It’s been an incredible few months.I’ve been slowly and steadily heading back to doing books full-time and it hasn’t been easy at all.
The plan was to return to the days when there were only books and book ideas on my work list. I have a couple of titles to try as ebooks and started planning for the Bologna Book Fair 2014.
But the idea of becoming a book publisher and a micro sized book publisher at that, worried me. That hasn’t gone away. It may be my vocation, but it’s still business, right? All that lies before me is an incredible schedule of trying to get the titles noticed, paying for a print run and then worrying about when (if) it will make the invested money back. It ooh several more weeks looking at numbers trying to find another way to minimise the risk. With th sol school publishing knowledge I have, it feels like the path gets narrower the further down it one travels. And its great like that; you might brush against a revolutionary new idea and succeed. But you might also brush against something disastrous.
The past few years I have started to value community. These are the people that we can all count on, in however small way. Your neighbourhood, your family, your friends around the world are all incredibly important. I struggled to tell these stories in book form for children. Its better when they are experienced in a different way, somehow. I’ve also been designing and editing newspapers and magazines so have been aware of the many ways to tell a story.
All this preamble is a fitting introduction to the subject of this post. I think I’ve cracked it; the other way to tell stories and still get everything I want!
It won’t be available everywhere. It starts in my neighbourhood early next year. It’s a quarterly. It involves its audience and their grown ups. It brings children’s content to the fore, not just children’s books and I think it’s the closes thing to a physical blog that have ever worked on. If it works, then it will grow and spread. Time will tell.
Okay. Coming from an African country, I have seen some crazy (and dangerous) insects in my time. Whether I’m right or wrong about the bugs I like or dislike, most people have a thing, a phobia, if you like, about some creepy crawly. For some it spiders, for others its anything that has wings and buzzes. Children are fascinated by them, though and that’s what this upcoming project is all about. Wtih your help (hopefully) I am, I mean, WE are going to create a complete entomology of made up insects. The finished ones should look like the above.
I have a dozen or so in my sketchbooks waiting to be finished, appreciate any other suggestions or even sketches. There might even be some prizes in it, you never know.
There’s more to Ken Wilson-Max’s Lenny Goes to Nursery School (Frances Lincoln, £9.99), with its jolly little hero successfully making it through his first full day away from home. A multi-coloured cast of characters have an equally good time in this picture book, also sturdily produced.
IT’S never too early to read to a little one, so why not encourage a love of literature with a selection of baby books? Where’s Lenny? by Ken Wilson-Max or So Much from Trish Cooke are just a couple of suggestions of books that offer imaginative stories for young minds.
The Carnegie Greenaway award winners were announced on the same morning I was doing a workshop in front of around 100 children, where they showed what their picks were for the Winner. This took place at Platform in North London which is quite near where I live. The event was well organised by Islington Library Services. A full list of winners, including this year’s can be seen here. The Greenaway winner can be seen here, along with a list of previous winners. Teams of children stepped up and made presentations about their favourite books in what was a very enjoyable morning. Before we started, Sylvia Cohen warmed the children up with a few exercises to sharpen the mind and build confidence. She’s good at that.
I had to comment on each team’s work, and then run a workshop on creativity. During the workshop we discussed where ideas come from and how to hold onto and then make something of them before setting them free. I read an unfinished text for a book idea as an example (the Bear above is part of that).
At the end we handed out One page books on the creativity workshop which the children could take away. That part of the event was made possible by the sponsoring of the print run, something I hadn’t considered doing until recently. It worked fantastically well; the children went away with something they could use later, the sponsors, Singer Financial Trust and Spot On Print were able to play their parts in giving schools a little more than usual and of course for us, it marks the beginning of a collaboration that will bring literature and drama in new and enjoyable ways.
I am working on a digital version of the one page book which can be downloaded from this site
I’m still waiting for some images of the event that I can post.
I have two important events this summer. One is Pop Up 2013 and the other, running parallel to the announcing of the Carnegie Greenaway 2013 Medal Winner, is happening tomorrow, June 19 at Platform on Hornsey Road in North london. Schools have had the chance to look over the shortlist and will be making their own choices for the winners. They will announce them at the same time as the formal announcements are made.
Preparations for both events are underway and they are connected. I have always done events as part of my ‘job’- I’ve treated them like an add-on and not paid too much attention to their importance. Last year at the Pop up Festival, I did a short (20 minute) event for young children which ended up with me becoming one of this year’s festival creators/curators. I have finally realised how good my events can be, without blowing my trumpet too loudly. How many times to we creators miss out on self publicity because we’re just not thinking of the potential business? I will be writing a post about the business of creating very soon. Anyway, these two events mark a change in attitude for me since I realised that events are a big part of what I do as a creator.
I am working with a drama professional, Sylvia Cohen and we have devised a workshop (hopefully the first of many) on finding ideas that will excite, educate and entertain. The brainstorming and teamwork is energising. So, I guess the third event of the summer is the one where we get to plan and launch this refreshed approach.
Would anyone like to know how to present better? Or to run a workshop? Keep watching the Illustrationist.
ps. Here’s a sample of the workshop content. We’re making an e-book which should be ready in the next two weeks. We’re also printing a One Page Book for kinds to take a way.
I haven’t had much time to add tot he growing collection these last few weeks, so I thought it would be good to show you the set so far in one blog post. ‘m going to be making some 3-d versions of these for a school event on June 19th. It should be fun! Details of that event will follow in the coming days.
Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.