Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Month: August 2017

Ehsan Abdollahi at The House of Illustration


Ehsan AbollahiEhsan is an award-winning illustrator of children’s books, his work is published through Tiny Owl Publishers.

He teaches at Tehran’s top Honar (Art) University and he is currently in the UK to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other engagements.

On Thursday 10th August he joined a discussion panel at The House of Illustration  in conjunction with Tiny Owl Publishers.

The panel was made up of James Mayhew, Erica Jarnes, Beverley Naidoo, Azita Rassi and Delaram Ghanimifard.

Discussion was fascinating and there was a strong focus on the initial refusal to entry and visa for Ehsan, a ban! After considerable pressure and public energy from many people, including The Bookseller and The Guardian, this was overturned and Ehsan was allowed entry into the UK.

But what does it mean to be ‘banned’? And who is affected by the ban? The panel felt that a ban meant that not only the person was banned from the country but also the children and recipients of the books were also banned from listening to Ehsan and his work, creating an apartheid situation.

Banning affects us all as we are not allowed to hear or take part. In effect it stops dialogue.  A dialogue, in this case where children can share an understanding of cultural differences, through books.  Where they experience a greater  understanding of a global world, sharing lives and concerns, knowing similarities and differences and valuing both.Ehsans colouring materials

Ehsan had also run some workshops for children, creating passports of peace and hope and, ‘using a poem as a springboard to explore how you might change the world and what colours you would use.’ Tiny Owl.

His books are amazing, the illustrations depict life in colour and style, they have a beautiful expressive feel about the images and tell the stories, often with no need for words.

When I Coloured the World‘ and ‘A Bottle of Happiness‘ are both wonderful books to have and to share. They tell more than the story written in the words, they are moral stories and full of meaning.A Bottle of Happiness

As picture books they have a place in libraries for children of all ages and adults too. By sharing the books with parents and teachers, there is much to discover in words, pictures and meaning.



At Books Go Walkabout, we are keen explorers of books in different places, reaching out across the world, using books and stories in a global dimension.

We are delighted to share Ehsan’s work and that of Tiny Owl Publishers with the world. We do this directly when travelling to the other side of the globe and through our blog which is read across Australia, South East Asia and in Europe.

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout




A Bottle of Happiness by Pippa Goodhart and Ehsan Abdollahi

A Bottle of Happiness - cover image and web link

Buy this book from BgW here…

On one side of a big mountain the people were rich and worked hard to become richer, but they were not happy.

On the other side of the mountain,  people were not rich but shared things, including stories and they were happy. A small boy climbs the mountain to find the other side is full of wealth.

He returns one day with a bottle and brings the riches of happiness into that community. The moral is, share with others and you will have riches in abundance.

A story about people and getting on with each other, a fable with meaning and a positive ending.

Created and published by Tiny Owl, who are a very exciting new, independent publishing company, established in 2015. They believe in having stories which act as bridges. They have a number of books from Iranian authors.

They have a programme of intercultural projects where authors and illustrators from different countries work together in creation of a children’s book.

A Bottle of Happiness is written by Pippa Goodhart and illustrator is Ehsan Abdollahi. The text and illustration matches the idea behind the story.

Pippa has also written over a hundred books, including Winnie the Witch. Ehsan works as an illustrator of children’s books and newspapers as well as teaching at university in Iran, He recently was initially refused entry to the UK, when booked to deliver an event at Edinburgh Festival 2017. After much support and pressure Ehsan was granted a visa into the UK. Hooray!!

This is a beautiful book and a heart-warming story. Recommended for homes, sharing, libraries and schools.

Sue Martin

Books go Walkabout, stories across the world


The Comics Exhibition at Seven Stories in Newcastle, UK

Approaching Seven Stories - image

Approaching Seven Stories….

Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children’s Books. Nowhere else in the UK matches the uniqueness of Seven Stories.

There are collections from authors with titles galore and notes of their work as it progressed. There are amazing original pieces of artwork from illustrators, as well as the printed book.

Seven Stories are custodians of the only collection in the world of British authors from 1930’s to present day.

Children’s books change the lives of those who read them, they capture thoughts and feelings, they create adventure and exploration, they help children to face and understand the world.

The centre has many roles and activities, including workshops, events for children of all ages, connections with schools in the North-East. It has a wonderful bookshop and a café for lunches, with a view over the Ouseburn river.

Exhibitions have a big place in Seven Stories. The two exhibitions running now are about Bears and Comics. There are also exhibitions with material from previous exhibitions, archived digitally and accessible as a resource. Once the exhibitions have finished at Seven Stories they often go on tour around the country, such as the recent Michael Morpurgo exhibition, on tour this year.

Always worth a visit to Seven Stories - Comics image

Always worth a visit to Seven Stories…

The Comics exhibition, is showing until Summer 2018 on the fifth floor and once you enter, you are immersed in the world of comics, old and new.

Comics, illustrations, graphic novels, adventure, showing a whole world of characters and story. One page of a comic would lead you into another world with weekly episodes keeping you on the edge of your seat. There are many favourite characters, heroes and superheroes, good guys and bad guys.

The exhibition is set out to show the different aspects of comics; story, character, setting, props and power, and style. As you journey through the exhibition there is a really good sense of the components of creating a comic adventure, with characters and plots larger than life! The quality of the illustrations and huge amount of time involved in creating a page with many panels of sketches is enormous.

Ahoy there? - panels image at the Comics Exhibition, Seven Stories

Ahoy there?

A story for a comic is generally made in a series of panels, with each panel including some words in speech bubbles or a displayed text, but often there are no words at all!

Characters can be anyone really, monsters, jokers, friends, people you know or even yourself. The exhibition shows how you can define your character in clothes, height, features and special powers.

Other areas are Props and Power; an amazing collection held in some drawers of destiny and a wardrobe full of ideas or possible impossibilities!

Alongside the comics with superheroes and other characters were also some well-known novels, made into comic or graphic style. My favourite was Tom’s Midnight Garden, which looked amazing and also Moomin on the Riviera, The Snowman, Guardians of the Galaxy and Asterix.

Would you enter the wardrobe - image

Would you enter the wardrobe?

This is a fantastic exhibition and we could well have spent a whole day there.

The team at Seven Stories, who collate and present the exhibitions, have real professionalism and flair in the creation of this amazing space, especially the interactivity of many of the displayed artefacts.

Maybe one day soon, I will go back and wander into the Wardrobe of Impossible Possibilities. If you visit the exhibition and find the wardrobe you may discover new  solar systems, characters and stories within.

A visit to Seven Stories and the Comics Exhibition is a must for the school holidays or at any time.

Sue Martin

Further reading and exploration of ‘the comic’?

https://comicswap.wordpress.com/       https://comicsclub.blog/

Great archive and news stories on a theme, featured links at the exhibition.

Image Credits: With thanks to Seven Stories for the images of the 'front door' and the magical wardrobe...


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