I love to take part in drawing challenges but as I draw pretty much everyday already, I find it helps to set myself an extra challenge. In March 2020 I invested in an iPad and an Apple Pencil and a programme called Procreate and my digital art changed forever! However I am a long way from being anywhere near able to achieve what I want to at the moment, so I challenged myself this November to not only draw a gnome each day but to do it digitally.
I have learned a lot from using my iPad every day, one of those things is that I simply do not get the same joy from digital art as I do from traditional art and therefore I don’t think that it will ever really be a replacement for me even if I manage to improve. Secondly, I learnt that ‘layers’ are a blessing from the heavens!
I managed to create 30 pieces of gnome based art work and I feel really proud of the work that I have produced, some are better than other and some are just quite honestly frighteningly bad BUT I was going for practice over perfection and I did just that!
I hope that you like them and maybe next Gnomevember you can join in too?
In August I was lucky enough to be invited to my local library to share my stories with the children and to talk to them about what it takes to create a book, from your initial idea to the finished product.
Going to any reading is always really nerve wracking, what if no one turns up? what if loads of people turn up? what if I can’t speak or no one asks any questions. Oh my goodness, what if they boo??? Maybe it is just me that has these (and a million more besides) worries before each and every reading but I am glad to say that even though on this occasion I did have to make my visit whilst on crutches, nothing went wrong and the entire experience was exhilarating.
I was welcomed warmly into the library by Nancy and her team. Wednesdays throughout the summer holidays are jam packed full of activities and free lunches so the library was already buzzing with children and their families, some I recognised but mostly I did not. I was given a room to the side of the main library where I could set up and read my stories without competing with the rest of the noise, I was so grateful for this, another worry … What if I’m not loud enough and no one can hear me? and the staff had put up posters to let parents know that the activity would be taking place.
I was delighted to have had the chance to read on and off for the entire hour in a very relaxed drop in session . I read to around 12 children in total and a handful of parents too. My Webblings not included because they could probably tell you these stories by heart at this point. The children had chance to ask me questions and to colour some of my characters on the colouring sheets the library had been kind enough to photocopy for me. I was asked some tricky questions this time like, how do I choose the name of my characters? I feel like the answer to that could be a blog post of it’s own but the short answer is that it is the name I feel suits them most.
I came out of the visit exhausted to be honest, I am still recovering from a broken leg and was not strictly off of bed rest at this point. I also felt amazing! The children I had read to had asked to hear the stories again and asked if they could find any of my books in the library and I told them that they could find ‘Glub’ when he is available. They all wanted to colour the characters and wanted to tell me about the characters that they would include if they wrote stories like me. The engagement with the children and seeing them engage with my characters is what makes it all worth while, it may only be fleeting but at that moment those children are inspired to create and to design. This is my favourite part of being a children’s author and illustrator even if it is the most terrifying part.
My Nanny and Gramps always said, ‘if something isn’t scary at first is it really worth doing?’ well this is scary but so worth conquering that fear. If you have a story inside you, let it out and show the world!
Thank you to Devonport Library and Plymouth Libraries for allowing me to take up a space on your jam packed summer program. I really enjoyed myself and look forward to returning again someday, just as nervous as the first time no doubt.
P.S. Big congratulations to my Webblings, Lilly and Harrison both finished the Summer Reading Challenge and managed to get their medals for the third year in a row.
I recently showed Harrison Webbling a list of books to choose from on my Pinterest, he immediately chose The Clown’s Clothes by Eszter Molnar because he loved the illustration on the front cover. I purchased it from Amazon and it arrived really quickly. We were not disappointed in the slightest.
Written by Eszter Molnar and illustrated by Anita Bagdi, The Clown’s Clothes tells the story of an adorable clown named Tommy who has lost his clothes throughout the day and is on the search to find them with the help of his friends.
The story is beautiful and shows children that you don’t have to give up, you can ask for help and a problem shared is a problem solved. As Tommy goes through his day there are funny little clues to find which show you how Tommy’s clothes went missing in the first place.
The pictures are funny, colourful and engaging. They are really striking and blend seamlessly with the story. The author and illustrator should be really proud of the beautiful book that they have produced. Tommy may have been Harrison’s favourite character but for me, his little mouse companion (who is dressed just like him) really steals my heart.
We have had this book for a couple of weeks now and I can honestly say that we have read it and re-read it so many times. It has become a favourite of Harrison’s and he can now read the whole book himself without help.
If you are looking for a bright colourful story with a very uplifting ending that will have the children really engaging with the illustrations then I really recommend The Clown’s Clothes.
Harrison gave it a five out of five webs and is looking forward to more of Tommy’s adventures.
Thank you for reading our review. This is our own opinion after purchasing The Clown’s Clothes.
Percy The Pigeon is the story of a very greedy pigeon who hasn’t learnt to share, his friends have had enough of his selfish ways and decide to stay away from him.
It is a lovely story that Harrison Webbling particularly enjoyed because his middle name is Percy and author Katie Budge was kind enough to sign it for him. It is a tale of redemption and forgiveness with a happy ending, that really helps you to speak to children about what it means to be friends and to teach them that sharing really is caring. It starts off very humorous with Percy keeping everything to himself and eating anything he can get his hands on but soon teaches that greed leads to loneliness.
We enjoyed the rhyming text which was very rhythmic and rolled off of the tongue easily, there were no abstract concepts that Harrison was not familiar with so he could follow the story very easily and see the clear moral too.
The illustrations by Jen Aranyi are vibrant and striking despite being quite simple, it would have been really nice if they had gone to the edges of the pages but that is the illustrator in me talking and it didn’t detract from the story at all. Our favourite picture was this lovely random little snail, we are glad he didn’t get eaten by Percy! We were concerned for a moment!
The quality of the book is lovely, as in previous reviews that I have written this book also has lots of plain pages in the back. I have since found out that this is because of the print on demand processed commonly used now and is not down to the author. This is a serious waste that needs to be addressed by the printers in my opinion but is out of control of the creator at the present time.
We thoroughly enjoyed Percy The Pigeon, he is a funny and endearing little character. I would recommend this story for all children but especially if you are having trouble with children who don’t like to share, it is a hard lesson for us all to learn after all (I still don’t like sharing my Sherbet Fountains!). It opens up some interesting conversations in a very unobtrusive way.
The only negative Harrison had was that not all selfish people are chubby and not all chubby people are selfish. I was quite proud of this point of view from my little man, and it also highlighted to me that the book avoids the word ‘fat’ which I feel is probably sensible in a children’s story. We used this as an opportunity to discuss the fact that your outside doesn’t reflect what is on the inside.
We give Percy The Pigeon 4 out of 5 Webbs and look forward to reading more of Katie Budge’s stories.
Samantha and Harrison Webb x
Please note, this is not a sponsored review, I purchased this book directly from Katie Budge and it is available to purchase on Amazon.
When new author Becky Robertson contacted me about her project I had no idea what to expect. I agreed to read her manuscript and I am so glad that I did. As soon as I read Albie Ted Goes To bed for the first time I felt passionately that I really wanted to illustrate the project.
Albie Ted Goes To Bed is a story about the bond between a mother and a baby that continues to grow and get stronger even through gentle weaning, it is a positive breast feeding story aimed at young children. It really resonated with me; I breastfed both of my children and it was easier with Lilly because I could give her my full attention. Harrison arrived when Lilly was three years old, she couldn’t remember breastfeeding herself and hadn’t seen anyone else do it since so my little inquisitive three year old had lots of questions which I was happy to answer.
Lilly was never upset seeing me breastfeed although she could be a little impatient like most three year olds and so she took to ‘feeding’ her baby dollies while I was feeding Harrison, we thought it was one of the most adorable things ever! However one day in nursery I was called in and told that Lilly had been told off, I was shocked, she was a good girl and never got told off (that changed as she got older but that is a story for another day!), they told me that she was told off for putting a baby doll up her top and ‘feeding’ the baby! Well, that was the first and only time I have had to really ‘tell off’ an educator! I took Lilly home and explained to her that she was not in the wrong, that her nursery teacher was the one who didn’t understand. Lilly doesn’t remember this incident but it stuck with me.
I wish that I had a book like this to read to her so that breast feeding was more normal for her, not just me telling her and showing her that it is. I looked online for cartoons, books etc to show her how normal it was and to reassure her that she wasn’t in trouble. This is a book I definitely would of bought for her. After viewing my portfolio and having lots of conversations I was absolutely blessed that Becky Robertson chose me as her illustrator.
This book is raising money for The Breastfeeding Network which was just even more incentive to get on board with the project. It is a charity that supports parents and families throughout the breastfeeding process. £1.00 from every book sale will go to the charity.
Becky Robertson, author of Albie Ted Goes To Bed set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, I helped by adding a few pictures of the concept art and on 26.02.19 with 7 days to go, the campaign was successfully funded and the project will definitely be going ahead. I am so excited to illustrate this heartwarming story and to share it with children who might just see breast feeding as a little more mainstream and normal than they did before. I will begin illustrations for Albie Ted late March and I will keep everyone updated with the publication dates.
A huge massive thank you to all of the people who have backed the project, to the people and businesses that have shared the project far and wide. I cannot wait to get started! Big congratulations to Becky Robertson for her successful Kickstarter project, now the work begins!!!
If you have a project that you think I might be a fit for, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
This week the Webblings and I have been reading The Witches’ Tea Party by Stuart McDonald, it is a beautifully bright picture book written in verse about a little witch named Heggerty who is preparing to entertain her friends. We chose this book because of the captivating front cover and because we are big fans of tea!
The images are particularly charming especially the cat who we enjoyed finding on each page. The colours are bright and vivid throughout the entire story. My personal favourites have to be the enchanting hats that each of the witches wears. They are fantastic and we all enjoyed imagining what powers the witches had which were represented by their hats.
The rhyming verse really rolls off of your tongue and is a pleasure to read. The story flowed well and didn’t leave us wanting more explanation. The characters are all friendly and would be great to see in more adventures.
As a family of vegetarians their was part of the book that caused a little upset and that is the eating of bats and frogs, this would of been less of an issue if the illustrations of these creatures didn’t make them seem so adorable and loveable. However, both of the Webblings said that they would like to see another Heggerty and friends story where they don’t eat cute creatures. Since she is a witch it really does fit the theme, she just looks like such a good witch.
The quality of the book is beautiful, it is a nice big size and the cover is stunning. There are a lot of blank pages in the back that could be utilised in some way to integrate with the story but Lilly Webbling has decided to use this space to design her own witches hats which I am looking forward to seeing.
We would all recommend this book to anyone as a great bedtime story, it has a great narrative and beautiful pictures. It might leave your little ones asking questions about why witches eat certain animals but we don’t discourage questions in this home!
We gave it 4 out of 5 Webs and would love to know what you think.
Samantha, Lilly and Harrison x
Disclaimer : We purchased this copy from Amazon, we were not paid to make this review and it is all our own opinions.
As a family we love to read, I am a children’s author and illustrator primarily because I love children’s picture books and think that they are suitable for any audience, Lilly Webbling is still enamoured by many children’s books at the grand old age of 10 and three quarters. Harrison Webbling cannot get enough and every night he asks for ‘just one more’ no matter how many we have read or how many times he has heard the same story.
So we have decided to tell you what we think of some of the amazing books that we have come across and new ones that we discover. I may use hyperbole and diluted adjectives but please excuse that, it really is because I am a massive book fan, as are the Webblings. I will aim to give a positive review of all books because let’s face it, there really aren’t that many ‘bad’ picture books. We will be ranking out of Webs, yep thats right, the more webs the better, 5 being the most and 1 being the least enjoyable read.
Here is our first ever Webb review …
Love Your Rabbit by Angie Rowe and Natalia Rowe
We chose this book because we have a house rabbit named Lady Peter who we genuinely do love, she is a part of our family and is crazy, fluffy and apparently likes to eat books!
Love Your Rabbit is a simple book in a series for pets each titled ‘Love Your …’, it attempts to teach children about caring for your rabbit in a very easy to understand statements. Harrison could read all of the words without help and he enjoyed the repetitiveness of the format (rabbits like this, rabbits don’t like that. On each double page.) It is a short book and is non-fiction which I had not realised before purchasing although looking back at the listing I should have done but would have purchased regardless because we like non-fiction too.
I think this is a great little book if you are considering a pet, hopefully by the time you already have the animal you should know all of these facts already. If you have a young child asking repeatedly for a rabbit as a pet I think this would be a fantastic buy to help them understand just how much work having a new pet will be. It is written in such a child friendly manner that even very young children would be able to understand what is required without getting confused by the more common reference books aimed at adults.
The illustrations are very cute but are very repetitive. They are almost identical on each page and could have been more dynamic. Harrison had only one criticism and that was that all of the happy bunnies have pointy up ears and the sad bunnies have droopy ears but happy bunnies (like Lady Peter) have droopy ears too. I think maybe if the bunny in the illustrations was given a name he would been seen as more of a character in himself and not just a representation of all bunnies.
This didn’t stop us enjoying the book which we read through 3 times in one go. Harrison even got ready for school super quick the next day to do the colouring activity in the back of the book which was a fantastic addition!
All in all we would recommend this to anyone with small children who are considering getting a rabbit, just enough bite size information for them to digest without being overwhelmed. If you already have a rabbit that you love it might not be the book for you but is still a great little book at a good price.
We gave it 4 out of 5 Webs. Let us know what you think!
Samantha and Harrison x
Disclaimer : We purchased this copy from Amazon, we were not paid to make this review and it is all our own opinions.
Ok be honest, did you just sing the title of this blog post? I sang as I typed it!
I am hoping to work with lots of new people in 2019, I would love to help add some colour to your blogs, websites, products, brands etc etc so please do not hesitate to get in touch and we can chat about your ideas. Until then, here is a little more about me, why not let me know a little about you?
2019 is going to be great, I hope to continue to work on my forthcoming titles and have many more ideas that are just taking shape.
But I want to talk to you about a little project that I will be working on alongside my work and I have titled it the ‘5 Min Tea Break’, the idea being that every day of 2019 I will take just 5 mins of my day to draw my tea!
I absolutely love tea and drink it everyday, this is a great little warm up drawing to get me started with the added bonus that I will have a cup of tea to drink when I have finished. Some of them, like my first one of the year (shown above) will be drawing from observation and some of them will be more like my new logo (below) which will be more whimsical.
My hope is that at the end of the year I will have improved drawing from observation and turning my observational drawings into better planned out whimsical drawings. I hope that it will reduce the amount of procrastinating that I do when I sit with my sketchbook, the hardest thing to draw is usually the first thing because its hard to decide what to draw first. Once the first doodle of the day is finished the rest usually flow much easier, like stretching before you do any exercise helps you perform better.
You can follow my progress on my instagram feed where I will post to my story, unedited phone snaps each day. They won’t be perfect and sometimes they wont even be pretty but I hope you enjoy seeing them regardless.