instalment of the Uncle Gobb series. Uncle Gobb and the Plot Plot (published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books) sees cunning (and some might say evil) Uncle Gobb with his sights set on the plot of land behind Malcolm’s school and he has big plans for it too. Malcolm is going to need to come up with his own plot to stop Uncle Gobb’s plot. So that, in fact, is the actual plot plot of this uproarious adventure and worth noting that this might be the only book in the whole world which features a ghost cucumber, you have been warned.

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Click through to view Uncle Gobb and the Plot Plot PREVIEW

 

 

Illustrated throughout with Neal’s fabulous characterful creations, readers will be completely absorbed and inspired by this hilarious series. Grab a copy of the latest Mr Gobb adventure HERE (and if you haven’t read book 1 and book 2 perhaps grab those too while you’re at it!) Here are some of Neal’s illustrations from the latest book to whet your appetite.

 

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The first book in the series, Uncle Gobb and the Dred Shed won the Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2016.

 

Here’s what the press say about the Uncle Gobb books…

 

“Hilariously irreverent” –  Mumsnet 

“Ramshackle and silly in the best possible way” –  Financial Times

“Uproarious comic fiction” –  Bookseller

 

Check out Neal’s portfolio HERE or keep up to date with his latest exploits, both on and off his skateboard by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Here’s Michael Rosen introducing the first in the Uncle Gobb series… watch if you dare…

 

29th August 2018

Harry Hill presents… Matt Millz Stands Up! Illustrated by Steve May

After the success of his first book about a young comedian Harry Hill returns with Matt Millz Stands Up! Illustrated by Steve May. Hardback published by Faber and Faber is out in October, we’re able to give you a special preview of the cover and a sneaky peak at the inside illustrations.

Matt’s TV performance seems to have given him the fame that he had always dreamed of: There are reporters camped outside his house – he’s suddenly in demand! But as the novelty wears off and Matt struggles to get any new gigs, it’s not long before he begins to doubt his friend and manager Kitty Hope. Would the stylish Excalibur  Agency turn his fortunes around? And could Matt ever bear to push Kitty aside?

Steve May has illustrated the book with his trademark hilarious black and white line he’s so well known for and the cover design features the characters of Team Milllz in a stretch limo, living the high life of gigging.

 

Harry Hill Presents Matt Millz Stand Up Illustrations by Steve May

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Harry Hill Presents Matt Millz Stand Up Illustrations by Steve May

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Harry Hill Presents Matt Millz Stand Up Illustrations by Steve May

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Harry Hill Presents Matt Millz Stand Up Illustrations by Steve May

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Harry Hill Presents Matt Millz Stand Up Illustrations by Steve May

 

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Harry Hill Presents Matt Millz Stand Up Illustrations by Steve May

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“Another comic caper that every 9-11 year old aspiring comedian will love, packed full of heart, humour and dos and don’ts!”

 

Review by The Reader Teacher

21st August 2018

Get snippy and crafty with Alex T Smith’s Egg Box Dragon

The Adventures of The Egg Box Dragon written by the late Richard Adams and illustrated by Alex T. Smith publishes in dazzling paperback this month with Hachette Children’s Books. An enchanting story about friendship, creativity and magic!

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In this enchanting picture book from the author of Watership Down we meet a little girl and her mischievous homemade dragon for the rip ROARing adventure of a life time with all the hall marks and credentials of a classic.

After magically coming to life Egg Box Dragon saves the day when he turns out to be an expert in finding lost things. The story culminates in a high octane quest to find the missing diamond from the Queens crown, with many humorous twsists and turns along the way  this book is sure to enchant and delight young readers.

So why not get creative with your little dragons during the school holidays by making your very own Egg Box Dragon?

Egg Box Feature

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You will need the following -

Paper to draw your dragon’s head / hands / feet and tail on – OR print out the below sheet

Scissors to cut them out (carefully, because scissors are sharp)

Tape or glue to attach the limbs

An empty egg box to attached them too.

WARNING... we can not guarantee that if your dragon does come to life under the light of the silvery moon that mayhem and mischief won’t ensue so once you have constructed your egg box dragon do keep an eye out for magical happenings.. Just in case.

We would LOVE to see your creations! Do tweet us @arenatweet with photos of your dragons and let us know how well behaved they are.

View illustrator Alex T Smith’s new portfolio HERE or follow him on Twitter for many many larks and giggles HERE 

How to Make an Egg Box Dragon

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14th August 2018

All Aboard The School Bus of Horrors Illustrated by Euan Cook

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Embark on the ride on your life with School Bus of Horrors, 6 seriously spooky reads with striking covers featuring artwork by Euan Cook, these American library editions created by Capstone take readers to the next level with 4D elements leading to exclusive video content, accessed by scannable codes within the books.

Euan Cook graduated from University College Falmouth in 2011. He was one of Creative Review’s picks of the New Designers 2011 exhibition. His work focuses on good observational drawing skills and bold linework with restrained colour palettes, using less to communicate more. He’s interested in sequential narratives and portraying the personalities of people and places he sees around him. He was born and lives in London, the city and its population are his favourite subjects as he seeks out familiar things from unfamiliar perspectives.

Read on to find out about what scares the socks off Euan and where he finds his inspiration…
What was your favourite scary movie as a child?

I was never one of those kids that sought out the scariest thing around to terrify themselves with. But I do remember having a fondness for lots of creepy films. Stop motion skeletons and kraken in really old black and white stuff, Tim Burton films such as Edward Scissorhands, which we watched all the time on VHS taped off the TV.

The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t particularly scary, there is lots of amazing creepyness but the monsters are the main characters. It’s one of my favourite films of all time though. A gorgeous visual feast, brilliant characters, some excellent songs and a touching story. And it all wraps up in 1 hour 15 mins. What a gem.

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Where did you get your inspiration for the covers for School Bus of Horrors?

There is a strong concept behind each story that made it easy to respond to. The horror genre has so many iconic themes and monsters, there is more reference material than you could ever use.

Sometimes it was a case of pushing the central story idea as far as possible. In Crush Hour the bus gets shorter and shorter, squishing everyone together. So the cover has the bus windscreen absolutely filled with kids’ faces, legs and arms, packed lunches and stationary pushed up against the glass, like a jar of pickles.

Which of the covers was the most challenging and why?

It didn’t take the longest or require the most revision, but it’s the cover for Shocks! (I don’t think it’s part of the first wave of SBH books but it should come out in the future). The idea for that cover was to have the bus hit by lightning and everything appears doubled, like double vision or the bus shaking out of itself, splitting in two. So trying to clearly indicate the two separate buses, the creepy/supernatural element of what was going, while keeping everything legible and aesthetically pleasing was a really interesting challenge. I think it all came together nicely though, especially pleased with the electricity crackling all around the bus(es). Look forward to seeing how it turns out on the printed cover.

Tell us your top 3 monsters..

Top three monsters of all time or in the School Bus of Horrors? In the books it would be the furry monsters from Destruction Zone, the zombies in Dead End and the mysterious driver of the bus itself, who appears in almost all the books but only ever offers tiny hints about their character and motivation.

Top monsters of all time is trickier… I guess the humble zombie would have to be one. Have been somewhat obsessed with zombie films since watching the original Night of the Living Dead as a teenager. They let us explore ideas about ourselves, humanity. And the slowly inevitable doom of facing a horde of zombies is really terrifying.

At the risk of just going with the classics I also really like Dracula. He has a strangely specific set of abilities, things he can and cannot do, which all reinforce the idea of a of a subversive, domineering creep. He can seem tragic and vulnerable as well as absolutely despicable. Good monster.

And for something completely different – the big crab armour monsters from Dark Crystal. There are some brilliantly evocative designs in that film but the big crab monsters are my fave. There is clearly a person running around underneath the puppet but they look amazing anyway. Also I like crabs. My top three monsters will probably change every time you ask me, there are too many great ones to choose from.

  

Crab Monster

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Which books were you drawn to as a child?

I have always loved anything that could create a world in your head. When I was young that was Amazing Mazes and Where’s Wally, huge, sprawling illustrations you could get lost in. Or Katie Morag, with it’s incredibly evocative Scottish island, something that felt familiar from having family in that part of the world. The earliest novel I remember was a (presumably edited for kids) version of Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Later on I was mad for science fiction and fantasy books, the Star Wars X-Wing books, Redwall, anything with a richly detailed world to sink your teeth into.

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Which one piece of advice would you give someone about to graduate and join the professional creative world..

It may be trite and worn but – keep doing stuff and putting it out there. Which is not to say you need to immediately tie yourself to the first project that appears, so long as you keep doing bits of stuff you are interested in and putting it in front of people, whether that’s wondering around an art fair, entering some competitions (there are loads of good ones, many of them run yearly), or sending postcards to publishers and agents, you will find opportunities and develop your skills beyond what you learned at school/college/university.

 

Check out his portfolio HERE

 

 

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