Book Reviews, Childrens Book Illustration, Deborah Allwright, Helen Baugh, Jonathan Cape, Q&A, Random House

Dragon v Dinosaur, PLUS Q&A with Helen Baugh

The Witch with an Itch: Dragon v Dinosaur was published 24th September 2015 by Jonathan Cape (an imprint of Random House). Written by Helen Baugh and illustrated by Deborah Allwright, this book is a fun-filled progression of ever fantastic spells and sibling rivalry…

Said the Mudwaffler… ‘Spellbindingly WAND-erful fun!’

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The Story

The littlest witch, and the wizard, her twin, were both very stubborn and both liked to win…

From the get-go you can see this book is going to be a fast-paced page-turner, and it goes and goes and goes!

The twins are invited to a fancy dress party – a party with a prize for the best costume…

“My costume,” the witch said, “will beat all the rest.”

“NO!” cried the wizard. “MINE will be best.”

Mudwaffler - Dragon v Dinosaur (1)

Now the wands are out, and the battle begins! The witch transforms herself into a princess, and in response… the wizard becomes a clown, covering the princess in glitter and glue! This just won’t do! The princess swiftly turns herself into a pirate and chases the clown away…

Mudwaffler - Dragon v Dinosaur (2)

And so follows a whole host of fantastic wand-wished creations (I particularly like the hairy and scary ones)!

Eventually, they reach a stalemate. But (it’s not over yet!)…

“Then the witch thought of something – a genius spell!”

The one that would win her the fight (she could tell).

And how does the wizard respond? Why, with a dinosaur, of course!

Mudwaffler - Dragon v Dinosaur (3)

They’re head to head – eye to eye – ready to burn and to bite! But…

…then the huge dinosaur started to twitch. Her beastly behaviour had summoned the ITCH!

(The witch got an itch when she did something wrong, and with danger involved it was sure to be strong!)

Disaster! The two precious wands are broken in two and the spells are broken too. How can they possibly win the costume competition now?

This rhyming story is so easy to read and the melody and beats of each line are a joy. Helen has created a great text, full of fun and laughter. I really enjoyed reading out the spells…

“Abracadabra and dabra-delight. Make me a dashing and valiant knight!”

The Artwork

Deborah Allwright’s illustrations are so, so, full of energy and fun! This book is filled with illustrations that anyone looking to build a children’s illustration portfolio of their own should take note of – a witch, a wizard, a princess, a clown, a pirate, a knight, and monsters galore (plus lots, lots more in the latter pages), and Deborah creates each and every one of them to the highest standard.

The colours pop on each page and the use of background colour and white-space is genius. The swirls and stars and patterned clouds used around each of the wishes is also something that stands out to me. Deborah has a way of planting the character on a page and creating a background that revolves around it. Again – genius.

Here’s my favourite illustration… you can hear the action in it!

Mudwaffler - Dragon v Dinosaur (4)

The Mudwaffler has taken note of all the spells and has been practicing daily. He’s just waiting for his invite to the party…

Abracadabra, I’m curled in my nook, bring me a biscuit to dunk with my book…

Mudwaffler - Dragon v Dinosaur.jpg

Now, it’s WAFFLE time!

We are joined by the lovely Helen Baugh for a Q&A…

What inspired you to write Dragon vs Dinosaur?

We were very keen to introduce the littlest witch’s twin brother (the wizard) in this second book, and there also had to be a problem for the witch’s itch to resolve. So from that starting point, it was an obvious move to start exploring the consequences of sibling rivalry – but taken to extremes! It was a really fun idea to play with: if you’ve got a brother and sister with magic at their disposal, both desperate to outdo each other, how far might they take things?

What are you currently working on (any sneak peek news!?)?

I’ve got a few different projects bubbling away, but nothing confirmed as yet. Hopefully the littlest witch and the littlest wizard will be back for more adventures, though!

What is your favourite thing to write about?

I don’t really have a favourite, but magic seems to be featuring quite heavily so maybe that’s the answer.

Who (or what) are your influences?

I really loved Dr. Seuss books as a child, and when our daughters were younger Dr. Seuss and Julia Donaldson picture books were the ones we went back to time and time again.

My daughters are my biggest influence, though, because I wouldn’t have thought of writing picture books for children if it wasn’t for them. Thanks girls!

Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?

Make sure you’ve got something – a smartphone, a notebook and pencil, anything – to get your ideas down whenever and wherever they come, while they’re still hot and fresh.

And invest in the latest copy of the Chidren’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s full of excellent advice, as well as giving listings and submission guidelines for agents and publishers. Invaluable.

and three for fun…

What are three words that best describe you?

Lucky. Tactile. Dreamer.

What is your favourite word?

At this particular moment, I’ll go for ‘squishily’.

If you could share a cuppa with anyone (alive or dead), anywhere, who would it be and where would you go?

That’s so difficult! How do people choose?! Ok, I’m going to say Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss, and we’d go and have our cuppas in a turret at the top of one of his fabulously wonky towers.

HUGE thanks to Helen Baugh for featuring on the Mudwaffler!

Be sure to check out…

Helen’s website: www.helenbaugh.com

or find her on Twitter: @helenbaughbooks

Swamp Hugs! Till the next time…

The Mudwaffler

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