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4th March 2020


At Arena HQ we always get tremendously excited in the lead up to World Book Day, it’s such a big event in the children’s book publishing world and one which second to none gets kids reading with its accessible £1 book token scheme.

Join the campaign to get the Nation sharing stories from breakfast to bedtime and help change children’s lives by making story-sharing a habit of a lifetime. Schools, bookshops, libraries, businesses and homes nationwide are invited to join in the fun and pleasures of reading and SHARE A STORY on World Book Day… and every day. Check out the World Book Day website for more information and watch their new SHARE A STORY Author and Illustrator Masterclasses.  Discover how Alex T. Smith turns himself into a ‘Story Detective’ to find ideas for his books, from finding stories hidden by his grandad to listening in on conversations around him:

Each year we celebrate a cornucopia of little book worms dressed as pirates, pups, menaces, monsters and trolls all inspired by the work of our clever illustrators. It’s such a privilege to see those avid readers and book fans pay homage to their favourite reads and nothing but a delight to see them celebrate reading and the joys of escaping into a good book.


There are lots and lots of bookish events happening this week to celebrate, you can find out more about those HERE and also don’t forget to pop along to your local book shop or library this Thursday to choose yourself a brand new book to enjoy!


We would love to see your little ones costumes this year so do tweet us or tag us on Instagram.


In the meantime here are a few costume ideas in case you are stuck for ideas…


Pirate Fancy Dress inspired by Jonny Duddle’s The Pirate Cruncher


Troll Fancy Dress inspired by Adam Stower’s The Troll and the Oliver


Claude Fancy Dress inspired by Alex T Smith’s Claude stories


Harry Potter Fancy Dress inspired by Levi Pinfolds Harry Potter illustrations


Dinosaur Fancy Dress inspired by Jonny Duddle’s Gigantosaurus


Dennis the Menace inspired by Steve May’s illustrations



26th February 2020

Bright Bursts of Colour Illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff

Presenting a brand new bonkers collection of fabulously funny and thoughtful poems, Bright Bursts of Colour, by Matt Goodfellow with anarchic illustrations by Arena illustrator Aleksei Bitskoff.

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Sure to inspire even the most reluctant of readers this bright, bold book is packed with bite-sized rhyming treasures brought to life with Aleksei’s trademark characterful line illustrations,

Posing life big questions such as …what if cats had flavoured fur or if you swallowed the sun? What if you were a special kind of badger or if you found a map to the stars? And what if your home was split during the week: one half at Mum’s, the other half at Dad’s?


Hot Stuff

I swallowed the sun to see what I’d learn. The lesson it taught: Don’t. It’ll burn.


A Special Badger

I’m a special kind of badger
in a special badger den
writing special badger poems with a special badger pen learning special badger lessons in a special badger school earning special badger kudos
for my special badger cool wearing special badger badges saying badgers are the best passing special badger interviews and special badger tests

drinking special badger coffee from a special badger mug
but my special badger problem:

I am actually a slug


Packed with brilliant poems that explore a whole range of themes from the downright silly to the sensitive, this collection will delight, enthuse and resonate with children and adults alike!

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Bright Bursts of Colour is published by Bloomsbury and available now – Grab a copy HERE


For more information about Aleksei’s work please email info@arenaillustration.com or visit his online portfolio HERE 

21st February 2020

Anna Gain and The Same 60 Seconds Illustrated by Steve May

The dynamic duo that is Guy Bass and Steve May are back with their latest fiction collaboration…

Anna Gain and the Same 60 Seconds.. OUT NOW and published by Barrington Stoke 


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Ever-punctual Anna Gain is never late, and she’s certainly never late for the school bus. Every day she catches it in perfect time. But not today. After a series of absurd events cause Anna to miss the bus, she’s transported one minute back in time – only to be stuck re-living the same sixty seconds again … and again … and again … Is fate trying to teach Anna a lesson? And will she ever escape? A laugh-out-loud and punny take on ‘Groundhog Day’ from a top-notch author-illustrator pairing, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+

Grab a copy of this and their previous titles HERE 

With a gaggle of illustrated fiction titles under their belts this brilliantly matched author illustrator team go from strength to strength. Steve’s anarchic scratchy illustrations leap off the page and his skill for creating highly animated  human and animal characters bring a new layer of dynamic life to Guys brilliantly funny stories. Illustrated throughout these books have been specially developed by Barrington Stoke to provide accessible and entertaining reads for reluctant and dyslexic readers and the balance of illustrations alongside text on each page is carefully balanced to provide a non intimidating reading experience.

A dare devil from the beginning Steve May spent his formative years in Hastings doodling, causing mayhem and injuring himself in interesting ways. From the sunny south coast Steve was drawn to the more temperate climbs of Nottingham where he studied fine art and filmmaking.

After a brief career break in an unsuccessful pop band Steve embarked on an MA in animation at the Royal College of Art, bringing him to the vibrant streets of London where he has worked and resided ever since. You can view Steve’s online portfolio HERE or for more crazy banter than you can shake a stick at follow him in Instagram and Twitter.

Here are a selection of our favourite illustrations from Anna Gain and the Same 60 Seconds , we think you’ll agree they are pretty chuckle inducing.


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19th February 2020

New Fabio Flamingo Book illustrated by Emily Fox

Deploy your armbands and rubber rings we are taking a trip to Lizard Lake with the one and only Fabio..

Laura James and Emily Fox have come up trumps with a brand new crime-fighting adventure, Fabio the Worlds Greatest Flamingo Detective; Peril at Lizard Lake published by Bloomsbury Publishing 

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This is Fabio’s third adventure and you’ll definitely need to pour yourself a pink lemonade, this is his most perilous case yet.

In a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee lives Fabio, the world’s greatest flamingo detective. He’s not tall or strong, but slight and pink. And he’s very, very clever … Most of the time. But when an unusual lapse of judgement leads Fabio to accept a ride in his associate Gilbert’s plane, little does he know he’ll be nose-diving into a new mystery!

When the tiny plane crash-lands near a remote village in the savannah, all Fabio wants is a pink lemonade to calm his nerves. But the town well has dried up, and the water didn’t just disappear on its own! Fabio’s on the case, and it’s going to take a daring sting operation to set things right.

Grab a copy HERE 

Here is a neon-tastic selection of some of our favourite Fabio illustrations.

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It’s not just us that are Fabio Fans, check out these lovely reviews…..


“Oodles to appeal to animal fans and young crime lovers alike” –  Bookseller

“A welcome addition to the bookshelf” –  Carousel Magazine

“Fab illustrations and neon-coloured pages” –  Angels and Urchins

“Even reluctant readers will have a blast” –  Irish Times


Brimming with delightful neon highlighted illustrations this jazzy stylish series will have huge appeal to readers of all ages eager to crack the case. Emily’s cast of critters will charm and delight Fabio fans leading readers ripping through these books keen for the next adventure.

You can see more of Emily’s work by visiting her online portfolio HERE or following her on Twitter.


Read an extract HERE



13th February 2020

Get Spooky with Demelza & the Spectre Detectors

Get ready for a brilliantly inspiring new heroine from the pen of debut author and actress Holly Rivers with this fantastic cover illustration by Alex T. Smith… Appearing mysteriously like a spook from the other side we present Demelza and the Spectre Detectors published by Chicken House Books.

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Screwdrivers and soldering irons at the ready you are about to meet Demelza Clock, a kid with a passion for inventing. In fact, she loves it so much that she stays up late to work on her inventions, fuelled by nothing but enthusiasm and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches.

‘Lights out, Demelza!’ called Grandma Maeve from the bottom of the attic stairs. ‘And no sneakin’ out of bed to work on your inventions again tonight, d’ya hear me?’
Under her patchwork quilt, with soldering iron in hand and fully dressed in her lab coat, Demelza grinned. ‘Yes Grandma!’ she called back. ‘I promise!’

We join Demelza at a very interesting time, as she’s about to discover she has inherited a distinctly unscientific skill from her grandmother: Spectre Detecting. When Grandma Meave is kidnapped these newfound talents prove very handy in summoning the dead and with the help of her pasty-faced best friend Percy they attempt to crack this deadly mystery.

Read a longer extract HERE … if you dare…

This highly entertaining debut novel features page embellishments and a stunning eye-catching cover illustrated by Alex T Smith

After many years spent honing his world-class skills in people-watching, Alex T. Smith turned his hand to illustration, graduating from Coventry University in 2006 with a 1st Class Honours Degree. His passion for gazing out of windows has strongly influenced the eclectic, diverse and fun-filled characters that inhabit the pages of his books.

As a true master of both storytelling and illustration, Alex has created a clutch of best-selling and award-winning books for children. His skill for bringing characters to life makes Alex the perfect choice for action-packed publishing projects, we think you’ll agree that the cover for Demelza and the Spectre Detectors makes the book leap off the shelf and straight into the hands of eager adventure seekers.

With Alex’s portly pooch Claude becoming a huge hit stealing the limelight in his very own animated TV series on Disney Junior and ITV Be, we look forward to seeing more wonderful book to screen transitions from Alex’s cast of characters very soon.

You can find out more about Alex T. Smith and his work on his online portfolio HERE or follow him on Twitter for a daily dose of hilarity.