Monday, 19 June 2017

Perfecto Pet Show by Pepper Springfield

Today, I’m very excited to feature Pepper Springfield (aka Judy Newman, President of the Scholastic Reading Club) as she talks about her life and her journey to becoming a published author. Please enjoy. 

I always wanted to write books. It just took me many decades to get up enough courage and self-confidence to actually sit down and do it. 

Successful published authors often attribute their success to reading and I agree. 

All kinds of reading—aloud, alone, together—were firmly baked into my childhood. I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and so we read local picture book favorites such as Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal virtually every night before bed.

Clearly, here I was not too thrilled with sharing reading time with that small bundle (aka my sister-and-now-friend-ally-and-confidant, Emily) in my mom’s arms!

However, I was thrilled when years later I got to meet Robert McCloskey at his home in Maine and record an audio interview with him about his writing life for our school book clubs. I asked him about the inspiration for Make Way for Ducklings. He, along with so many other authors, truly inspires me.

I did write one “novel” in fifth grade: Danny Sompedia Around Town, in which Danny and his dog are left to fend for themselves after a car accident kills the adult Sompedias. I have judged many student writing contests over the years and I now know that killing off the parents in a fatal car accident is a very common device in budding writers’ work.

I was a competitive reader and I liked to be the kid who read the most books during our Newton Free Library summer reading challenge. I rode my blue banana bike to the library every day, took out as many books as I could fit in my bike bag, and meticulously wrote down every title I read. Somewhere in my parents’ house, I still have those handwritten records.

This isn’t a photo of me, but it easily could’ve been. (From the collection of the Newton Free Library in Massachusetts)

Each year, when we moved up a grade in elementary school, my parents would take we three kids to Louis Strymish’s New England Mobile Book Fair. As a reward for graduating, we would get to pore over the stacks of books (many piled on pallets since Strymish was a book “jobber”) and get to choose titles we wanted for summer reading.

Running through these aisles was almost like a treasure hunt—it could take hours but I would always find that perfect book (Courtesy of Boston University)

I continued that tradition with my own children and, as you can see, their noses were buried in books all summer long.

John and Becca, my two children, reading wherever they found a space!

I divide the world into book people and non-book people. And it is book people—readers, publishers, bloggers (like March of Time Books…), and authors—that I have always been drawn to. I was practically born a reader. My chosen career is book publishing. I read blogs and recently started writing one ( and, at last, I am thrilled to be a published author, too!

It was quite a stressful journey.

Usually on weekends, I would go to my desk to write and I would get so anxious, I would fall asleep. But l learned to give in to that, take a little nap, and just keep going. And so, page by page, my manuscript came together. I was determined to write a chapter book in rhyme because I am passionate about trying to find high interest, funny books for kids who don’t feel confident about reading.

I stare at these bookshelves, which are in my office at home, trying to get some inspiration for my own books. 

I cannot draw at all, so once I had a reasonably coherent manuscript, I needed to find an illustrator to collaborate with. I went on the SCBWI website and found Kristy Caldwell. I didn’t know Kristy before, but now we are working on our third Bobs and Tweets book and I cannot imagine a creative life without her.

Clearly this childhood photo of Kristy shows her unique blend of thoughtful intelligence, creative fun, and dislike of napkins!
Kristy’s interpretation of the two wacky families who star in my book series, the messy Bobs and the neat Tweets—along with the main protagonists, Dean Bob and Lou Tweet (who are NOT like the rest of their families!)—was so close to how I imagined them. Together, we are bringing these characters to life. And with each book, the world of Bonefish Street (where these characters live) gets richer and richer. I am hoping for an animated series some day!

Even though I have worked in children’s book publishing for more than two decades, I am still learning so much about what it takes to be an author—and get readers to discover my book. I use the pseudonym, Pepper Springfield, because until very recently, I was terrified of being exposed as a fraud.

I worried that if my Bobs and Tweets books got bad reviews or didn’t sell, my whole professional credibility would be challenged (I am supposed to be an expert in children’s books!). But I am gradually getting over that. I did an interview with Publishers Weekly explaining that there are lots of good reasons to use a pseudonym, but fear is not one of them.

Now I am determined to not let fear stand in my way. I am writing about my experience (as I am here), just signed up to do my first bookstore signing (gulp!), and am not above “photo bombing” and putting my Bobs and Tweets titles right up there on top shelves!

My Bobs and Tweets nestled in with some great classics!
It is such hard work, but a true privilege to be able to share my ideas and my characters with readers. After all these years of working in children’s book publishing, it is inspiring and humbling to see the world from an author’s point of view.

Last spring, debut author and illustrator team Pepper Springfield and Kristy Caldwell introduced readers to two distinctive families, the Bobs and the Tweets, in a new series BOBS AND TWEETS. In its enthusiastic review of the first book, Meet the Bobs and Tweets, Booklist said, “Antics abound, and kids will be eager for more in future adventures.” Now, just in time for summer reading, theescapades continue in BOBS AND TWEETS: Perfecto Pet Show (Scholastic; June 27, 2017; 9780545870733).

When last seen, the Bobs and Tweets had moved across from each other on Bonefish Street at the recommendation of Mo, a wacky and wise community leader with a sense of humor. The problem: The Tweets are super neat and the Bobs are just plain slobs, and there just may not be enough room for the two families on the same street. But not all Bobs and Tweets are exactly the same! The two youngest members of these outrageous families—Lou Tweet and Dean Bob—have personalities all their own. When Lou and Dean meet at the town pool they become fast friends.

In Perfecto Pet Show, everyone is super-excited because Lou and Dean’s teacher, Ms. Pat, is hosting an afternoon of entertainment featuring kids and their pets. Anything goes she says, as long as each act runs for just three minutes. Lou decides on a rock-n-roll number with her cat, Pretty Kitty, and Dean plans to play the banjo with his pitbull, Chopper. When a giant bikecollision and a case of stage-fright threaten to ruin the fun, the Bobs and the Tweets have to depend on each other and the differences they once thought were intolerable. Will both families put aside their stubborn ways and save the day?

Written in rhyming verse that is perfect for reading aloud, and clever four-color illustrations throughout, BOBS AND TWEETS is an excellent series for emerging readers. The friendship between Lou Tweet and Dean Bob is a wonderful example of how opposites acting together are stronger than they are apart. More adventures will be here soon!

About the Author

Pepper Springfield (aka Judy Newman to close friends and family), was born and raised inMassachusetts. She loves rock ‘n’ roll and chocolate, just like Lou Tweet. And, like Dean Bob, she loves to read and do crossword puzzles. Over the years, Pepper has loved all kinds of pets: dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles, fish, a bunny, and an imaginary monkey. Judy hates the spotlight, but Pepper is getting used to it! If Pepper had to choose, she would be a Tweet by day and a Bob at night.

About the Illustrator

Kristy Caldwell received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. She is a full-time illustrator and a part-time Tweet. While working at her art studio in Brooklyn, NY, Kristy gets her creativity on like Lou Tweet, drinks tea like Dean Bob, and hangs out with her energetic dog friend Dutch.

Book #2: Perfecto Pet Show
By Pepper Springfield
Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: June 27th, 2017
ISBN: 9780545870733
Format: Hardcover and e-book
Price(s): $9.99 / $5.99
Page Count: 80
 # # #
What Do Teachers and Kids Say About the Bobs and Tweets?
 “My students absolutely LOVED this book!” – Jessie, Grade School Teacher
 “I want to read more Bobs and Tweets stories, [they are] good for kids who like Dr. Seuss. It makes reading fun!” – Sophia, 3rd Grade

Monday, 12 June 2017

Pink and Blue Clouds and a Castle in Kent

Hello all, I’m back!

I wish I could tell you I went running everyday, cooked beautiful meals and completely redesigned the garden, but it would be untrue, so I had best come clean and admit to being utterly lazy. I didn’t even do much reading, although I did smell lots of flowers. In the midst of all this idleness, Terry and I enjoyed a few nights away staying at Horsham in West Sussex. From there we enjoyed trips to Hever Castle in Kent, a fascinating visit to The Houses of Parliament in London and to Nymans a National Trust property near Haywards Heath. We also spent a few hours in Guildford, a favourite shopping destination of mine. While there, we came across a little corner of Wonderland but unlike Alice, we went up rather than down!  Up to the 5th floor of a department store to be precise where we alighted onto a pink and blue cloud! 

Picture from The Tea Terrace Website
Picture from The Tea Terrace Website; follow this link to find out more. 

I took masses of photographs while we were away, including some of the tearooms which I will share in a later post. Processing them, however, is taking much longer than usual as I attempt to get to grips with Lightroom image-editing software. I’ve used an old version of PhotoImpact for the last eleven years, meaning I’m on something of a steep learning curve. As if that were not enough I’m also attempting to master the settings on my camera. I use a Canon G11 compact set on ‘auto’ but I really must learn to use manual mode and figure out how to adjust exposures, etc.,  If nothing else it should help ward off the dreaded dementia. I don’t say that lightly having watched my dear dad struggle with it for several years prior to his death.

The pictures that follow were all taken at Hever Castle, I hope you enjoy them. 

Terry took the above photograph with my camera and I processed it with my old photo-editing software.

Taken at Hever Castle, Kent
This is the same photographer processed in Lightroom. I think it looks much better, but I’m a complete novice with the software so I know it's far from perfect.  

My poor husband tasked with trying to teach me how to take and process better photographs.

Hever Castle, famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn is situated in the beautiful Kent countryside about 30 miles south-east of London. Sir Thomas Bullen, later known as Boleyn, inherited Hever from his father Sir William Bullen in 1505 and made it into a family home for his wife, Elizabeth Howard, and three children – Mary, Anne and George. Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII, executed in 1536 after being Queen for just 1,000 days. It was Henry’s love for Anne, and her insistence that she became his wife rather than remain his mistress that led to the King renouncing Catholicism and creating the Church of England.

Hever Castle, Kent

If you would like to learn more about the history of Hever Castle or Anne Boleyn, there is a mass of information available on the Internet. Alternatively, you could treat yourself to Hever Castle & Gardens produced by Jigsaw Publishing in 2017. I bought my copy at the castle, but I’m sure you would have no difficulty finding it online.

The moat around Hever Castle and the Tudor dwelling within the walls.
Can you make out the Tudor dwelling inside the castle walls?

One of two beautifully illuminated prayer books on Display at the castle both belonged to Anne Boleyn. “Remember me when you do pray that hope doth lead from day to day." Anne Boleyn. 
Book of Hours, c 1528.

These personal prayer books were popular in England from the 13th century until the Reformation. They became known as ‘Books of Hours’ from the short services to the Virgin Mary which were read at fixed hours during the day.  

The gardens at Hever Castle

A beautiful pink Peony, just one of the many fragrant flowers at Hever Castle

Best buddies but only while my ice cream lasted!

Thanks so much for coming over I hope to catch up with you all in the next week or so. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Smelling the flowers just quietly

Hello lovely blogging friends and readers of my blog!  

I’m about to take a short blogging break but didn’t want to disappear without saying adiós, adieu, addio, adeus, arrivederci, auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, shalom, sayonara, 再见, goodbye.

I need a little time to sit quietly and smell the flowers;
Ferdinand the Bull Disney Postcard

Time to daydream;
German postcard, boy, girl, river, ducks,

Maybe try a new hobby;
Postcard, artwork, monkey, primate,

Visit out of the way places;
Vintage greeting card - cottage and blossoms

Read lots (and lots) of books, so I can tell you about some of them when I return from my blogging break;

Collection children's vintage books

Just before I go, I must tell you about a nice thing that happened to me last week. The lovely Yvonne over at Melancholy and Menace asked for ideas for a tagline to suit her (creepy) vintage book shop. I’m afraid I got carried away with the whole thing and ended up thinking of rather more than one idea, which may explain why I won! Yvonne is working on a new logo so be sure to visit her blog from time to time to see the changes.

My prize was the choice of any book from the Melancholy and Menace (Reading in the Dark) bookshop. Don’t you think that’s a lovely prize? I do. 

See you all soon .....
Image found on Pinterest


The images used at the beginning of  this post are all cards or postcards from my vintage collection;

Ferdinand postcard published by Valentine & Sons For Walt Disney Productions, 1938. The title of this post is part of a quote from Ferdinand the Bull, the full quote is “And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly” ― Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand.

The second postcard was printed in Germany, no other publishing details. The image is signed, but it’s very difficult to make out. It looks like ‘Resden’. The lovely Valerie over at Bastelmania has just suggested the name could be Dresden (the town) rather than Resden, and I think she could be right.  I still can’t make out the first word so if anyone knows or has an idea, please leave a comment.  Willie is sure the name is William Dresden, so more research required.

The next postcard was sent to Elizabeth from Gran in 1961.  It was printed in Switzerland by A. Kiener.

The pretty cottage is from a greeting card sent from ‘all at Royal Road, Teddington’. It was printed in Britain in the 1930s.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Susan B Pearse: Perfect Little Works of Art

Today I’m sharing more images from an album or possibly a tradesman's sample book which I purchased from a friend. What little I know about the images and the album will be found here.  I was very happy to acquire this, but it seems a shame to leave it hidden away hence I’m sharing it with you. I really hope you enjoy these ‘perfect little works of art’ as much as I do.  

All of today’s images are by Susan Beatrice Pearse (1878 – 1980)

Pearse Susan B, Photochrome Company Limited,
Images by Susan B Pearse Reference numbers D. 5331 to D. 5336
Susan B. Pearse was a British painter and illustrator born on the 19th January 1878 in Kennington, South London. She was the daughter of the journalist, William Pearse. Though educated at King Edward’s School, Southwark, she spent much of her childhood in Fair Oak, near Eastleigh, Hampshire. She studied at New Cross Art School and the Royal College of Art. While at the RCA, she met the portrait painter, Walter Ernest Webster and they married in Fulham in 1919. Her later years were spent at Blewbury, Berkshire a village then popular with authors and artist. She died on the 3rd January 1980, 18 days before her 102nd birthday. Best known as a book illustrator Susan also created drawings for postcards and greeting cards. Her other illustrative work included contributions to Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia and an advertising campaign for Start-rite Shoes.
The Dictionary of British Women Artists. Gray, Sara. Lutterworth Press, 2009.

Morning Walk D. 5333 (top row) colour image found at Bonhams

A larger version of one of the images from the album (above)

Where are they?  D. 5332 (top row) colour image found on Pinterest

Pearse Susan B, Photochrome Company Limited,
Images by Susan B Pearse Reference numbers D. 5161 to D. 5166
The album pages (above and below) show a series of numbered images. My assumption is these were used as birthday cards or perhaps to illustrate a counting book. 

Pearse Susan B, Photochrome Company Limited,
Images by Susan B Pearse Reference numbers D. 5167 to D. 5172

The Number 3 in colour (image Pinterest

Pearse Susan B, Photochrome Company Limited,
Images by Susan B Pearse Reference numbers D. 5301 to D. 5306
The images above tell the story of the birth of the Baby Jesus. Were they used to illustrate a book or a series of postcards / Christmas cards? If you know, please get in touch, either by leaving a comment or sending an email (link in right-hand column), thank you.  

Massive thanks are due to everyone who responded to my last ‘perfect little works of art’ post. Most of the places in the images by Fred Taylor have been identified. I’ve also received lots of very useful information from a relative of J. Francis Smith, and have amended the post accordingly. You can see all the changes here.

Images previously shared
Phyllis Purser; here
Fred Taylor; here
J. Francis Smith; here

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Sea of Adventure and Another Candle on my Birth Year Cake

The Birth Year Reading Challenge  is proving more difficult than I Imagined, and the fault is entirely mine! "I’m just going to pop out and find forty books written by Enid Blyton in 1948" sounded OK when I said it. That was three months ago and how many have I found? None, nil, nada, zero, not one! I've found plenty of reprints, oodles of paperbacks, and some hardbacks without dust jackets but that's not what I’m looking for. I'm trying to find hardback first editions with dust jackets. It's not a lot to ask is it? 😉 If I had heaps of cash I could probably buy most of them online, but I don't have that kind of money, and besides it would spoil the excitement.
Enid Blyton all eight books in the Adventure Series
All eight books in the adventure series
It's lucky I had two of the books on my shelves when I joined the challenge otherwise I would have nothing to write about. Today I'm going to share The Sea of Adventure, which is the second of the two books already on my shelf. The other one is Five Go Off to Camp which you can read about here

There are eight books in The Adventure Series, and they all feature the same four children: Philip, Jack, Dinah and Lucy-Ann, along with several adults and a pet parrot by the name of Kiki. 

Enid Blyton The Sea of Adventure

In The Sea of Adventure Philip, Dinah, Jack and Lucy-Ann are recovering from a nasty bout of measles when their mother is also taken ill. Unable to look after the children she decides they must go on holiday. When the planned trip falls through the four children are horribly disappointed. However, that quickly changes when Bill Smugs turns up in the middle of the night. Hearing that Bill needs to go into hiding for a while, they persuade him to take them bird-watching in the remote islands north of Scotland. Naturally enough the children stumble upon a sinister plot and when Bill disappears, the children are left to try to find and out what is going on and also rescue Bill.

Enid Blyton never fails to pack excitement and mystery into her stories, and once again I was not disappointed.  You do have to suspend belief from time from time. For instance, why would anyone allow four children to go off on holiday with someone who needs to go into hiding? The children (and a parrot) provide a good smoke screen for Bill, but it could all have ended disastrously!  I read these books as a child and not once did I consider how implausible some of the plots are. I’m older and maybe even a little wiser now so I read from a different perspective, but it doesn’t spoil my enjoyment.

Enid Blyton The Sea of Adventure
Enid Blyton
The Sea of Adventure
1st Edition
Published by Macmillan in 1948
Hardback with Dust Jacket
Illustrations by Stuart Tresilian
321 pages

There are eight original books in the Adventure Series written between 1944 and 1955. They are: The Island of Adventure, The Castle of Adventure, The Valley of Adventure, The Sea of Adventure, The Mountain of Adventure, The Ship of Adventure, The Circus of Adventure and the River of Adventure. I’m lucky enough to have them all in my collection.

According to Collecting Children’s Books (Diamond Publishing Group - third edition 2007) Enid Byton is the most successful British children’s author of the twentieth century. Born: Enid Mary Blyton in London on 11th August 1897, and spent her childhood in the suburb of Beckenham. After school, studied to be a kindergarten teacher, at the same time submitting verses and stories to various magazines, including Teachers’ World. Her first book, a volume of poems entitled Child Whispers, was published in 1922, and was followed by The Enid Blyton Book of Fairies (1924), Sunny Stories for Little Folk (1926), and countless other works. Best known for the ‘Famous Five' (1942 onwards), and ‘Secret Seven’ (1949 onwards) series, and the phenomenally popular ‘Noddy’ books (1949 onwards). Died: 1968. 

Have you ever set yourself an impossible task?  Would you keep going or admit defeat?

Terry and I had the pleasure of Meeting Willy Wine last week. Lots of you know Willie from the comments he leaves around the web, but if you are yet to make his acquaintance why not pay a visit to his blog. After a couple of cups of coffee and lots of laughter we said goodbye to Willie and went on to a Vintage Fair at the Corn Exchange in Blandford;

Needles to say I came home with a couple of vintage books which I will tell you about in a future post.

This image is from Vintage in the Town at Facebook - click the link for more details

I just want to end by thanking Willie for the fun, and for this amazing card which I couldn’t wait to share with you all. Thanks Willie!

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