A Year in Books Elma Family Kitty Pip Reading

One for them and one for me: Books for September


Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

One for them: Mein schonstes Wimmelbuch

If our family’s weakness in Waterstones in England is legendary then it can be no surprise that when we found ourselves meandering past a bookshop in Innsbruck the whole family turned as one to go and explore the children’s department.  H, with a GCSE German under his belt, can have a pretty good stab at reading children’s books with only the occasional detour to Google Translate, but my German makes that policeman in Allo Allo look entirely fluent in French, so it’s just as well that the words in this wonderful book are entirely limited to the ones on the front cover.

Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

But to describe it as a mere picture book is to do it a disservice, and that’s why I think it can slip under the reading radar despite not actually having words.  A Wimmelbuch is a made up German word for a picture book where there’s lots to look at (now you see why they made a word up).  Literally it means a teeming book, as in a book that is teeming with vignettes.  Where’s Wally is the classic English example, but I can remember from my own childhood loving pictures of cut away houses or big ships, where you could see everything from the sailors shovelling coal in the boiler room, to the posh lady loosing her parasol overboard from the top deck.  The more you looked, the more you saw.

Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

It’s true for this Wimmelbuch too; it’s a board book, bigger than A4, and filled with thirteen different spreads, a ‘greatest hits’ from some of the other themed books, from a swimming pool on the first page all the way through to the ski slopes of winter at the end, via Oktoberfest, a construction site, the park, the harbour, and a beach, to name but a few.

Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

The pictures are beautifully illustrated, with gorgeous colours and a lovely way of capturing action.  There’s an irreverence in them too; so in the pool scene there’s a little boy peeing into a bush, in the market someone has bumped into a customer with a train of trolleys and a look in their eye that suggests that it might not be completely an accident, and the mountain roads have both picnickers and litter pickers.

Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

Each of the little pictures on the front and back covers appears somewhere in the book and I know Kitty enjoys challenging herself to find them.  For Pip (whose birthday present it was) the pictures are more than enough; he will quite happily sit and stare for ages and ages, and then eventually look up solely, point to the pool and declare it: “Bath Mama!”

One for me: Save the Cat!

I was recommended Save the Cat a while ago, duly bought it, and then put it on the bookshelf meaning to get around to reading it as soon as life settled down and I had a bit more time for writing.  Cue the hysterical laughter.  One more child later I realised that more time was a very long way off and picked up the book.  It is meant as a screenwriting handbook, was recommended as a creative writing guide, and yet even if you never wanted to write a single word I think you’d find it fascinating.

Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

Step by step and in incredibly readable chapters, Blake Snyder completely dissects just about every film you’ve ever seen.  His theory is that a film’s success or failure rides on whether or not they have a good ‘Save the Cat’ moment; the bit that makes the character likeable and gets you on their side, regardless of what they they go on to do in the rest of the plot.  For example, Lara Croft fails because she’s just not that interesting but Pirates of the Caribbean succeeded because a few scenes in Jack Sparrow saves Elizabeth and from the on we’re with him.

I did a GSCE in Drama because (a) I liked making costumes (big surprise!) and (b) I liked peeking behind the curtain, to see how stories are told, and how lighting and costume and pacing gives you all the clues that would be far too wordy to spell out, and this is a peep behind the script; laying bare the building blocks and why the work, so it was always going to be a winner with me.

From a writing point of view too there are so many tips and tricks and exercises that while written to help an aspiring screenwriter work just as well for anyone trying to tell a story.  I’m trying to get back into doing even a little bit of creative writing this autumn and I know it’s already made me think about some of the ideas I have floating about in notebooks; pummelling them into shape in my mind, with the hope that one day they’ll all be set free.

I’ve bought the sequel (Save the Cat! Strikes Back) as an audiobook and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in (so no spoilers if you’ve read it!)

Space for the Butterflies - Books for September

And if you love books as much as we do, do go and say hi to my lovely companions in this reading adventure and see if Claire and Katie have been reading anything fun!


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  • Rebecca Ann Smith 06/09/2016 at 11:00 am

    I love the idea of a ‘teeming’ book – a lot of my kids’ favourites come into this category. This also slightly reminds me of the Richard Scarry books I loved when I was a kid.

  • Nicola Young 06/09/2016 at 11:28 am

    We got a picture book in an Italian bookshop when we were over there this summer. It’s a great idea for the kids to learn some common everyday words, which ours are desperate to do because we go to Italy so much. Yours looks like a fun one.

  • Tracy 06/09/2016 at 3:49 pm

    The one for the kids looks like a fun one! (Oh – this makes me think of another book; have you read Seven Silly Eaters? It’s a read aloud story book, but the illustrations are so fun and add so much to the story. It’s been several of my kids’ favorite, so we have checked it out of the library more times than any other book, I expect.)

    Is it wrong that it tickled me that ‘the last book you’ll ever need…’ has a sequel?! heehee

  • Maddy@writingbubble 06/09/2016 at 8:56 pm

    I love the sound of that picture book. I used to love doing jigsaws that were like that too – I love pictures with a lot of detail and stuff happening. And that screenwriting book sounds really interesting! Just hearing your description is making me think about characters in films and books and what they’ve done (or haven’t done) to make me empathise with them. I might have to get hold of a copy! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  • Turning Up In Devon 06/09/2016 at 9:33 pm

    Your description of Save the Cat was really interesting. I’ve just realised why I’m not enthralled by the book I’m reading at the moment and it’s because I don’t care enough about the lead character, she isn’t very likeable – this is written by a famous author and I’ll finish the book but perhaps the character needs to *save a cat* per se. The illustrations in the hardback book were amazing as is the Illustrator who created them. #whatimwriting

  • suz 06/09/2016 at 10:52 pm

    I love the Save the Cat books. It’s so useful for plotting. Trouble is, you can’t watch a film/read a book without analyzing it anymore lol.

  • Laura 07/09/2016 at 9:52 pm

    These both sound like such wonderful books. I love the illustrations in the children’s book, so much going on in the pictures there would be something new for them to look at each time! We love bringing home books from our travels too, they are the best kind of holiday souvenirs! 🙂

  • Sophie Lovett 08/09/2016 at 7:20 pm

    I love the look of that picture book! It would keep Arthur busy for hours… And I’ve been meaning to read the first Save the Cat book for ages… Might have to add it to my Autumn list…

  • Rhian Harris 09/09/2016 at 6:58 am

    I love the look of the picture book! It’s kind of like Where’s Wally but with schnitzel 🙂 #whatimwriting

  • Marija Smits 09/09/2016 at 2:01 pm

    The picture book looks gorgeous! It reminds me a little of the ‘I Spy’ books by Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo. They do have some rhymes in them but most of the spreads are teeming with photos of toys and other amazing images. And I’ve been wanting to read ‘Save the Cat’ for a while now, so thanks for the prompt! 🙂

  • Tracey Bowden 09/09/2016 at 2:46 pm

    I think I need to have a read of save the cat it sounds really interesting #whatimwriting