"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blog Tour (Guest Post, Review and Giveaway): DOUGLAS, YOU NEED GLASSES! by Ged Adamson (C)

by Ged Adamson
Release date: May 17th, 2016
Published by Schwartz & Wade (RandomHouse)
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Format: Hardcover, eBook 
Format reviewed: Finished hardcover from the publisher.


Meet Douglas, a dog with a big problem: he needs eyeglasses but doesn't know it, and his bad eyesight tends to land him in some pretty hairy situations. 

Readers will laugh along with the new picture book character Douglas as he chases a leaf that he mistakes for a squirrel, walks through wet cement because he can't see the warning sign, and annoys the neighbor's dog by mistakenly eating out of his bowl. And when Douglas's owner Nancy finally takes him to what is clearly an eyeglass store and Douglas asks, "Why are you taking me to a shoe store?" everyone will be giggling.

After an eye exam confirms that Douglas needs glasses, and Nancy helps him find the perfect pair, readers will rejoice with Douglas as he sees all the amazing things he's been missing!

Both kids and parents will laugh out loud - and may even recognize themselves! - while reading this utterly irresistible, hilarious picture book. 


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Probably the most frequent question people ask me is "Is it ok to draw birds with teeth?"
My answer is always the same: "Why would anybody draw a bird without teeth?"
The way you illustrate things says a lot about how your mind works. The things you draw represent your aesthetic leanings and your artistic influences. Every artist or illustrator has stuff they really like that inspires their work in a big way. These influences can last a lifetime or they can simply be a passing phase, it doesn't matter. No man or woman is an island and it's impossible to build a Donald Trump wall that stops other people's stuff getting into your work. And who would want to? 

It's a common thing that when people take up drawing or painting or any creative pursuit, they start off imitating something else. Your influences are everything at this early stage and usually, you will gravitate towards one of them and simply copy. This isn't a bad thing - it's almost a necessity because if you're lucky the process of imitation will teach you how to get to your own style. Other influences will be added and mixed. The more you do, the more those different influences will keep crashing together until they form something new: art that's yours and nobody else's. 

There's a whole load of things that go into my own style of drawing and writing. I was lucky enough to be a kid before the Internet. I say 'lucky' because the downsides of having so much instant choice at your fingertips are: 
1. You tend to look at the same kind of things and never encounter stuff that might spark some new ideas and thoughts. 
2. It's harder to be bored. Boredom as a kid is a great thing. It can make you use your brain and explore new territory. 

In that distant pre Internet age, you were stuck with what was scheduled on TV and what was available in your immediate environment. So some of the most memorable things from my childhood that kept me amused are not kid-related at all. What I wasn't drawing, I was watching telly and quite often it would be a programme that was thrown into the listings to fill a gap. Like an old public information film about what to do when a pipe bursts - or an episode of an ancient animated series about chess strategy. TV oddities like these seemed to occupy strange and forgotten worlds and, as a child who was obsessed by the past, they held a strong fascination. 

But there was one thing that, for me, made a wet Tuesday afternoon absolute heaven and that was watching an old British movie. But it had to be a certain kind of British movie. What I really loved were Ealing comedies - The Man In The White Suite, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lady Killers, I loved them all. But occasionally there were Norman Wisdom films too, Morcambe and Wise features and Will Hay pictures from the 30s. Here was humour from a different source and it seeped into mine and my brother's own sense of what makes something funny. 

Another British film favourite were the St Trinians movies. These always started with a title sequence illustrated by Ronald Searle from whose original comic strip the series was adapted. 

Ronald Searle is one of the most influential illustrators/artists of the last hundred years. His draughtsmanship alone was incredible and his output was staggering. Searle's characters - famous of not - are instantly recognisable as his. His humour is dark but never vicious. His love of Victorian architecture and ornamentation is evident everywhere in his work. There are so many illustrators, including myself, who have taken that aspect of Searle's work and mixed it into their own. 

A big American influence of mine who was a contemporary of Ronald Searle's is Charles Schultz. 

It's hard to put across how much I loved Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy when I was a child. They were the best thing in the world. I literally dreamt about them. We amassed a large collection of Peanuts books in our house. We were all fans including my dad. In contrast to the simplicity of the art, there was a sophistication to the humour that kids and adults appreciated pretty much in the same way. That's another aspect of the genius of Schultz - his humour didn't work on two levels (like we're always hearing the Pixar movies do for instance); both children and adults could sympathize with Charlie Brown's insecurities and Linus's curiosity and sense of right and wrong. Through the Peanuts books we had at home, I loved to trace Schultz's development as an artist and the evolution of his style. It intrigued me that the 1950s Charlie Brown and Snoopy looked so different to their 19802 counterparts. 

Every Christmas there would be a new Giles annual in our house. Giles was a hugely popular cartoonist for the Daily Express. Being a Conservative newspaper, it wasn't one we took ourselves but Giles was so loved by us, we bought his annual anyway regardless of who was paying his wages. 

The cartoons centred around a large beleaguered family. They were very Middle England, Southern - whilst we were Northern, working class. But they were so well drawn - in the human sense as well as the artistic sense - it was easy to like them and laugh at their predicaments. But the things I particularly loved about Giles was his mastery of landscape and the portrayal of our uncompromising British weather. Nobody could do a rainy street in so perfect a way as him. His study of the gardens and backs of suburban houses covered in deep snow, overseen by black bare branched trees rivalled anything by Lowry in my opinion. Somewhere in this scene would be the dad working on his boat saying something (usually about the gran) to one of the kids. The gag was rarely memorable but, to me, the art itself was breathtaking. 

I could mention even more strange and wonderful things that have lodged in my brain and given me inspiration over the years but to mention them all would turn this into a small book. So the next time you’ve created something, remember to thank all those little influences that collaborate in your brain to make you who you are.

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OH how I wish I had this book when my oldest, who is now 12, had to get glasses!
You see, we didn't know that my son needed glasses at such a young age - he was having some problems engaging in certain activities, etc. But not even his doctors were aware that it may have been an eyesight problem. It took us a whole year to discover that he needed glasses! And by then, my son had learned to identify things by shapes and colors... he's now been wearing glasses since he was 4 years old, and will have to wear them for the rest of his life! He's not the only one in our family to have to wear glasses, so he's not alone now - but, it would have been so very nice to have a dog named Douglas to help him transition and accept that he wasn't the only one that had to wear glasses at his age... 

The story is so sweet, fun and humorus! Douglas gets into a bit of mischief because of his bad eyesight - something that we can all relate too! His 'hooman' does that best that she can, but soon realizes that her pup needs more help than she can give. Which is something that I can relate too! It's so hard, especially as a parent, to admit that something may be wrong with your child or anyone else that you love dearly. Being able to accept them as who they are is very important - especially if there is a way to help them improve their way of living. 

What I love about this book the most is the watercolor pictures - they give you exactly what and how the dog sees the world. Vibrant and colorful, and yet, a little blurry and shadowy, exactly how one struggling to see correctly would probably views the world - great blobs of colors!

My older boys, 12 and 10, really enjoyed the story - they thought it was cute and funny. And enjoy reading it, over and over again, to their littlest brother who is now 2 1/2. Littlest brother loves the "so funny part" and all the bright "pretty colors". 

Definitely a book for everyone!!! 

*A hardcover copy of the book was sent to me by the publisher for an honest review.
All thoughts are wholeheartedly my very own. 

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(Bumbles and Fairy-Tales will not be held responsible for any lost, damaged, unclaimed, etc. prizes.)

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Ged Adamson is a writer and illustrator. His first two books, Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser and Meet the McKaws, are both published by Sky Pony Press. A third, Douglas, You Need Glasses! will be published in May 2016 by Random House. He sees two books published in 2017 - Shark Dog in Summer 2017 and published by HarperCollins and I Want to Grow will be released in Fall 2017 by Boyds Mill Press. 

His cartoons have appeared in magazines such as Punch and Prospect, in books and on film. He's been a storyboard artist and a caricaturist. He also works as a composer for TV and film. 

He lives in London with his partner Helen and their son Rex. 

Links: Website / Instagram / Twitter

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