Post updated13/02/15: Congratulations to Kate Malbon, Lisa Wheeler and Seonid Beecham for winning the three copies of ‘The Book of Things’!
And so finally the day comes where I get to pen a post about the work of my friend Sarah Dyer, a very talented children’s book illustrator who is Sussex born and bred and now lives in Hove. Yes, another illustrator who’s a friend of ours and whose book I’m reviewing – so sue me. Like attracts like, and since my husband draws for a living, we’re naturally going to have some mates who do the same.
If you’ve read this blog since it began, you’ll recognise Sarah’s name – she was the first person to write a Perfect Guests post for me, about her perfect day in Hove with her rosy-cheeked wee boy Stanley. Then she hosted the first event we ever attended at Bags of Books, which I documented here too.
Sarah has since had another wee boy (so she and I are now in our own version of a ‘boys’ club’), who is just as cherubic as the first. She’s also since had a new book out, ‘The Book of Things: 250+ First Words‘, published by Templar.
I first caught sight of the book in Sarah’s converted-garage studio in her back garden. The book was in French, and it was the only one she had lying around. I headed to Bags of Books in Lewes not long after and bought the English version for my younger boy. He’s pretty far ahead with his speech, but I’m a sucker for a ‘things’ book because I love Richard Scarry (who, pray, doesn’t?) and thought it would be less something to teach him words as to be a conversation starter. How right I was.
But when I gave it to him for Christmas, I was a little shocked by what unfolded… Because my six-year-old was the one who lay down on the floor and got busy with the book. He was the one who trawled the pages and started the conversations. So, more fool me, these kinds of books are not just for toddlers!
Here’s what they talked about and did with the book:
• Spent the longest time on the Big Things page, even though it has the least things on it.
• Big asked Little (and I) questions like: ‘Can you see something yellow with four sides?’ (Answer: door to house), ‘Can you see a red button?’ (Answer: the hubcaps on the bus), and ‘Can you see a basket?’ (Answer: the hanging one on the hot air balloon). I loved that in asking us ‘trick’ questions, he was setting himself a task of sorts, reinterpreting the book in his own way and all the while stretching the mind of my little one (and me!), too.
This quiz continued on the Living Things page, with: ‘Can you see something that flies with blue eyes?’ (owl) and ‘Can you see something with a tongue like this *drew a zigzag in the air* (snake) and ‘Can you see something that’s good at balancing?’ (goat AND seal – double-trick!).
• While looking at the Small Things page, we discussed many of the things we saw. Big thought lots of it was ‘cute’, including the bubbles, the lentils and the dust. Little said he liked the biscuit the best (surprise) and Big went for the LEGO brick.
We were interrupted at that point, but the book has been looked at many times since. Sometimes I come into the playroom and there they are, buried in conversation over a tiny funny detail. We’ve particularly enjoyed looking at the little ‘jokes’ on some of the pages – the cross-eyed girl bear spinning on the roundabout, the ‘struggle’ illustration on the Thins We Can Do page, and the bear pulling the page to turn it. We laughed about the More Noisy Things page missing two things: my two boys.
For us, it’s been a totally successful buy – I love Sarah’s illustrations, which are completely hand-drawn (something that’s becoming rarer these days). Sarah doesn’t work any part of her process on a computer in the creation of her books, and I think it’s this that makes her characters feel warmer – as if they could walk off the page. Don’t you agree?
Because of this, I want to get to know a little more about the book – the whys and hows behind its creation – from its creator. As I started to write this review, I Googled Sarah, and found there are quite a few old interviews lying around the Internet, some of them from before she moved down to Hove and had Stanley.
So I thought I’d ask her some questions myself – these will be published in a new post in a couple of days. Which will act as a handy reminder to enter the competition to win a copy of ‘The Book of Things.’ But why wait until then? You can enter via any of the methods below… Good luck!
READER COMPETITION + GIVEAWAY (OPEN TO UK RESIDENTS ONLY – SO SORRY!)
This is a social media competition in which THREE copies are being given away. To enter to be one of the lucky winners of ‘The Book of Things‘ just:
- Share this post on Facebook (yes, you may do that despite how I feel about it! But if you do, please let me know in the comments section below so that I can register your entry)
- Share the post on Twitter, following @LittleLewes if you don’t already, as well as @iamsarahdyer with the tag #BookofThings
- Share the post on Instagram – take a picture of your screen, or a screen grab from your phone of one that I post, follow @littlelewes and @sarah_illustrator, hashtagging #BookofThings
- Share the post on Google+ (again, please let me know in comments, as I’m so new to it)
- Comment on this post in the section below, making sure to put your email address in the indicated field so I can reach you. If you subscribe to receive Little Lewes post notifications (in the side bar on computer, at the bottom on mobile), extra credit again… *smiley winky face*
The competition/giveaway will run for just over a week, closing next Friday the 13th of February at midday. So get sharing!
‘THE BOOK OF THINGS’ DETAILS
The book retails at £8.99 and is only available in hardback. It’s available in English, French, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Italian. ‘The Book of Colours’ is out in May – I’ll be reviewing it!
‘The Book of Things’ can be found at Bags of Books, who have a good stock of the book. If they’re out of them, Bags of Books can order copies in for next-day or two-day delivery at no charge. It can also be ordered Hive.co.uk – if you order through Hive, you can have your books delivered in to Bags of Books at no charge.
The book makes a fantastic present for all kinds of ages of children (as I hope I’ve shown), and is a brilliant book for a new baby. It includes a double page spread about seasons and day/night, which I know makes it great for schools, nurseries and libraries.
SARAH DYER DETAILS
Good luck in the competition!
Disclosure: I bought ‘The Book of Things’ after I saw a copy of the French version in Sarah’s studio. I approached Templar about reviewing it, and they offered to give away three copies. There are a couple of affiliate links placed in this post to The Hive, but otherwise no compensation, financial or otherwise, has been offered or exchanged for the writing of this post.
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