Category Archives: illustration

Spooky Reads for All Ages This Halloween

That time of year is upon us again…where we dress up ourselves and our homes with cobwebs and spiders, visit our neighbours in search of treats and scare ourselves silly with spooky movies and books. It’s a ridiculously fun night dedicated to mischief, frights, and, most of all, treats.

But if you don’t fancy joining in with the neighbourhood there are plenty of ways you can still get in the spirit of the holiday. You can curl up on the couch on a dark and windy night (actually here in Australia it’s warm and the sun is up for ages) and watch your favourite old horror movies, or you can see how quickly you can frighten yourself with the help of a terrifying book, because there is nothing that gets you in the Halloween mood better than a good scary story.

 

Here are a few of our favourites…

 

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place…

The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain?

Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously absorbing father/son collaboration between Stephen King and Owen King.

 

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple haunted by their newly purchased home. Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check is quick and seamless. Both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between lake and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms becomes unrecognisable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall contracting, expanding and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mould spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbours and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julie and James. Written in creepy, potent prose, The Grip of It is an enthralling, psychologically intense novel that deals in questions of home: how we make it and how it in turn makes us, inhabiting the bodies and the relationships we cherish.

 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

A paranoid single mother is forced to confront the unthinkable act she committed as a desperate teenager in this addictive thriller with a social media twist.

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989: When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016: Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria, or whoever’s pretending to be her, is known to all.

 

…and something for the little people in our lives…

 

Lady Bug Girl and the Dress Up Dilemma by Jacky Davis

Ladybug Girl gets dressed up for Halloween in the newest hardcover addition to the “New York Times” bestselling series. It is Halloween and Lulu must decide on a costume. Should she be Ladybug Girl or something new? She tries many different costumes, but nothing seems right. Maybe she’ll think of the perfect costume as she enjoys the autumn day with her family by pumpkin picking and going on a hayride. But it isn’t until Lulu and Bingo help a little girl who is lost that Lulu discovers who she was meant to be for Halloween Ladybug Girl, of course after all, she “is” Ladybug Girl and it is important to be true to yourself.

 

Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage

From a sneaky spider to a ghostly chef to a sly mummy and crafty witch, join your favourite spooky creatures as ten orange pumpkins disappear in a countdown to a Halloween surprise. Bright, bold, and fun, Ten Orange Pumpkins is a perfect read-aloud and is sure to capture the imagination of the littlest trick-or-treaters.

 

 

 

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo but mostly it spends its time in the basement. It doesn’t visit Laszlo in his room. Until one night it does.

This beauty of a book has wonderful illustration from the very talented Jon Klassen (illustrator of the hilarious Hat stories).

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Bringing Books to Life for Kids

Bringing books to life for children is a lot of fun and a wonderful learning opportunity for young minds. Reading aloud, drawing pictures and imaginary play are just a few ways you can do this at home which gives children an opportunity to work on reading comprehension, creative thinking, recognising letters, numbers, colours, shapes and patterns, listening, exploring social and emotional skills and sharing and taking turns.

As we grow older our books can also come to life through audio books where the author is reading us their book with amazing inflection and passion, or through television and movie adaptations.

Here are a few of our favourite children’s books that have come alive.

 

Books we can watch…

 

Charlotte’s Web written by E.B White

An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads “Some Pig,” convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.

The DVD is available here.

 

 

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are a prize-winning team and the creators of many bestselling books for Macmillan. Julia Donaldson was a songwriter before becoming an author, and music continues to play an important part in her life. She is always much in demand for her brilliant events at schools and literary festivals. Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator within the children’s book world, and his books have been translated into over 30 languages. His bright, humorous illustrations are a perfect complement to Julia’s lively songs.

The DVD is available here.

 

Books we listen to…

 

Road Dahl’s Phizz-Whizzing Audio Collection by Roald Dahl

Spread over eight CDs, these three sumptuous recordings are complete and unabridged, allowing listeners to enjoy Dahl’s work word for word. The stories in this collection have all been skilfully brought to life. ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” read by James Bolam (Abridged): Charlie Bucket thinks he is the luckiest boy alive when he wins an amazing tour of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. It’s a tour of a lifetime that changes his life beyond belief! “The BFG” read by Geoffrey Palmer (Abridged): The BFG is a Big Friendly Giant who spirits Sophie out of bed one night. Together, Sophie and the BFG cook up an ingenious plan to rid the world of child-eating giants forever! “James and the Giant Peach” read by Andrew Sachs (Unabridged): James lives a lonely life with his two beastly aunts.Then one day, something very peculiar happens, something magical that will take him on the most amazing journey …

The books are available here.

 

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

This is a fabulous six-CD audio box-set containing the entire collection of stories by Beatrix Potter, complete and unabridged. The twenty-three tales have never lost their popularity, and sell in their millions all over the world. Meet the famous characters that children love and adore: Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, The Flopsy Bunnies, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Tom Kitten, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck and many more. These stories are beautifully brought to life by a talented cast of readers, including Patricia Routledge, Timothy West, Michael Hordern, Janet Maw, and Rosemary Leach.

The books are available here.

 

Books we can colour and play with…

 

I Completely Must Do Drawing Now and Painting and Colouring by Lauren Child

Even the rainiest of days is no match for the wonderful imaginations of Charlie and Lola! It may be dull outside, but Charlie and Lola’s world is full of colourful adventure, and with this unique colouring book, kids can join in on the fun. With simple text on the page, activities, and tons of space to draw, the possibilities are endless! It’s the perfect way to bring imagination to life – rainy day or any day!

 

 

Maisy’s Farm by Lucy Cousins

This is a huge favourite in our house. This pop-up-and-play book opens up with a free-standing model of Maisy’s barn, garden and farmyard. It comes with a sixteen-page full-colour booklet that features learning activities based on Maisy’s day on the farm. In each room, there’s a sheet of card pieces to press out, tabs to pull, doors to open and more…so much fun!

 

 

Also…

Keep an eye out for the new initiative from Play School. In celebration of Children’s Book Week this year there will be a delightful new Play School series featuring some of Australia’s much loved celebrities as they snuggle up on the couch and read entertaining picture books written by Australian authors and they will be accompanied by Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Humpty and Joey.

Enjoy!

Illustrators and their works of art

“The picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe”

Charley Harper

 

This month we are delving into the world behind books and will look at the different elements that exist to bring our favourite titles to life. This week, it’s illustrators and their amazing works of art.

Many of our favourite illustrators are found inside the covers of children’s books, and a few beautiful coffee table books too. Here are our favourites.

Charley Harper an Illustrated Life by Todd Oldham

Charley Harper was an American original. For over six decades he painted colourful and graphic illustrations of nature, animals, insects and people alike, from his home studio in Cincinnati, Ohio until he passed away in 2007 at the age of 84. Renowned New York based designer Todd Oldham rediscovered Charley’s work in 2001, and collaborated closely with him in the ensuing years; combing through his extensive archive to edit and design this stunning monograph. This coffee table tomb is a beautiful tribute to Charley Harper’s singular style, which he referred to as Minimal Realism.

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Winning the Caldecott Medal for the Most Distinguished Picture Book of the Year, 1964 it is no surprise that this is one of the most well known and best loved children’s stories which is appreciated as much for its illustrations as its narrative. Sendak’s attention to detail is apparent in the millions of tiny ink lines he added to show the hairs on the Wild Things.

 

 

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl

The gorgeous images that feature in Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile are by the enormously talented Quentin Blake.

This beautiful picture book was the first that Dahl and Blake collaborated on in the mid-70s. The duo went on to work together for many years, with Blake’s distinctive art helping to bring Dahl’s much loved characters to life.

 

 

 

 

The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

Best-selling, multi-award-winning talent, Oliver Jeffers both wrote and illustrated this tale of mystery. Animals home are disappearing and trees are being cut down. Can the discarded paper airplanes littering the forest floor explain why?

This charming children’s picture book is full of Jeffers’ quirky illustrations. His childlike drawings are simple but brilliant, enabling children to identify with his characters as well as understanding the message in this moving story.

 

 

 

Animalia by Graeme Base

There’s no denying the talent of illustrator Graeme Base based on his drawings for this alphabet picture book. Each of the 26 letters is accompanied by an amazingly detailed illustration of a different animal.

The illustrations also feature other objects beginning with that letter for the reader to identify. And if that’s not enough, Base also included an image of himself as a child on every page. A year after it was released, Animalia won the title of Honour Book in the Council of Australia’s Children’s Book of the Year Award: Picture Book.

 

 

If you have a budding illustrator in your midst, there is a session being held at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on March 16. Click here for details.

Enjoy!