Natascha Biebow

Hello! Thank you for clicking on my Picture Book Den blog page.

I like to blog about the craft of writing picture books. You can read my blog posts here.

I am passionate about picture books. 
In fact, apart from dark chocolate, what I love most is books. Whenever I go anywhere, I always have a book (or usually books) in my handbag, in my backpack, in my suitcase, in my carry-on – IN CASE. I think my greatest fear is being stuck somewhere without a book . . .  (and chocolate)!

I was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, where I attended the American school. Many of the books I owned when I was growing up were sent to me for birthdays and Christmases by Granelly, who lived in England. These were treasures and I still have them on my bookshelf at home. I love the musty smell of these original editions.

I love to read old and new picture books  with my son (and the dog!). We are fortunate to have a great picture book library!

And I can’t get to sleep unless I’ve read a book.

Ever since I can remember, I have written or told stories. Here is one, from when I was in fourth grade:

At university, along with a whole lot of other unpublished stuff, I wrote Elephants Never Forget after a trip with my parents to Africa.
Much later, I became passionate about books for babies and very little ones. (I studied Developmental Psychology at university and, in 2013, I completed a degree in Early Childhood Education and earned my International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy). So, I was thrilled when a book I wrote Is this My Nose?, illustrated by Georgie Birkett, won the Booktrust Best Book for Babies.

THE CRAYON MAN: THE TRUE STORY OF THE INVENTION OF CRAYOLA CRAYONS is the true story of Edwin Binney, a man who loved colour and nature so much that he was inspired to invent the Crayola crayons so that children everywhere could draw anything. It is the winner of the Irma Black Award for Excellence in Children's Books, voted for by children, and a NSTA and best STEM book. You can find see the book trailer here.

You can find out more about me, my books, school visits I offer and find cool activities and educators' notes on my author website.
Apart part from writing, I started editing early on as well. I was the editor of my high-school newsletter, The Tatui, and, after university, I decided I would combine my interest in children’s books with editing, so I moved to London. 
My favourite job is crafting books with writers and illustrators and shaping stories. I have a talent for visualizing books and encouraging authors and illustrators to find the heart of their stories. I love collaborating with people who are passionate about their work and understand that creating a great book is a journey, an organic process that evolves over time. 
Unfortunately, editors have less and less time to edit and help new authors to shape their stories. That’s why I started Blue Elephant Storyshaping, a coaching, editing and mentoring service aimed at helping children’s authors and illustrators shape their picture books, young fiction and novels pre-submission.
Together, we go on a storyshaping journey. We explore, have fun, dig deep for the heart of author's and illustrator's story. It's inspirational and challenging, but together we aim to craft the best book. I have 30 years’ experience commissioning and editing pre-school novelty books, picture books, early readers, young fiction, and (pop-up) non-fiction at big and small publishers, including Dorling Kindersley and Random House Children’s Books. I have was instrumental in creating and editing the successful Daisy young fiction series by Kes Gray (PRH). In addition to offering coaching, mentoring and editing through Blue Elephant Storyshaping, I commission picture books and young fiction as Editorial Director of Five Quills, and freelance for a number of other publishers including Tate, Thames & Hudson, and Lawrence King. I also edit and project manage for creators who want to self-publish their picture books.
I run webinar courses for picture book creators. Topics include: How to Create a Knock-out PREMISE, How to Write FUNNY Books, and How to SELF-EDIT Your Picture Book
Because I’m both a writer and an editor, I know what’s it like to receive mystifying rejection letters, to wait endlessly for a reply from publishers, to struggle through a revision and to experience the elation of getting a book deal. It’s a tough market out there!
I have several writing projects underway, including more picture books and a young fiction series. To write, I need chocolate. My favourite colour is blue and, ever since I was little, my favourite animals were elephants. I love spending time with kids and travelling to exciting new places.

If you are keen on writing or illustrating children's books, why not check out the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the largest international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature. It is a source of friendship, support, craft tips and excellent professional development and networking opportunities.

In my “free time”, I volunteer as the Regional Advisor (Chair) of the British Isles Region and help to dream up exciting new programmes and initiatives for our members. In 2018, I was awarded an MBE for my services to children's book writers and illustrators. I was awarded the Stephen Mooser Member of the Year Award in 2019. SCBWI BI has an excellent blog magazine that you can see here.  

Thank you for visiting my page and good luck creating!


Jane Clarke said...

Thanks for sharing, Natascha, and huge congratulations on your very well deserved MBE! Off to hunt for some chocolate...

Terry said...

Congratulations on your book, “The Crayon Man” being nominated for the Chickadee Award!