Image of the It's Your Story Competition Logo. The background is white and features blue silhouettes of a girl, a bird, a butterfly and stars walking on an undulated surface. Below them the logo reads It's your story competition. Below them are logos for Through Scarlett's Eyes and Access2books.

It’s Your Story Competition

About Wiritng, bookmaking, Braille, Children's Books, Competitions, Education and Training, Giant print and Braille, Picture Books, Publishing

A few weeks ago we wrote telling you about the It’s Your Story Competition on our Facebook Page. Now, all the details have been finalised. Check them out on the link above.

It is time for you budding creative writers who are readers and contributors to Through Scarlett’s Eyes website to whip out your pens and tap away on your keyboards and let your imaginations run wild. Do what you do best – tell stories.

Write an accessible children’s picture storybook.

Parents and guardians you are welcome to help your child or children to write their story. As long as the story is:

  1. funny
  2. up to about 400 words
  3. includes your child in the story
  4. supply a front cover design: it should illustrate the main characters and the story line.

That’s simple, right? Then get writing!

There are three main categories. These are:

  1. 0 – 6 years
  2. 7- 12 years and
  3. 12 – 17 years.

Each category has prizes donated by either VICTA or John Lewis [Milton Keynes] and Access2books. You can  check out the specifics on the It’s Your Story Competition page.

An overall winner will be selected from the three pools and they will receive a copy of their story book published by Access2books.

The book will be in dual format; i.e., in giant print, and Braille with accessible illustrations.

A copy of the book will be sent over to the British Library in London as per custom. Everyone will be able to access their publication.

Four judges will be doing the judging. They are:

  1. Sue Hendra: an award winning children’s author and illustrator of books like Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell, Supertato, and many others.

    Image of Sue Hendra at the Imagine Children's Festival. She is pictured holding up a copy of Norman the Silly Shell With the Silly Shell in giant print and Braille.

    Sue Hendra, author and illustrator of books like Supertato, pictured at the Imagine Children’s Festival earlier this year. She is holding up a copy of one of her books Norman the Slug With the Silly Shell which she saw for the first time in Giant Print and Braille.

  2. Charlotte Mellor: an employee of VICTA and a representative of Through Scarlett’s Eyes.
  3. Tim O’Sullivan: the BAFTA Award winning Creative Director at Karrot animation will be on the panel. He is Series Director and Script Editor of CBeebies Sarah and Duck.
  4. Eileen Finch: she is a cofounder of Access2books and also a Director. She has published over 60 plus book titles in accessible format. 
    Picture of Eileen Finch, Sue Hendra and Mike O'Sullivan chatting at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre with the London skyline behind them.

    Sue Hendra chatting to Eileen Finch and Mike O’Sullivan [founders of Access2books] at thye Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

 The competition is now open to readers and contributors to Through Scarlett’s Eyes website. It will be closing on the 8th of January 2016.
The winners will be announced on the 31st of January 2016.
Check out the It’s Your Story Competition link for more details and how you can send in your entries. Good luck writers!
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Image of Eileen Finch and Chrissy standing side by side and holding up a copy of Up and Down written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, and a funding application Chrissy is about to send out.

30 Books to Give Away in Birmingham

Access2books, Children's Books, Picture Books

I have been granted funding from the Birmingham Bodenham Trust to distribute 30 books in Birmingham.

Picture of the front cover of Lost and Found written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. The picture shows a boy and a penguin on a small boat. The boy is wearing a striped top and hat, and holding a staff in his right hand and a suitcase in his left.

The funding is to benefit children who need accessible stories.

The books are beautiful popular children’s stories in dual format in 75 point print with Braille and improved illustrations.

Interior pages of A Squash and Squeeze. The page on the left hand has text which reads, "And flapped round the room knocking over the jug". In the footer is a Braille text of that sentence. On the opposite page is a picture of a white hen flying over the shelf and a spotted jug falling over the edge. In the footer of the text is Braille picture description of the picture.

An example of the interior pages of A Squash and a Squeeze written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The pages illustrate the formatting: text appears on the left hand page and Braille in the footer; specially enhanced pictures are located on the right hand side with picture descriptions in Braille in the footer to make the books accessible to as many people as possible.

We work to distribute these books as far as possible to children and adults who need these formats to read or share with their disabled or non-disabled friends and families.

In return for some books, I need feedback on the benefits they bring to you or how we might improve them.

We would also ask you to show them to your local libraries and children’s settings as we want to influence mainstream provision so you can get more titles free of charge.

Image of a book cover showing a white cat sitting in a box. Only the head and the tail are visible. The box has the text my cat likes to hide in boxes written on its side. Underneath the the box is green rectangle which reads Eve Sutton and Lynley Dodd. There is another blue rectangle below it with the words Giant Print and Braille written in white.

If you live in Birmingham, and would like to have the books in your home library, and talk to me about the experience of their use, please email me at efinch@access2books.org.

Best wishes,

Eileen

Image of a book cover showing a white cat sitting in a box. Only the head and the tail are visible. The box has the text my cat likes to hide in boxes written on its side. Underneath the the box is green rectangle which reads Eve Sutton and Lynley Dodd. There is another blue rectangle below it with the words Giant Print and Braille written in white.

My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes

Children's Books, Giant print and Braille, Picture Books, Publishing

Access2books are publishing the first giant print and Braille version of the classic children’s book My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes written by Eve Sutton and illustrated by Lynley Dodd.

The book was published by Puffin Books – a part of the Penguin Group.

The accessible version of the book, published by Access2books in giant print [75 point] and Braille plus specially adapted pictures, is complete.

It will be ready to be ordered within the next week or two. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information.

Alternatively, you can check our homepage and the online catalog.

My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes is going to be one of the first releases for the autumn period.

All the pictures have been modified to make them more accessible to visually impaired people.

It is now waiting to be quality checked and a Braille check done to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

The book was first published in 1974. It is a popular book in New Zealand and it has also found a way into the hearts of people in Canada and the UK.

The author and illustrator are cousins who are both from New Zealand. However, Sutton was originally born in England and moved to New Zealand as an adult.

This book was their one and only collaboration. They subsequently went on to carve solo careers as successful writers.

The image below is an example of the inner pages of the accessible version of My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes.

The texh which is 75 point print is covered by plenty of white space to make it accessible and easy to see. The pictures have a page dedicated to them.

The Braille of the text and picture descriptions appear in the footer of both pages. Therefore, the book can be enjoyed by many people.

Image of the inner pages of My Cat Likes to hide in Boxes. The text in the centre of the left hand page reads,

According to Dodd [New Zealand’s best known author and author of the Hairy Maclary series], My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes is based on a true story.

It is the story of the Dodd’s family cat that used to love hiding in boxes, cupboards, supermarket bags and the likes.

The book is catchy. It uses poetic devices. It uses rhyming couplets and run on lines to describe cats from different countries. For example:

The cat from France

likes to sing and dance.

The rhyming couplets build up as the narrative develops and describes cats from another country. With each subsequent description, the recurring refrain, “But MY cat likes to hide in boxes” is repeated at the end of each.

For example:

The cat from France

likes to sing and dance.

The cat from Spain

Flew in an aeroplane.

But MY cat likes to hide in boxes

The sentences are very simple which makes them easy to recite and remember. The musicality of the rhyming couplets aid in making the story memorable.

It is in essence a fun rhyming story. This makes it a great read for children who are learning to read.

Who doesn’t like a story about cats doing exotic and strange things? This is a story that is great for sharing between children and elder family members.

It is no surprise it first won a prize in 1975. Its longevity illustrates its staying power and how it continues to be be influential through different generations.

Children will love to take part in this fun rhyming story which can be set to music because of its musicality.

Place your order for Access2books’ accessible version of My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes and put a smile on someone’s face.

Front cover of the accessible version of A Squash and a Squeeze which was written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and produced by Access2books in Giant Print and Braille. In the picture, the little old lady is wearing a blue dress which is covered by a white apron. She is surrounded by her hen, goat, pig and black and white cow.

Norfolk Libraries Takes on A Squash and a Squeeze for Record Breaking Readers Summer Challenge

A Squash and a Squeeze, Access2books, Axel Scheffler, Braille, Children's Books, children's laureate, Giant Print, Giant print and Braille, Guinness World Record Books, Guinness World Records, Julia Donaldson, Monkey Puzzle, Norfolk, Norfolk Libraries, Publishing, Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge 2015, Record Breaking Readers Summer Challenge, Stick Man, The Gruffalo, The Highway Rat, The Reading Agency, The Smartest Giant in Town, The Snail and the Whale, UK, United Kingdom, Visual Impairment

Norfolk Libraries are conducting their summer challenge for the most readers at one time of the book A Squash and a Squeeze written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Norfolk Libraries picked this title because it fits in with their Summer Reading Challenge theme and it is a great story to read out aloud.

Their intention is to make A Squash and a Squeeze accessible to everybody and have it available in every format, including Access2books giant print [75 point], Braille and specially adapted pictures.

The Record Breakers is the theme initiated by The Reading Agency for their Summer 2015 challenge. They are challenging young readers to explore the records featured in the Guinness World Record Books.

The Reading Agency will be working with Guinness World Records on the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge.

A Squash and a Squeeze began life as a song on children’s television. Former children’s laureate, Donaldson admitted she was surprised when a publisher phoned and asked her if they could make the song into a book.
Front cover of the accessible version of A Squash and a Squeeze which was written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and produced by Access2books in Giant Print and Braille.
She had written it years before as a song but never imagined the words could exist without the tune but with pictures.
It was interesting for her to collaborate with Axel Scheffler who she had never met until after the book was published.
A Squash and a Squeeze centres on a little, old woman who is convinced that her home is too small for her and she wants something bigger.
She takes her complaint to a wise old man and enlists his help. He gives her some drastic advice to follow. She follows it to the tee but hardly solves her problem. In fact, it complicates matters further.
She keeps returning to the old man complaining that, “My house is a squash and a squeeze”.
Each time she returns, the old man recommends even more drastic action. His advice is both unhelpful and helpful.
It is unhelpful because it doesn’t provide her with the means to make her house bigger.
Interior pages of A Squash and Squeeze. The page on the left hand has text which reads,
However, it helps the woman finally realise the implications of the old man’s advice. She is then able to resolve her problem and realise the error of her ways.
Julia Donaldson admits in a video insert that A Squash and a Squeeze is probably the simplest of all the books she has ever written to act out.
The book is fairly easy and fun to read. It is suitable for both mainstream and Special Educational Needs [SEN] settings.
Publishing A Squash and a Squeeze in giant print and Braille makes this book accessible to an even wider audience who might not have been able to access it in normal print.
The large text and accessible pictures makes the book easier to read and share as a group or within one. This is one of the reasons why the Access2books format is so popular.
The recurring phrases, sentences and refrains combined with alliteration and other poetical devices create a musicality to the text of A Squash and a Squeeze. It is fun to read out aloud, or act, and makes it a memorable read.
The book and its characters will remain etched in your brains long after you have closed the pages of the book.
Julia Donaldson, an author and former children’s laureate, and illustrator Axel Scheffler have a close working relationship: it spans two decades. However, A Squash and a Squeeze was their first collaboration.
Their other works include The Gruffalo. Coincidentally, it is one of the first books we ever made into an accessible book with giant print, Braille and specially adapted pictures.
Picture of a front cover of The Gruffalo.  The Gruffalo is standing on the edge of a dust path, holding onto  a tree trunk as he  stares down at a small mouse standing on the gravel path.  Behind the Gruffalo are green fields and trees stretching into the distance.

An updated front cover of The Gruffalo. The pictures of this version were revamped to improve the picture quality and accessibility. Our Techniques and software have improved over time.

It was not the easiest of books to make at the time because of our inexperience.

However, we have recently reworked the book to improve the pictures because we have a lot more experience now, and we have a much better understanding of our software, plus we have honed our techniques.

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s other popular works include The Smartest Giant in Town, which we also made into an accessible book; Monkey Puzzle, Stick Man, The Highway Rat, The Snail and the Whale, etc.

Picture of the front cover of The Smartest Giant in Town  written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. In the picture, the rolled up hems and big, black shoes of the giant are just visible. A giraffe and mice are gathered at his feet and staring upwards, supposedly, to the face out of picture.

The front cover of the book The Smartest Giant in Town also written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

A Squash and a Squeeze is ready to order now if you want a copy. If you haven’t seen our books, you might want to see this one via the link to our website above. You can also have a look at the other titles such as The Gruffalo and The Smartest Giant in Town on our website.

If you are in Norfolk, check out Norfolk Libraries’ A Squash and a Squeeze initiative. If not, look on The Reading Agency’s website to see how you can take part in the Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge 2015. Happy reading.

A Picture of the front cover of the book Croc and Bird written and illustrated by Alexis Deacon

Access2books publishing Braille and giant print formats of Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon

Children's Books, Publishing

Springtime is a great time for Access2booksRandom House Children’s Books granted them permission to publish Croc and Bird written and illustrated by Alexis Deacon.

Access2book’s will publish this popular children’s book as an accessible book in giant print [75 point] with Braille and specially adapted pictures for people who happen to be either blind or visually impaired.

Croc and Bird explores several themes: the first is differences; second, friendship, and third is the meaning of true family.

A Picture of the front cover of the book Croc and Bird written and illustrated by Alexis Deacon

These are all issues, not in the particular order above, that confront us all at some point in our lives.

The kernel of the story is captured in the opening lines:

Two eggs lie side-by-side on a sandy beach: one hatches to reveal a crocodile and the other a bird. The two creatures grow up together as brothers – Crocodile learns to sing and tries to fly, while his brother, Bird, learns to float in the sea and bask in the sun.

It is from this paradox at birth that the two animals’ lives become entangled and from where they must each understand more about themselves and appreciate the special bond they share or severe their ties.

The narrative is relatively simple but the underlying subtext and themes make it even more complex than it appears on face value.

This is what Deacon does best. He is a great storyteller with a great ear for rhythm and narrative development.

Deacon’s illustrations, one of the Booktrust’s 2008 Best New Illustrators, are visually sumptuous and sophisticated.

They compliment the written word. He is equally adept at using pictures or words to tell the story.

Who is Alexis Deacon?

Deacon is a graduate of the University of Brighton. He earned a first class honours degree in Illustration. As mentioned above, he was named as one of Booktrust‘s Ten Best New Illustrators.

A picture of Alexis Deacon sitting on a chair in a room with papers stuck on the wall. he is wearing a multicoloured striped jumper and is sporting a close cropped shave and a a goattee.

Photograph by Luke Tchalenko. Source: http://alexisdeacon.blogspot.co.uk/p/biography.html

Another book he wrote but he didn’t do the illustrations, Beegu – the story of an alien lost on earth, was named as the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year.

It also earned the shortlist for the Kate Greenway Medal. A book on which he illustrated, Jim’s Lion, is also on the shortlist for this year’s Kate Greenaway Medal [2015]: it was written by Russell Hoban.

The fron't cover of Jim's Lion which was written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Alexis Deacon. Picture Source: http://www.walker.co.uk/Jim-s-Lion-9781406346022.aspx

The front cover of Jim’s Lion which was written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Alexis Deacon.
Picture Source: http://www.walker.co.uk/Jim-s-Lion-9781406346022.aspx

Alexis Deacon: man of many talents

When he is not writing his own books, he is experimenting with other projects in the pipeline such as comics. He is also in demand as an illustrator of the books of other authors.

In October 2014, his comic, The River, won the Observer/ Jonathan Cape/ Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.

It is no wonder why his talent and skills are in high demand. The Financial Times endorsed him as, “Alexis Deacon is a young author-illustrator of quite impressive originality and depth“. Consequently, such high profile acclaim has made him a much sought out figure in the industry.

Deacon is a busy man. When he is away from the bright spotlights of the industry, he shares interesting insights and expertise on his blog which you can access on the aforementioned link.

Works of Alexis Deacon

It is a wonder how he gets anything done because he seems to have his hands in a lot of pies. He has worked on no less than ten books either as an author, or illustrator or both.

Some of these titles include Slow Loris, Jitterbug Jam, While You Are Sleeping, Soonchild, A Place to Call Home and Henry Finch to name a few. That is not the conclusive list. There are probably many more to his name.

Picture of the front cover of the book Jitterbug Jam written by Barbara jean Hicks and illustrated by Alexis Deacon.

This is the front cover of the book Jitterbug Jam written by Barbara Jean Hicks and illustrated by Alexis Deacon. This is one of many of Alexis Deacon’s many collaborations with other writers.
Picture source: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/barbara-jean-hicks/jitterbug-jam.htm

He wrote his first book when he was around the age of five. However, it was not published. The first book he wrote and published was Slow Loris.

He has written about seven books but illustrated a lot of others for many different authors.

What does this mean for Access2books?

It is great news to publish a book by an illustrious author and illustrator who is making waves in the publishing industry.

His books are highly recommended by many libraries and they allow Access2books to continue publishing the most popular children’s books in the UK.

The greatest benefit of publishing children’s books like these is that the themes Alexis Deacon’s books tackle such as family, identity and friendship are issues Access2books are passionate about.

Going forward, Access2books is looking to publish children’s books that are more diverse and deal with different family setups or structures. Their Festival Time Series books illustrate this direction.

Picture of the front cover of Four Special Questions: A Passover Story Written by Jonny Zucker and illusrtated by Jan Barger Cohen.

One of the books, Four Special Questions, that forms a series of eight books collectively known as the Festival Time Series. The series tackles different religious festivals and describes what they about, what happens and how they came to be.

Therefore, Alexis Deacon’s children’s books fit in perfectly with the future plans of Access2books which makes publishing Croc and Bird so exciting.

Watch this space for more updates.

P.S. Lost and Found written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers is now out and ready to be ordered here. Up and Down also by the same author and illustrator is now in the final stages of production and should be ready within a week or two. We will keep you updated.

Picture of the front cover of Lost and Found written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. The picture shows a boy and a penguin on a small boat. The boy is wearing a striped top and hat, and holding a staff in his right hand and a suitcase in his left.

Access2books Behind the Scenes in Pictures: Book transcription and Development

bookmaking, Children's Books

As promised last week, here is the first instalment of the behind the scenes, shots illustrating what happens in the book transcription and development department of Access2books.

This is where all the magic occurs and accessible books come together.

This is not a snapshot of the entire production process but a slice of one of the first stages of the development of our books, taking a mainstream book and transforming it into an alternative format that can be accessed by people who happen to be blind or have a visual impairment.

As you can see in the photo below, Elvira Naidoo, our illustrator extraordinaire is working on the front pages, or inner pages of the books and starting to transcribe the book, typing in the text of the narrative in 75 point print, what we normally refer to as giant print.

Picture of an over the shoulder shot of Elvira Naidoo designing the inner pages of the book Up and Down Written by Oliver Jeffers.

A photo of Elvira typing text onto the right hand side of the page of the document on screen leaving the left free for the adapted images from the book Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

In the shot above, Elvira breaks the book down and the formatting begins. Here, she enters text on the left hand side of the document and leaves the right hand side blank because this is where the pictures and Braille picture descriptions will go at a later stage.

Picture of Elvira Naidoo studting a scanned page from the book up and down by Oliver Jeffers on screen.

Moment of contemplation and creative conceptualisation. What next? Elvira thinks, pondering how she should execute the next step in formatting this accessible book.

The picture above captures Elvira lost deep in thought thinking about how she is going to break down the scanned page on screen and adapt it to fit into our format.

There are no hard and fast rules in making accessible books. There are big and small challenges from start to beginning but this is what makes Elvira tick as her creative juices kick in and she always finds a way around every challenge she encounters.

Elvira peering into the screen lost in thought.

The toughest challenge is breaking the mainstream book down into an alternative book: it involves reformatting the book, breaking down the text and adapting the pictures to make them more accessible but remaining true to the spirit of the narrative in the process.

Only a storyteller like Elvira can explain how she does that.

Over the shadow shot of Elvira studying some scanned pages on the computer screen.

Above, Elvira looks at more scanned pages before she begins work on them to make them more accessible to readers who happen to have a visual impairment.

An overshot of Elvira working on making the penguin more visible on screen. She uses the magic wand in her hand to enhance the image.

Elvira using the magic wand in her hands to conjure up the magic that transforms an image and enhances it to make it more visible to someone who happens to be visually impaired and would have problems accessing the image in a normal book.

Picture of Elvira enhancing the image of the penguin on the computer screen using her magic wand.

Elvira has been making accessible books for about and a year and a half now. She has made a lot of books. She believes that she has made about twenty plus books but that is a conservative approximation.

Shot of Elvira distracted and looking away from the screen.

While she is working, Elvira enjoys copious cups of coffee and chatting to keep her creative juices flowing. Here she is reminiscing about the good old times and trying to remember how many books she has made but they all seem to be a blur in her mind’s eye because she has made so many she has lost count.

The truth is that she has truly lost count of the number of books of she has made. Chances are, if you are reading an Access2books giant print and Braille children’s book, it was Elvira who put that together.

One of the first book’s she worked on when she started was Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell by Sue Hendra. She has since worked on Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers, Giraffes Can’t Dance, the entire Festival Time Series, Each Peach Pear Plum and many others on our website.

A close up shot of Elvira smiling with satisfaction at the screen.

Smile of satisfaction. We can tell who is winning here. She is in full flow and enjoying what she does best.

The smile above says it all. All’s well that ends well.

Image of the front cover of the book, Supertato, written by Sue Hendra featuring a potato with a mask over his eyes and a brown belt around his waist with the letter S and a red cape.

Access2books publishing Sue Hendra’s Supertato

Children's Books, Publishing

Spring was kind to Access2books this year. Shortly before the Easter Break, Access2books announced HarperCollins Publishers  granted them permission to publish Lost and Found and Up and Down written and illustrated by the award winning talent that is Oliver Jeffers. Now, Simon and Schuster Publishers UK have granted Access2books permission to publish a giant print [75 point] and Braille, accessible version of Supertato written and illustrated by the brilliant Sue Hendra.

From left to right, Sue Hendra, the author of Supertato and Norman the Slug With the Silly Shell, chatting to the founders of Access2Books Eileen Finch in the centre and Mike O'Sullivan on the right.

From left to right, Sue Hendra, the author of Supertato and Norman the Slug With the Silly Shell, chatting to the founders of Access2Books – Eileen Finch, in the centre, and Mike O’Sullivan on the right.

Publishing a children’s book – Supertato

Access2books is proud to reproduce an accessible version of Supertato. It will be the second book from Sue Hendra’s impressive list of books that they are producing as an alternative format [accessible book].

They have already produced a giant print and Braille version of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell as illustrated in the picture below with Hendra holding a copy of the book at the Imagine Festival held at the Southbank Centre in London.

Author of Norman the Slug With His Silly Shell. holding up an alternative format of the book in Giant Print and Braille, at the Inclusive Minds Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

Author of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell, holding up an alternative format of the book in Giant Print and Braille, at the Inclusive Minds Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

Publishing Children’s Books

Access2books specialise in publishing children’s books and getting the opportunity to publish books like Supertato and Norman The Slug With The Silly Shell is a fabulous opportunity to add to their growing list of impressive titles. 

All of the alternative format children’s books published by Access2books’are individually handmade in-house with tender loving care. That means they can be adapted to suit an order depending on the requirements of the customer.

For example, if you wanted the books with 48 point print without Braille, that can be done.

Picture of Sue Hendra stepping up onto the podium to deliver her reading of  Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre.

Sue Hendra gearing up to entertain and blow away the audience with her reading of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell.

Publishing Stunning Children’s Books

This is what makes the books so special. And that is not all. They are stunning and they put a smile on the faces of those that see them for the first time because they stand out and grab your attention.

Not even Sue Hendra was immune to the surprise when she first stumbled upon Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell in giant print and Braille. The look of surprise on her face in the picture below says it all.

The look on Sue Hendra's face says it all when she stumbled upon the giant print and Braille version of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell.

The look on Sue Hendra’s face says it all when she stumbled upon the giant print and Braille version of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell. Forgive our cameraman for almost chopping her head off and the picture may not win the competition for great composition but it does capture the element of surprise that the books produced by Access2books elicit.

That look above speaks volumes. Forgive our cameraman for the shoddy camerawork. However, for all its faults, the photo captures a special moment in time and the impact the books have on individuals. 

Sue’s feedback provides more insight into what makes Access2books’ alternative formats so special.

“The Access2books team showed me popular picture books in Giant print and Braille versions. Enlarging text and adding Braille wasn’t all that was different about these books,” she said.

“It struck me that enlarging parts of the illustrations is a clever way to help tell the story for someone with a sight impairment.”

Sue Hendra with her daughter at the Imagine festival reading the giant print and Braille version of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell atThe Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre in London

Sue Hendra and her daughter, Wanda, captivated by the alternative format of Norman the Silly Slug With The Silly Shell for the first time at the Access2books’ stand

Sue Hendra – A Big Name In The Publishing Business

Sue Hendra graduated from the University of Brighton in 1994. She went on to work in the publishing industry as an illustrator of children’s books. Her skills were honed at Macmillan, Oxford University Press and Walker Books where she worked on about 70 children’s titles or more.

She is no longer working for the publishing companies: she is now a fully fledged author and illustrator of children’s books.

One of her first books, Counting in the Sea 1, 2 3! set the foundation for her publishing career.

She first made waves after the publication of Barry the Fish with Fingers in 2009. Since then, it has sold over 100 000 copies and established her not only as a popular children’s author and illustrator, but a bonafide star with her own legion of little fans.

Picture of Sue Hendra and her daughter, Wanda, surrounded by Sue's little fans waiting to get her autograph and help putting faces on Norman the Slug.

Sue Hendra and her daughter, Wanda, are the centre of attraction, posing for pictures and signing copies of the books as well as illustrating how to make Norman the Slug and put faces on him.

The wacky array of characters that litter her beautifully illustrated books proved to be a great formula for success.

The arrival of Norman the Slug With Silly Shell in 2011 reinforced her star quality. The latter book went on to become the bestselling new picture book for the first quarter of 2011.

Sue Hendra reading Norman The Sulg With The SIlly Shell at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

Sue Hendra reading Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell to her small and big fans at the Southbank Centre in London.

She has written for various publishers like Hodder, Random House and Simon and Schuster, plus illustrated for Harper Collins, Random House US and Scholastic.

Her style is distinctive. It is fun. It is quirky. Silly and innovative plus engaging. It has a surreal and believability quality to it which children love.

Picture of Eileen Finch, Sue Hendra and Mike O'Sullivan chatting at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre with the London skyline behind them.

Sue Hendra [left] chatting to Eileen Finch [centre] and Mike O’Sullivan [founders of Access2books] at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

To date, she has written and illustrated plus or minus 17 children’s books and it seems like she is not slowing down any time soon. That is great news for her legion of little fans and the likes of Access2books.

Eileen Finch, team leader at Access2books Publishers, believes publishing Supertato is an opportunity to continue in their tradition of making the most popular children’s books accessible to children and people who happen to be blind or visually impaired.

Sue Hendra also reinforces this view.

“Making picture books accessible to all adults and children can only ever be a good thing. I am fully in support of, and excited by, the work that Access2books are doing.”

Sue Hendra in action on stage reading  Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell

Sue Hendra caught in full flow delivering a reading of Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell not to be forgotten.

Keep your eyes glued to this space for updates on the progress of the book. We can’t wait to begin working on it and seeing the final book becoming a giant print and Braille version of the original Supertato. Check out more of Sue Hendra’s other books here.

Access2books producing alternative formats of books by award winning author Oliver Jeffers

Children's Books, Publishing
Picture of Oliver Jeffers at the Gutter Bookshop.

Picture: courtesy of Gutter Bookshop.

Spring heralds good things. It is the harbinger of new life, new leaves, the sun, flowers, the tiny, clenched fists of buds on trees, and undoubtedly a breath of fresh air for Access2books who specialise in publishing children’s books. 

Access2books have received permission from Harpercollins to produce two of their titles created by the award winning author Oliver Jeffers.

Access2books will produce giant print [75 point] and Braille versions of Up and Down and Lost and Found, the latter book that created enormous sales and won critical acclaim upon its publication. In 2005, Lost and Found won the Gold Award at Nestle Children’s Book Prize.

Front cover of the lost and found book written by Oliver Jeffers showing a boy and a penguin in a boat sailing on a frozen lake against the backdrop of a star-studded sky.

Image: Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Access2books team are excited by the opportunity to work on these two books and continue in their tradition of making the most popular children’s books available as alternative formats for children who happen to be blind or visually impaired and cannot access mainstream books. This is great news for the publishing business.

Who is Oliver Jeffers?

Oliver Jeffers grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland but he was originally born in Port Hedland, Western Australia. 

He started off as a musician, hitting the pub scene looking for musicians to collaborate with but his percussive talents were never realised. 

Thankfully, the art world recognised his precocious talent. The Irish amateur art competition, in which he was runner up, made him consider painting as an outlet for his creative talents.

His decision took him across the world, exhibiting in Belfast, Glengormley, London, Melbourne, New York and Sydney,

He later focussed on illustrations and concentrated on finishing his degree in Illustration and Visual Communication. During an exhibition in the final year, he sold 16 pieces on the opening night. 

His star was on the rise. His style opened numerous pathways and Jeffers has had a hand in creating poster illustrations, taking on commissioned artworks and designing album covers. 

Image of the front cover of Up and Down written by Oliver Jeffers. In the picture is a boy in a striped, red and white top, holding a penguin

Image: Courtesy of Amazon.co.uk

Jeffers turned to writing and illustrating children’s books but people didn’t take him seriously. However, it was when he produced his début, How to Catch A Star, which was supposedly inspired by various reports from a moment chilling on the end of jetty in Sydney while star gazing. 

Jeffers’s publishing star on the rise

HarperCollins Publishers received his unsolicited work and immediately recognised the potential in this star on the ascent. The book was subsequently published in 2004. It also made the shortlist for the Booktrust’s Early Years Award for Best New Illustrator. It then went on to win the Merit Award at the CBI/ Bisto Book of the Year Awards in 2005.

Jeffers’ time had finally arrived and people had to take him seriously. His follow-up, Lost and Found, proved that HarperCollins Publishers had caught their star. 

The book was so stunning and captivating, sales figures shot up and it garnered critical acclaim from across the spectrum. In 2005, it was recognised with the Gold Award at the Nestle Children’s Book Prize.

Picture of Oliver Jeffers in a white jumper, blue shirt and blue jeans and blue woolie hat, holding a cup of coffee.

Picture: Courtesy of abc.net.au

Jeffers’s reward from publishing children’s books

Since then, he has published at least ten to eleven other titles and worked on numerous other projects such as commercials. Lost and Found also became his first book to be turned into an animated film.

It went on to win more than 40 awards from across the globe including a BAFTA award for best animation in 2009.

Jeffers is here to stay. He has won numerous awards such as the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts [2014]; Orbit Prize [2013]; Blue Peter Book Award [2006], Channel 4 Richard and Judy Award [2006], Irish Book Awards [2012], The New York Times Book Review [2012], New York Emmy Awards [2010] and numerous other awards. He has also made numerous shortlists and received a lot of merits.

You can check out the full list of all his awards here Oliver Jeffers’s list of awards.

Access2books is proud to be associated with an award winning director and working with HarperCollins Publishers to continue publishing children’s books and making them available as alternative formats for the print disabled community.

Access2books on publishing Jeffers’s children’s books

Eileen Finch summed up the mood of the Access2books team when they discovered HarperCollins Publishers granted them permission to publish Lost and Found and Up and Down.

“We are delighted because the decision was so quick. They were recommended by West Sussex Libraries. I am really pleased we are publishing these books”, she said.