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Category Archives: Family pet

Journey of a Book – Part I – children’s literature creation under the microscope

Books are created from the imagination and inspiration of authors and the insightful vision of illustrators. They are then crafted. The authorial crafting may be right brain with a touch of editing or slow and laborious left brain plotting. For an illustrator, it may be  inspiration flowing like rivers from brush or  stylus or it may be  storybook or dummy creation then rethinks, scrap some ideas, adapt others. Eventually, a book emerges that is then ‘ready for submission’. These days, that may mean  adding animation and audio to make the book a digital production for app developers like  Utales or Flying Books, or for YA, formatting it for Kindle or Nook e-publishers. It may mean self publishing on Createspace  or Lightningsource, Smashwords or Lulu.  Or it will mean the long road via submission to traditional publishers.

If the latter is chosen, the publisher will often require more editing, changes and perhaps more changes. My own book, started under contract to one publisher, was already well underway with the inimitable Sarah Davis as illustrator. We were having a ball creating our book. Then our publisher was taken over and the new publisher wanted  to  institute changes. At first, the major change – ‘get rid of the dead bird’ – seemed straight forward. Then we realised  the book needed the bird but, to keep it, we had to  make some big adjustments. An injured bird can’t just disappear in a children’s book, it has to get better and be released, which, in our picture book, meant its story  had to be woven into the fabric of the main story seamlessly. No problem, a few days and Sarah and I had nailed it! As book creators, you have to be flexible and, especially if going the traditional publisher route, you can’t be too precious about your creation.

SO! This exhibition is about the journey numbers of wonderful children’s and YA books took from creation to  bookshelf! Each book has a different creation story to reveal – something the public doesn’t see, it’s behind the scenes. Now the reader can take a peek backstage, behind the scenes to how it all came together!

THE SET UP

Setting up was not straight forward. The spaces has to be utilised to best advantage and the  items displayed needed to be seen from as many angles as possible given I had a two shelf rectangular glass case.  I didn’t end up using everything I brought with me. It would have been too cluttered. Last minute inclusion, bulldog clips, proved life-savers! They held the  photographic prints in place.

I had never ‘hung’ a painting before at an exhibition and that proved ‘interesting. Sarah Davis sent up her wonderful original painting via kindly courier, Peter Taylor, but it was unframed. I had no time to find a frame. Fortunately, I had one around the house that was  a good match colour-wise though not quite the  perfect size.

Given my exhibit was about my close collaboration with Sarah, the items displayed needed to reflect the two minds working together to make a new creative whole – our book! Sources of inspiration, stages in text change, changes in images, cover and trivia relating to the characters, objects and places in the book, all combined to make a successful ( I hope you agree) exhibit!

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The Exhibition, Journey of a Book, has a wide range of book journeys exhibited, from YA novel, like David McRobbie’s, to real life adventure  by Prue Mason, picture books like those by Kathrine Battersby and chapter books like the one by Angela Sunde, to non fiction works on calligraphy as an illustrative art form by Peter Taylor.

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Collaboration – an adventure to be savored!

I have found the opportunity to collaborate with illustrators something eminently rewarding, an experience that  enriches both participants and results in a more vibrant and much richer work. It does this because, in the best collaborations,  it  broadens the vision of the work, taking in as it does the illustrator’s perception of the story’s universe.

My first picture book, “Mending Lucille” was the result of a collaborationWorking with the amazing Sarah Davis was inspirational! I have gone on to collaborate closely with illustrators all over the world. I have found them on the internet’s illustration sites, on http://www.Jacketflap.com and on http://www.utales.com. We have created and are creating numbers of other picture books, some digitally published, some in process with print publishers and some I am still researching the right publishing outlet. Finding the ‘right’ outlet is very important. Not every publisher is ‘right’ for every book.

Digital Publishing

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with first time picture book illustrators, Jade Potts [USA], Jonas Sahlstrom [Sweden], Alexandra Krasuska [Sweden] and fellow Aussie, Jodi Magi [now of Abu-Dhabi] on uTales, and am about to have my latest collaboration, “Little Dragons’ Babysitter” released with Caroline Lee. Utales is non-exclusive which means  creators can take advantage of other  opportunities for their work as they arise. I have just signed a contract with Flying Books, Islreal, for “Rich Man, Poor Man” the book I did with Jodi Magi. My first digital collaboration is on http://www.istorytime, “At the Beach with Bucket and Spade” with Sarah Bash Gleeson [USA], whom I met on JacketFlap.com, a wonderful children’s literature networking site along with many other amazing and inspiring folk. Sarah is editor of magazine, “Dream Chaser” which focusses on children’s books and their creators.

Joanna Marple’s mini review of my latest digital book, “Xengu and the Turn of Tide”:

“A Tolkienesque tale, I love it!”

See a review of her first picture book in my last blog post with links to her interview with Darshana Shah Khiani on “Flowering Minds“.

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How not to do a Book Launch?!

When Jenny Stubbs, Festival Coordinator Extraordinaire, told me I had a slot to launch “All in the Woods” I was ecstatic! It was my first book to be published in the UK and a launch venue at the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, Woodlands, was almost too good to be true. Jenny facilitated a link to Aleesah Darlison who agreed to MC. BRILLIANT! What could go wrong?

The Ipswich Festival is always an exciting event! It is held at Woodlands, a stunning, heritage listed venue set amongst rural fields, magnificent trees and rolling hills – what a setting for a launch! The lead up to the day, Tuesday, 13th September 2011, was a real buzz! Then the unthinkable happened… The weekend before, my throat started to get that irritating little scratch and that niggly cough that sometime precedes worse. Sunday night it started to hit! Laryngitis!

Friends, good friends can be the saving of such worst case scenarios. I spoke (whilst I still had a voice) to Tara Hale, who designed the promo poster, would she be Guest Artist “Pink” the possum [cousin of “Ink” the animal hero of my book]. Next I contacted  Nooroa Te Hira, he has worked as a tour guide so I knew he would ace a reading of my book. Then I rang Christian Bocquee and asked would he help with nitty grittys like directing teachers and students to seats, distributing prizes and general moral support! Bless them, they all ‘volunteered’ unstintingly!

Result? Fun, fun, fun!  We had a ball, the book launch was a total success! The author having to use copious amounts of sign language but, hey, she has 5 kids so she speaks the  lingo with hands and fingers! 🙂

You can see some of the fun in the gallery below.

And the book, which was illustrated by wonderful watercolourist Linda Gunn

? It had been a truly international effort – written by an Aussie, illustrated by an American and published by a Brit! The icing on the cake was a nomination for the OPSO Award!

Here is a recent review by Kathy Schneider!

Where can you get it? Here!

The Stray – Your feedback is actively solicited! :)

The Stray.

Please leave a comment or like – I won’t be upset if you do both!

“All in the Woods” first review through and first from the USA

“All in the Woods” by J.R.Poulter, illustrated by Linda S. Gunn, Pixiefoot Press, 2011 UK  ISBN 978-0-9560363-5-3  [release  – 1st August]

Everyone in Pete’s family is moving or adjusting to a move, it seems. Change brings challenges, not least of which are the family’s nosey, new neighbours. Everyone says what they think, but are they right? Things are not always as they seem…  and who is the mysterious little visitor who changes everything? A story that bridges generations, told with humour  and an underlying plea for the preservation of wildlife habitats.

REVIEW by Janice Phelps Williams, USA

“With sensitive and humorous prose, J.R. McRae tells a story of family life, love, and acceptance with beautiful illustrations by Linda Gunn. When Pete finds a furry hero, Ink, to solve his dinnertime woes, a nosey neighbor jumps to conclusions that enlarge as Pete’s grandpa comes to visit. When Mrs. Allan’s mother-in-law, Nanny, and Pete’s grandpa take off for an early-morning drive, the assumptions increase until Ink and Grandpa solve the mystery. Perfect for young readers, this book speaks of a boy and his grandpa, a mother defending her son from gossip, and the surprise of love at any age.”  ~Janice Phelps Williams, author, illustrator www.janicephelps.com

Promotional poster, by Tara Hale, for “All in the Woods”, Pixiefoot Press, 2011

CAT’S CONCERT – latest modern classic by Bernhard Oberdieck to hit the shelves

Cat's Concert -1

Cat's Concert -1

Dirk Walbrecker and Bernhard Oberdieck

“Katzenkonzert”, The story of Bianca and Nero

How sad life can be if there is no one to play with! This is the fate of an old piano which is all alone in a cellar bar. Longingly, it remembers the days when the pianist Tom coaxed beautiful sounds out of it. But who appears in the cellar instead of Tom and starts to produce totally new sounds? First Nero, the amorous black tomcat with the white paws! Then Grrr, the amorous grey tomcat with the grim face! And finally Bianca, the elegant cute white cat with the black paws … A concerto for cats in major and minor modes, on black and white keys, with black, grey and white paws. And who plays best with whom in the end? The text and music of Katzenkonzert can be listened to on the accompanying CD – spoken by Dirk Walbrecker with jazzy classical improvisations by Jenö Nyári. Dirk Walbrecker studied German language and literature and educational science, among others. Since 1986 free-lance author: screenplays, radio plays, picture books, novels for children and young people. Many reading tours. For further information, see web site at http://www.dirkwalbrecker.de.

Cat's Concert - 2

Cat's Concert - 2

Bernhard Oberdieck sat at the desk of his father at the age of four already, decorating the back sides of business letters. Studied graphic design in Bielefeld, worked as art teacher and in advertising agencies. Since 1978 free-lance illustrator of more than 180 books for national and international publishers. For further information, see web site at http://www.kinderbuchillustration.com. When Cats are jazzing … A musical story for young and old cat lovers A concerto with black and white paws

Including CD

Target group: Children aged 6+, parents

32 pages (with CD) fully illustrated in four colours

hardbound 21,8 x 27,5 cm

ISBN: 3-7957-0186-4 (ED 20433) € 19,95

Cat's Concert -3

Cat's Concert -3

Cat's Concert-4

Cat's Concert-4

Teacher, Librarian, Parent ‘Resource’ Alert – “Ten of Them” poster – free download

Ten of Them text by J.R.Poulter, illustration by John Blackford

Ten of Them text by J.R.Poulter, illustration by Jason Ferguson

“Ten of Them” is available to download now free from http://www.sharing -books.com. Above I have inserted the name tags for each cat to assuage the curious!

Topics include:
cats, pets, counting, numeracy, numbers, sequencing, numerics, maths, mathematics, addition


Whimsical Wordage – No. 14 John Blackford and J.R.Poulter – Suzie Dreaming

Sleeping Child/Dog Day Afternoon by John Blackford

Sleeping Child/Dog Day Afternoon by John Blackford

Suzie Dreaming by J.R.Poulter 08

Suzie’s dreaming in granddad’s chair

And I am watching over her.

Suzie knows that I am near.

She sleeps on safe, she’s not afeared.

I’ll stay beside her till daddy comes

And tucks her up in her own little bed.

Then I’ll watch over her there instead.