What’s new in picture books?

What’s new in picture books?

Breaking the rules

Everyone who is a blogger advises you need to ‘blog’ at least twice a week. I haven’t managed anything like that and there has been an especially long gap since I last wrote. But now I really want to tell you about my new book, so here I am again.

When the Cat’s Away, a picture book for young children, illustrated by Lionel King, was launched on September 25th, 2017.

The launch, which some of you attended, was held at Stanton Library, North Sydney. John McCallum was our impressive MC and Ursula Dubosarsky graciously agreed to send our book out into the world. You can read her speech at the launch here. (Ursula’s kind words will long be cherished by me)


My just-turned one year old grandson, Noah, to whom I dedicated the book (Lionel dedicated it to Judy King, his wife) managed to upstage me as I delivered my speech. You can see him demonstrating his new skills of walking and clapping for the audience.

After the speeches, we had the trumpeter, Mark Strykowski, play the Marseillaise to get people in the mood for the storytelling. I was able to read the story from the online version projected onto the wall in the Conference Room at the library.

The process of creating this book was pure delight from my perspective. Once the text was written it was a matter of waiting for a new illustration to appear in my inbox, usually on a Sunday evening. Lionel is a scientist at RESMED and the weekends are when he does most of his sketching and painting. Numerous conversations followed as we adjusted both text and image until at last our book was ready to go into production.

It is such a pleasure for us to hear about children’s responses to the book. Already we’ve had quite a few comments such as “My daughter (3) woke this morning talking about mice in the house!🐭“. We have also had some wonderful reviews – you can see them on Amazon and at Good Reads (you can ask questions about the book on this site as well) or look at them here. We are keen for more reviewers (only honest reviews) and if you, or someone you know, would like a review copy, please let me know.

So… if you would like to put the book in someone’s christmas stocking, it is available as a print book from places such as the Book Depository in the U.K, Amazon  and the Moshshop. Or you can contact me on my website (donnagibbsbooks.com), or by email (gibbs.donna@gmail.com) and I can post it to you. It is also available as an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords for around $3.00.

In my next blog I’d like to talk about some books that are thought to send the wrong message to children. I’ll be interested to hear what you think.



Who’s afraid of graphic novels and other news . . .

Who’s afraid of graphic novels and other news . . .

Who’s afraid of graphic novels?

If yoclip_10u have been hesitant about encouraging children to read graphic novels, it may be time to change your mind. On the Playful Learning website you can read about why graphic novels make great reading and learningclip_9 experiences for children.The article ‘5 great reasons to Read Graphic Novels’  is followed by a list of favourites that have proved their worth.

The author ends the article by saying: ‘If you are looking for even more inspiration the list on the A Mighty Girl website . . . is focused more on female characters, but there is no reason why boys won’t enjoy them just as much!’ (She must have read my last blog post, don’t you think?)

And if you are looking for even more titles, the website for What do we do all day offers lists of books to read, including lists of graphic novels.

From page to screen is another option worth pursuing. Thanks to Dr Kerry-Ann O’Sullivan for kindly forwarding this link about a series of graphic novels, The Hildafolk Collection by Luke Pearson. Netflix is planning a twelve-episode animated series, based on the first four books, for early 2018.



My new book

Bear Wants to Know, a picture book for 2 to 5s, is now available. I first wrote a version of this book for my granddaughter, Harriet, nearly a decade ago.

for-blogNow with the help of illustrator, Janet Trotta, the story has evolved into a picture book. At first reading to my kindy group, the children were very taken with the last double page spread of the book (it was back-cover-for-blogentirely Janet’s idea to do the page this way – so I am grateful to her). They liked pointing out to me all the things in Harriet’s bedroom that they’d seen during the story.

If you would like a copy of the book ($14.95 with free postage), or any of my other books, do email me (gibbs.donna@gmail.com) so I can arrange delivery.






The Fan Brothers

I read an interview recently about the illustrator brothers, Eric and Terry Fan whom I’d not come across before. Their illustrations for The Night Garden, which they also co-authored, had me immediately intrigued.


From The Night Garden

When visiting the Blues Point Bookshop (once you are inside it is very hard to leave), I came across The Darkest Dark illustrated by the Fan brothers and written by the astronaut Chris Hadfield. I think this book would have appeal for most age groups but particularly the 5 to 7 year olds. It is about overcoming fear of the dark but also about dreaming dreams and making them happen.



The book also has nostalgic appeal for adults because the child narrator huddles with others around a television, to watch Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon. Some of my readers watched this event with me along with lots of school children, many moons ago when we were all crowded into a hall in Hinemoa.