Sunday, 8 January 2012

A New Year, A New Picture Book by Malachy Doyle

New Year. Time to write something new, something fresh.
In January 1997, all fired up with thoughts of Spring, I came up with my ultimate green shoots picture book, Jody’s Beans. It was the first book I’d done with my dream publisher, Walker Books, and it’s still in print fifteen years later, in this dinky little Read and Discover edition. Around the time of publication, Judith Allibone, the illustrator, sent me a beautiful little bean bookmark, which I still use.

I’d a long gap then in terms of any picture book stories which I’d first-drafted in the month of January, coming to fruition. In January 2006, though, I wrote Albert and Sarah Jane, my first for QED, about a too-greedy dog, and a cat who decides to teach him a lesson. But what it’s really about is how lovely it is to have a great big cat-dog cuddle by the fire – very January, that.

In January 2008 I wrote Danny, the Duck with no Quack, also for QED. This one’s about a shy little duck, who wanders off in search of a tale to tell. New beginnings. Finding the courage to start again. Very January, that, too!

And in January 2010 I wrote Collywobble, which will be the first of my 2012 picture books. It’s about a wobbly little collie pup and it’s very much a winter’s tale. It’s published by Pont Books on February 14, and I’ll tell you more about it the next time I post here. Petra Brown, who I worked with on Granny Sarah and the Last Red Kite, has done the illustrations and they’re truly delightful.

So now it’s January 2012. Can I keep up my recently established record of biennial first-month picture books? I’m germinating one as we speak, working title Bob and Dog, but whether it comes to full picture-book fruition, only time will tell. There’s many a slip twixt keyboard and bookshelf, as they don’t say.
I hope that January brings you inspiration, a renewed sense of purpose, and heralds a year of happiness and fulfillment.


  1. I love the idea of 'germinating' ideas in January. And you've germinated some super ones ... an inspiration to all of us who are feeling like hibernating :)

  2. You've inspired me to take another look at a picture book text and write a new beginning - after all, it is January!

  3. Hi Malachy, how lovely to see a joint blog dedicated to picture books. Thanks everyone. I'll be reading back over the posts hoping for tips. I have quite a number of texts germinating, or possibly festering, at the moment so any suggestions for fertilizer will be gratefully received.

  4. Great to hear from you again, Maureen.

    Yes, let's all compost new picture books!

  5. And it's worth doing. I've been chatting with a friend and 'industry insider' who has a very positive view of the picture book market. He's just come back from Brazil, where the market for them is really buzzing, andhe says the same thing about South Korea. He's promised to blog about it for us. There ARE green shoots out there, and pastures new!

  6. Lovely post, Malachy. Here's to January ideas and new starts. Composting a picture book idea right now.
    My picture book What Colour is Love was first published on 6th January 2003, another January baby!
    Interesting about Brazil, Moira, What Colour is Love? has always done really well in Brazil and is in its 9th edition there.

  7. Yes, it's been much harder to sell foreign rights recently. Let's hope you're right and that the tide is turning, Moira.

  8. An interesting post, Malachy (and Walker was once my dream publisher too).
    My first 'pure' picture book - as opposed to the Franklin Watts illustrated stories - after many travails and silences, will be going to Frankfurt with the Little Tigers in October. It's called: ONE COOL MOUSE, and I hope he'll find some interesting cheeses...