Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quentin Blake at The Foundling Museum

"As Large as Life" is a joy...I especially liked the percussion wheelchair (see a detail from the Welcome to Planet Zog pic).

The Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square, London WC1 is a short (well ten to fifteen minutes walk) from the main line stations of Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross. There is a cafe. The moving story of Coram's Children together with Britain's first public art collection (includes a wonderful portait of Captain Coram by Hogarth) and a collection of Handel scores. Regular temporary exhibitions are held - the Quentin Blake exhibiton is there until 15 April 2012. The first Saturday in the month sees Family Fun days - for details about these and more information go to

Friday, January 27, 2012

Print Workshops, Oxford Story Museum

Leave the computer behind! The Bodleian Hand Printing Workshop at The Story Museum is launching a spring programme of hands-on sessions for both families and adults, starting in February. Visitors will learn about the history and techniques of letterpress printing, hand set a short text and print it as a keepsake.

They’ll be able to use original printing presses, metal type and techniques that have a direct link back to Gutenberg (the father of modern book printing) and the early days of European printing in the fifteenth century.

The Bodleian Library’s printing presses have found a new home at The Story Museum’s premises in Pembroke Street, Oxford, where they will stay for the next couple of years. The workshops are led by Dr Paul W. Nash, the Bodleian’s chief tutor and specialist in historical printing techniques and machinery. He also runs his own letterpress printing studio, The Strawberry Press. Dr Nash said: “Computer-generated texts are two-dimensional. But traditional metal type, printed on mould-made paper using a hand-press and thick, odorous ink makes words in three dimensions, in a process that moves directly from the hand, through the type, to the page. Anyone who is bored with computer-generated text will enjoy getting to grips with the physicality of hand printing.”

Family print workshops
2-4 pm Saturday 25 February
2-4 pm Saturday 24 March
2-4 pm Saturday 28 April
2-4 pm Saturday 26 May
Cost: £8 per person. All ages 8 plus. Children up to 16 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Adult print workshop
7-9 pm Tuesday 27 March
Cost: £15 per person. Age 16 plus

Hand printing course
7-9 pm Tuesdays: six sessions, from April 10. An exciting workshop for beginners or those with some knowledge of printing and graphic design. Learn techniques, print and bind a small book. Cost £120 per person for six sessions. Age 16 plus.

Booking: Eka Morgan, The Story Museum: 01865 790050
Information: Paul Nash
The Story Museum, 42 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP

Award News: Newbery and Caldecott Medals

The American Library Association's Newbery Medal for a children's book has gone to "Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. The Caldecott Medal for an illustrated book went to "A Ball for Daisy" by Chris Raschka.

As far as I am aware both books are not available in the UK - though American books can be bought through Amazon. Both authors, though, may well be familiar as other titles are in print in the UK.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Illustation Cupboard, 22 Bury Street, London SW1

Celebrating Asylum: A Group Exhibition
2nd - 14th February 2012

Illustrationcupboard is proud to present a unique exhibition and sale of original illustration artwork in support of St Mary Magdalene Centre for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. This small London-based charity offers some of the capital’s most vulnerable people a safe place in which to meet and study, working with refugees from countries as far apart as Eritrea and Turkey, Albania and Congo,Kosovo, Afghanistan and Syria.

Many of the refugees and asylum seekers living in London have severe health problems, feel isolated, receive no benefits and are challenged on a daily basis by things we take for granted. St Mary Magdalene Centre offers them a warm welcome and a chance to develop their own skills and talents, helping them to help one another. A small team of dedicated teachers and over 30 volunteers provide daily English classes (working towards accredited qualifications), clothes,food parcels, advice and help – and perhaps most importantly of all, friendship.

Unfortunately the Centre now faces cuts which threaten its future, so some of the greatest illustrative talents working today have generously donated their original
artwork for sale, to raise money for this worthy cause. This unique exhibition offers
the collector a real opportunity to acquire world-class artwork, whilst helping some
of London’s most isolated people to feel a sense of belonging. Highlights include
artwork by Shirley Hughes, Chris Riddell, Jane Ray (whose illustration is at the top of this blog) and Axel Scheffler. Website preview available from 28th January at
Monday - Friday 9:30am – 6:00pm Saturday 11:00am – 5:00pm
Entry is free. Families welcome.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Julia Donaldson Exhibition at Seven Stories

A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson
17 March 2012 until March 2013
Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books, Newcastle upon Tyne

Seven Stories announces a brand new exhibition with Julia Donaldson, current Children's Laureate,best known as the creator of the Gruffalo, which brings her captivating story worlds to life.

Visitors can find out how she wrote modern classics such as The Gruffalo, Princess Mirror-Belle,The Troll and most recently The Highway Rat and explore original artwork by her many illustrators– most famously Axel Scheffler, but also Lydia Monks, David Roberts, Nick Sharratt, Karen Georgeand Emily Gravett.

Julia Donaldson said:
“I am thrilled that my work, and that of my illustrators, is to be presented in such a stimulating and child-friendly way, with so many mini-words and activities. Because of my love of drama and song, I am particularly excited about the theatre and the juke box!”

The exhibition will follow her journey from song writer for children’s television programmes to current Children’s Laureate and show how she inspires her readers with story, rhyme and rhythm.
Visitors can join in with stories and songs in the exhibition named after Julia’s very first book, A Squash and A Squeeze which originally sprang from a song.

Children and their families can share stories and explore sensory environments based on Julia’s books. They can follow in Toddle Waddle’s footsteps, climb into the cave with the Cave Baby and meet The Gruffalo. Sing-a-long to her songs on Julia’ Jukebox or perform a play on our stage.

Seven Stories will explore the impact sharing stories has on child development through learning projects in partnership with Action for Children and children with hearing impairments.

Julia Donaldson will visit Seven Stories on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 April 2012 to run two exclusive events. Join Julia for an hour of storytelling, songs and fun in The Gruffalo and Friends with Julia Donaldson on Thursday 12 April at 11am and 2.30pm. Princesses big and small can join Julia for a fun filled event based around Princess Mirror-Belle on Friday 13 April at 11am. All three events will be followed by public book signings, have very limited capacity and can be booked
online at or by calling Seven Stories on 0845 271 0777 ext 715.

This exhibition is supported by Scholastic, Macmillan Children’s Books and Alison Green Books.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Picture This Exhibition, Oldham

Picture This! Illustrating Children’s Books
26th November 2011 – 11th March 2012
Gallery Oldham
Oldham Cultural Centre, Greaves Street, Oldham OL1 1AL

A family friendly exhibition featuring works from household names Shirley Hughes, Anthony Browne, Jez Alborough and Helen Stephens are displayed alongside new work from emerging illustrators. Sketchbooks and working drawings are also on show and there is a free family event on Saturday 28th January.

Gallery Oldham is open Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm & on Sundays 10am – 4 pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Costa Winners

Moira Young has won the children's book prize - and leads in the newspaper column inches - with her debut novel and dystopian thriller "Blood Red Road". Her career started as an actor "the height of it was being a tapdancing chorus girl in High Society in the West End" before she became an opera singer for a decade which had - as The Guardian reports - it's ups and downs including this rejection letter "Dear Ms Young, There is nothing for you at Glyndebourne." She says that much of her inspiration for the story came from the epic movies she grew up with - and fittingly her book has been optioned by Ridley Scott.

Other winners are Novel Award Pure by Andrew Miller; First novel Award Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson; Biography Award Now all Roads lead to France: the last years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis and the Poetry Award by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy with The Bees.

The overall prize winner will be announced later on this month.

Martin Salisbury and MA Children's Book Illustration

Wednesday 25th January, 2012. 6.30 pm
Heffers Bookshop Trinity Street, Cambridge
Book launch and signing
Children’s Picturebooks: The art of visual storytelling
By Martin Salisbury with Morag Styles
Published by Laurence King Publishing

Wednesday 8th- Wednesday 15th February 2012
MA Children’s Book Illustration
Graduation Exhibition
Foyles Bookshop Gallery
3rd Floor, 113-119 Charing Cross Road,
London WC2H 0EB

Little Angel Theatre, Islington N1 2DN

All tickets for visiting company shows are £8 / £6 conc (except Friday 5pm performances where all tickets are £5)

Red Riding Hood (by Norwich Puppet Theatre) HALF TERM SHOW
Wed 8 – Sun 19 Feb
Dates and Times: Wed 8 Feb to Sun 12 Feb, 10am/1pm wed/thurs, 1pm/5pm Fri, 11am/2pm Sat/Sun. Wed 15 to Sun 19 Feb, 11am/2pm daily.
Baby Friendly performances on Thurs 10am & Sun 11am.
Following the path to her grandmother’s house, through a forest filled with howling wolves, Red Riding Hood, a charcoal-burner’s daughter, needs to use her wits in order to survive. Follow our eponymous heroine into the woods and expect a rich mix of puppetry, music, song, inventive staging and witty dialogue. Created by the team behind Little Angel’s production of “Alice in Wonderland”.
Suitable for age 4+ yrs. Duration: 55 mins

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (by Garlic Theatre)
Wed 22 – Sat 25 Feb
Dates and Times: 10am/1pm wed/thurs, 1pm/5pm Fri, 11am/2pm Sat. Baby Friendly performances on Thurs 10am & Sat 11am.
This is the simple story of three hungry goats and a grumpy old troll, told with a gently ecological message. Watch out for the dance of the goats, the flying troll and load and loads of rubbish. Garlic Theatre creates a magical world to entrance and delight a young audience. With puppets, live music, storytelling and singing.
Suitable for age 3+. Duration: 35 minutes.

Fiddlesticks (by Garlic Theatre)
Sun 26 Feb at 11am & 2pm. Baby Friendly performance at 11am.
Tap your feet and listen to the beat… Fiddlesticks is the playful spirit of a violin who breaks free from his strings and leads us into a world of musical fantasy in search of the beautiful Violinka. On his magical journey, puppets made from old instruments spring to life: birds fly out from music scores, a horse emerges from the bow of a violin… Garlic Theatre conjures a spellbinding tale of rhythmical twists and turns with a lively blend of clowning, rod and shadow puppets, percussion and live music.
Suitable for age 4+. Duration: 45 minutes.

Swallows and Amazons

This highly praised production from Bristol Old Vic ends its London run at the Vaudeville Theatre on 14 January prior to national tour. There is the perfect opportunity for grandparents (providing they are senior citizens) and grandchildren (under 18) to go at half price ring 020 7452 3000 (no booking fee as it is the excellent National Theatre).