James Mayhew

Happy birthday, Katie!


It is 30 years since James Mayhew’s wonderful book, ‘Katie’s Picture Show’ was first published. The perfect introduction to five famous paintings, the book follows Katie as she visits an art gallery with her grandmother. Exhausted by having been spun round in the revolving doors by her granddaughter, Grandma stops in the entrance for a rest whilst Katie sets off to explore. Curious and mischievous, Katie finds she can climb into various works of art and explore them, her bright red coat standing out in each one.


This book- and Katie’s subsequent adventures- is a wonderful starting point for giving children the confidence to explore art and bringing pictures to life. To the teacher, they are invaluable, but I also enjoyed sharing them with my son when he was little. He was so excited when we found pictures that he recognised from the story on our visits to art galleries.


Katie has since gone on to enjoy other adventures exploring more fabulous works of art. Grandma continues to enjoy a little snooze whilst Katie discovers the joys of a whole host of pictures. Each of these books offers endless possibilities for fun in the classroom - or at home. Notes are included in each book about the paintings she explores and the artists who created them, and there is a teaching pack available with ideas for using each title (here). Katie also has some other adventures with dinosaurs when she visits the Natural History Museum and exploring London and Scotland.


We have great plans for celebrating Katie’s birthday next term which include creating large scale copies of some of the pictures in which she has her adventures and then imagining adventures of our own set there as well as finding out about the artists behind them. As Katie and her Grandma also enjoy the occasional sweet treat, we have some tenuously related cooking activities planned too!

Happy birthday, Katie- we look forward to seeing which pictures you visit next- and thank you, Mr Mayhew, for writing such lovely books!

Katie’s Picture Show James Mayhew

Orchard Books ISBN: 978-1408332405

Bournville Book Fest


At last year’s Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ Conference, I found myself having breakfast at the same table as a lovely lady, who turned out to be Sarah- the brains behind Bournville Book Fest! Having chatted for a while, I said that if she ever needed an extra pair of hands to let me know. And so, to my delight, she did!


Having left school earlier than I have ever done before, I made my way up the M5 to Birmingham. Sarah had kindly invited me to dinner with the authors and I was delighted to be able to attend. After a very interesting (!) taxi ride, I arrived at the Bournville Community Hub, a wonderful space, where everyone was gathering.


It was a lovely gathering with Nick Sharratt, Jacqueline Wilson, James Mayhew and Antonio Reche-Martinez. Sarah made a warm speech, welcoming everyone and the evening was wonderfully relaxed and friendly, full of conversation and laughter. A delicious spread was on offer and the fruit pavlova was unbelievable! (Thank you Sarah’s mum!)


The following morning, I was up bright and early and made my way to the Blue Coat School where the day’s events were to take place. Everyone was busy, preparing for the day ahead. Bravely ignoring the lure of the bookshop, I helped set things up and before we knew where we were, members of the public were arriving for Jacqueline and Nick’s event.


A ripple of excitement ran through the audience when children spotted Jacqueline Wilson through the curtain before she came on stage, once again reminding me just why children listening to authors is so powerful and important. There was a lovely atmosphere as the crowd hung on her every word and found out more about her life and her work.


Nick Sharratt then taught everyone- including Jacqueline- how to draw some of the iconic characters she has created in words and he in images. His step-by-step guidance led to some excellent drawings and inspired many illustrators-to-be!


Everyone was delighted when they found out that both these lovely people were signing books today. The queue was massive and there were some very moving stories about letters Jacqueline had written to people when they were younger which had inspired them and the effect reading her books has had. It was very heart warming!


Whilst they were valiantly signing, Tracey Corderoy had taken to the stage next door. Always a joy to watch, Tracey entertained her audience brilliantly with fun and games. Sadly, Steven Lenton was unable to join her as he is poorly (get well soon, Steven!), but Tracey rose to the challenge and taught everyone how to draw Slippery Sam. Excellent fun was had by all!


It was a pleasure to mingle and chat to those there whilst writing names on Post-Its and directing queues. There was a lovely crowd, very supportive of Sarah’s work and appreciative of the effort she puts into this venture. Local people are very proud of their festival.


Robin Stevens spoke next, fascinating young sleuths with insights into her work. She had her audience completely captivated and many were obviously ardent admirers who had brought their entire Wells and Wong collection with them to be signed! Whilst signing, Robin patiently answered question after question, inviting children to contact her via her website. One man was visiting from America and was delighted when he noticed that these were the books his daughter was reading back home! He showed me a photo of her, clutching the American editions.


James Mayhew’s ‘Ella Bella’ event had taken place in another part of the school so I hadn’t had a chance to see him; however, I caught up with him when he came over to take part in the Big Drawing Challenge. This was a fabulous event with lots of children joining the illustrators on stage and working with them to create amazing pictures!


This was only a fraction of all the wonderful things taking place throughout the day! I completely missed Isabel Thomas talking about her beautiful book, ‘Moth’, the science workshops, the Brambly Hedge stories, the craft activities…


What a wonderful festival Bournville Book Fest is! Huge congratulations to Sarah and her team for making it happen- and look so easy! The wonderfully warm, friendly atmosphere has not happened by accident- a huge amount of care and preparation have gone into this occasion and that personal touch speaks volumes. Thank you so much for offering me the opportunity to help out today- please ask me back next year!


All 80 titles for the six categories of our long list have now been reviewed! Each and every one a fantastic book, highly recommended by JAB and the NSTAB team.

The short list will be announced on the 8th September. Votes from the panel are already coming in so here's a little reminder of the twenty fabulous books on the Picture Book Category Long List.


After the Fall      Dan Santat (Andersen Press) 


Almost Anything - Sophy Henn (Puffin)


Cyril and Pat- Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)


Fairy Tale Pets - Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Jorge Martin (Little Tiger)


What's Your Favourite Colour? - Eric Carle and Friends   (Walker)


Goat's Coat - Tom Percival, illustrated by Christine Pym  (Bloomsbury)


I'm Going to Eat This Ant- Chris Naylor-Ballesteros   (Bloomsbury)

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Izzy Gizmo  Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie  (Simon and Schuster)

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Little Red Reading Hood  Lucy Rowland, illustrated by Ben Mantle  (Macmillan)


Lulu Gets a Cat Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (Alanna Books)


Mrs Noah's Pockets  Jackie Morris, illustrated by James Mayhew (Otter Barry Books)


Nimesh the Adventurer  Ranjit Singh, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini  (Lantana)


Something Fishy  Polly Dunbar  (Two Hoots)


The Great Gran Plan  Eli Woollard, illustrated by Steven Lenton (Macmillan)


Unplugged    Steve Antony (Hodder) 


This Zoo is Not for You Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)


The Word Collector  Peter H. Reynolds  (Orchard Books)


Look Out, It's A Dragon!       Jonny Lambert (Little Tiger)


The Last Chip    Duncan Beedie    (Templar Publishing)


Spyder     Matt Car   (Scholastic)

All amazing! Which will make it to the short list?