Saturday, 23 November 2013

Mad About Books

Had a ball at Dubray Books, Galway, at the end of August, I really enjoy doing #bookshop/library visits. Birthday boy - Rab Fulton treated us to wonderful tales. The Dubray staff made us all feel very welcome and I met a lovely bunch of young readers who wowed everyone with the amount of books they've read this summer. Above all, we had fun and the children created some cute bunting for the shop and went home with certificates, goody bags and I.D badges. They'll be back, me thinks. Below, you will see stolen photos from Mary Esther Judy's blog (sorry, but I like them - I can't say that too often...)‎ check it out, as it's such a great guide to all the latest in Children's literature.

Sadie Cramer presenting certificates to read-a-thon winners 
Sadie Cramer

Enjoying the craic with the children
Mary Esther Judy
Rab Fulton

Oh, yes, do go out and buy the 'Mad about books' guide, there are over 400 reviews, it costs €2.00 and it's so well produced. Kieran Nolan from is a superstar amongst designers, you won't be disappointed.

Mad as - Sadie Cramer

Children's Book Festival 2013

I'm currently moving some of my old blog posts to this brand new space, but if you wish to read some of the older posts please click the link

It was a great honour for me to design this year's Children's Book Festival poster/ recommended reads/bookmarks and stickers, many thanks to  Kieran Nolan from for enhancing rather than obliterating my work - the production's stunning and I couldn't be happier with the end result. Even more exciting than #illustrating the poster etc... was being asked to launch this year's festival at Leixlip library (I'm still revelling in the joy of the day and the whole festival, for that matter, which ran for the month of October.) Thank you #ChildrensBooksIreland, I had a blast.

Really enjoyed meeting third class pupils from Scoil San Carlo senior at #Leixlip library. Hope they enjoyed themselves as much as I did.

Leixlip library has to be one of the coolest in the country, not only is it visually stunning but they run great activities all year round. A group of knitters (who used the exhibition space straight after us) who stitch for Crumlin special baby unit, also knit items for Easter egg hunts and toddler waddles which take place in amongst the books in the library. What better way to have exposure to books, than to be literally amongst them from an early age? - inspired! Leixlip library is well worth visiting just to see the building, but as there's a fantastic exhibition of Children's Book Festival posters from 1997 - 2013 for the month of October, it's well worth paying a visit. Some of the photos below are courtesy of #Leixliplibrary.

Sadie Cramer - Illustrator/ facilitator

Sadie Cramer -
Sticker for CBF 2013

Sadie Cramer - Illustator/facilitator
Scoil San Carlo
Sadie Cramer - The scurvy knave

Scoil San Carlo

Scoil San Carlo

Sadie Cramer Illustartor/facilitator
Scoil San Carlo Sadie Cramer

Aoife Murray #childrensbooksireland
Scoil San Carlo
Sadie Cramer, Illustrator/facilitator

Recommended reads

If you do spot a recommended reads somewhere, do pick it up it, it's simply stuffed with amazing books, thanks to the hard work of #SarahWebb, #KimHarte, #IreneBarber, #SíneQuinn, #LizMorris, #EndaWyley, #HelenPower and #SéanODubhchon!  They've done a fantastic job, as they do year after year. If you'd like to order a package, check out:

These sites are well worth browsing also.

Laureates in conversation

Here's two #illustrations I did to celebrate the 'Laureates in conversation' event - 2012/2013

Sadie Cramer
Double whammy

Laureates in Conversation event at the Royal Irish Academy - #JuliaDonaldson #SiobhánParkinson
Are we there yet

Laureates in Conversation event at the National library of Ireland  - #NiamhSharkey #BooriMonty Pryor #AlisonLester

Alison Lester

I was honored to have had dinner with one (there are two) of the Australian Children's #Laureates, Alison Lester earlier this year and here's an article I wrote straight after we met.
Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor

Meeting #AlisonLester makes you feel as if you’ve just crawled out of a sarcophagus or that you’ve recovered from a coma. She oozes sunshine, fresh air and an absolute love of life lived to the full –the very stuff her books are made from and what makes them so appealing.  She manages to blend experience and the imagined seamlessly, creating words and pictures directly from the heart.

Are we there yet? 

Gifted to us in 2007, ‘Are we there yet?‘ is one of our all time favourites. We love it! It’s a book we’ve read, re-read, poured over and our youngest son has even slept with it on several occasions. Children like repetition and it’s important to be able to go back to a book and gain new perspective or inspiration from the characters.

What makes ‘Are we there yet?’ such a perfect book?

1 . Great text. This is such a well-written book. The writing is thought provoking, meaty and factual. Alison is, amongst so many other things, an educator. Facts are cleverly written into the narrative allowing you to feel nourished as a reader rather than ‘preached at.”

2. It’s believable. The book’s written like a travel log. It centres around a family and their Australian road trip. I actually thought it was totally autobiographical until I met Alison’s husband, who doesn’t have black bushy hair.

3. There’s a credible child’s voice narrating the story. (Take note publishers - there are children in this picture book!) The characters are distinctly Australian and the experience is Australian and not some hybrid which supposedly has universal appeal in order to boost sales. It’s important to the reader to be able to imagine what it could be like for a child growing up somewhere else and to be able to identify with real people.

3. It’s got soul! The #illustrations are hand executed and the layouts enhance the quality of the work. Sometimes the spirit of a book gets ‘killed’ by too much technological intervention. The designer obviously respected the creator’s work and the soul is perfectly intact. The colours are fresh, the work beautifully composed and the printing process has been very faithful to the originals.

5. It’ll fill you with wanderlust. We haven’t been to Australia and won’t be going any time soon but we somehow feel we’ve experienced it and I know for certain that everyone wants to go on holiday there simply because of reading the book (that and Orlando! – Harry Potter’s another culprit!) What better way for a #Laureate to promote their country than by writing a book that makes the reader want to visit? Maybe the travel and tourism sector might think about promoting it internationally simply for that reason?

I visit bookshops on a regular basis and have never seen Alison's work for sale on this side of the world, surprising, as there are no translation issues. I don’t shop on line and try as best to support local booksellers such as Charlie Byrne’s and Dubray books. I like to experience something in reality before purchasing. Therefore, regrettably, I haven’t managed to get my hands on more of Alison’s #books. Incidentally, they all sold like hot cakes at the ‘Laureates in conversation’ event before I even had a chance to glance at them.  There’s an appetite for them here, it’s just a case of getting them into our shops.  Lucky for us, Alison gifted our children with a few she had left over and we’re now glued to ‘The Quicksand pony’ and thoroughly enjoyed the board book ‘Noni the pony.’ I’ll have to break with my own tradition and buy what I can of hers on line.

I’ve already written way more than intended. Really I just wanted to say how inspired I’ve been by Alison’s book over the years and that I’ve visited her website so many times to track the phenomenal work she’s doing with children. Over any other living #author/illustrator, I can say that Alison’s work and life continues to be the most influential and inspiring.

Are we there yet?
Such a great metaphor for life!

Are we there yet?
Not by a long shot, but we’re aiming to get there and trying to enjoy the journey in our pursuit to do so.

And there's more...

This website's well worth a visit, I've been there many times and always find it to be a great source of inspiration.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Men's shed, Community Art project, Headford May - Aug. 2013

I was approached by our local men's group to carry out an #artproject/mural for a prominent place in Headford. I'd passed the dishevelled wall in question on many occasion and pondered the idea of doing something to 'cheer it up', so decided to meet the lads and see what they had in mind.  We all met for the first time on Tuesday 28th May 2013  and exchanged ideas. Brainstorming is always such an exciting part of the creative process as many thoughts come to the surface and it's always surprising to hear what way people are thinking. As I've said on many occasions, listening is key to the entire process.

How do we respect and implement everyone's ideas?
How do we work together as a united group?
How do we find out what people's strengths are and honour them?
How do we represent the greater community in what we're doing?
How do we carry out the project and get as much joy out of it on a personal level but as a group also?

It was a good ploy to meet on their behalf  because as soon as I'd met them all, I was sold on the idea and we 'hit it off' as a group.

What is a Men’s Shed? (Irish Association of Men's sheds.)

'A Men’s Shed is a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place where men come together and undertake a variety of mutually agreed activities.
Men’s Sheds are open to all men regardless of age, background or ability. It is a place where you can share your skills and knowledge with others, learn new skills and develop your old skills.
New members are always welcome and can be assured that there is something of interest for everyone as the men have ownership of their Shed and projects and decide their own programme of events.
An objective of #MensSheds is to enhance or maintain the well-being of the participating men.'

If you're interested in the #Headford men's shed please contact John at Solas
093 36447
John at solas 
Everyone has a different sense of aesthetics, some imagined a 'Constable landscape' as a finished mural, whilst others wanted a 'Bansky' effort, but one thing was clear, we had to use the skills we had as a group and as nobody had painted anything large scale before it had to be simple, striking and achievable by all.  On this occasion, we couldn't embrace anything 'Constable' but we decided to work in the spirit of Banksy doing surprising artworks under the cloak of night which would get the #community talking and anticipating. 

Black bird - temporary mural Headford _ June/July/Aug  2013

You'd think doing a bit of graffiti at 3am on a Friday morning in sleepy Headford would be sure to go unnoticed. Who'd be around at that time? No-one I thought, but how wrong could I have been? First a lady drove by, waved and came over for a chat. She was so nice, she even assisted me by shining her headlights onto the wall where I was working, then got a paint brush and joined in for the craic. Next, a hand on the shoulder and a 'Caught you!' from another lady who also painted a couple of hearts for the sheer fun. 'Thanks a million guys, but what are ye doing out at this time of the morning?' 'Oh we're waiting for the bus?' 'Huh?' 'Yeah, the leaving cert. students finished their exams today and they'll be along any minute!' Sure enough, an entire bus load of swaying teenagers pulled up and out they got, wondering 'what the...!' 
So graffiti under the cloak of night doesn't necessarily work. 
The guards even drove by at one point, I waved and they waved back. 
Obviously you get away with a lot more as a vandal in your forties! 

We met many times throughout the project and finally came up with designs and a colour scheme which everyone liked.

Headfest brochure launch - Campbell's Tavern

One of the things that was really important to the whole group was whether we could  do this in secrecy and then have a spectacular unveiling?[The unveiling was planned to coincide with the official opening of #Headfest2013 - #Headfest being the main sponser of all the materials required for this project.] We couldn't work directly on the wall - there'd be no surprise, therefore, 8' x 4' marine plywood boards were used. We painted the #designs in vibrant eggshell which is both durable and stylish for an exterior location.

Two hot men, hot for action in the heat of Headford

Thanks to #Monaghan's showroom (#Topaz Headford) for allowing the use of the space

At midnight in Headford

The night before

The big reveal -August 9th 2013

Happy people

xx Mark and I
Headfest Launch - By Kevin McNicholas