There were exactly 1300 entrants in my Usborne Christmas Picture Book November Giveaway. Being a numbers freak, I liked that it ended so perfectly lol.
Anyway, onto the business of announcing the winner.
The winner of the November Giveaway is…
Paul from Omagh.
Paul, your books are already speeding their way to you so you’ll have plenty of reading time before Xmas.
There was a fantastic balloon festival near me this month. The grandchildren thought it was magic. Don’t they look cute?
Yikes, I just realized there’s only 21 sleeps until Christmas. I’m off to panic.
Christmas is coming! As I write this there are just 51 sleeps until the big day. Yikes!
With that in mind, my November giveaway has four classic picture books from Usborne; perfect for building excitement for your little ones.
The titles are:
Twas the Night Before Christmas
This is one of my personal favourite books of all time. I did so many reads of this story that my kids could recite it word for word. (And, thirty years later, one still can ha ha)
The Snow Queen
A classic tale with gorgeous illustrations.
A Christmas Carol
A fantastic version to introduce children to the story of Scrooge.
The 12 Days of Christmas
Is it a book or a song? The Twelve Days of Christmas is a must.
The Giveaway finishes on 30th of November so you will get plenty of pre-Christmas bedtime reading so enter now.
Peep inside the Zoo
One of the new books we acquired over the summer was Peep inside the Zoo by Simona Dimitri. My two and a half year old grand-daughter claimed it right away.
I’m a big fan of Usborne books, and the quality of this book is no exception. It’s a chunky book with a lovely silky feel to the cover and the size is just right for grand-daughter. The illustrations are colourful and attractive, and there are lots of different shaped flaps to lift and interesting holes to peep through.
Penguins shuffle when they walk.
They’re birds that cannot fly.
But when they dive into the water…
and flap their wings like flippers…
they’re super speedy swimmers!
It would be a great book to read to prepare for an actual zoo visit.
One of grand-daughters favourite pages features a gorilla cradling a (sneakily concealed) baby in its arms. All say Aww 🙂
There isn’t really enough text to keep my 4 year old grandson interested for more than a few read-throughs but it’s a great book for the 2-3 year old age group – especially as it’s on offer on Amazon at £3.85 at the moment.
Peep Inside the Zoo is part of a fun series of books and are a must for all lift-the-flap fans.
PS. Don’t forget this months Julia Donaldson giveaway. It ends on Sunday.
Planning my picture book video.
I like watching book videos. I can
waste spend hours on YouTube (in the name of research, you understand). There is such a vast range of styles and variation in quality, from professional movie standard productions down to the most basic, obviously home-made, pan-around-a-stock-picture efforts. I love them all.
I always intended on having a video for Better Buckle Up and Things Evie Eats and creating a video for a picture book is easier than creating one for a text-only book because you already have the visuals sorted. But I had a limited budget to work with, so I had to do a lot of planning to get the job I wanted at a price I could afford.
1) Teaser type trailer v complete reading?
The video for Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson is worthy of a Disney movie. It hints at the story but doesn’t tell it completely, just like a film trailer. This is some seriously nice animation but it’s way above my pay grade.
However, I decided on a complete reading of the books rather than a teaser type with excerpts. As a new author, it’s important that people get a feel for your books before they buy, that way parents can be sure what they’re getting. The full reading video can also be used to entertain children on car journeys etc.
One of the arguments against putting the whole book out is that, if people can read the book online, there is no need for them buy. However, my experience is that 1. children read a book they like multiple times and 2. picture books for children sell best in hard copy, so getting them hooked on a story might actually lead to more sales.
2) To see the person reading, or not to see the person reading?
My next dilemma in planning my picture book video was, did I want it to be a ‘story-time’ type video like Eric Carle in this reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
Or did I want to just see the book, like this Usborne Alphabet Picture Book?
I tested several videos out with my grandchildren and found the ones they requested to watch most featured only the book. This surprised me, but they seemed to focus on the story more and were less distracted by the person reading it.
Rather than film myself turning the pages of the book, I decided I could use the file I created in Adobe InDesign to turn the pages digitally. I then used Camtasia, a screen capture software to record me reading the book and turning the pages at the appropriate place.
3) My voice or a voice over?
This was a real dilemma. I never like my Northern accent and paying for a voice-over artist on Fiverr wasn’t too expensive. I spent a long time listening to the various readers but, after recording the page turning, I decided I didn’t sound as bad as I thought. Twenty years of living in Wales has obviously mellowed my voice. And doesn’t Eric Carle’s accent makes the reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar special? So, I went with me.
4) Intro and Outro?
Up until this point the trailer had cost me very little but I wanted the videos to have an Intro and Outro to give them a more professional look. I worked with PlainSightVFX, the people who did the illustrations for Better Buckle Up, and they used the idea from my website to come up with a graphic. The great thing about this is that I can use them on any video I make in the future. This will keep my branding recognizable too.
Wanna see it? Course you do.
5) Music: the food of love?
The finishing touch was the soundtrack. Music copyright is as big a minefield as photo copyright and again I wanted something to go over the Intro and Outro that was unique to me. The answer was to commission my own piece. I sent several pieces of music in a style I liked as a starting point. They also took the animations I’d had done so it fitted exactly. After all, there’s nothing worse than a soundtrack cutting off or fading out mid-phrase. I’m very excited about it all and the finished videos will be available very soon.
So what do you think about book videos? Love ’em or hate ’em?
It’s the time of year when little ones everywhere are getting ready for their first day at school. I hated my first days at school. Although I could read fluently, I wasn’t prepared for the noise and boisterousness of the other children. I’d never been to pre-school and had only one little sister. It was six months before I’d take off my coat.
Reading a book with your child can really help them to understand what to expect. Here’s a selection of some of my favourites.
You can’t go wrong with any book by husband and wife team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and “Starting School” is a classic from 1990. The text goes through, not just the first day, but the whole first term, and it’s fairly comprehensive in explaining everything from hanging up coats to what lessons they might expect. It has elements of fun with the class rabbit and the reassurance that their parents will always return at the end of the day. The names of the children in the book are fairly multicultural but there are mentions of saying prayers in assembly and a Christmas play about Jesus, which may or may not be an issue for you.
I Am Too Absolutely Small For School
“I Am Too Absolutely Small For School” is a Charlie and Lola book by Lauren Childs which tackles the subject of first school days in a sensitive and more modern way. Charlie’s little sister, Lola, is due to start school but she isn’t sure she wants to, so it’s up to Charlie to persuade her. And he does a really good job. “Lola, you need to learn to write so you can send your Christmas list to Santa Claus. You need to learn to read in case there’s an angry ogre who won’t go to sleep until you’ve read him his favourite story.” Great fun stuff.
Now, much as I love this book, there is one thing that really irks me about it. One of Lola’s concerns is wearing a ‘schooliform.’ She doesn’t like to wear the same as other people. But this is tackled by saying, “But, Lola, we don’t have to wear a uniform at our school.” Which is not really helpful for children who do have to wear a uniform and I can’t imagine why the author would put in a concern and not solve it. A minor point but one to bear in mind if your child’s school has a uniform.
Friends at School
“Friends at School” by Rochelle Burnett is a great book. Described as, “A photo essay that shows pre-school children of mixed abilities busily working and playing at school, illustrating the true meaning of the word ‘inclusion,'” this book does exactly what is says on the tin. I loved this book. I loved the photos and the happy feel. It almost made me want to go back to school. If you’re only buying one book, make it this one.
My Teacher’s my Friend
Very often, a teacher can be seen as a scary, authority figure. “My Teacher’s My Friend: by P.K. Hallinan is a great way to rectify this. From the moment the teacher greets them in the morning, until the time they walk them to the bus at the end of school, this story goes through many of the ways that your child’s teacher is their friend. It also explains some of the ways the teacher makes school special in a gentle, reassuring way. An unusual take on the starting school book.
Starting School Sticker Book
The Usborne “Starting School Sticker Book” is another fun way to help explain the school day to your child with the added bonus of over 100 stickers. And how many children don’t like stickers?
I Love you all Day Long
My final choice is “I Love you all Day Long” by Francesca Rusackas.
Owen the pig is worried.
“But Mummy you won’t be with me.”
“That’s right, Owen,” said his Mummy. “But you should always remember this. I love you when I’m with you. And I love you when we’re apart.”
Not just good for first days at school, this book is a lovely choice for anytime your child might be suffering separation anxiety if you have to leave them.
Hoping you and your child both have a happy start to school.
PS Don’t forget my giveaway on Goodreads for Things Evie Eats is still open for entries.