Archives for posts with tag: Chris Riddell

Published by Macmillan.

I have been a fan of Chris Riddell for many years. This is his latest picture book – published initially in hardback, though I am sure a paperback will be available in due course.

With a cut-out board and free end paper, this is rather a special book. With full page spread of pictures this tells a tale of Little Green Rain Cape – who

‘set off through the woods. She felt well prepared. She had…a strong straight stick, comfortable clumpy boots, and a backpack containing: a good book, breadcrumbs, a pair of clean socks and an invitation to a party. She was wearing her green rain cape.’





On her journey she meets: a wolf, a kindly old lady, a troll, a beast, a harp, three bears, a girl in a red cape, a songbird, a prince, three little pigs, seven dwarves and a witch… to name just a few of the numerous characters that bring this book to life. Those who are well read, will recognise many of them…

A picture book with more text than usual, for those who enjoy a good, long story. It is another wonderful book to add to my collection of picture books…of which I have, a few. Well, actually more than a few….








Published by Macmillan

I am a fan of Chris Riddell. I have been for some time – he is extraordinarily talented (to a degree that makes me more than a little jealous), has a brilliant sense of humour and further, a sense of the absurdity, not to say horror of the world that we live in.

He is by turn a political cartoonist (Observer), a passionate believer in and campaigner for libraries and reading, he is the Children’s Laureate until the end of this year and can sketch a ‘Rarely seen six-toed Sloth’, within seconds of being set the challenge. I know this, because I set it, and have it framed on my wall.

I have a greater challenge for him, the next time I see him – I would like to see him sketch an aye-aye – they are such weird creatures, and so wonderful. I’d love to see how he goes about it…

That though is perhaps more about the man himself than this book – which is a celebration really of the work he did (and is doing, after all he still has six months to go) over the period of his Laureate-ship – if such a word exists.

It contains examples of everything you could imagine – the man’s work is prolific – political cartoons, characters from his books, and from famous stories too, his family, himself, of drawings and sketches of the world as it spins in its sometimes horrendous ways…

It is a snippet not only of his extraordinarily busy time over the last few years, but also of our lives too…

It is, in a way a coffee table book – one for dipping into. I would say one to enjoy when seated on the traditional throne, but it is too nice a book for that. Once picked up, you will want to flip to something else…and so on. A momentary drift into this volume turns into a half hour, when you should, as I, be hanging out washing, or hovering the house….



Published by Buster Books (Michael O’Mara Books Ltd)

This is a small, but important book. It is just 183mm square, and just 34 pages long. I feel it is a book that should be given to all politicians – all heads of religion (apologies, there is probably a ‘proper’ word for those ladies and gentleman), teachers…managers…trade unions…and I suppose parent’s too. It should be given to everyone who has power to remind them of our often hard won freedoms.

I am sometimes amazed by what people believe is their right – which is sometimes confused with what they would like, even if all the indications are that they would probably be better off accepting what has happened, and moving on. This may be contentious – but I believe we should be looking out for each other – irrespective of creed, colour or what ever we are – whether animal, vegetable or mineral… and perhaps thinking about other people first.

We need to start to look out for one another – the old adage – do what you would be done by, seems to have disappeared. Respect and an understanding of our freedoms – of everyone’s freedoms seems not to be important any more.

Perhaps we should be slowing down and not going so fast – taking the time to see one another as we are…to learn from one another….to accept that we are all different with different ideas, and that is all right. That some are better at some things, and some at others – but we all have a value.

This book is a reminder of our responsibility to each other, as well as to the world we live in. In Chris’ introduction he states the following.

We all want a good life, to have fun, to be safe and happy and fulfilled. For this to happen we need to look after each other. In this book there are sixteen different freedoms that help look after us. They are truly wonderful, precious things. these freedoms were created to protect us, forever. We need to stand up for them and look after them just as they look after us.

My favourite is Thought – We all have the right to the information we need to make up our own minds. We have the right to say what we think and share ideas with other people.

The illustration is of a girl of just that age (when they know everything) …striding forth with her nose firmly in a book with a fox bounding beside her.

I would happily pay more in my taxes for those members of parliament who are supposedly running this green and pleasant land to have a copy.




Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Supporting Book Trust (20 pence from the sale of each of these goes to the Book Trust).

There are probably hundreds of colouring-in books that have been published in the last few months or so. Some are better than others.

They contain designs of every sort and type of subject you can imagine: mythical, self-help, (anti-stress / calming etc), literary, seasonal, religious, geographic, magical, oriental, animals (numerous numbers of these of a vastly different types), architecture, shapes, therapy, and botany, to name just a few. Everyone seems to be doing it – our tables are laden with large and small square books.

They are often listed as Adult Colouring books. They aren’t really ‘adult’ in the sense of content of a film being 18+ They are just full of detail, well, some are, and it is assumed that any listed as adult must be more complicated and, therefore, be more difficult to do.

In my view this does not mean that children don’t have the patience or ability to colour these books. They do – it’s just that suddenly adults have been persuaded that this is the ‘new’ thing. I suppose it is for them.

There is only one practical art book that I have regularly sold (previously the subject of a post on this blog) – Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered (by Quinten Blake and John Cassidy) and now there is this new book by Chris Riddell.

This small paperback is full of 366 things to draw, colour in or doodle – one for every day of the year.
Stuffed with drawings from Chris Riddell’s work, some of which I have seen before, others I haven’t. I have bought two copies – an extravagance, but a necessary one.

I intend to use one and to colour in, draw and doodle as directed…The other I shall keep as it is – and perhaps one day I will meet him again and be able to ask him to sign both copies for me… It is a practical art book for fans of his work and suitable for everyone from around six through to 110..or as long as they can hold a pencil, and see.

My favourite date in the book is March the 14th – a Story Starter page… Yes the book includes space for you to write too…should you wish…

It doesn’t go into the ‘science’ particularly, of how to draw, it is more of an encouragement for everyone to start and to keep drawing. Both Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered and this complement each other and should be bought as a set…

In addition to being filled with his wonderful art work – 20 pence of the sale of each volume goes to the Book Trust – a charity that promotes reading….and what could be better than that?

Published by Puffin / ISBN 978 0141338675

This is a gorgeous book about how everyone is different and everyone is ‘something else’.

A small blue creature finds that he is not tall enough and doesn’t have good enough  hand to eye coordination to play with the others – and he quickly realises that to be ‘something else‘ isn’t a good thing and goes home. A while later a different creature turns up on his doorstep and really just asks if he can be his friend, if they can hang out together, but he’s different, he’s ‘something else’. Our little blue monster starts to turn him away. Just before he does, though, he realises that if he really is something else, then really, they are both the same (though different) and they make friends.

Everything is fine, until something else knocks on his door….Sadly I haven’t been able to track down a picture of that particular ‘something else’, so you will have to buy the book to see…

Illustrated by that superb author and artist Chris Riddell…

Published by Pan Macmillan

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat: ISBN 9781405050579

Ottoline goes to School ISBN 9781405050586

Ottoline at Sea ISBN 9781405050593

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse / Hardback / ISBN 9780230759800

Goth Girl and the Fete worse than Death / Hardback /  ISBN 978 0230759824

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright / Hardback / ISBN 978 1447277897

Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen /  Paperback / ISBN 978 1447282417

My first piece of advice is to buy all these books in hardback. Macmillan have out done themselves with the hardback editions. They really are some of the nicest well produced volumes for this group (actually for any age group) and make superb gifts. They really are very special.

The first book was Ottoline and the Yellow Cat – the red one. Then follows Ottoline Goes to School, the purple, and last, but certainly not least is Ottoline goes to Sea (blue and my favourite – because of the manatees)Each book has an additional bit – one has a selection of stickers in the back, another has some special goggles and one has postcards. The books are filled – absolutely to the top with Chris Riddell’s superb illustrations. Some pages have no text all, others just a little. Some pictures have little notes all over them. They are glorious for those young ladies (these really are for young ladies, I’m afraid) who are just ‘getting their feet’ with reading – so the odd page which is totally given over to illustration is wonderful. To be read with an adult or not, depending on how confident you are – they really are gems – gorgeous.

The paperbacks, by their very generic existence, in comparison to the hardback are nice, but nothing like as gorgeous and satisfying as the hardbacks. The stories are fun and clever too. You really can’t go wrong with these.

Then came The Goth Girl books – three regular novels in hardback, and one of those World Book Day books as a small ‘extra’ in paperback – Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, Goth Girl and the Fete worse than Death, Goth Girl and The Wuthering Fright (this is not yet published – 24th September 2015) and Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen.
It is to be hoped that the publishers never degenerate the hardbacks to paperback as they have with the Ottoline books.

These hardbacks have sumptuous end papers (see above and below) and are again filled with illustration. They are for older readers without a doubt – there are references to literary ‘master-pieces’ – Moby Dick for one, but it is once again the plots and the pure design and beauty of these books that will give as much pleasure as the stories themselves. Buy these too, in hardback, before they do something dreadful with them – Once paperbacks are produced, it is often the case that the hardbacks die-out/become extinct and really that just would not do.

If you are wondering if you should purchase any of these now, because your daughter is a little young for them yet, I suggest you buy them as an investment for the future. They really are wonderful – both the Ottoline  and The Goth Girl books. Buy them in hardback whilst you may. There are after all only five of them…and not only do the Goth Girl volumes (the hardbacks, published so far) have the wonderful end papers, but they also have their edges purple or red (depending on the title) – as special books used to be gilded – so ‘all edges purpled/red’ – what more could anyone want?

NB. On revisiting this post it seems my pictures are not being displayed. My only advice, since I can’t seem to get WordPress to do so, is to find them as soon as you can and buy them. The publishers will without doubt one day decide the hardbacks are too expensive , and then if you haven’t bought them, you will certainly regret it.