Archive | Competition RSS feed for this section

Behind the scenes of Happy, Sad, Feeling Glad – with giveaway

15 Apr

BlogtourI am thrilled to have a guest post from award winning illustrator Yasmeen Ismail as part of the blog tour for her Draw & Discover series of activity books. Yasmeen is the bestselling author/illustrator of Time for Bed Fred and I’m a Girl. The books in the Draw & Discover series are her first activity books and they are stunners!

Lively and full of humour, Happy, Sad, Feeling Glad is beautifully designed and produced and just makes me smile. I love that it has splashes of colour throughout and is so playful and inviting, encouraging kids to explore their own feelings as they create. Each spread has a prompt, open enough to allow little artists to put their own personality to paper. This is my favourite page:

Yasmeen has kindly put together a sneak peek behind the scenes of Happy, Sad, Feeling Glad:

Happy, Sad, Feeling Glad is the third in the ‘Draw & Discover’ series. With this series I wanted to take intangible ideas and help kids put them into context. For Happy, Sad, Feeling Glad I followed the same format as I have in the first two books (Push, Pull, Empty, Full and Inside, Outside, Upside-down) I created three characters – Donkey, Cat and Dog – and activities in which to explore intangible ideas such as feelings and emotions.

When I create characters, I decide on how they look alongside planning the whole book. I often make little page sketches, and then cut them all out make a pile of the ones I want to keep and the ones I don’t want to use. The sketches I keep are artworked up with an ink-brush pen, and then put together and tied up in Photoshop. Below are some images of early artwork I made for Happy, Sad, Feeling, Glad.

Those of you that have seen the book will notice a new character below, called Pig – we very nearly had Pig in the book as well as Cat, Dog and Donkey, but in the end I decided to stick with just three characters. There was no real reason for this except that the previous two books had three characters and there was no need for an additional character. So Pig was left out. Perhaps he’ll turn up again, who knows?

This next image is one of my very early sketches of Cat. She is frustrated because she can’t get the sauce out of the bottle onto her sandwich! I eventually decided to keep this spread in the book but changed the theme to Cat being ‘excited’ about her sandwich.


Below are some more sketches that are more finished, and give an idea of they kind of colour I wanted to use. What makes these images different from the earlier sketches, is that they are a little tidier, and they show a clearer idea of what each of the activity spreads should be about.


Here is the first sketch I did for the cover. It came out pretty much the same in the final artwork, except for the title change!



WIN a full set of the Draw & Discover books – and a tote bag!

A huge thank you to Yasmeen for taking the time to share her work. I can’t recommend these books enough. You can get your copies here.

Or, to be in with a chance of winning a full set of the Draw & Discover books plus a tote bag, follow this blog and add a comment below, or head over to twitter to enter. Open to UK only, closing date eod Tuesday 18th April. Good luck!

Thanks to Yasmeen and to Laurence King Publishing.

Illustrator photo by Olivia Hemingway.

Animal Rescue – with app giveaway

21 Mar

PatrickGeorge create clever, bright and fun interactive books. I have raved about their books before and now I have something new to shout about. They have produced their first app – Animal Rescue – and I have a promo code to give away so the lucky winner can download the app for free.

Animal Rescue is based on the book of the same name, released in 2015. The book uses PatrickGeorge’s trademark transparent pages to allow you to interact with the book and become an animal rescue hero. Each page shows an animal that needs rescuing and the transparent sheet allows the reader to turn back time and rescue them. Some are a simple placement, like the bear:

While some use clever design to alter the images:

There are no words in the book, or the new app version, allowing the reader to choose the words that are age appropriate. Animal Rescue is a fantastic introduction to animal welfare and a great springboard for discussion.

The Animal Rescue app uses the same transparent sheet concept but animates the whole process. The pictures come to life and the background sounds make the animals’ environments even more realistic. By swiping your finger across the screen you can turn the transparent sheet and rescue the animal, collecting a cheer and an app sticker as you do so. 

The app even has extra animals to rescue, including one that is particularly close to my heart!

PatrickGeorge have a real talent for strong design and equally strong messages. This app is bold, bright, stylish and smooth to use. It’s a great app for classrooms to use as a discussion starter.

To win a promo code to download the app for free, head over to twitter and retweet the competition tweet.

The app is available now through the App Store. You can get your copy of the book here.

Thanks to PatrickGeorge for providing the promo code for this giveaway.

Let’s Find Fred by Steven Lenton – giveaway

23 Feb

I’ve been a fan of Steven Lenton’s work since I first came across his illustrations for the Shifty McGifty books. I love that there’s always so much going on in his illustrations, and the way he uses soft lines to create a pastel texture look that makes his art look so strokeable. It’s a beautiful combination.

I certainly want to stroke the eponymous Fred – but I’ll have to find him first! Fred the panda has decided that having an adventure is much more exciting than bedtime and he’s disappeared over the wall of Garden City Zoo. Stanley the zookeeper is in full chase mode, but Fred is a master of disguise.

As we follow Fred on his adventure, each spread has lots to look at and tons of humour. As well as spotting Fred among all the panda red herrings, and Stanley in hot pursuit, there’s a white butterfly on each page, some wonderful panda-fied references to popular culture, plus a few cameo appearances to discover. The 4 year old I shared this book with had great fun spotting all the ‘nearly-panda’s and laughing at my inability to tell a panda from a ghost.

Let’s Find Fred also boasts a brilliant interactive cover – which we had riotous fun with – and a wonderful pull out party page. Apart from all the giggles we had while sharing this book together, the thing that made me smile the most was Steven’s beautifully diverse characters. Bravo for that, Steven!

You can win your own copy of Let’s Find Fred by following Fred over to Twitter here.

Thanks to Steven and Scholastic for inviting me to take part in this blog tour – and for a fun afternoon of giggles with this book. It’s so perfect for cheeky pre-schoolers that my review copy has been pilfered by my young helper and proudly taken in to her nursery to be shared with all her friends.

Steven Lenton is a highly-acclaimed artist whose bestselling titles include the Shifty McGifty series by Tracey Corderoy and The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Steven has also worked as an animation director in children’s television. Originally from Congleton in Cheshire, Steven now splits his time between Bath and London where he works from his studios with his little dog, Holly. @2dscrumptious

Source – kindly sent for review by Scholastic, who invited me to take part in this blog tour.


The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight – and giveaway

5 Aug

I loved The Snatchabook and am a huge fan of Helen and Thomas Docherty’s work. So when I heard about The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight I knew I was in for a treat. And wow, this book is a treat!

‘Leo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too – by reading them stories. With its witty rhyming text and glorious, detailed illustrations, THE KNIGHT WHO WOULDN’T FIGHT is a joyful, magical picture book about the power of stories.’

Thomas Docherty‘s art work is luminous. I love the way he uses light and colour in his illustrations and the way he highlights sections of his pictures. Just beautiful. And Helen Docherty‘s rhyming prose is always spot on and full of warmth and humour.

What I really love about this duo is the way their books are a celebration of childhood and reading for pleasure. The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight and The Snatchabook are particularly good at showing the joy of shared reading. What is not to love about a knight who spreads the love of stories and uses his books to make new friends.

To celebrate the release of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight, I have three of Helen and Tom Docherty’s books to giveaway. One winner will have The Snatchabook, Abracazebra and The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight dropping through their letterbox. (UK and IRL only). To be in with a chance of winning, just add a comment on this blog post and I will add your name into the hat. For extra entries, feel free to share a link to this competition on social media – just make sure you add another comment on this blog post to let me know you’ve shared.

I will pick one lucky winner on Monday 8th August at 9am. Good luck!

Source- kindly sent for review by Scholastic. Thanks to Scholastic and Faye Rogers for organising this blog tour and providing copies for the giveaway.

For a brilliant analysis of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight pop over to LibraryMouse.

Check out the upcoming stops on the blog tour:

Through the Woods – Giveaway

8 Jan

(Competition now closed. The winner was Damyanti!)

Happy New Year!

I’ve decided not to give anything up for New Year- January can be gloomy enough as it is. Instead, I am going to continue. To carry forward. I had such a delicious warm and scrummy Christmas and I want to bring as much of that joy into January and the new year as I can. We saw friends and family that we hadn’t seen for too long. We spent quality time together. There was yummy food and good wine. And coffee Baileys. Oh! The coffee Baileys! There were books and board games and hugs and building things out of Lego. There were decoupaged rhinos and handmade cards. All the brilliant and beautiful things that make Christmas special.

Today, it’s bucketing with rain. Everyone is back at work and school and I have a terrifying to-do list. But I also have a coffee, a chocolate reindeer, a pile of new books to peruse, and a smile.

So to celebrate all that is delicious, I am giving away a hardback, 1st UK edition of this stunner:


Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – ‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’ Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…


To be in with a chance to win, simply comment below. You can get an extra entry in the hat by tweeting/spreading the word on social media, but please add an extra comment below for each extra entry.
Worldwide entries happily received, competition ends midnight Wednesday 14th Jan. I will contact the winner on Thursday 15th Jan.

Good luck!

Nicola Davies’ Top Ten Nature Picture Books – with giveaway

5 Sep

The 2014 Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour (in association with the Scottish Book Trust) takes the very best UK and international authors directly into schools across Scotland and the UK to inspire a love of reading, writing and illustration. This is an idea that fills me with joy. It’s so important for children to be exposed to varied writing and illustration, and to meet the creators of all the wonderful books out there is a hugely enriching experience.

For the latest part of the tour, zoologist and children’s author Nicola Davies will be visiting Argyll and Bute this September to inspire and excite pupils. Well-known as one of the original presenters of the BBC children’s wildlife programme, The Really Wild Show, Nicola has more recently made her name as a children’s author. She has written both fiction and non-fiction books for children aged 7-11 based on her experiences of watching and studying animals. Her titles include Whale Boy (shortlisted for Blue Peter Award 2014), The Lion Who Stole My Arm (Portsmouth Book Prize 2014), The Promise (English Society Award 2014) and (my personal favourite) A First Book of Nature. Nicola will be treating young bookworms in Argyll and Bute to a series of free events in September as part of the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour. Imagine the future readers, writers, illustrators and conservationists Nicola could be inspiring and encouraging.
Imagine, imagine, imagine.

To celebrate Nicola sharing her love with the readers, writers, illustrators and nature lovers of tomorrow, I am giving away a copy of Nicola’s beautiful picture book The Promise Illustrated by Laura Carlin.

The Promise tells the story of a broken world, hard and grey and mean. A girl, who has been made hard and mean by her environment, steals a bag from an old lady. The lady lets her take the bag but only if she promises to plant the contents. The promise lifts the girl’s heart and changes her life as she sets about planting acorns and bringing beauty, love, laughter and kindness back to the world.

I really do love this book and have heartily recommended it to parents, librarians and teachers. It’s a beautiful celebration of the natural world and a reminder of our relationship with it.
You can win a copy by reading Nicola’s top ten picture books about nature and sharing your favourite nature book in the comments box. It doesn’t have to be one of Nicola’s choices – recommend your own favourite. (Extra entries for tweeting a link to this post/sharing on Facebook/telling everyone at work and every parent at the school gate – but please do let me know you’ve done so in the comments here so I know to add your extra entry)

Over to Nicola.


T. Rex by Vivian French
Not just about dinosaurs but about the science of how we know about them. Includes crucial information about science that all children should know – that there’s lots we don’t know, and that everyone can be part of filling in the gaps.

Wild by Emily Hughes
Simple, charming and beguiling. A book about making friends with foxes and the value of being yourself.

The Birdwatchers by Simon James
This story about a little girl and her Grandpa captures the meanings that the natural world has for us and how it helps us to make human relationships too.

Something About A Bear by Jackie Morris
A lyrical tour of all the world’s bear species, with gorgeous illustrations that show you readers that the word ‘bear’ means a lot more than a teddy. (Also the BEST end papers of any book, ever).

Can We Save The Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
The complex and challenging problems of conservation beautifully explained for young readers with exquisite illustrations.

Insect Detective by Steve Voake
Every child loves creepy crawlies given the chance to seek them out. This book captures the pure delight of investigating the natural world and will start young biologists on their way.

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
A magical piece of fiction about a child who finds a baby whale washed up on the beach and takes it home to love in the bath. But the message about the place of animals being in the wild is true, and beautifully delivered.

Fly Traps Plants That Bite Back by Martin Jenkins
There are so few books about plants for children and this is a gem. Martin’s energy and enthusiasm (which I’ve known since we were both 19) shines through and communicates the strange fascination of these other worldly plants.

What Mr Darwin Saw by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom
Darwin’s adventures as a young man and the start of his big world changing theories accessibly explained and wonderfully illustrated in this incredibly enjoyable book.

Yucky Worms by Vivian French
I loved worms as a kid and was fascinated by their underground lives. This book would have answered all my questions and shown me that it was absolutely all right to be interested in the small creatures whose lives seem unimportant but are quite the reverse.

Thank you, Nicola! I love hearing people talk about their favourite books and sucking up their recommendations. Some book ordering may have just occurred!

And now over to you.. What is your favourite picture book about nature? Competition ends Thursday 11th and winner announced Friday 12th September.

For more information about the 2014 Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour visit or follow @booksontour

The winner, taken from the list as follows…
Catherine (tweet entry)
Catherine (pin entry)

Number 1 – Sarah! Congratulations 🙂

Signed Margaret Atwood giveaway – Reading my rainbow

30 Jul

Today I challenged myself to spend the summer holidays sorting out my teetering piles of books; getting reacquainted with the ones at the back and trying to have a bit of a (gentle) cull by releasing a book a day.

It hasn’t entirely worked yet, as hunting through the piles has just made me realise that I’ve lent books out that haven’t come back. Where is Morrison’s Beloved? Donoghue’s Slammerkin? These are books that I really do *need* to replace. So I’ve technically added books today. But, whatever.

I’m kicking off my summer reading challenge in style by giving away a signed first edition hardback copy of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. It is a bit damaged- it fell foul of some over-zealous watering of a nearby pot plant and has some water staining on the bottom of the pages. You can see it in the picture here and it goes through the whole book. But it’s just a bit of staining and won’t stop you reading, enjoying or stroking the book. But worth bearing in mind if you think you’re getting your hands on something worth a few quid – it isn’t.


I’m giving it away because I just didn’t get on with it. I love Atwood’s earlier work but her more recent dystopian stuff has lost me. I am reading through my rainbow, one book from each colour, starting with my red copy of The Robber Bride so it feels fitting that my first book to go is Oryx.

Want it? Just post a comment below. Tweet a link to this blogpost to get an extra ticket with your name on in the hat (please comment again on here to say you’ve tweeted so I know to give you an extra entry)
I’ll draw a name from the hat on Sunday night so get your entries in before then.

Sorry but I’m going to have to restrict this one to UK only – it’s heavy!

And the winner is……

11 Dec

The moment you’ve all been waiting for! The winner of the beautiful signed Jane Hissey print…

So many entries! I was so thrilled with the response, but also a bit nervous. How would I pick a winner? How could I make it as fair as possible? Should I look into the technical widgets that draw a number for you? Too impersonal. I needed a glamorous assistant!

Then I dropped my daughter at school and was met by her Teaching Assistant in full Mrs Santa gear. It was a sign! Who better and more trustworthy than a Mrs Santa Teaching Assistant?

So here we go… names in a bowl, a big swish around…..


And the winner is…….


Anne-Marie! Congratulations, Anne-Marie! And a big thank you to Salariya for allowing me to join the 12 Days of Christmas fun. And, of course, thanks to Miss McHenery from Shark Class for being the very best of glamorous assistants.

Win a signed Jane Hissey print with Salariya

10 Dec

It’s nearly Christmas! Hurrah! To celebrate I am joining the happy crew at Salariya for their Twelve Days of Christmas festivities. I have the pleasure of giving away a SIGNED print featuring Blue Rabbit and Blanket the horse from Jane Hissey’s latest book Ruby, Blue and Blanket.


(Please excuse the photo quality- but this print is so precious that it can’t be released from its protective cellophane, not even for a photo shoot).

An amazing prize in itself but I would like to draw your attention to the little numbers at the bottom of the picture….
YES, it’s print number 1! You could win the very first one of only 50 prints, signed by Ms Hissey! Excited much?

All you have to do is post a comment below by midnight tonight and I will announce the winner on here and via twitter tomorrow morning. UK only I’m afraid. You can share (tweet, reBlog or share on Facebook) this competition link ( for extra chances to win BUT for these extra entries to count you must enter each of them as a separate comment on this blog, as I’ll only be drawing a winner from these comments.

Pink Lining Bedtime Stories Competition with Ladybird Books

6 Dec

In partnership with Ladybird, Pink Lining has launched its first ever Bedtime Stories competition to win one of their Pink Lining Picture Satchels and a Ladybird book to carry in it.

They would like to know your favourite bedtime story to read to your child. All you have to do to enter is go to their competition page here and tell them the title of your favourite bedtime story, along with a brief synopsis and why you and your child love it. The competition deadline is Monday, 16th December and Pink Lining will hand-pick nine lucky competition winners by Wednesday 18th December. The winners will also have the chance to write a short review of their Ladybird book prize and have it featured on the brand new Pink Lining blog, PL Pinboard.

Pink Lining is a company that makes me smile. For a few reasons. Firstly, I like what they do. They make gorgeous innovative children’s bags that really celebrate children’s imagination and creativity. They treat children as little people with big imaginations and make items that look great and fully support their play. Secondly, teaming up with Ladybird to promote the reading of bedtime stories and support children’s literacy is always going to make me smile. But also, Pink Lining is a company that I believe in because they care and they listen. Their products are child-centred rather than heavily gendered, and their belief in the importance of play and creativity is clear. And that’s why, when I saw that on their website the children’s product pages contained a filter in the menu bar which split their picture satchels into girls and boys, I was disappointed. As you will see below, this just isn’t reality and splitting items by gender doesn’t make sense anymore. When I contacted them about it they LISTENED and they AGREED and they REMOVED the gender filters. Hurrah to them for listening and for having the integrity to make that change. Certainly enough to make me smile.

Pink Lining were kind enough to give me a sneak peek at their competition and a test run of the prizes and I think their picture satchels are brilliant! They are made from hard wearing canvas that feels water resistant to the touch, with gorgeous designs and colours, proper satchel clunky-noise-making clips, handy mesh pocket and enough space to carry around a big pile of books, pads of paper and pens. But… the icing on the cake for me is the window frame on the front. Children can slot a piece of their artwork in the frame and display it on their back as they go. Simple yet brilliant! This bag is crying out for a creative soul to take it on an artist’s adventure.


Luckily Mollie had her best-friend-in-the-world over to play so there were two creative souls to leap on these bags when they arrived. “Explorer bags!” “Artist explorer bags!” came the cries of joy as the bags were unwrapped and immediately tried on and filled with artist explorer goodies. Pads of paper, pens and pencils, the Ladybird mini beasts finding out book, binoculars, camera, sunglasses, compass, cardy, obligatory fairy wand, (plus a secret stash of chocolate hidden in the net pocket) and the little explorers were ready to go.


They didn’t get far before they decided they needed a map. Out came everything for emergency map drawing activities – and a quick chocolate refuel.
And then they really were off!

Their imaginary play was delicious as they climbed the great stairs-mountain, investigated the Arctic wastelands of Bathroom and then explored the winter woodlands. All sorts of rare creatures were spotted and looked up in their Ladybird book. It genuinely was a joy to see.

Is that a lesser-spotted-glitter-robin in the tree?

The Ladybird book we received was perfect for little adventurers. First Fabulous Facts Minibeasts is a brilliant introduction to non-fiction books. It has contents, glossary and index pages so young children can learn what a finding out book looks like and get to know how it works. It covers a lot of information in easy to understand language with Fabulous Facts on each double page spread. Perfect for a range of age groups, it is simple enough for the very young but looks at everything from life cycles and habitats to deadly minibeasts and minibeast record breakers- plenty to keep older children happy. And, the cherry on top of the icing on the cake… it is filled with brilliantly multicultural images of children. Hurrah!


To get your hands on one of the Pink Lining picture satchels and a Ladybird book to start your own adventure, enter their competition here. Good Luck!

Source: Satchels and Ladybird book kindly sent for review by Pink Lining.