Friday, 30 September 2016

Coming Up in October...

October is shaping up to be a busy month in the PP calendar, with publication dates for our artists, FOUR new artists going the PP family, and some exciting workshops, readings and events such as Book Shop Day. We thought we'd gather all you need to know in one place so you don't miss out on anything - diaries at the ready!


6th October
Little Owl's Egg
Alison Brown 

20th October
Rickety Rocket
Emma Randall 
Maverick Arts

20th October
Hug in a Box 
Judi Abbot
Simon & Schuster Children's UK

Over the past month we have signed four AMAZING new artists and we're so happy to have them with us at PP. Their folios are all live on the website now so go and have a look around! We will also be posting interviews with all four of them - you can find Jo's below this post if you have 5 minutes!

Chloe Douglass: 

Jo Rooks

Jessica Allan

Jana Curll


Author, illustrator and paper engineer Jonny Lambert is running a workshop at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Saturday 15th October. He will be talking about the inspiration behind his latest book The Great Aaa-Ooo, how he creates his amazing animals and giving a sneak peek of his next title Tiger Tiger. Tickets are available here!

The Booksellers Association is holding the first Bookshop Day for the UK and Ireland on Saturday 8th October and it will also continue its Books Are My Bag campaign, now in its fourth year. They are encouraging bookshops to host special parties, signings and events to celebrate the day! So look out for events in bookshops near you on the 8th!

Lots of things to look forward to and to celebrate, here's to a marvellous month!!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

5 Minutes With.. NEW ARTIST Jo Rooks!!!

Each month, we have been celebrating a different one of our fantastically talented artists in the '5 Minutes with...' series of interviews. We know it hasn't been a month since our last interview BUT we have a BRAND NEW ARTIST that we would like to introduce to you! Today it is the turn of NEW PP ARTIST Jo Rooks, so sit back, take five, and let's get to know a little more about Jo...

Where do you live/work? What do you love about working there? 

I live in South West London and work from home. We have a lovely house with a big kitchen which goes straight out into the garden. I find that I work in a variety of spots around the house. I have an art room and also a mac office space in a different room but sometimes I like to work in other places in the house and sometimes even late at night in front of the TV. I have found it best to separate where I have my mac from where I do my traditional art … not sure why but the two things on the same desk don’t mix. Either you spill indian ink on your keyboard or you get distracted by a ‘ping’ from social media. There is also a lovely peace and quiet in my art room which is free from any electronic noise. I like to open the window and listen to people chatting as they walk along the road. 

What are your dislikes?

My issues with working from home is the lack of company. I am someone who thrives on feedback and love a good old fashioned ‘brain storm’ so sometimes that is lacking when you only have a pot plant for company (sniff sniff). But I am lucky enough to have some wonderful friends nearby and of course my children who always come up with the BEST ideas ever! 

What do you love most about being an illustrator? 

I love those moments when time stands still and when you are creating something magical. 

How do you work – what are your techniques? 

I work with watercolours and inks mainly but I tend to paint my characters as separate blocks of colour and then bring them together in photoshop so I have the flexibility of changing things if I want to. I also like working directly on the ipad for my sketches. It’s very free and it means you can reverse a mistake without taking everything away. 

What is your favourite thing to draw? 

I like drawing things from life so probably something like a pair of old shoes would keep me happy. 

Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator? 

Yes. getting down on the paper what you see in your head without a reference is a bit of a tricky one. But I’m getting better at it … Also pacing out a story into a 12 spread book is sometimes like a puzzle. But it always seems to keep me interested in solving the puzzle!

What or who are you inspired by? 

I’m inspired by great storytellers and illustrators who can give life to a story. There are so many amazing illustrators out there but the ones I really love are: Sara Ogilvie, Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, Joe Berger, Yasmeen Ismail and Marc Martin. I also have to mention Christyan Fox, Zehra Hicks and Jane Porter who I have been taught by and who have had a really big impact on how I have developed my style. 

Do you have a favourite illustrator? 

There are far too many amazing illustrators out there to choose just one. But probably Sara Ogilvie. Her character expressions are so believable and the freedom which she draws is beautiful. 

What do you like to in your spare time when you’re not illustrating? 

I play the piano, love a bit of gardening and am a die hard fan of Strictly Come Dancing. 

How did you get into illustration? 

I studied illustration and Graphic Design at Bath Spa School of Art and Design. Went on to be a Graphic Designer and then came back to Illustration later. 

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators? 

1. Keep drawing and don’t be precious about getting it right first time. 
2. Write and draw your ideas and keep them - Don’t judge your work too quickly. 
3. Try and have confidence in yourself. It’s a hard one because there are so many very talented people out there but don’t let that put you off creating your art. 

What was the last book you read? What did you think?

‘Big Magic’ By Elizabeth Gilbert. This book is amazing (and also slightly ‘out there’ in terms of it’s ideas). But all the same a must read for anyone creative. It will make you realise how creativity is quite literally magic and creating something (anything!) is what makes the world go around in a slightly more joyous way. 

What’s your ultimate dream? 

My ultimate dream for sometime has been to get one of my Children’s books published. I have really grafted away for a long time on my stories and so to have one of my books published and in a child’s grubby little hands would quite literally set my world on fire ;-) 

We hope you enjoyed meeting the newest addition to the PP family, Jo, and learning more about her life as a children's illustrator! You can see more of her work on her PP portfolio here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

5 Minutes With.. Alex Paterson (an illustrated interview)

Each month, we are celebrating a different one of our fantastically talented artists in the '5 Minutes with...' series of interviews. We will be asking them a few questions in an attempt to gain an insight into their world as a children's illustrator! This month it's the turn of Alex Paterson and we have a treat in store for you - Alex decided to illustrate his answers! So grab a cuppa, settle in, and let's get to know a little more about Alex through his incredible illustrations!

Where do you live/work?

What do you love about working there? 


          What are your dislikes?

      What do you love most about being an illustrator?

How do you work – what are your techniques?

What is your favourite thing to draw?

  Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?

What or who are you inspired by?

What do you like to in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

         How did you get into illustration?


        What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

What’s your ultimate dream?

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about what makes Alex tick. To see more of Alex's work, head over to his PP Portfolio here... 
If you want to know more, Alex has put together a brilliant animation of his rather incredible life story, you can watch it below! Thanks for stopping by - see you next time! 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

PP Goes Behind the Book with Author and Illustrator Kate Pankhurst

In light of the wonderful reception "Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World" has been receiving, we thought we'd catch up with author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst to learn more about the book and just how it came about. Kate illustrates children’s books from her studio in Leeds, where she lives with her partner and two house rabbits, dalmatian Olive and baby Otto. 

What initially inspired you to begin working on the book?

It’s always been important to me that I include strong female characters in the book that I write and illustrate but it was Mark (PP Associate Director) who planted the idea that a really beautifully designed and illustrated non-fiction book about great women from history (featuring of course my distant relation Emmeline Pankhurst) would be a fantastic thing to put out there.

The conversation was started when Mark saw this character, Lady Winkleton, from my Mariella Mystery Investigates series. In the Curse of the Pampered Poodle Lady Winkleton is a lady explorer and philanthropist who opens the museum featured in the story (and is the owner of a famously cursed stuffed poodle). My inspiration for her was Amelia Earhart in her wonderful aviator attire and the bright red biplane she chugged across the Atlantic in. Amelia’s spread was the first one I designed and the one that got Bloomsbury’s attention.

How did you go about deciding which Fantastically Great Women to include?

It was a tricky process and there are lots of women I had to leave out but I decided it would be easier to narrow the women down if we looked for a selection from a wide range of talents and walks of life. So we have a scientist, artist, designer, writer etc. I also wanted to include a great girl and Anne Frank’s story was one I felt couldn’t be overlooked.

Do you think your link to Emmeline Pankhurst made the whole concept and journey more personal for you?

Definitely, the Pankhurst connection is something that’s followed me all my life and although she isn’t a close relation I suppose knowing about her has perhaps made me stop and consider how I represent girls and women in the books I create. It’s also been real eye opener to find out more about her and what she and others sacrificed to get their voices heard.

How did you go about developing the individual characters? They’re so full of personality!

I did lots of little doodles of the great women alongside my research notes. I’ve also collected as many old images of the great women that exist. I got a really good sense of their personalities from those images. Marie Curie always looked quite serious and was always working in her photos. Coco Chanel looked like she was having a wild time living it up in Paris and some of my favourites were of Frida Kahlo – the traditional dress and beautiful colourful hairstyles she wore are just so fascinating. She was a work of art, just like her paintings.

The book is so beautifully put together, from the characters to individual colour schemes and calligraphy. What was your creative process like?

Once I had a good selection of facts about each woman it took a while to edit that down into a snapshot of each woman’s life, there really was loads of information I had to leave out, like that Picasso gave Frida Kahlo the hand shaped earrings she’s wearing in the book, just because he thought she was cool!

I tried to use the design of each spread to give a feel for the time and place the great women came from, so Rosa Park’s spread uses 1950’s colours, typography and ephemera like bus tickets and maps. Mary Seattle’s spread was coloured using tones I picked from a map from the time of the Crimea War and I used a cross section of the British Hotel so readers got a sense for the conditions she nursed soldiers in.

I’d rough out each spread on layout paper and combine that with words in InDesign – I found I could move objects and fiddle around with composition so everything flowed nicely. I really enjoy working with type and see it as part of the overall illustration, the better the two work together the more coherent the spread is.

What was your favourite part of the whole process?

Being allowed so much creative freedom by Bloomsbury was a lot of fun! When I feel I can work like that I get my best ideas! It’s also been lovely to see images emerging of children, girls and boys enjoying the book. And basically that it’s a real privilege to get to interpret such amazing real stories of achievement, bravery and hard work!

The research for the book must have been pretty comprehensive, did one Great Woman’s achievements stand out for you at all?

I loved that Mary Seacole went to such extraordinary lengths to help soldiers in the Crimea. Nobody would give her a job as a nurse (possibly because she was from what would have been an unusual background at the time being half Scottish and half Jamaican), so she just set up her own hospital instead! That would be amazing today, but at that time it really was a remarkable thing for a women to go out there and do.

Do you have any advise for author/illustrators just starting out?

That you never know where a small doodle can take you. Both this project and my fiction series, Mariella Mystery happened because sketches I had done sparked conversations that gave me the inspiration to develop the ideas. Also, with most of my projects I start off thinking I’ll never be able to do it and that whole thing will be a disaster! You’ve got to ignore that advice and try new things or you’l never know if you can do it!

What’s next?! All we can say is we desperately hope it involves more Fantastically Great Women!!

More Fantastically Great Women for sure! I’m currently researching the starring ladies for the next book which I’ll be working on next year when I return to work properly from maternity leave with my little boy. He may only be ten weeks old but I’ve been reading the book to him!

We hope you enjoyed finding out more about Kate and how this Fantastically Great book came about. If you want to see more of Kate's work, you can visit her PP portfolio here

Monday, 12 September 2016

The "Fantastically Great Women.." Launch

This weekend was a busy one for Kate Pankhurst, with the official launch of "Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World" on Friday night and Children's events running throughout Saturday afternoon. Both took place at Sunny Bank Mills in Leeds. We thought we'd share some photos from the launch to show you just how much fun was had by all on this Fantastically Great weekend: 

If you went along to either of the events this weekend, we hope you had a brilliant time celebrating the publication of such an incredible book! 

Friday, 9 September 2016

An Exciting Day for "Fantastically Great Women.."

Look who we came across in the 'i' newspaper this morning! Our very own PP artist Kate Pankhurst talking all things "Fantastically Great Women.."! The feature follows the publication of "Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World" yesterday (08.09.16). As a direct descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, Kate has created this wildly wonderful and accessible book about women who helped shape the world we live in. The book features, amongst others; Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank.

The feature (above) discusses Kate's link to the famous suffragette who led the campaign for women's votes as well as researching the women who's stories may be slightly less well-known (such as channel swimmer Gertrude Erdele and spy Agent Fifi). The book is a totally fresh concept for young girls, as to find a picture book discussing these strong women and sharing their stories with such a young audience is rare. For young readers it is the perfect introduction to these extremely influential women. "Fantastically Great Women.." has already been recognised as The Times' Children's Book of the Week as well as attracting shining reviews from Picture Books Blogger,  My Thoughts About Books, Read It Daddy and many more! 

There is a children's event taking place tomorrow (10.09.16) at Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, Leeds, 1-3.30pm with activities to inspire children aged 5-9! It's sure to be a fantastic afternoon! We hope you enjoy the book as much as we do - more Great Women please!!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Keep Your Eyes Peeled..

We've had a busy few months here at PP HQ with countless new and exciting projects coming in all the time. All of us here are extremely proud of our artists and their work, and we thought we'd take a moment to celebrate the recent or upcoming publication of the following titles:

23rd August 2016
Been There, Done That: School Dazed
Èglantine Ceulemans
Grosset & Dunlap

28th August 2016
Mr Mustachio
Abi Tompkins
Maverick Arts Publishing
Snowy Bear - Board Edition
Alison Brown 
Bloomsbury USA Children's

8th September 2016
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World
Kate Pankhurst
Bloomsbury Children's

8th September 2016
El Club de los Caníbales muerde a Drácula
Purificatión Hernández
Anaya Infantil y Juvenil (Hachette)

15th September 2016
Grace-Ella: Spells For Beginners
Adriana Puglisi
 Firefly Press

28th September 2016
A Knit and a Knot
Catalina Echeverri
Maverick Arts Publishing

13th October 2016
Rickety Rocket
Emma Randall
 Maverick Arts Publishing 

24th November 2016
The Calamitous Cook
Janet Cheeseman
Franklin Watts

We're so excited about all of these wonderful titles, keep your eyes peeled for them in your local bookshop in the coming weeks! Enjoy!!!