Monday 26 February 2024

Books and FOREIGN RIGHTS Moira Butterfield

 March 7th sees the publication of The Secret Life of Bugs, written by me and illustrated by Vivian Mineker.  It’s the fifth book in a six-book series called Stars of Nature, and it’s published by Happy Yak – an imprint of Quarto. 

The series began with
 The Secret Life of Trees, and I didn’t know it was going to be a series at first. It only grew into one because the foreign rights were sold in many different countries. That meant that the publisher earnt enough from it to justify another series title, and then another and another – until we have ended up with 6 (one will be coming out next year). So foreign rights = repeat business for an author. 


A foreign rights deal – A foreign rights deal means that the contents of a book are licensed to an overseas publisher. I get some money each time a deal is made. In fact, my foreign rights sales comprise the bulk of my income and help in large part to pay off my advances. I’m rather like one of those pop groups that is more successful outside their own land. The reason for this is probably because I tend to write non-fiction, which doesn’t sell in large quantities in the UK. The deal will not be done by me or by my agent but by the foreign rights department of my publisher, using their contacts. This often happens at international bookfairs such as Bologna. I tend not to get sales in South America, Africa or Scandinavia (I don’t know why but I think this is pretty standard for UK books) but I do get sales in the rest of world. These can often be in quantities of 5,000 or 10,000, with repeat orders made if the books are successful. 


Translation – Once a book is sold abroad it will be, in many cases, translated. I won’t get to see or check the translation as I have no way of doing that, so I trust the translators. 


Contract – When I sign a contract for a book there will be sections in it about foreign sales – and the percentage cut I get from the deal. I freely admit that these figures are very confusing for me, and I should be much more knowledgeable about them than I am. There will usually be terms such as export salespercentagesforeign language royalty inclusive sales percentages and nominated printer foreign sales percentages. I rely on my agent to check them but I could also ask the Society of Authors to do so, as I am a member. If you need to check these things yourself, do look into becoming a member of a professional body which offers this service to you. 


Selling your own rights – Some authors will retain translation rights (eg, when self-publishing, for example) and might employ their own foreign rights agent to sell for them. I’ve never been involved I this, though, as traditional publishers are likely to want to do it themselves. 


So selling around the world is a crucial way to make a living in kid’s books, but how can you help it along? 


Make your content international – You can make sure your content is very clear and strong, so it appeals to all. And avoid including parochial things unless they play a strong part in your concept. For example, if you were writing a picture book specifically set in New York you might well add a yellow taxi, or if it was in London you might add a red bus. But if your book was more general (say, about colours, for example) you’d need to avoid mentioning that specific location-based colour of taxi or bus.  The colour might well be completely different in another country (this particularly applies to fire engines btw!). 


Be on instagram – You can’t do publicity around the world in lots of different languages, but you can be present on Instagram to respond to people who mention your books in different countries and tag you in.

Check out your publisher's foreign rights plans - If you are lucky enough to have a choice between publishers, you could ask them about their foreign rights plans. Not all publishers are equal in this respect. Some are much more pro-active than others. 


Find good homes for your copies – I get copies of different language translations sent to me contractually. I give them to people if I can. Recently I’ve been able to give to Ukranians, Bulgarians and Malaysians living in the UK, and friends with French family. It’s always a joy to receive copies and then to give them on in this way. 


 Remember that kid’s publishing is a highly international business, and you may find your work being offered to kids in many nations. I can tell you it’s a massive BUZZ! 


Moira Butterfield is an internationally-published childrens’ author specialising in highly-illustrated non-fiction and picture books. Her Stars of Nature series grows this year with The Secret Life of Bugs (Happy Yak) and she has a brand new title – Does a Monkey Get Grumpy? - out with Bloomsbury in May. August sees another in her Look What I Found series and August sees Welcome to Our Playground – the follow-up to her bestseller Welcome To Our World (Nosy Crow), which as has sold in 16 different languages. 


Moira Butterfield

twitter @moiraworld 

instagram and threads @moirabutterfieldauthor


Tuesday 13 February 2024

CUTE! - A dip into cute culture with Garry Parsons

Cuteness has infiltrated our lives! 

The internet is awash with puppies on spa days, reels of sneezing hedgehogs, baby squirrels combed with toothbrushes and videos of kittens in outfits falling off sinks and curling up next to dogs and ducklings. - Getty Images.

   The power of cute culture is here, persuading us to forget the details and dangers of our impersonal world and tugging on our heartstrings from every corner of our daily lives and, of course, our picture books.

Ten Minutes to Bed Little Dragon - Rhiannon Fielding - illustrated by Chris Chatterton

   In the 1940's, the Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz suggested that a combination of a big head, with large eyes and fat cheeks, stimulated a response in humans attributed to 'care taking' behaviours, the feelings that make us "coo" and "ahh" at our babies and prompting feelings of affection and the desire to nurture and care for them. As well as human babies Lorenz also included puppies, ducklings and other baby animals in his theory.

Kewpie doll - from the Japanese mayonnaise brand Kewpie

  As picture book illustrators, when drawing up and inventing new characters, we want to imbue them with a level of  appeal to elicit those feelings of empathy or compassion in the reader, to create a character the reader warms towards and cares about, however subtle that may be. So there is no surprise that characters in picture books often inhabit some of the characteristics Lorenz sited in his research, the big eyes, big head on a chubby body. Cute!

  The idea of cute extents into inanimate objects too. Aesthetic standards can be applied to anything by adjusting the size, shape and colour.

Cute star shape

  The origin of the popular culture of cute stems particularly from East Asia. In Japan the culture of cuteness is known as kawaii, which translates as "cute", "Tiny" or "lovable". The aesthetic of Kawaii being bold thick outlines, cartoon-like rounded eyes with concentrated features similar to those described by Lorenz.

kawaii style Shiba Inu

  In Japan, Kawaii takes on a whole new level and is everywhere. A walk in a Japanese city will surround you in a sea of Kawaii, from food packaging to shop signs, with cute characters adorned on trucks, trains and aeroplanes, even building sites employ a level of kawaii, like these construction barriers to keep the public safe.

Unconstruction! Building work barriers, Japan

Hello Kitty

Japan is also the home of 'yuru-kyara', a term used for a category of cute mascot characters created to promote or represent organisations, regions or events for sport or business, literally anything and everything. In 2010, Japan Railways extended its Shinkansen bullet train route to Kumamoto, a city on the island of Kyushu. 

Kumamon statues in Kumamoto, Japan.

To promote the new train line a black bear mascot was created in the form of  'Kumamon',  now famous across the whole of Japan and now known world wide. When you visit Kumamoto you will want to include Kumamon Square on your tour of the city. If you visit during one of the designated times on the mascot's busy calendar, you can meet him!

Before we get lost in the all the wonders Japan has to offer that's kawaii, we're boarding the speeding bullet train back to the UK for a browse around the bookshop at picture books we might consider on the spectrum of kawaii and whose characters express a level of 'cute' akin to their friends in the East. 

Here are a few picturebook covers to tug at your heartstrings...

Sparky Fox - Matilda Rose - Illustrated by Tim Budgen

The Bunny Who Came To Breakfast - Rachel Davis - illustrated by Mike Byrne

The Runaway Pea - Kjartan Poskitt - Illustrated by Alex Willmore

Pugicorn and the Lovebug - Matilda Rose - illustrated by Tim Budgen

For more kawaii delights, visit "Cute", a new exhibition exploring the irresistible force of cuteness in contemporary culture. This show considers the cultural phenomenon of how cuteness has swept the world, including its slightly darker edges. Cute is at Somerset House, London from 25th January to 14th April.


Garry Parsons is an illustrator of children's books - @icandrawdinos

Monday 29 January 2024


As has become tradition, I'm here to mark the start of a new book year with some smashing, upcoming picture books titles. 

So, hold onto your library cards and 'to be read' piles... here are 24 picture books publishing in 2024 that caught my eye. (There may be some books from your resident Picture Book Den bloggers, too!)

I LOVE YOU MORE by Clare Helen Welsh and Kevin and Kristen Howdeshell (4th January)

A heartfelt celebration of parental love and the beauty of nature.
How much does Mum love her little Rae? More than seal pups and penguins love their icy home, more than dolphins love the boundless sea or lions love to race and roar, more even than all the stars, the moon and the sun combined. In fact, she loves her more than words can even say . . .
A beautiful, lyrical story which reassures children that the love between a parent and child is unconditional and everlasting, whilst encouraging them to explore and discover, to change and grow.

MEET THE DINOSAURS by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woolvin (18th January) 

ZOOOOM! We're off on an exciting journey into the past to meet the amazing dinosaurs that once roamed the earth.
Join in with the rhymes and get ready to spot all the friendly (and not so friendly!) dinosaurs, from the huge Brontosaurus and amazing Diplodocus to the speedy Velociraptor and scary T-Rex. Little ones will have an action-packed time (and be back in time for bed!) in this fun and fact-packed picture book.

This bold, bright follow-up to the acclaimed picture books Meet the Planets, Meet the Oceans and Meet the Weather is filled with ALL your favourite dinos. Combining STEM learning with a rhyming twist, it's perfect for all would-be palaeontologists.


SNAIL IN SPACE by Rachel Bright and Nadia Shireen (18th January) 

A riotous, rousing celebration of self‑belief starring the one and only Gail the Snail!


IT'S TIME TO HUSH AND SAY GOODNIGHT by Chitra Soundar and Sandra Prabhat (1st February)

A dream-ride of a bedtime book, inspired by ancient Indian lullabies.

Travel a lush dreamscape world as a father lulls his toddler towards sleep, weaving a quilt of dreams across the roaring seas and through the inky night - and dealing with some big toddler emotions en route. Sumptuously illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat, and infused with the spirit and flora and fauna of India.


ONE GOOSE, TWO MOOSE by Kael Tudor and Nicola Slater (February 1st)

A brilliantly funny book from debut author Kael Tudor filled with hilarious and bright illustrations from Nicola Slater, the bestselling illustrator of THE LEAF THIEF! 

OK, everyone, line up! 
One goose, two moose, three goose, four. 
Five goose, six moose, seven goose, more. 

Welcome to the ice cream shop, where there's a goose line, a moose line and a slightly bossy goose who wants everyone to be IN THE RIGHT LINE, PLEASE!

That sounds easy enough, doesn't it?

This brilliantly funny picture book perfectly captures the chaos of queueing up, and features a fun counting element too.


THERE'S A TIGER ON THE TRAIN by Mariesa Dulak and Rebecca Cobb (February 1st)

You'll never guess what happened

On our trip down to the sea . . . 

A tiger in a top hat 

Came and sat right next to me! 

A little boy and his dad board the train for an EXTRAORDINARY journey. There’s a family of hippos, a band of crocs, a mummy pig and piglets, and a pug in a boa - or two... But who invited the Tiger in the Top Hat? And will Dad ever look up from his phone to notice? 

A rhyming romp of a tale from debut author, Mariesa Dulak, and award-winner Rebecca Cobb, (illustrator of The Everywhere Bear) about the importance of living in the moment.


I REALLY REALLY NEED A POO! by Karl Newson and Duncan Beedie (1st February)

The hilarious third picture book in the internationally bestselling I Really, Really Need a Wee series by the dynamic duo Karl Newson and Duncan Beedie. The perfect toilet humour book for kids!

Parp! Toot!
Uh-oh! Bush Baby has a little secret and it rhymes with number two . . .
She really, really, really, really needs a POO!
But all the toilets are too tiny or taken.
Will she find the perfect place to poo,
or will there be poo-poo pandemonium!

With plenty of parps and packed with poop, this funny poo book for children and toddlers is ideal for anyone who laughs out loud at the word POO! I Really, Really Need a Poo will appeal to children who enjoyed The Dinosaur That Pooped series by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter, The Dragon with the Blazing Bottom by Beach, and I Need a New Bum! by Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird.


THERE'S A GORILLA AT THE DOOR by Clare Helen Welsh and Sam Caldwell (1st February)

Daphne’s mum and stepdad, Anthony, are throwing a family party. It’s going to be SO BORING! But when a gorilla knocks on the door, a rhino rolls in and a kangaroo pops up, Daphne realises that this party is going to get . . . WILD!

This joyous tale explores themes of belonging in a blended-family environment with a subtle nod to the interconnected animal family we all, as humans, share. In this light, funny read-aloud, children will love the accumulative animal action and will enjoy picking their favourite animal party guest! There’s a Gorilla at the Door! will delight readers of The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field, You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman, and There's Nothing Faster Than a Cheetah by Tom Nicoll and Ross Collins.


A SWIFT RETURN by Fiona Barker and Howard Gray (22nd February)

Aria has her head in the clouds. Yusuf keeps his feet on the ground. But when they work together to save a bird who has lost her way, something magical happens. When Swift loses her way on her epic migration. Aria and Yusuf come to her rescue and are inspired to think big about looking after the sky above their city. 

Inspired by Fiona and Howard's love for wildlife of all kinds and is the follow-up to Setsuko and the Song of the Sea. Howard's beautiful illustrations evoke a strong sense of place, strengthened by the beautiful Arabic text distilled by Maysoon AbuBlan.


LUNA LOVES GARDENING by Joseph Coehlo and Fiona Lumbers (7th March)

By award-winning Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho, the fifth book in the Luna Loves... series brings alive the art of gardening.

Luna is wowed by her local community garden, there are squashes and runner beans, potatoes and tomatoes and even an apple tree. But each plant hides a story. Grandpa and Nana show her the Callaloo their family grew in Jamaica. It’s time for Luna to grab a trowel and sow seeds that will tell a new story for the whole community as they all discover their connection to the entire world.


BE MY SUNFLOWER, Kathryn Simmonds and Rosalind Beardshaw (7th March )

A warm and reassuring picture book about finding your courage even when you'd rather play it safe.
The children are planting sunflowers at school and Carla gets given a seed called Vernon. All the other children's seeds are excited to get out of the packet and start growing. Not Vernon. He knows about slugs, and birds, and thunderstorms. The world is scary.

Carla waters him lovingly, but Vernon is the only seed that doesn't grow into a seedling. "Safe and snug, snug and safe," mutters Vernon, until he realizes how upset Carla is. Vernon understands that he needs to pluck up his courage, push himself out of the ground, and face the world. He needs to do it for Carla. And as Vernon blossoms into a sunflower, he discovers that although the world is not perfect, it can be... wonderful.


KINDESS ROCKS , Sheryl Webster and Robert Garcia (5th March)

A heartwarming self-discovery journey where a rock star learns that the path to true fulfillment is paved with acts of compassion and connection.

Meet Jonny Heart, a rock star whose melodies bring happiness to all who hear them. When offered stardom by the charismatic Fat Cat, Jonny dives into a whirlwind of fame, glitter, and music. Yet, amidst the glitz, Jonny begins to miss the simple joys of life. An unexpected encounter with Busky Soul, a homeless bear, sets Jonny on an extraordinary journey, as he bridges his passion for music with the power of compassion.

Author Sheryl Webster and illustrator Robert GarcĂ­a beautifully unfold a heartwarming tale that inspires readers of all ages to spread joy through acts of kindness. Join Jonny on his quest of self-discovery, and let this enchanting story remind you that sometimes, the smallest gestures can create the most significant impact.


IS IT A SEED? by Emily Davison and Adriena Fong (2nd April)

A fun-filled and creative journey through a child's imagination, as they try to envision the many varied outcomes for a little seed they find. But will they be patient enough to see the end result?

Get ready for a captivating journey of imagination in Is it a Seed? Hold on tight as you join in the excitement of discovering a mysterious seed. With vivid curiosity, our young explorers wonder what it could become. Will it sprout into a lone flower? Or could it transform into something truly extraordinary? As the seed takes root, wild dreams unfold. Could it grow into a sprawling tree, offering shade and adventure? Or perhaps a colossal beanstalk leading to a magical kingdom?

Emily Ann Davison's wonderfully lyrical text is breathtakingly illustrated by Adriena Fong and is a celebration of imagination, growth, and the thrilling anticipation of the unknown.


THE LIBRARY MOUSE, by Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O'Connor (4th April)

Quill, the mouse, is a dreamer! He longs to write stories and share them with children in his beloved library. But getting his words noticed seems impossible for such a small creature. Can he and his spider friend, Leggsy, find a way to make his voice stand out from the crowd ― or will Quill’s stories remain forever unheard?


HERE BE GIANTS, by Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly (4th April)

The hero of this book, a rather hapless knight, has just come across a most fortuitous find.

All the other knights in the kingdom say he could never track down a giant, but he has something quite special… a  book with all the tips he needs to help him on his quest, and he couldn’t have found it sooner, for here be GIANTS!

And so, with his long-suffering horse, and his nose in his precious book "How to Spot a Giant Before He Spots You", the knight sets off to find a giant. He looks out for BIG things, but all he can find are tiny forest creatures and an exasperated damsel who are all much too small. Next, he tries going UP. He obliviously passes a beanstalk and scales a great rock instead (the giant’s leg). More obstacles appear: thunder (the giant’s tummy rumbling), fierce winds (the giant hungrily sniffing him), and rain (the giant’s drool). Undeterred, the knight whips out his trusty umbrella and takes shelter in a grassy meadow (the giant’s leafy sandwich!) … Will this unobservant hero see what’s in front of him before it’s too late?
Young readers will love the “he’s behind you!” feel of this laugh-out-loud story in this follow-up to Here Be Dragons from Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly.


BRIAN THE LION WHO LEARNED by Frances Stickley and Chris Chatterton (11th April)

A warm and wise picture book that's great for learning about respecting others - illustrated by the bestselling illustrator of The Hugasaurus.

Brian the lion is the mightiest, bitiest beast in the jungle and he's certain all the other animals LOVE him... Until one day he finds out they're all just too scared to stand up to him! Can the King of the Jungle learn to change his ways and think of others?

A delightful and gently thought-provoking rhyming text by acclaimed author Frances Stickley is perfectly paired with gorgeously expressive illustrations from bestselling illustrator Chris Chatterton.


BIG BAG WOLF INVESTIGATES SCIENCE by Catherine Cawthorne and Sarah Oligive (25th April)

Join the Big Bad Wolf as he debunks our favourite fairy tales with SCIENCE! Written by the hilarious Catherine Cawthorne and illustrated by award-winning Sara Ogilvie.

Did a princess really feel a tiny pea through a mountain of mattresses? And could a pumpkin actually turn into a carriage to carry Cinderella to the ball? Of course not! It's all a load of fairytale NONSENSE! Or is it . . . ? The Big Bad Wolf is on a mission to find the truth behind these tales, and clear his name in the process.
Combining STEM topics with classic stories children know and love, this is perfect for inquisitive children always asking big questions!


 RAINBOW FLAMINGO by Catherine Emmett and Claire Powell (23rd May) 

This one young flamingo, Adele was her name,  
Knew under HER wings something wasn’t the same.  
Whilst unremarkably pink from outside … 
Inside were some colours she struggled to hide! 

Adele wants nothing more than to fit in. And she is DESPERATE for her feathers to be pink like all the other flamingos. But as the flamingos prepare to perform in the fabulous Flamboyance parade, Adele begins to discover that standing out isn’t so bad after all . . .  

This heart-warming story will show children the pride and joy that can be found in being yourself.  


MOON BEAR by Clare Helen Welsh and Carolina T Godina (6th June)

In this enchantingly illustrated, almost wordless picture book, a story of courage and creativity unfolds when a girl who is afraid of the dark meets a magical moon bear who is afraid of the light.

Ettie is afraid of the dark. Every night without fail her Mummy calls, 'Time for bed, Ettie!' The curtains pull shut, her bedside light blinks out and Ettie is surrounded by the deep inky cloak of the dark…

… Until one night, the bright moon shines through a crack in her curtains. Cautiously, Ettie reaches out a hand to touch the light and is surprised to find that it leaves a glittering mark on her hands. Overcome with curiosity and joy, Ettie dances around her room, drawing with this magical beam of moonlight. She pulls open her curtains and begins to connect the stars in the sky as if they were dots. A moon bear slowly appears in the sky, and when she connects the very last dot, he bursts into life, standing in Ettie’s very own bedroom.

The bear and Ettie begin to play and explore Ettie’s room. But when Ettie switches on her torch, the bear hides away in fear. Together, Ettie and the moon bear help each other face their fears. One is afraid of the dark and the other is afraid of the light.

This touching story encourages little ones to be brave, in the dark and beyond, empowering them to face their fears. This beautiful book also teaches them the power of visual communication – it’s a story that says so much with only a few words, and speaks instead with comforting illustrations to soothe and reassure.

Colours of Things! is a stylist preschool picture book which will encourage children to practise choosing, categorising and spotting familiar everyday objects. With an engaging, rhyming text by Pippa Goodhart, author of the bestselling You Choose! series, and gorgeous rainbow illustrations from award-winning Emily Rand, little ones will love searching the colourful scenes over and over again.


MONSTERS AT SCHOOL by Laura Baker and Nina Dzyvulska (27th June)

Bea is REALLY looking forward to her birthday  until things begin to go wrong. A book about managing disappointment, from the bestselling author of the Big Bright Feelings series.

Be open, be honest, be you! Big Bright Feelings for little people.

Bea CAN'T WAIT for her birthday. There are only three days to go, and everything is going to be PERFECT! Then snow begins to block the roads … and everything begins to go wrong. With no party, no cards, and maybe even no cake, can Bea find a way to be OK – even in the middle of a really BAD day?

This reassuring and funny book is the perfect springboard for talking to children about setting expectations and finding balance amidst disappointment.


THE DINOSAUR WHO POOPED A SUPERHERO by Tom Fletcher and Garry Parsons (18th July)

Danny and Dinosaur went to the city to see the spectacular sights -
the palace, the people, and all the skyscrapers that soared to sensational heights...

Join Danny and Dino on a superhero-filled adventure as they try and save the city from a supervillain called DESTRUCTO!

The latest in Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter's much-loved series, this poop-filled extravaganza is brought to life by the preposterously talented illustrator Garry Parsons.


LITTLE MOUSE IS ABSOLUTELY, COMPELETLY, TOTALLY FINE! by Sharon Hopwood and Marisa Morea (15th August)

Little Mouse is Absolutely, Completely, Totally Fine! Or is he?

Have fun finding out in this fun-filled and empowering picture book that encourages children to become body language detectives, develop empathy and express their emotions as they meet an irresistible cast of mice with BIG emotions . . . happy, sad, confused, scared, angry, calm . . . Look at each mouse and see what body language and expressions you can spot!

Tired mouse. Timid mouse. Ready for the world mouse?

Curious mouse. Furious mouse. Having no success mouse.

Amused mouse. Confused mouse. Such a very jealous mouse.

Children will love the bouncy rhyming text and charming Richard Scarry-esq illustrations, packed with detail! Perfect for neurodiverse and neurotypical children alike.


Clare Helen Welsh is a children's writer from Devon. She writes fiction and non-fiction picture book texts - sometimes funny, sometimes lyrical and everything in between! Her latest picture book, 'THERE'S A GORILLA AT THE DOOR,' is illustrated by Sam Caldwell and published by Little Tiger Press. It's a joyous tale that explores themes of belonging in a blended-family environment with a subtle nod to the interconnected animal family we all, as humans, share. You can find out more about her at her website or on Twitter @ClareHelenWelsh . Clare is represented by Alice Williams at Alice Williams Literary.