The Rhymers celebrate the release of the 50th book in their ever-growing series! So please forgive this moment of self-indulgence, as their author and illustrator Andrew Buller reflects on some personal highlights and favourite stories – and raises his bat to celebrate the half-century!
The Rhymers’ first book was released back in January 2015 with the arrival of Vroom and Zoom. It has taken under two and a half years to reach the half century – a pretty slow scoring rate if it were a cricket match – and such an exciting watch!
I loved beginning with Vroom and Zoom – turning the alphabet on its head – beginning with the end – the last become first! They have always been two of my favourite characters right from the start. Ideas for this series of books began in early 2011. It was four years in the development and refining of these ideas before the first book was ready for publication. Yet those foundations have been crucial and have enabled the prolific speed of subsequent publications.
Take a look at Vroom and Zoom’s video for their story…
As with anything, the more you do it, the quicker you get. There were so many new things to learn in the self-publication of my first books ranging from getting to grips with Adobe In Design, Photoshop and Illustrator, understanding how Amazon’s CreateSpace works, how to design my own websites to share news of my books and engaging with different social media platforms (including which to focus on and which not to!). Being an author was becoming so much more than writing, but gradually these tasks became familiar and the processes streamlined.
New titles within The Rhymers series appeared rapidly within 2015. I am often asked which is my favourite story, which I find hard to answer. The one I have enjoyed sharing most in schools has been Kick and Quick. I love the dynamic between the two characters and how Kick desperately wants to join in with his friend’s games, with initially messy consequences!
Kick and Quick have a video for their story that they would love to share too…
What has always excited me the most about this whole creative project is just how many ideas I have buzzing around in my head for The Rhymers. I have notebooks jam packed with scribbles, fragments of story ideas, possible product developments, educational resources, games, new characters to be introduced…The list goes on and on…
I don’t feel I will be running out of creative projects to keep me occupied for a long, long time!
I have always wanted to offer early learning books to accompany The Rhymers story books and the merit of this was confirmed in discussions with nurseries and playgroups. There was a strong desire for books teaching the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and more. They requested that these books feature the little letters, known as The Rising Rhymers, as teaching within the early years begins with little letter character recognition.
Producing the growing list of early learning books has been particularly fun as I can be very colourful with the illustrations. I love creating with bright and cheerful colours. I grew up adoring the Mr Men books. Their bold, simple shapes and colours always fascinated me. I still say that my favourite book is Mr Tickle!
I now have an impressive list of early learning books including Alphabet Rhymers, Rumber Rhymers teaching children their numbers, Colourful Rhymers, First Words, counting with the Ten Lovely Eggs and more…
When creating The Rhymers’ series I also had ideas for a muddled up dog that would live with the alphabet characters on Rhyme Island. I could picture him vividly in my head – four legs all wanting to go in different directions spinning him round and round, licking and liking everyone he met, muddling up all the words he spoke – muddling, mubbling – Mubble Pup! I had the name, I had the image – Mubble Pup was born!
I have loved writing and illustrating books for Mubble Pup and I can’t wait to produce more! There is now a story for grown up Mubble Pup and little Mubble Puppy when he first arrives at Rhyme Island very dizzy and very sick. My favourite so far has been developing Mubble Mup’s Mubble Twisters. He is the perfect character to muddle all the Rhymers up with his tongue twisting phrases. I chuckled so much to myself while creating the illustrations!
The creative list keeps going and going and these are only a few selected highlights! From very early on I pictured using my characters to produce a personalised birthday book. When I create the books I want to ensure that every recipient feels that it is really personal to them. I spend time ensuring that the character looks like the birthday boy or girl. I also include something to spot within the story pages that is special to the person too.
Of course I have produced a birthday book and video for myself! The large, cuddly panda toy that I had when I was very little is the inspiration for the character that I have to spot on some of the pages. If you would like your own book and/or video please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing my first Christmas book for The Rhymers, with the birth of the very cute Christmas Lamb. It felt really Christmassy writing it in June! I have ideas for a second Christmas story this year, so watch this space…
Retelling the creation story with the help of The Rhymers – the letters of life – has long been in my mind. Earlier this year I finally brought those ideas together in what is probably my favourite book so far. I am particularly pleased with the illustrations and how the simple, bold pictures convey creation’s beginning to young children. There is a video for this book too.
Throughout the last two and a half years it has always been the creation of new books that has given me the greatest pleasure and I’m sure will continue to do so! I remain such a child at heart and the creation of these books fosters that beautifully. So here’s to never growing up!
And that 50th book???
Shape Up Rhymers! A really fun 2D shapes early learning book. The Shapers love getting the Rising Rhymers into shape! It’s jam-packed with vibrant illustrations and fun rhymes to help children remember their shapes.
They have just completed a video for their book too…
Hopefully we’re in good shape for the next 50 books – I’m eyeing up the century!