Wednesday 30 April 2014

Events for the picture book age group by Abie Longstaff

I do lots of events: in schools, in shops and at lit fests. Performing was really scary at first but I've got better over the years and I've learned a few tricks along the way!

1. Pre-event

The more effort the event organiser puts in, the better your reading will be. If a shop books me I try to engage with them in the run-up to the show, making sure there are advertisements, posters in the window, notices on local forums; anything to get the message out to parents.

Sometimes the shop needs a bit of a nudge to do this - I often ask my lovely publicist at my publisher to help here. Publishers can make a range of fantastic posters and showcards.
2. Prepare

What are you going to do?
I start by reading a story

I talk about how I make a book: where my ideas come from, my writing process, the editing stages.

then we play games - for The Fairytale Hairdresser we play salons.

I have some great dolls with really strong hair that can be brushed, pulled and pinned and we spend ages putting in clips and ribbons. I also have pirate outfits for Pirate House Swap and some fantastic puppets for The Mummy Shop.

There are colour-in activity sheets...and sometimes we even have cake!

Work out your event in chunks of time. It's really important to know how long each segment takes so you can plan and so that, on the day, if you only have ten minutes left, you know which segment to do.
3. Know your age group

Children of 2-6 don't sit still for long! You have to work hard to engage them. I find sitting with them on the floor really helps because it keeps you in their eye-line and you can hold their attention more easily. I ask them lots of questions as I read: about the pictures and what they can see; about how they think a character feels; about what might happen next. I try to make it a bit like being read to at home, a chatty cosy time so they feel at ease and confident.

Don't forget, along with your target age group will come their parents (who also need to be engaged with and chatted to) and often a much younger sibling.

If you watch the audience you can see when the children start getting wriggly and itchy - spot trouble before it happens and change to another activity.

4. Think about actions, pictures and sounds

When you are reading it is very easy to get caught up in the words. Don't forget to points things out in the illustrations. Ask the children to make sounds - horns, doorbells, rain, animal noises; whatever suits your texts. I get to hear some pretty evil witch cackles! The same applies for actions - we spend time plaiting Rapunzel's hair along with the fairytale hairdresser.

If I'm lucky enough to have the illustrator (Lauren Beard) with me there is a whole new dimension to the event - she draws as I talk and the children can really see the story come to life!

5. Questions

This age group come out with some fantastic questions. They often don't understand that a book is printed - I'm usually asked how I make my writing so neat in the printed books and if it took me ages to write out each book by hand! I ask them how long they think it takes between my first idea and the book ending up on the shelf in a shop. If I really could make that process happen in a day or a week I'd be a very prolific author indeed!

They also tend to spot tiny elements of the illustration that can pass adults by. Be prepared to explain the drawings as well as the words in the story. Get to know every inch of your book. And be prepared for off the wall comments. My favourite question has to be from the little boy who put up his hand to say proudly:
"I had pineapple for breakfast"

I'd love to hear your tips on events!

Have a look on my website for my future events 

Book to see Lauren and me at Hay-onWye Lit Fest here

Friday 25 April 2014

Ten Really Cool Picture Book Openings and Why They Matter By Natascha Biebow

I bet you are reading this first line thinking where is this blog post going and is it worth my while reading on? 

I know. I’m the kind of person who picks up a book, glances at the back cover and flips right to the opening page. Once I’ve read the opening lines, I can tell right away if I am hooked, whether I want to read on. Because the opening line gives me a really clear idea of the journey that the author is proposing. 

I quickly decide: is this a journey upon which I want to spend my precious time?

For instance, here's an opening I love, from Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer: 

"Before school, Olivia likes to make pancakes for her new
little brother, William, and her old little brother, Ian.

This is a big help to her mother."

Olivia Saves the Circus © Falconer

It sets up right away that Olivia is quite a character –- one that I'd like to spend time with! Also, I am intrigued by the voice which uses phrases like "old little brother". Importantly, the opening sets up that Olivia unwittingly equals trouble and, as a reader, I want to find out what she'll get up to next. (She goes on to do amazing circus acts with cool aplomb).

Editors and agents, who receive hundreds of submissions, are the same -- they have got to love the opening of a book to want to publish it.

But picture book openings  are notoriously difficult to get right. They are so few words for a start . . . Plus how will a story grab so many different people -– children, parents, elusive editors and agents -- at once?!

Importantly, a fantastic opening contains the premise and situation of the whole book. In the classic We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, the opening line states right off the bat: "We're going on a bear hunt". Then, the author invites readers on an adventure that appeals to children and grown-ups alike. 

We're Going on a Bear Hunt ©  Rosen & Oxenbury

Almost immediately, we encounter our first challenge -- long wavy grass. Oooh, we've got to wade through it . . . We want to join in! This opening also sets out the mood, tone and authorial voice. Do we want to go on this adventure? Of course we do -- we want to find out what the bear is like! 

There are three key elements to every good opening: who, what and where?

1. Who? introduces the main character and tells readers who's going on the journey

In Penguin by Polly Dunbar, the book opens with the main character, Ben, receiving a penguin as a present. Why does Ben get a penguin, we wonder? What if this were us? What will happen next? 

Penguin © Dunbar
The opening in The Pig Who Wished by Joyce Dunbar and Selina Young is equally intriguing. Though the phrasing is more traditional  ("Once ..."), it quickly sets up that the main character is a pig with a difference, plus it promises a story with magic!

The Pig Who Wished © Dunbar & Young

2. Where? sets the scene for the story, including the setting and the circumstances of the main action.

In the classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, readers are enticed into the world of the little egg. We know we are in the natural world, full of promise and wonder.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar © Carle
By contrast, the setting in Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd is very domestic, but filled with interesting details. The rhythm of the voice is quickly established and the familiarity of the child's world promises a comforting journey with this narrator.

Goodnight Moon © Wise Brown & Hurd

3. What? sets up the main conflict and motivation of the character (what do they need?) that is going to drive them forwards.

In the first spread of Eat Your Peas by Kes Gray and Nick Sharratt, we meet Daisy and her mum at loggerheads over dinner -- how will they resolve their differences?

Eat Your Peas © Gray & Sharratt
Similarly in the opening lines of Fix It Duck by Jez Alborough, we meet the main character, Duck, who has a pressing problem -- a leak in the roof -- and whose fixing prowess, we later discover, is decidedly dodgy. Readers are immediately drawn into the rhythmical storytelling of this author's voice. 

Fix It Duck © Alborough

Often, authors will employ a few spreads to set up the story, but the really clever openings can do this in just a couple of lines and even on one page. Here are five great ways to grab readers in the opening lines:

1. Give a hint of things to come

Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency © Cowell & Layton

In the first spread of Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton, we meet Emily, Stanley and their friend Matilda. We jump right into an exciting adventure (one of many to come) and are intrigued to find out what will happen next.
2. Start in the middle of the action

No Matter What © Gliori

In this opening from No Matter What by Debi Gliori, the reader is thrown right into the middle of a situation -– Small is feeling grumpy. We want to know why he is grumpy and how will it be resolved. More than likely, we have been there ourselves, too, so we can empathise!

3. get readers’ attention so they want to know what’s next

The Tiger Who Came to Tea © Kerr

In The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, readers are invited into a comfortingly ordinary scenario, but the promise of someone at the door (and the hint in the title) are intriguing enough to get readers to want to read on.

4. allude to familiar situations (we’ve all been there type scenarios)

Mr Bear's Picnic © Gliori

Debi Gliori is a master at capturing domestic situations in a light-hearted and poignant way that appeals to adults and children alike. In Mr Bear's Picnic, the prospect of a sunny day with children is a great opportunity for a picnic. But Mrs Bear, who has two little ones, is determined to catch some extra shut-eye. The role of Mr Bear as the adult leader and the source of humour is set up in just a few lines. 

5. introduce really intriguing characters and situations
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie © Numeroff & Bond

Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond's bestselling classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie sets up straight away a set of unusual characters in an intrguing situation.

Why would you offer a mouse a cookie and what would happen if you did?


Well, the mouse would want a
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie © Numeroff & Bond
glass of milk, which would lead to a whole host of other things and back to a cookie. The circular structure of the story is skillfully crafted and really satisfying, but what really grabs you is the premise.

So, with just a few words (and great illustrations!), picture book authors can create openings that make readers want to read on. But what all these openings do is pique readers' curiosity. If readers are saying 'so what?' then the author has lost them . . . Now, about that blank page staring at you . . . What will its opening lines be?

Natascha Biebow
Author, Editor and Mentor

Blue Elephant Storyshaping is an editing, coaching and mentoring service aimed at empowering writers and illustrators to fine-tune their work pre-submission. Natascha is also the author of Elephants Never Forget and Is This My Nose?, editor of numerous award-winning children’s books, and Regional Advisor (Chair) of SCBWI British Isles.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Ten Little Pirates (or how I nearly threw away a great book deal) by Mike Brownlow

We're delighted to feature author (and sometimes illustrator!) Mike Brownlow as this month's guest blogger. His many picture books include the popular Little Robots series that became a TV series, and in this blog Mike divulges why somebody else has illustrated Ten Little Pirates, and it wasn't all plain sailing...

It came unbidden, as sometimes these things do. Walking with my wife in Trelissick Gardens not far from Falmouth, thinking about nothing in particular, the words “Ten little pirates, sailing out to sea, looking for adventure, happy as can be” popped into my head.

Maybe it was because I was in Cornwall, with all its piratical connections, or maybe because it was a beautiful day and I was gazing out over the sea that the nautical theme occurred to me. Whatever the reason, it might have stayed no more than an opening line, soon forgotten, had I not immediately coupled it to the idea of ten green bottles, and their gradual reduction in number.

So, here we have ten little pirates ready to be bumped off one by one in a series of nautical mishaps, the more dramatic the better. But would this be too gruesome for a picture book text aimed at 3-6 year olds? Well not if a happy ending could be arranged, and I had an idea about that. By the time we’d finished our walk I reckon I had about a third of the book written. I dragged my wife into the National Trust coffee shop, and she patiently waited until I'd put down on paper what was in my head. It felt like a strong idea, but I've grown to be wary of first ideas. I’ve started on texts before now, thinking yay! this is the one! – a terrific idea that will make for a sure-fire best seller, only to realize a little later that maybe that first flush of enthusiasm was misplaced.

But another feeling I've learnt to trust is to make time to develop that germ of an idea, whether the outcome is a good manuscript or a duff one. And do it as quickly as you can manage. I made time the next day and pretty soon I had the first draft of Ten Little Pirates done and dusted. It happened that I was quite busy with other work at the time. I was illustrating a book for America, and was running a bit behind schedule. I had a pretty good idea how I wanted my pirates to look - a bunch of disreputable but lovable rogues, with the odd scar and peg leg thrown in to conform to piratical convention. I doodled about, but the annoying thing was that I couldn't actually get down to roughing out the pictures for the book because of pressure of work.

Yet there was still that nagging feeling - was the idea any good? If you're anything like me, confidence is brittle at best, no matter how many books you've had published. I needed confirmation that my text was on the right track. I needed that reassuring pat on the shoulder. So I sent the manuscript off to my agent without any accompanying sample illustration, nor even a pencil character rough, and went back to my other work. All I wanted was a little note saying, yes, this is good, carry on, or no, I don't think this is going to fly.

In the evenings over the next few days I worked on the look of my pirates, and even did a painting of them hanging from the rigging. I was keen to continue, but the Americans were sending me nagging emails, so it was back to the day job.

Less than two weeks later I received an email from Caroline Walsh, my agent at David Highams. 'Congratulations!' it said, “Orchard Books have made an offer on Ten Little Pirates!” Orchard are better than good. They're a great publisher responsible for producing many lovely books. I was thrilled... until I read the next sentence. “And they have the perfect illustrator for the book.” The 'perfect illustrator' it turned out, wasn't me. Orchard had worked before with a young, relatively new artist called Simon Rickerty. He had produced a book for them, 'Suddenly', and it was doing very well. They'd been looking for another text for him to work on and, in their opinion, this was it.

I'll confess it. I was miffed. I huffed about for a while until I'd collected my thoughts. I made the fateful decision. I emailed Caroline to say thanks but no thanks. I really want to illustrate this one myself. Terribly sorry and everything. Caroline emailed me back to say “Er, are you really sure about that? This is a great deal they're offering.” I had another think. I had, I realized, done most of the hard writing work by this time. Illustrating it would take me at least another three, probably four months of hard graft. I checked up on the upstart Rickerty. Damn. He was very good. Bright, bold, strong shapes. A charming naïvety juxtaposed with graphic sophistication. Was this worth having a hissy fit about? I was being offered the opportunity of a book deal with the prospect of having very little extra work to do. All the rest of the hard slog would be down to Simon.

I recanted. I said yes to the deal. It turned out that my manuscript had landed on the desk of Frances Elks, who had been newly promoted to editor that very week. She has subsequently told me that she was worried at the time because people had warned her it might take weeks before she saw a promising manuscript, and here she was, on the first morning of her first day, with something sitting in front of her that she thought was really good. It had apparently taken the reassurance of one or two of her colleagues before she’d followed her convictions and made the offer, but I'll always be grateful that she did.

Fran very kindly suggested she show me Simon's work as it progressed to see if I had any comments. My old illustrator instincts getting the better of me, I looked over his roughs and actually, yes, I did have one or two thoughts. Shouldn't that giant squid be a bit more terrifying? Shouldn't the pirates be in a bit more of a panic on that other spread? Shouldn't that pirate's hair be a teensiest bit browner? Whether Simon actually saw any of my comments I don't know. If he did, he politely ignored most of them and went his own way. And why not? I always hate it when art directors come back to me with nit-picking amendments. I decided to keep any future comments to a minimum. I needn't have worried. Simon did a beautiful job with my little pirates, taking the ‘Little’ part of the title literally and coming up with ten child-like pirates, whose look seems to chime well with children.

Ten Little Pirates breaks two big rules – it’s written in rhyme and its cover is black. Despite this I'm happy to say that at the time of writing the book is selling really well, with five reprints of the paperback in less than two months. It’s also been short-listed for two literary awards. Orchard are so pleased that they’re making it into a series. The next one out is Ten Little Princesses, in August. There are two more ordered, and I’ve just completed the first of those scripts, which personally, I think is the best one yet. (Dinosaurs since you ask!)

More by accident than design, Ten Little Pirates has turned out to be a great book to read out at school visits. Some books make for a quiet read. Not TLPs. I always get the children to stand up and join in with the actions and the noises that accompany the story, and it seems to work a treat. Having a hall full of children leaping into the air and all crying out “ARRRRR!!! at the top of their voices is very satisfying. It even works with a room full of jolly, middle-aged women as I found out the other week when I gave a talk to a regional branch of a book charity in a library.

Hachette, who own Orchard, have a brilliant publicity department, and Rebecca Hearne who deals with me, has found me lots of spots at various festivals, something I’ve done very little of before. It feels very good indeed to have a publisher’s support like this.

And illustrating? Well it’s fair to say I’ve had a bit of a crisis in confidence with my illustration. I know many illustrators and lots of us periodically reach a stage when the work we’re producing feels tired and dull. (A browse through the picture book section of any bookshop usually brings on this feeling in me!) But after a relatively fallow period last year, I’ve re-evaluated things and have updated my way of working in a way that makes me feel enthusiastic about the future. I’ve been doing some pared down illustrations and it feels more contemporary. ‘Less is more’ is a motto I’ve always admired, but never had the courage to put into practice. Now I feel I’ve tweaked my paintings so that the results look less fussy.

But the real discovery from my decision to hand over the illustrating reins to someone else, is that I haven’t missed illustrating nearly as much as I thought I would. In fact I’ve spent quite a lot more time recently writing other manuscripts – early reader and middle grade books as well as picture book texts – and I’ve found that to be a thrilling and addictive process.

So, am I pleased I decided to let another artist illustrate my text? Very definitely ARRRRRRR!!

Mike has worked as an illustrator in the areas of advertising, packaging, animation, design, and editorial. And possibly a few other areas he can’t recall just now. He began writing and illustrating children’s books in the late 90s, and his second book, ‘Little Robots’ was made into a 65 episode, animated TV series for the BBC. Mike’s website (which needs a jolly good spring clean!) is

Tuesday 15 April 2014

There Are Two Types of Picture Book - by Jonathan Allen

It's something that I realised a long time ago but never tried to define. That for me at any rate, children's books, and especially illustrated children's books fall broadly into two camps with two different functions - Funny, and what I shall call, for want of a better word, (though I'm sure one exists and I will think of it the second after I press 'publish') 'Transporting' books. Funny books are made with the purpose of generating laughs, obviously, and 'Transporting' ones are made with the idea of taking you into another place or world for a brief time.

The illustrations have a huge role to play in this of course, and the way the Funny v 'Transporting' thing works in the visual field.

Funny deals in simple 'reduced to the essence' line drawings, in character and stance, details aren't important, as immersion in a created world is not in it's remit. Funny deals with the already familiar. Not necessarily familiar surroundings but familiar situations. Surroundings only ever need to be suggested.

'Transporting' deals in complexity and detail. Detail is important for believability, the more detail (up to a point) the more the possibility of successful immersion in the world created. I put books where the creation of a certain mood is important into this category. Funny doesn't really deal in mood creation.

The interesting thing about this split, to me, is the attitude of the public towards each camp. There is some of the time honoured (and unexamined) respect shown to work that betrays obvious evidence of hard work and 'skill'. But that is to be expected, unfortunately. Putting that aside, it does seem that work that speaks to perhaps a deeper place in their hearts and minds lingers longer in the public imagination than work which 'merely' amuses.

I have always thought that this was a bit sad, as a lifelong fan of Tom and Jerry, and The Beano, and books by people like James Marshall, I feel that they, and other work in the same vein will always be under rated in as far as bestowed 'greatness' goes. Probably because it deals with small, familiar situations and with humour, which is never considered all that 'important', or particularly hard to do. A bit like Picture Books ;-)

The other thing I realised at about the same time was that illustrated children's books that get onto any list of all time greats in the field will be largely from the 'transporting' camp.
'Where The Wild Things Are', 'Winnie The Pooh', 'Peter Rabbit', 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' 'The Snowman'. 'Tim All Alone' etc.

The interesting thing is that I can't as readily name a list of great funny picture books. I tend to think in terms of illustrators rather than in terms of actual titles. Artists such as Quentin Blake, James Marshall, Jon Klaasen, Tony Ross, Colin West, though much loved, would never top any 'best of all time' lists though they may come close. I think this is because once something is laughed at or with, it is perceived as being of lesser value than something 'serious', even if that perception is entirely unconscious.

Dr Suess may be the exception, but head to head with Sendak? There's a contest! ;-)

Thursday 10 April 2014

Throwing Out Old Picture Books by Paeony Lewis

This week it’s the London Book Fair, where many new picture books are unveiled. That’s wonderful. However, I'm in a retrospective mood because I've been moving old books out of the reach of my dog’s hungry jaws (unfortunately, ancient horse glue is yummy). I've even been debating throwing out some old books.
I don't care about these three books:

But I want to keep these three books:

For me, it’s the memories trapped in old picture books that are important. I think that books are like photographs – we often forget the past until we see photographs or 'important' books. They’re a catalyst for memories.

So why not keep the first three books? Being a bit of a hoarder I suspect I will leave them on the shelf, but I have no emotional attachment to them. They evoke no memories and I feel uncomfortable with the Teddy Bear Picture Book (for obvious reasons). By the way, I've just noticed all three unwanted books include trains, so I can’t have been a big fan of engines!

Instead, I prefer to keep slightly embarrassing books like The Party. Good grief, what’s wrong with me?! Nowadays people mock these ‘Susan and John’ Ladybird books. Ho hum, at the time I adored this book. There were party dresses, cake, games and shiny patent leather shoes (or in my case, shiny plastic party shoes that quickly became too small). Going to a party was EXCITING! I liked looking at the pictures and on many pages I tried writing letters (and failed).

Then there’s My Book of Kittens and Puppies that even my mother disliked. Well, despite another dubious cover, I thought this book from my grandma was wonderful. Where else would I see things like cute dogs and cats getting married? Great!

Yikes, I've just realised I'm disinterested in books that include train engines, yet I want to keep girly books about parties, animals in cute clothes, and a naughty little chick who drives her mummy to distraction (Mother Hen & Mary), but what the chick really wants is to grow into a big hen like Mummy and lay eggs. Sigh. It sounds like I was a real girly girl, but I also loved dinosaurs, playing with my toy garage and cars, and was so excited when my dad let me use an air gun. However, the girl/boy debate is not the aim of this blog.

So what’s the point of this blog, apart from being a blast from the past? I suppose it’s a plea to not throw out your children’s old picture books without asking them what they’d like to keep (and then listening to them!). I believe picture books are an important part of childhood. Some images stay in the memory forever and stories can have a strong emotional resonance.

When I was five I was given British Fairy Tales (Amabel Williams-Ellis) and I've never forgotten the magical dancing beneath the hill (especially when I visited Glastonbury Tor, twenty years later!).

Unfortunately though, some books evoke slightly sadder memories. My heart would break for the lonely donkey in Little Grey Donkey (Alice Lunt/Tibor Gergely). Whilst I enjoyed Little Bear playing with Father Bear in Good Night Little Bear (Patsy Scarry/Richard Scarry), but I always felt sad that my mummy didn't get on with my daddy as well as Father Bear and Mother Bear. So should I throw out these books and forget? I don’t know.

I often hear of adults buying new editions of old books because their parents have thrown away a childhood book that meant a lot to them, but the parents didn't know. Sadly, it’s never the same as the original. I smile when I see my mother's colouring in of her Winnie the Pooh book. A book may be torn and covered in scribbles, or may be of debatable literary worth, but who cares about this if it also cradles important memories? Or am I just a hoarder? What do you think?

Paeony Lewis

Saturday 5 April 2014

Can You See Me Now? By Pippa Goodhart

Back in February, the wonderful Imagine! Festival for children ran in the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.  I was involved in a small way with the part of that festival run by the Inclusive Minds collective.  As the name implies, their session was all about making books and stories accessible to all sorts of children, and making sure that books for children include every sort of child and children from all sorts of backgrounds.  It was a wonderful day of sensory stories, signed poetry, a huge wall on which all could draw themselves (or anything they fancied), some serious adult debate, and a lot of story sharing, drawing, chatter and fun.  And it set me thinking.

It is, of course, important to include children of all races, from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, and those with disabilities, naturally within picture books; representing all of us without exclusion.  Nick Sharratt has managed to include a number of children with visual clues to particular conditions in our’ Just Imagine’ book’s busy pictures.

But the What About Me? event stated that, ‘the organisers believe that ALL children should be able to see themselves, their lives, their friends and their families represented in the stories and pictures they are given.’  But I wonder if there isn’t a danger that that idea might be taken too literally?  Does that mean that a boy with ginger hair who wears a hearing aid won’t see himself in a picture of a black haired girl wearing a hearing aid?  Do we really want to see ourselves exactly in books?  If so, books will have to be tailor-made for each reader … and I, for one, DON’T want to read about, or see, a story about a plump middle-aged woman with scruffy hair who writes stories for children!  I want other experiences, beyond my own real ones, when I read.  But I DO want to find emotional states in stories that I recognise and want to explore.  It’s at that gut feeling level that I find the point of contact between myself and a story. 

I think we’re in danger of forgetting the power of imagination in all this, and I’d suggest that picture books with animal characters are a great way to avoid all those visual mis-match problems whilst getting to the emotional heart of the matter. 

For some reason it’s easier to identify with a fictional character who looks totally unlike us than it is to identify with a character who is human, but different from us in age or sex or appearance or background.  So we all sympathise with lovely elephant Elmer’s insecurity in the happy story about him by David McKee in which patchwork Elmer attempts to blend in with the grey elephants.  A similar story about a child with, for example, a walking frame, who tried to get rid of the walking frame so as to look like the other children, would tend to be a very uncomfortable and unhappy read.  Elmer does a better job than a human character could in making us realise how it might be difficult to be different, and the need for others to consider and do something about that difficulty … in this case by having an Elmer Day once a year when all the elephants paint themselves fancy colours.    

There are picture books with animal characters which more obviously tackle a specific disability.  Jeanne Willis and Sarah Fox-Davies’ ‘Mole’s Sunrise’ is a very beautiful book in which blind Mole’s kind friends take him to ‘see’ the sun rise, and describe what they see so as to share that visual experience with Mole.    

Yes, we certainly do need children of all sorts included in picture books, but please don’t forget the richness of what is already out there in stories that on the surface are about animals, but at heart are all about human emotions and experiences.

Have you got other picture book examples you would recommend, featuring examples of anthropomorphic characters whose experiences might chime with disabled or marginalised children?