Another year is almost over at Barrington Stoke – how did that happen? We’ve decided to mark a busy 12 months with a collage of all of the gorgeous books we’ve published since January 2015. We’ve also asked our staff for their highlights of the year. Looking back made us all smile; we hope it does the same for you.
Julie-ann (Production Manager)
I’ve had the chance to work with so many amazing and lovely illustrators – it’s one of my favourite parts of the job. This year, I had the chance to work with Catherine Rayner whose work I’ve admired for a long time. It was her first picture book, Augustus and his Smile, that I came across during a book project at uni that inspired me to seriously consider a career within the book publishing industry.
We worked with Catherine on a Michael Morpurgo text, the stunning Clare and her Captain – and because Catherine’s local we got to see her lots during the project. To top it off, she’s really nice.
Kirstin (Marketing and Rights Co-ordinator)
My highlight has got to be the Edinburgh Book Festival. August is my favourite month of the booky calendar. I absolutely adore the atmosphere of Charlotte Square in those weeks and there is nothing better than sitting in the sun (optimistic maybe, but it does sometimes happen) with a book, soaking it all up. Coming in a very close second this year was Wigtown Book Festival, which we went along to for the first time. A gorgeous place and the book events were lovely – but the icing on the cake has got to be the Mongolian yurt we stayed in!
Jane (Sales and Marketing Director)
My top 10 favourite things about 2015 were:
1. Staying in a Frankfurt hostel for the Book Fair, that was 10 minutes from (bunk) bed to booth.
2. Eoin Colfer coming to drinks at the stand in Bologna, then stroking our books
3. Selling an enormous amount of books in Australia
4. Our W H Smiths ‘Grow a Love of Reading’ bays launched in all stores in Scotland
5. Having breakfast with Cornelia Funke – being terrified beforehand and then truly inspired and re-energised afterwards
6. Reading Pike (Anthony McGowan) for the first time then enjoying the buzz as everyone else did too.
7. The video of Michael Rosen reading from our picture book, Mad in the Back, which cheered up many a customer meeting.
8. Carrying goal posts for, and drinking tea with, Tom Palmer – a lot.
9. Drinking wine with Mairi – a lot.
10. And best of all for this and every year – the Barrington Stoke post bag.
This year has been so busy I had to look back through the photos on my phone to remember it all. I really struggle to pick one moment from so many. Perhaps the highlight was securing rights to Bessora and Barroux’s Alpha from Gallimard. Perhaps publishing Pike, which I just adore, or our gorgeous hardcover Clare and her Captain. Perhaps it was speaking at Children’s Books Ireland’s amazing conference (a long-held ambition). And then there were a few minutes in the sunshine on the seafront in Sliema in Malta, looking at Valetta and drinking iced lemon slush with Anne Bowman, who repped our books in Europe then and looks after Australia for us now. A trip to Malta sounds like a real treat – and it was – but this one came right on the back of London Book Fair and the schedule never let up from the 6.30-our-time pick-up on the first morning. But it was inspiring to meet so many parents, booksellers and teachers who love our books, it was the first time I ever met the marvellous Guy Bass – he’ll be joining the list in 2017 – and Pierre, Amanda and David of AVC looked after us like a dream. So what if I didn’t sleep for three weeks?
Work highlights have brightened a very topsy-turvy year, nudging me back onto an even keel. Two slow-burning projects finally came to glorious fruition. In March, we published Dick King-Smith’s macabre and witty The Rats of Meadowsweet Farm – a pitch-perfect cross between Shaun the Sheep and Animal Farm – as a Little Gem with stunning, rat-infested artwork by the celebrated Victor Ambrus. And the autumn brought publication of Clare and her Captain, our first hardback and a poignant story of childhood friendship brought exquisitely to life by Catherine Rayner’s light-infused illustrations. Clare and her Captain was several years in the making, too, and the sense of joy and pride when the first copies arrived from the printers was almost overwhelming.
At other times we have the good fortune to encounter a story of significance and power that we can run with from the off. In August, we took part in a ‘Spectacular Translation Machine’ at the EIBF – members of the pubic worked together to translate Alpha by Bessora and Barroux from French into English in a day. Never have I so enjoyed an afternoon with a Collins Robert French dictionary. The challenge of the translating itself, the heart-breaking directness of the artwork and the piecing together of a vital contemporary account of one man’s perilous, visa-less journey from Abidjan to Paris … It was a ‘coup de foudre’, pure and simple. Within 24 hours Mairi was pitching our offer to Alpha’s French publishers Gallimard, a proposal which they accepted. And so our UK edition of Alpha looks set to be a stand-out highlight of 2016.
On a slightly different note, we thought 21st-century kids might snigger at Bobby Parrish’s dad being called Dick in The Seal’s Fate. So Eoin Colfer suggested Brian instead and did a ‘find and replace’ accordingly. We caught the resulting clanger before we sent the book to print – just. As in, “A blue whale to rival Moby Brian could breach right off their bow, and a real fisherman would spit over the gunwales and pretend not to notice.”