FABULOUS FIVE: Rob Biddulph presents five fabulous picturebooks
Today I am delighted to welcome Rob Biddulph for an new installment of Fabulous Five!
Rob’s début picturebook Blown Away has just been released. It is the story of intrepid Penguin Blue who is taken on an unexpected journey when his kite catches the wind and blows them away. A lovely tale of friendship, seeking adventure and feeling homesick, Blown Away manages to marry modern, sleek artwork with classic-sounding narrative. The text rhymes and works really well, with great cadence and short sentences which help create a great pace, conveying the excitement of the adventure. The artwork has plenty of child appeal with its bright colours, cheeky monkeys(and cute baby seals!) and visual gags. But it is will also a visual feast for adult picturebook admirers. I particularly liked the use of the page and also the texture of the artwork, with the canvas pattern showing.
With its lovely rhyming text and its denouement portraying that there is nothing quite like home and your own bed at the end of a long fun-packed day, Blown Away makes a perfect bedtime read-aloud.
By day Rob is the award-winning art director of the Observer Magazine. By night he makes up silly stories for his three daughters, and draws pictures to go with them. He lives and works in London, Blown Away is his début picturebook.
Check out Rob’s Blown Away-themed puzzles activities, downloadable from the Guardian website
Five Fabulous Picture Books
by Rob Biddulph
My childhood favourite. My own kids love it too. We’ve spent many a bedtime hunting for Bugdozer! The reason I like it so much is that it appeals to my slightly geeky nature. I love the cross-sections – the ship is just amazing. As are the explanations of how roads are built and where bread comes from. I’ve honestly learned so much from that book. Also, I must have read it hundreds of times but I still spot something new with each read. There’s just so much to look at.
A recent addition to our library from the astonishingly talented Emma Yarlett. It’s gone down particularly well with Poppy, 5. It’s what we call a Three-nighter (we read it for three bedtimes in a row). Emma’s realisation of Dark as a character is just beautiful – he really is made of stars. Also, she has managed to weave so much detail and humour into every page that each viewing brings a new delight. A gorgeous, rich tapestry of a book. We love it!
For my money the best children’s text ever written. The efficiency of word is just phenomenal. And it’s just SO funny! Check this out for a set-up:
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
The rhythm and the rhyme is just perfect. It’s brilliantly crafted, and I really love and appreciate that. There’s nothing worse than a rhyming text that doesn’t quite scan. It’s definitely my favourite book to read aloud.
Another new one and an immediate hit chez Biddulph. In fact I’d go as far as to say that of all the books I’ve read in recent years this has the best structure. It’s the perfect picture book. Great use of repetition, brilliant ever-increasing-in-size monsters, a fab heroine and a lovely reassuring message. Also it features the most cliff-hangers I’ve ever seen in one story! I really, really wish I’d written it.
The book that made me want to write picture books. From an illustrative point of view, Oliver’s artistry and creativity is unparalleled. The visual execution (the whole thing is painted on book pages and covers) is sensational and the surprise, die-cut ending is laugh-out-loud funny. Seeing and reading this book made me realise that not only are picture books is a very valid artform but one of the most rewarding. I’m honoured to be working with the very same team that publish Oliver. I really am incredibly lucky!
Thank you for a wonderful selection, Rob.
Blown Away is out now and is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.