Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Children's Picture eBook Review and Author Interview: Park Life: The New Arrivals, Written and Illustrated by Matthew Nightingale

Illustrations: 5.0 Stars 
Cover: 5.0 Stars
Storyline: 5.0 Stars
Total: 5.0 Stars
My Review for Park Life: The New Arrivals: Corban the crocodile and Felicity the flamingo move into Happy Valley. The five animal friends who live there must adjust to the scariness of a crocodile (although it turns out he's super nice) and the meanness of the flamingo (she learns kindness in the end), but they ALL learn friendship among their differences.

Illustrations: Very polished and beautiful illustrations. I loved to look at them, they're in an animated movie type of style.

Storyline: The Happy Valley animals demonstrate important moral lessons: Helen overcomes her fear of the new crocodile. Calvin shows kindness to someone who isn't kind to him. Corban demonstrates an apology. Gracie forgives. This book reinforces lessons I want my children to learn, in an amiable way.
Author Interview with Matthew Nightingale:

Valerie Harmon: Have you ever been the new kid in a neighborhood?
Matthew Nightingale: I have, when I was 8 years old my family moved to Paris. So not only was I the new kid, I was the new kid who spoke a different language!
VH: What advice do you have for new kids?
MN: Just have fun and people will want to have fun with you.
VH: How did you learn how to illustrate?
MN: I was working as a graphic designer when I started to play with 3D computer modeling. I got hooked, and then decided to go to university to study this subject full time.  

VH: What programs do you use to illustrate?
The programs I use to make my illustrations are SoftImage (Image is pronounced in French) and Adobe Photoshop.

VH: What advice do you have for children who'd like to be artists?
MN: I would suggest that you look at as many children’s books as possible. Quickly you’ll find yourself attracted to certain styles and then you can start to develop your own unique direction. Try to make yourself different.
VH: Do you have any funny stories of how you got to where you are?
MN: I don’t have a funny story, but I do have an ironic story. The weekend after I had finished the last edit of my book I was taking my dog for a walk around my local lake. Pippa, my dog, is obsessed with balls. I think she believes that all the balls in the world belong to her and she wonders why everybody is playing with her ball. This is why whenever I take her for a walk she brings her ball with her. As we walked around the lake I kicked her ball, she chased after it, and returned it to me. One unfortunate kick later and the ball ended up in the lake and I found myself looking around for somebody to help me. Luckily the wind blow the ball back to the edge, I did wonder if I needed to rewrite that part of my book.
VH: What are three favorite books?
MN: This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but I don’t really read a lot. I do enjoy autobiographies. I enjoyed biographies of Murray Walker, Lee Evans and Guy Martin.
VH: What are three favorite children's books?
MN: My three favourite children’s books are:

The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson. – This book has it all, The beautiful illustrations, humour, intriguing characters all wrapped by in wonderful writing. 
The Emperor and the Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen – I feel this story has a great moral, the way should admire the beauty in nature.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen – I like this story because it reminds me of the classic children’s stories in the way it has a slight dark edge to the story.

VH: Who influences your writing?
MN: My children influence my writing the most. I love their understanding of what is right and wrong. They read my story as I worked on it, I found it amazing how they spotted things in a storyline that you didn’t even realise was there.
VH: What advice do you have for authors who'd like to write children's books?
MN: Watch your word count, I struggled for quite a while with this. The consistent feedback I was given was that my story was too long. As an experiment I went through my book and deleted anything that didn’t progress the story, then compared the result with the original story. This really highlighted areas in my story where I was waffling.
VH: What would you tell children who read your book?
MN: There’s no such thing as a normal person, everybody’s different and that’s how it should be.

VH: Why do you write?
MN: I didn’t plan to start writing. I was playing on my computer, working on some character designs and I found myself imagining what characteristics they would have. After I had about 6 character designs that I was happy with I decided to start putting a story together. I found it very difficult but after many, many edits I was very pleased with the result.

VH: What kind of animal would you be if you could choose?

MN: The obvious answer would to say I’d be a Nightingale, but after recently trying my hand at indoor skydiving I can safely say I do not fly or sing like a nightingale.

For more information on Nightingale, visit his book website, his personal 3D portfolilo site, and Park Life New Arrivals on Amazon UK.

No comments:

Post a Comment