Tag Archives: Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite)

My Top 10 Picture Books of 2015

This year has been another great year for picture books.  There has been a good mix of laugh-out-loud picture books to read aloud to groups and picture books with lots of details to share one-on-one.  Below is my list of favourite picture books from 2015 (some with links to my reviews).  I’ve been doing lots of school visits in my library role this year and most of the books below have been real winners with the kids I’ve read them to.  Some of them I didn’t get a chance to review (these I’ve elaborated on) but they have proved to be very popular.

  1. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  2. Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley
  3. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
  4. I Want Spaghetti by Stephanie Blake
  5. My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley
  6. The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan
  7. Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey – another winner from Aaron Blabey.  This was the book that got me hooked on his stories.  It’s about a pony called Thelma, who really wants to be a unicorn.  She discovers that fame isn’t all that its cracked up to be and that being yourself is more important.  Boys have groaned when they have first seen it but they laugh along with the story too.
  8. The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton – for a debut picture book this is absolutely brilliant!  Princess Pinecone wants to be a warrior and she needs a big, strong, fast horse to help her.  Her parents don’t get her wishes quite right and she ends up with a short, fat little pony that farts a lot.  This little pony might not be what she asked for but together they become a great team, and help the meanest warriors show their cuddly sides.  Kids from Year 1-8 have all loved this book and I never get sick of reading it aloud.
  9. Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – Two huge names come together to bring imaginary friends to life.  It’s a quirky, funny and absolutely stunning book.  Fred is the best imaginary friend you could ask for, but he always finds that he isn’t needed anymore and he fades away.  Then one day, a boy called Sam wishes for a friend and everything changes.  It’s a book that I want to share and tell everyone about.  The only downside is that it is too long to read to a group of children.  I love it though and it will be one that I’ll read again and again.  Check out the book trailer here.
  10. The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson – I always enjoy retellings of fairy tales and nursery rhymes and this book is a hilarious take on Hey Diddle Diddle.  The cow tries again and again to jump over the moon but she keeps messing up.  She trips over the moon, crashes into the moon, and sails straight over the moon, but she is determined to do it.  It’s a perfect book to share with pre-schoolers and it will have them laughing out loud.  It had me in stitches!
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2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Yvonne Morrison

Yvonne Morrison’s book Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), illustrated by Donovan Bixley, has been voted for by kids all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice Picture Book  category. Little Red is also on the judge’s finalist list. She and Donovan collaborated last year, on the Children’s Choice award-winning The Three Bears (Sort Of).

Yvonne is a zookeeper, swing dance instructor, former school teacher, and children’s book author of such bestsellers as A Kiwi Night Before Christmas, A Kiwi Jingle Bells, Down in the Forest and The Three Bears (Sort of).

  1. I remember last year, you were struck by the idea for The Three Bears (Sort of) and wrote it very quickly. Was it more difficult following this up with another fairytale-inspired story – How did this come to you?

I used to be a primary school teacher, and I was visiting an ex-colleague who asked me to read Three Bears (Sort Of) to her class and conduct a follow-on writing lesson for her staff to observe as professional development. I used Red Riding Hood as a model of how to alter a fairy tale, and then the children had a go at doing their own. When my publishers suggested a follow-up to Three Bears, it was natural to turn to Little Red, as I’d already had a head-start. Once you really start thinking about the original story, the ideas flow. Why DOESN’T Little Red notice the wolf isn’t Granny right away? And how DOES a wolf swallow a Granny whole?

  1. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

Really, it was a breeze. I simply supplied the manuscript, my editors queried a few things (and rightly so), I tidied up some bits, and then it was good to go to Donovan Bixley for the hard part –  illustrating! I think he faced some considerable challenges in this book – we had discussions about how gruesome the drawings could be… it’s not easy to convey swallowed grannies and slit-open wolves in a tasteful manner, but Donovan achieved it!

  1. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

To be honest, I didn’t try all that hard. I tend to write books that amuse myself, and hope that by not talking down to children, they will pick up on whatever level of humour they are ready for. I also hope that the adults reading my books aloud are also amused by the stories, since they may be hearing and reading them frequently. Donovan helps in this by providing clever illustrations that work on all levels.

Incidentally, I also slipped in my own personal ethical philosophy by having the wolf end up at a wolf sanctuary. I’m always hoping that little things like that might lead to a teachable moment, or spark a classroom debate, and get kids thinking about such questions as the nature of good and evil – is a carnivorous wolf evil simply because he seeks to eat humans? I would like to think that both Little Red and Three Bears are encouraging questioning and skepticism in young people.

  1. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

I haven’t this time. At this point, I have a book dedicated to each of the people I love, and now I’ve run out of people!

  1. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

The first fractured fairy-tale I read is still my favourite. It’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka. I also like anything quirky, like It’s a Book by Lane Smith, and of course my fellow finalist, I Am Not A Worm! by Scott Tulloch. I am pleased that publishers are becoming more open to non-traditional manuscripts and hope that this trend continues!

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

I can’t choose just one thing! Here’s four: dancing, because it keeps me fit, lets me listen to great music and brings me joy; travelling, because it teaches me about different cultures and gives me new experiences to draw on; helping animals, because animals think and feel just like we do but are unable to speak for themselves, so I choose to be their voice; and eating, because food is awesome!

I am about to embark on a new adventure that will combine three of these things – my husband and I have just got a job in Vietnam managing a centre for endangered primates. We will be helping with rescues of gibbons, monkeys and lorises destined for the pet or traditional medicine trade and rehabilitating them for wild release. We will be living on an island in the jungle! And of course we will be seeing lots of South-East Asia and eating some amazing food.

Hopefully this adventure will fill me with fuel for writing too!

___

If you want to know more about Yvonne, check out her website here: http://www.yvonnewritesbooks.com/mybookskids.html

For reviews of Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), check out the Booksellers NZ review here: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/book-review-little-red-riding-hood-not-quite-by-yvonne-morrison-illustrated-by-donovan-bixley/

And my review here on the blog.

This is day seven of the blog tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards. Earlier today I posted Donovan’s answers to the illustrator’s interview for  this title and you can find that interview here – https://bestfriendsarebooks.com/2015/06/30/2015-new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults-interview-with-donovan-bixley/.  Yesterday’s feature was I am not a Worm, by Scott Tulloch, whose interview can be found here: http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/nz-book-awards-for-children-and-young_2.html.  Monday’s feature will be our third picture book, Doggy Ditties from A to Z, by Jo van Dam and Myles Lawford will be covered back on Thrifty Gifty http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/.

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Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley

Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley joined forces a couple of years ago to create the wonderful The Three Bears (Sort of).  It is a real favourite of mine and a book that I come back to again and again. When I saw that Yvonne and Donovan were collaborating on a new picture book, this time retelling Little Red Riding Hood, I knew that it would be fantastic and hopefully just as good as The Three Bears (Sort of).  I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

In Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) Yvonne uses the same storytelling technique that worked so well with The Three Bears (Sort of).  A parent reads the story of Little Red Riding Hood to their child (Small Blue Polka Dot Pyjamas) who keeps interrupting to question the story and poke holes in it.  This child is very switched on and has lots of questions like ‘Why was she called that?,’ ‘Don’t wolves usually hunt in packs?,’ and ‘Why didn’t he just eat the girl right there – and then go to Granny’s for dessert?’ The very patient parent answers all the child’s questions, adding their own twists to the tale.

Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is another perfect picture book from this award-winning team.  I absolutely love this book and have to tell all the kids, parents and teachers I know all about it!  Yvonne Morrison sure knows how to tell a story and she gives readers a delightful twist on the traditional tale that is full of humour and a dash of sarcasm.  Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is a great book for reading aloud, to children of any age, and it is especially fun to have two people reading the two different parts.

Donovan Bixley is one of my absolute favourite illustrators and his illustrations for Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) are stunning.  There are so many things I love about Donovan’s illustrations for this book that I have to list them:

  • The little details in the illustrations, from the wolf pattern in the wallpaper at the beginning to grandma reading Call of the Wild.
  • The wolf’s wonderful expressions, especially when he’s choking down grandma.
  • The range of materials that Donovan incorporates in to the story, including diagrams and maps that help to prove the child’s points.

Donovan has also done the brilliant design for the book.  I think that it’s this design that makes the book work so well and gives it that special appeal to children.

Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is a book that every family should own.  It is a book that will get shared again and again, never loosing its appeal.  I can certainly see why children from around the country have chosen this book as a finalist in the 2015 Children’s Choice Award.  I can’t wait to see which story Yvonne and Donovan do next!

Check back tomorrow to read an interview with Donovan Bixley and Yvonne Morrison about how they went about creating Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite).  You can also enter here to win a copy of this wonderful book.

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2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Donovan Bixley

Donovan Bixley’s book Little Red Riding Hood … Not Quite, written by Yvonne Morrison, has been voted for by kids all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice Picture Book  category. Little Red is also on the judge’s finalist list. Donovan and Yvonne collaborated last year, on the Children’s Choice award-winning The Three Bears (Sort Of), and here is the interview that Booksellers NZ had with him last year. https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/finalist-interview-the-illustration-of-the-three-bears-sort-of-by-donovan-bixley/

This is just one of three titles that Donovan has had recognised in the 2015 Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and two of these – this and Dragon Knight: Fire! are also in the children’s choice category. For that reason, this interview covered both books.

  •  What was your approach to illustrating Little Red Riding Hood…Not Quite – was it any easier than with The Three Bears?

Three Bears was a real head spinner, simply trying to figure out how on earth to illustrate the manuscript. I worried that it was all going to be a big mess of different styles and not hold together visually. Well, with last year’s award, obviously it seemed to have worked – so Red Riding Hood was much easier in that regard. However, it’s a tricky business doing a sequel. I figure a sequel should be more of the same, but different. So that’s what I tried to do.

  • What are the challenges and advantages of working on illustrations for authors who you have worked with prior?

I can usually see the finished book clearly in my head, and I forget that others aren’t telepathic. One of the best things about working with authors again and again is that I can just do a messy scribble, and they know what I mean because they’ve seen previously the process of how I can turn that little scribble into a finished painting. It saves lots of time and explaining.

  • Does how you illustrate junior fiction differ from how you illustrate a picture book? How do you target children in each age bracket with illustration?

For any book I try to expand and reinforce what the words are saying. But then I always like to stick in lots of little additions to discover. Some for adults and some for kids – as long as they don’t overwhelm the story that needs to be told on that page. For example, in Dragon Knight you might see Foole in the background (who strikes a remarkable resemblance to the idiotic Shlok from Dinosaur Rescue), although he’s not actually a character in the story. Similarly, Red Riding Hood contains dozens of hidden surprises – ‘hidden’ because I don’t want them to overshadow the flow of the story.

The main difference, is that in a picture book, the words are often reduced down to elegant and evocative sentences, meaning that the pictures carry a lot of the practical storytelling (the who, where, when, how). On the other hand, in a chapter book, the words are doing a lot more practical storytelling, which allows the pictures to do things which aren’t pure storytelling. So in Dragon Knight I can create all sorts of funny asides that expand upon the world of the actual story, like: ‘Dragon Illnesses’; or ‘Common Knight School Injuries’. On top of that, a chapter book has a lot of pages to fill. The text generally takes up about a quarter of the 96 pages. With all that space, I have a lot more freedom to control how the story flows, with dynamic reveals and page-turning surprises.

Of course I also try to do that in a picture book, but you have limited options with only 32 pages.

  • Can you recommend any books for children who love your style of illustration?

I love stories that have a lot to discover. A reason to go back again and again. Sometimes I look at favourite books I had as a kid and discover a joke that makes sense now I’m all growed up. Asterix, and Graham Oakley’s Church Mice series are examples of superb storytelling with pictures. They are jam-packed with funny references to things which you may not understand for years. Harder to find is anything by Mordillo, like his Crazy Crazy Jungle Life. Mordillo was a master of the wordless book. Another of my favourites is Bill Peet, if you can track down his marvelous books like How Droofus the Dragon Lost his Head, Wump World, or Burford the Little Bighorn. Bill Peet was one of the original founders of Disney and he worked on Dumbo before having a fall-out with Walt Disney and starting a second career in children’s books.

  • What advice would you give any would-be illustrator?

Absorb what other illustrators do. Figure out what you like and don’t like (and why) then develop your own ideas – that’s what makes you a unique artist. A picture book illustrator is different from other types of artist – you don’t need to be the best drawer or painter, instead you need to be a great storyteller.

  • What do you find yourself drawing when you aren’t working, perhaps when you are just thinking something through

If I’m mindlessly doodling tend to draw little swirling lines, usually with pointy arrow heads for some reason. It takes about a year before the pad on my drawing desk ends up completely covered with these squiggles and gets thrown away. It’s not the type of thing I normally keep.

I don’t really do any drawings are not ‘work’. I’m not the type of artist who secretly longs to paint landscapes or abstract art. I love the art form of the picture book, it’s my artistic obsession, so that’s what I do for fun. When I’m not working on ‘work’, all my spare time is devoted to scribbling research pictures, reference compositions and doodles for projects that I hope will be published one day. Usually these books start as something that I want to draw pictures of – I wrote Monkey Boy so I could draw pictures of 19th century warships, battles and ghastly ghouls. The only thing I draw outside of picture books are my family. I have quite a collection of drawings and paintings of my three daughters.

___

If you want to know more about Donovan, check out his website here: http://www.donovanbixley.com/

For reviews of Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), check out the Booksellers NZ review here: http://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/book-review-little-red-riding-hood-not-quite-by-yvonne-morrison-illustrated-by-donovan-bixley/

And my review here on the blog.

This is day seven of the blog tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards. Later today, I will post Yvonne Morrison’s answers to the author’s interview for  this title.  Yesterday’s feature was I am not a Worm, by Scott Tulloch, whose interview can be found here: http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/nz-book-awards-for-children-and-young_2.html.  Monday’s feature will be our third picture book, Doggy Ditties from A to Z, by Jo van Dam and Myles Lawford will be covered back on Thrifty Gifty http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/.

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