Zeb Soanes

Cardiff Literature Festival


Today, I went to Cardiff Castle for two Cardiff Children's Literature Festival events which were held in the Castle Undercroft. It was a beautiful venue.


The first event I went to was James Mayhew and Zeb Soanes talking about Gaspard. I enjoyed this so much at the FCBG Conference last weekend that I was keen to hear them again. James demonstrated how to draw Gaspard and the audience joined in, producing some wonderful foxes!


Next was the lovely Yuval Zommer whose new book, 'The Big Book of Blue', is every bit as gorgeous as his two previous titles, 'The Big Book of Bugs' (shortlisted for last year's awards) and 'The Big Book of Beasts'.  Yuval started by sharing these lovely books and 'The Street Beneath My Feet' with everyone. Petr Horacek was in the audience and Yuval showed us all that his book was even taller than Petr! Even I was dragged into the act as Yuval made me come to the front and tell everyone that his titles are all alliterative! 


Everyone enjoyed looking at and talking about the pictures in 'The Big Book of Blue' as Yuval set the children the challenge of drawing a sea monster or sea creature. They set to with great enthusiasm and Yuval circulated, talking to and encouraging each and every one of them. At the end, he called each child out and praised their picture before choosing some winners. 


It was a lovely session, full of fun and drawing! I'm looking forward to next weekend's events. 

The Big Book of Blue   Yuval Zommer with Barbara Taylor

Thames and Hudson   ISBN: 978-0500651193

Gaspard the Fox


One of the sessions at the FCBG Conference this weekend was about a lovely new picture book called 'Gaspard the Fox'. Beautifully illustrated by James Mayhew, it is written by radio and television presenter, Zeb Soanes, who was inspired by a little fox which appeared outside his London home one evening. 


The book follows Gaspard as he makes friends with a very supercilious cat who introduces himself as Peter and Flinty, a little Jackapoo, who escapes from a hole in the back of her kennel when her owner thinks she is safely inside.


During the talk, James explained how, having seen the real Gaspard and how beautiful she is, he felt under pressure to capture that  in his artwork. Coming up with the right colour- 'almost like a smudge in the twilight...almost mercurial in the dark...' was very important and he used 'a limited colour palette to make the book harmonious'. James was able to observe Gaspard very carefully, making many sketches, some of which he shared with us- his incredible skill speaking for itself. 


Zeb told us all about his encounters with Gaspard and how he had started Tweeting about her and how this had led to a huge following for her activities. Sadly, it also led to unwanted, unpleasant attention from certain newspapers! Undeterred, Zeb continued to share Gaspard's adventures, eventually writing the book, using real locations, including the wonderful book barge, 'Words on the Water.'


'Lavish with words', 'Gaspard the Fox' is a lovely story with gorgeous illustrations which is a joy to share. Foxy Facts at the back of the book offer more information about these fabulous creatures and I'm glad to say there are two more books on the way as I, for one, am very keen to hear more about Gaspard, Peter and Flinty.

Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes and James Mayhew

Graffeg     ISBN: 978-1912213542

You can buy the book from Graffeg on their website: http://graffeg.com