Thursday, April 10, 2014

From page to pane: creating a bookshop window, with a little help from Suzanne Barton, The Dawn Chorus, and Peep

Ah Spring. Season of new life and fresh starts, so when we were offered the chance of a window make-over by a talented new author and illustrator by publisher Bloomsbury - we jumped at the chance.

So on Tuesday, we welcomed Suzanne Barton (and just a few family and friends 'helpers'!) who set out to transform the shop...

Suzanne Barton is an Oxford-based author and illustrator, who began making picture books after finishing an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art.

Her first picture book is the story of a small bird called Peep, and what happens when he endeavours to join the wonderful 'dawn chorus'...

Mark appeared on BBC Radio Oxford on Monday talking about the book with broadcasting legend Sybil Ruscoe as part of the Afternoon Bookclub - click on the link and fast-forward to 1 hour 10 minutes to get a feel for the how special the book is.

We wanted to involve as many of our customers as possible, so for the past few weeks, we'd been handing out some custom-made bird templates for children to decorate - and on Tuesday, children brought them in or made them in the shop... 

They were able to meet the author and get copies signed...

...whilst all the time we were adding their creations to an impressive growing flock in the window:

The finished result is - we have to say - breathtaking and delightful...


Huge thanks to Suzanne - and her team - for working incredibly hard the whole day on Tuesday.

Thanks also to Bloomsbury for making it happen - and being so supportive throughout the day.

We took the opportunity to ask Suzanne a few quick questions about her writing life. So we'll leave you with these, and a few more stunning pictures...

Five questions with...Suzanne Barton's Writing (and Drawing) Life

1.    What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m working on my next book for Bloomsbury. (on being pressed for more details) Can’t say too much about it at the moment, but it might feature another bird character…

2.    What is the best writing tip you’ve ever been given? 

Can I do an illustration tip? When I first started out as an illustrator, I thought ‘I can’t be an illustrator because I can’t draw everything from memory’. And then I learned that to draw things you need to observe things from real-life, you need to absorb information and get inspiration from things around you to be able to get your ‘version’ of whatever it is you are drawing. And that version may not bear any resemblance to the things you’ve seen. I learned that you need to put something in to get something out – does that make sense?

3.    What’s the best thing and the worst thing about being a children’s writer?

The best thing is doing what I love. I can't believe I get to do a job where you stick and draw. The worst thing? Nope, can't think of one...

4.    Do you have a writer’s survival kit, eg a place, thing of snack essential before you can start work? 

My cat! She’s usually there, drinking out of the water, often sitting in a drawer. Once she’s there, I can begin work!

5.    What was your biggest breakthrough?

Doing my MA in children’s illustration at Cambridge – lots of breakthroughs came after that. Then it was having my first book at Bologna. 


Discover much more about Suzanne, the book - and have a chance of winning one of her drawings - over on the Space On The Bookshelf blog...

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