Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

Children's Book Award Blog Tour

We are absolutely delighted to be hosting a blog for this year's FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour. Our featured title is Octopus Shocktopus - the brilliantly bonkers picture book by Peter Bently and illustrated by Steven Lenton. It's one of four picture books on the FCBG 2022 shortlist and it's one our reviewers love!

We've been included on this tour since 2019 and we love supporting these awards. There are lots of other children's book awards (you can see all the Children's Book Awards 2020 Shortlists and Winners here) but the FCBG Children’s Book Award is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. Members of the Federation of Children's Book Groups vote on the Longlist and then any children can vote on the Shortlist. 

So, like Toppsta, it recommends books which children truly enjoy, rather than those books which adults THINK children should be reading. And the great news is, thanks to the generosity of the publishers, nearly 12,000 books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and disadvantaged schools by the voting groups at the end of the process. The overall winner of 2020’s CBA Book Award was D-Day Dog by Tom Palmer.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for information on how you can vote and a run down of this year's blog tour.

Discover more about Octopus Shocktopus below, plus read illustrator Steven Lenton's blog explaining how he came up with the bright and arresting visual style for this zingy and zany picture book.

Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

Creating the visual style for Octopus Shocktopus 

By Steven Lenton


When Nosy Crow first sent me the text for Octopus Shocktopus I was really excited as it was written by one of the best authors in the business, Peter Bentley, whose ‘Great Dog Bottom Swap’ is in my top five picture books of all time.I had also collaborated with Peter on two previous picture books ‘The Hundred and One Dalmatians’ and our World Book Day title ‘Cruella and Cadpig’ so I knew we worked really well together.

But when I first read it, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it! It was quite different to any other picture book I had worked on or read before, so I started to make some sketches to see how I could bring it to life in my mind, I always think visually so had to get something down on the page immediately.

Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

Once I started sketching the Octopus on top of the house it just clicked in my mind and I fell in love with the whole idea, the gentle themes within the seemingly simple story, the family and cast of characters, and that great ending with lots of other octopi arriving in the village; it all made sense and I snapped up the offer to illustrate the book.


Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

I wanted the village and villagers to have a classic, timeless feel and took inspiration from some of my favourite childhood television shows, Trumpton, Chigley and Portland Bill which had charmingly simple character designs and a lovely warm, reassuring feel.I also revisited the soft pastel rainbow palettes of 80’s cartoons She-Ra, Jem and The Holograms and The Wuzzles, as I knew when all the octopi land at the end, they would form a lovely rainbow of colour. The work of late great illustrator Roger Duvoisin whose geometric yet charming dwellings really captured my imagination, gave me inspiration for the seaside houses for the occupants of Octopus Shocktopus.

Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

The main challenge, once we had set the style of the village and characters, was the fact that the octopus is literally on top of the house, in the same position pretty much throughout the entire book, so making the octopus the right size so they could do all the actions required in the text like pushing a car and clearing the snow, was paramount. We also had to keep varying the angle and perspective of the house and octopus to make sure the pages didn’t look too repetitive and boring. We played around with the Octopus having a mouth, but decided to keep his expression solely in his eyes, eyebrows and body movements.


Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

Once this was all set, it was time to go to final artwork and to colour it all in, which was great fun.I think my favourite spread is the Octotastic Christmas Tree - such a joy to design.

Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

Now here’s a little secret…it wasn’t decided until just before we sent of the book to be printed that the Octopus was going to have a neon orange/pink Pantone colour – that lovely zingyness that readers love so much!

I got an email from designer Nia Roberts saying they the Nosy Crow team would love for the octopus to be a bright neon colour, and I thought this was a terrific idea! A few tweaks of the colours throughout the book to make sure the neon colour would sit nicely with the rest of the palette and ta-da! The neon octopus came to life on the cover and throughout the book to really make it pop!

Our book seems to have been a big hit with so many young readers and parents and I am so pleased that we have been included in the FCBG awards, so thank you to everyone who has voted for our octopus so far!


Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus
Steven Lenton

Steven Lenton

Steven hails from Cheshire and now works from his studio in Brighton, creating an array of charming characters for his books.

Best known for illustrating Shifty McGifty series, written by Tracey Corderoy, he has illustrated many lovely books and wrote his first picture book with Nosy Crow, Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights.

Steven also loves to visit schools, festivals and bookshops, encouraging and inspiring his audience to draw, giggle and create! More information about him and his work can be found at stevenlenton.com.


Peter Bently

Peter Bently is the award-winning author of around seventy books for young children. He grew up in an army family and went to ten schools as far apart as Devon, Germany and Hong Kong. Both his parents told him bedtime stories (like the one about Mowberley, the boy who tunnelled to Australia) and he still believes this is crucial in developing a child’s imagination and creativity.

Over the years, Peter has been a journalist and a non-fiction book editor, but writing stories for children is the job he has enjoyed the most. They are often in rhyme, and often (he hopes) funny. His numerous books include King Jack and the Dragon (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury and shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, as well as being an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year); Cats Ahoy! (illustrated by Jim Field and winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize); and cult classic The Great Dog Bottom Swap (illustrated by Mei Matsuoka).

Peter has two children and lives in London with his wife Lucy and daughter Tara.


Peter Bently

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Book pages Placeholder Book

Octopus Shocktopus!

A brilliantly bonkers story about an octopus who lives on the roof, by two award-winning and bestselling picture book creators. When a giant octopus arrives, the children LOVE their new friend; he makes the perfect slide and is fantastic at football! But some of the grown-ups aren't so pleased. Will they drive him away . . . or will they realise just how helpful an octopus can be? A warm and witty rhyming story about welcoming newcomers. Sunglasses at the ready - this book has zingy fluorescent ink on the cover and inside illustrations. Peter Bently has won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and his book with Helen Oxenbury, King Jack and the Dragon, was named an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. Steven Lenton is the illustrator of the Shifty McGifty series by Tracey Corderoy, and also illustrates books by David Baddiel and Frank Cottrell-Boyce. His books have won awards such as the Sainsbury's Children's Book Award and have been selected for the WHSmith's Children's Book of the Year and Tom Fletcher Book Club.

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children's book award blog tour

The Children's Book Award is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. It is highly regarded by parents, teachers, librarians, publishers and children’s authors and illustrators as it represents the children’s choice. 
Thanks to the support of the publishers, around 800 new fiction titles are donated to be read and reviewed by local FCBG groups across the country every year. This year approx 50,000 total votes were cast, and we expect many thousands more to come in for the Top 10. At the end of each testing year, many of the books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and disadvantaged schools by our groups. 
 There wasn't an award in 2021 - the challenges of getting books out to the child judges in lockdowns meant the award did not run last year. Therefore, this year's award celebrates the most popular books from 2020 and 2021 so no one misses out.

 Any child up to the age of 18 can vote for their favourite books from the shortlist. Voting will open soon on the FCBG website and you can buy the books from Heath Books here.

If you'd like to follow other blogs on this year's blog tour, you can find them below.

picture books

2nd March - A Library Lady - Perdu by Richard Jones

4th March - Picture Book Perfect - Barbara Throws a Wobbler by Nadia Shireen

6th March - Toppsta - Octopus Shocktopus by Peter Bently and Steven Lenton

8th March - My Shelves Are Full - Stella and the Seagull by Georgina Stevens and Izzy Burton

younger readers 

13th March - Richreadalot - The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

15th March - Scope for Imagination - The Griffin Gate by Vashti Hardy, illustrated by Natalie Smillie

17th March - Lily and the Fae - Anisha, Accidental Detective by Serena Patel, illustrated by Emma McCann

older readers

21st March - Golden Book Girl - When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

23rd March - NotSoTweets - The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud

25th March -Eenalol - The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery


Toppsta
2022-03-09
FCBG Children's Book Award Blog Tour: Octopus Shocktopus

6th March 2022

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