Thursday, 4 July 2013

Win a copy of Baby It's You and Baby Let's Play by Ruth Redford (me!) and illustrated by Ami-Lou Sharpe

I going to derail my blog slightly here and talk about my own books - which are published today! Yipee!

They are called Baby It's You:
and Baby Let's Play:

They are baby activity books in the shape of board books with touch and feels elements for parent and baby to share together. I am very excited about them! You can buy the 0-6 month one here and the 6-12 month one here. And if you prefer to buy direct from the publisher rather than Amazon you can also find them here.

Each page has suggestions of activities that you might try with your young baby and also sweet illustrations and tactile patches so the baby can engage with the book. Things like making a treasure basket/box with everyday items that your baby can explore. One of the main things I've tried to do is make it as interactive as possible so the parent will be chatting to the baby the whole time using the book as a prompt.

When I conceived the idea and scribbled everything down it really didn't look a lot like it does today. See below!
So yes, I know my drawing is really quite awful but hopefully you can see what I was trying to get at. Anyway the publisher at Random House (who to my great fortune I know quite well and used to work for, no point denying that one!) could see my vision for these books and decided to commission them. 

After many creative meetings with the editorial department and designers we reached a look we were all happy with and the books were contracted to be published. But that's not really half the battle. Once a book is contracted all the internal wheels inside the publishing house need to start turning. The editor has to work with production to make sure the book is going to be to the highest standard possible and for the best value. They need to get projected sales figures from the sales department and from the foreign rights department and they generally need to get everyone on board and excited about the books. And at this point there wasn't really much I could do to help things along. I made a video showing how the book could be used by a parent and baby and it was used by the rights department to sell it to the international markets. I chipped in with a few unique selling points and a bit of copy where needed but that was about it.

But now they are published and I can do stuff! Like write this blog and use the twitter feed @BabyLetsPlay to promote activity fun with babies. I'm hopefully doing an event with Norwich Waterstones in a few weeks time. And if that goes well I will probably do more, please contact me if you'd like me to do one.

And if you'd like to win a copy of the books please put a comment why you'd like them in the boxes below and I will choose someone to receive them. (That seems dreadfully narcissistic but I can't think of how else to do it!)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Cornelius van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

When Rosie picked up Princess Grace in the library I inwardly sighed because it was another pink and sparkly title and I'm really trying to give her a good mixture of influences. But when we read it together I was pleasantly surprised.
It's the story of a girl called Grace who loves stories about princesses and then acting them out (pretty similar to Rosie really). Then one day at school they're told they are going to have a float in a parade to raise money for charity and two of the children will be chosen to be princesses. Grace starts to research what princess costume she might wear and the more she looks into it the more she realises that the life of a fairytale princess is really quite dull. So she asks her teacher for stories of more exciting princess and her teacher comes back with some great examples of warrior princesses and countries different variations of traditional fairytales such as Cinderella. Grace decides she would like to dress up as more exciting princess and her Nana offers to make it out of the Kente cloth that she has bought back from The Gambia.

The interjections of Grace's Nana and Ma throughout the story are very nicely done. Particularly Nana's 'There's more than one way to be pretty' which Grace later repeats when they ask if she's sure she wants her costume to be made out of the Kente cloth.

I don't usually prefer illustrations that look real (apart from Shirley Hughes) but I've really warmed to the artwork in this book and think some of the expressions captured are lovely. The cover is pink and sparkly as I mentioned and it's totally what made Rosie pick it up so I guess it works!

The character Grace stars in a series of books. The first one was called 'Amazing Grace' and was commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal. We're going to look out for that one next! Mary Hoffman also wrote an article for the Guardian explaining her reasons behind writing what a first glance seems to be another pink and sparkly book for girls. She has my heartfelt thanks!