FIRST SONG Cover Reveal

First Song is a brand new book which I have spent months writing and illustrating, I am so happy to finally reveal the cover ahead of the launch on September 13th! And here it is …

First Song Written and illustrated by Samantha Webb.

First Song is the story of a very fed up big sister who is having to learn that life with a new family member isn’t all fun and games. All baby wants to do is cry and the adults just can’t seem to soothe him no matter what they try.

This story is dedicated whole heartedly to the very best big sister that I have ever known, Lilly Summer Webb. Who even now at age 13 when she should be all surly and moody, will drop everything to be there for her brother if he is hurting. Both of my Webblings inspire me constantly but the bond they share is something that is so beautiful to watch from the outside. Don’t be fooled, they fight all the time but she has his back when he needs it too.

The story is written in rhyme and is fully illustrated in a new style that I have really been enjoying and hope that you will too! None of the characters are named because I hope you have siblings that will relate to them, maybe you could name them for me?

I am a bit mad on ‘art of …’ books because I love to see the concept art behind my favourite stories. Here is a little look at some of the behind the scenes sketches from First Song, very rough ideas. The finished book is digital but all of my initial ideas are done with paper and pencil.

Big sister concept sketches.

I had quite a clear idea of how I wanted the sister to look, sort of a wild version of Lilly I suppose. I did try lots of other ideas but I kept coming back to this one.

Choosing colours.

I wanted to have a deep earthy feel to First Song but trying to decide on a colour palette without it all blending together was difficult. My initial (Top Left) idea was what I had pictured before I started creating my character but I felt like she looked a little cold and needed warming up. I decided on the bottom right as the final design.

Cornlings are planned right from the start!

It was important to know exactly where my characters would be telling their story, this is a close family living in a very cosy and warm home. Of course every story needs a Cornling too although he was moved in the final edit to somewhere else so you will have to spot him in the finished book.

A very rough sketch of the family home.

This very early family live in a cave but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be full of home comforts. My ideas are scrawled all around the sketch. This view of the home is never shown in the final story but it helped me to have a good idea of where everyone belonged.

Baby Brother.

The first coloured image of Baby Brother, he is of course crying, poor little guy. Can you guess what will soothe him? feeding? changing? maybe. Drawing a baby was a challenge but it was a fun one and I just love drawing tiny baby feet which you will see in the book.

First Song will be available on Folksy and Amazon from September 13th and I really hope that you love it but if you can’t wait until then you can buy my previous titles from my Folksy shop and have them signed!

I am excited to see it in print so I best go and sort all of the finishing touches now! Look out for a preorder soon.

Thanks for reading,

Samantha Webbb.

Webb Review – Sydney Spider by Stacy Bax and Anita King

Available now from Shookbop now.

Written by Stacy Bax and illustrated by Anita King, Sydney Spider is a beautiful story about friends coming together to help when all feels lost.

Harrison and I read this book together and he has read it twice more alone since, so I think it is definitely a winner. The illustrations are really beautiful, Anita King has infused so much sweetness and warmth into the main character, Sydney Spider that no one could possibly be scared of this little spider even if you do suffer from arachnophobia.

The story is written in rhyme and flows really well, it has a great rhythm and is spaced well for being read out loud and shared. It is simple to follow and is really kindhearted. It is a wonderful way to teach children to be a bit more respectful of the homes of the creatures that live around us with a focus on leaving spider webs alone.

Merri Mouse was our favourite character.

The characters are all very sweet, we enjoyed the illustrations of the different animals paw prints but were a bit confused about how they followed the footprints because most of the animals are wearing (adorable) boots. It didn’t take anything away from the story though which is honestly enchanting.

From an illustration standpoint I feel like the front cover could have been different, the image is beautiful but it gives away the ending a little prematurely and as we were reading Harrison commented that he “thought that would happen because its on the cover”. The illustrations could also do with being a little sharper but that doesn’t take away from their charm.

Independant reading.

Sydney Spider would be perfect for children who are scared of spiders because it gently introduces them to the fact that spiders are creatures that need protecting too. It is intended for children younger than Harrison and would be great for younger audiences but sometimes its good to remind older children of the importance of looking after creatures smaller than them too and picture books really shouldn’t have an age limit in our opinion. I’m 35 and will never grow out of picture books! It is also great if like me you have a fear of spiders that you don’t want to pass on to your children.

Sydney Spider is published by Stour Valley Publishing who were kind enough to send us this copy for review. We enjoyed it and think you should grab a copy from Shookbop.

Harrison awarded Sydney Spider 5 webs out of 5.

Now we may be biased because the story is about a web but Harrison has awarded Sydney Spider 5 out of 5 webs and we are both looking forward to reading more stories by Stacy Bax and seeing more of Anita King’s illustrations.

Thank you for reading,

Samantha and Harrison x

Webb Review – What A Clever Cat! by Gabriella Heyburn

What A Clever Cat by Gabriella Heyburn.

Written and illustrated by Gabriella Heyburn, What A Clever Cat is a full colour picture book about a very clever cat indeed. The story follows three cats and their owners to the winter fair with some very funny conclusions.

Harrison and I enjoyed seeing the cats in their homes being pampered, the different homes have been illustrated beautifully, my favourite is the canal barge, what a lovely home for a cat.

A beautiful home for a cat.

The story is very sweet with lots of lovely big illustrations of the cats, if you have a child who is a cat lover then this book is a very easy sell, they will definitely enjoy it! The illustrations are clear and tell the story really well and the font is very bold and simple making it ideal for early readers but I can easily imagine adults enjoying the cheeky and mischievous antics of the cat too.

Harrison enjoying the story.

Harrison loves all books with animals as a main focus and he thought that the ending was brilliant. Initially he was unsure about choosing this book because the cover is quite dull and he thought it might be a sad story but once he had a little flick through and saw that it was actually really colourful he got comfy and sat down for a read. The cover really gives nothing away, it may have been better to have a brighter and more eye catching cover that matched the feel of the interior but then perhaps the surprise wouldn’t of been as humorous?

Sausages??

We also found it hilarious that one of the cats loves sausages, having never had a cat of our own (We are very much bunny people!) we had no idea that cats would enjoy sausages and for some reason that visual is just really funny to us.

What A Clever Cat is Gabriella Heyburns first picture book and we really hope that she will continue to make them. Gabriella captured the characteristics of the cats beautifully, they have a lot of personality. The story telling is great and I can see it getting better and better with more books.

If you know a little cat lover you can’t go wrong with this story book. It has been a difficult one to review because I really do not want to give the ending away and spoil it for you. It is a really charming story.

4 out of 5 Webs

Harrison has awarded this book a 4 webs out of 5, the only part he wasn’t sure about though was the cover, a lesson that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because he enjoyed the story inside and it wasn’t sad at all.

You can get yourself a copy of What A Clever Cat now from Shookbop. This is an author and illustrator that I think will continue to put out beautiful stories so get yourself her first book now.

Thank you so much for reading our review.

Samantha and Harrison x

Please note – this book was sent to us for review, it is not a paid review and all opinions are our own.

We Are The Planets by Isla Grace Green – Webb Review

We were very lucky to be sent a whole bunch of books to review from ShookBop and Harry chose the first one to review, he flew straight to We Are The Planets by Isla Grace Green. It has a wonderfully bright and eye catching.

Harry enjoyed We Are The Planets.

Written by space fan, Isla Grace Green, this book is nonfiction and give you facts about each of the eight planets in our solar system.

Yes, it does leave out Pluto but we can’t be mad about that just because we want it to be a planet still. We get to look at the other eight in order with some very cute illustrations of the planets. The book is set out in a really clear and concise way. It has just enough information on each planet to teach you some facts and leave you wanting to discover even more. Harry and I think it would be great to have a book on each planet.

The colours throughout the book really draw you in and make the text exciting so if you have children who are reluctant to spend time with nonfiction books, this one would be a really great introduction to more information based books.

We found our planet!

The text is clear and concise and the font is fun and accessible for young readers. We really enjoyed the layout of this book, you could pick it up and just look at your favourite planet over and over if you wanted to.

Including a page about the sun might have been a good inclusion but I appreciate books that leave you wanting more and giving you the chance to ask your own questions. After reading this book Harry wondered if the Sun was also completely gas, so we did our own research, asking questions that we wouldn’t have asked if we hadn’t read this book.

We Are The Planets

All that being said you may be amazed (we were) to hear that Isla Grace Green wrote this book when she was just 6 years old! How amazing is that? We are very impressed and hope that it is just the beginning of a brilliant astro/author career.

Awarded 5 Webbs!

Harry has awarded this book 5 webbs! He really enjoyed it, as did I. We recommend it to anyone with a fascination with Space, anyone who has no idea about the planets or anyone who is looking for an entry level nonfiction book.

But We Are The Planets now from ShookBop.

Thank you for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison x

Sass Feels Lonely – Writing for small children is harder than it seems!

I am so happy to announce that pre-orders for my brand new book Sass Feels Lonely are live on Shookbop! The book will be published on June 21st and I cannot wait.

Sass Feels Lonely is the first book that I have ever written for smaller children, aimed at under 5s (although I do hope that it will have wider appeal). Sass has a very simple narrative with very bright bold colours and a main character that I think you will fall in love with.

Sass is a very fluffy Bigfoot/Sasquatch that lives alone in the woods. He has always been alone but he manages to keep himself busy. Sometimes even the most creative people get lonely and Sass is no exception. The story shows how he tries to make friends and overcomes his loneliness.

Keeping the word count down was a huge challenge.

It was a real challenge for me as a writer to keep the story simple. The first three or four drafts were considerably longer and more detailed but I knew that I wanted Sass to appeal to a much younger audience. To research, I read a lot of books for smaller children and realised that I needed to let the illustrations do their work of telling the story and trust that they can convey what is happening visually. After around seven drafts I managed to get the text shorter and now it simply amplifies the illustrations as opposed to describing them.

I really thought that writing a shorter story would be easier, it seems simple and the masters that create stories from minimal words really do make it seem that way but in my experience the fewer words you use the harder it seems to be to create something that is unique and full of heart, which is always one of my biggest aims when writing a children’s book. I fully underestimated the time it would take to complete and the amount of drafts that it would take. Even now, when it has gone off to print, a small part of me wishes I could keep editing the text to make it even more perfect but you have to realise when it is time to stop or the book would never be ready for publication.

If you decide to give it a go yourself then I really recommend reading lots and lots of books that are aimed at a similar audience so that you can get a good idea of the structure and word count. That is always a good idea for any book you are attempting though but especially if you are unfamiliar with the structure you are aiming for. Figure out exactly what it is that you need to add to your text and everything else can be whittled down to just the bare text that is needed to push your story forward.

Sass was developed with a lot of the images first (I knew the character well before I began writing), followed by the first few drafts of text. The remaining illustrations were created to fit with the first drafts and then the text was edited into the story that it is now, simple and with a minimal word count.

One day I would love to attempt wordless picture book but I don’t think I am quite confident enough for that yet.

Sass was created primarily on the iPad with procreate.

I am delighted that Sass has a wonderful publisher, Stour Valley Publishing. They have handled my previous title Glub and I am so happy with the outcome. I have every faith that Sass Feels Lonely is in great hands.

I have had some stickers created with Sass and some keyring too, it is so much fun to see him on real products and as soon as I have the book in my hand I will be posting all over my social media.

I don’t have any plans for the launch day yet but I know I will be doing some form of bundle giveaway to celebrate. If you have any suggestions for ways to celebrate please let me know!

Sass keyrings.

Thank you so much for reading about my adventure into writing for smaller children. I am really excited to see what you all think of the new book. I hope you will love Sass as much as I do and I hope that your little ones will too! Preorder your copy now!

Samantha Webb.

Webb Review – Arthur Skid’s Chronicles of Being a Kid Volume 1 by Martin Kirkham and Roxanne Knott

Arthur Skid’s Chronicles Of Being A Kid Volume 1. Facts Kids Need To Know instantly looks like it has been around forever and could easily fit onto a bookshelf next to similar titles.

Harrison Webbling is nine and a very keen reader but to really enjoy it the book has to have humour and Martin Kirkham has definitely delivered on the giggles! Not to give away spoilers but one particular bath scene had Harrison in stitches of laughter that he was still talking about the next day on the way to school.

The illustrations are bright and colourful, Harrison asked if they were Quintin Blake which was great because we got to have a chat about different illustrators and illustration styles. The illustrations by Roxanne Knott really fit the style of the story, facts presented in rhyme form. It was genuinely a really fun book to read and to share.

We enjoyed the story digitally.

I’m going to do the mum things and say that one fact in particular might encourage some unwanted bogie flicking but lets face it, most 9 year olds are more gross than any mum could imagine anyway.

If you don’t like your children to read about the more disgusting parts of being a human and all the lovely ways our bodies manage to expel waste then you won’t like this book but if you have a child who cannot get enough of the gore then they will really enjoy it and want to read it over again.

In terms of book creation, we read the digital copy and that was fantastic; easily accessible and intuitive. The only issue really is that we both found the font a little hard to read in places. It is definitely a fun font but I think that perhaps having one a little more generic would help the reader to keep pace with the poetry, at least in our experience.

The layout of the facts was fantastic and a really great way to present a poetry book because children can easily go back to their favourite fact, which Harrison did, numerous times! The introduction of the characters in the beginning was fantastic and the added certificate at the end was a great touch.

In times when we all really need a laugh especially our little ones, this book is a welcome treat. You can purchase a copy here. We dare you not to laugh at the bath scene!

The favourite bath scene!

Harry awards Arthur Skid’s Chronicles of Being a Kid. Volume 1 Facts Kids Need to Know 4 webbs out of 5 and is really looking forward to reading it again after school today!

Find out more on Martins website – https://www.martinkirkham.com

The digital copy of this book was sent to us by Author Martin Kirkham but the review is not sponsored and is an honest opinion.

Webb Review – Percy The Pigeon by Katie Budge

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.

Percy and Harrison Percy.

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!

Percy and the snail!

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.

Harry pretending to be Percy.

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.

4 out of 5 Webbs

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.

Webb Review – The Witches Tea Party

The Witches’ Tea Party

The Witches’ Tea Party by Stuart McDonald

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.

Lilly Webbling and her witch like false nails!

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.

We gave The Witches’ Tea Party 4 out of 5 Webs

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.

It’s PREORDER day!!!

It is the 1st October today and the moment I opened my eyes my Webblings (who had probably been up at least an hour) gave me a big cuddle and said “Happy Pre Order Day!”, I guess I must have mentioned it once or twice over the last few weeks.

 

Poor Glub is stuck in the crane at an amusement arcade, dreaming of life outside but he has been too scared to take that leap of faith.  Glub knows that he doesn’t look like the other smiley teddies that surround him and he knows that he is a little bit scary but that is all about to change when someone is brave enough to see just how friendly Glub is.

 

I am so excited, I have not seen a physical copy of the book myself yet but the digital files which I have approved have looked fantastic. I am hopeful that a copy will land through my letterbox any day now and I will be able to tell you all about it.

But today is preorder day, you can preorder your copy of Glub ready to receive on launch day. Released on 17th October 2018 Glub will be £6.99 and can be purchased directly from my publishers Little Goblins’ Books, from Waterstones and Amazon in the UK and from Barnes and Noble in the US.

I am still overwhelmed and amazed that my little book will be in real book shops, it is like a dream come true and I cannot wait to see what you think of this little furry guy.

Samantha x

Glub by Samantha Webb
Preorder your copy today!