Tag Archives: wiggle jiggle

‘Eggy Leggy’ – new picture ebook by Alan Dapré

Well, ‘Eggy Leggy’ has finally rolled out.

My pre-school age picture ebook – ‘Eggy Leggy’ – tells the tale of a curious Panda who finds a giant egg outside.  Suddenly Eggy Leggy sprouts legs and runs off.  Wee Bear eggcitedly gives chase. Soon Eggy Leggy surprises Croc then sails over Snail, buzzes by Bee and bounces on Hippo. When Eggy Leggy gets stuck in a tree Wee Bear hatches a plan to set her free.

'Eggy Leggy' is book 3 in my Wee Panda Bear Series

If you have read the previous ebooks – ‘Cuddle Muddle’ and ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ then you will be familiar with Wee Bear and her colourful adventures. ‘Cuddle Muddle’ was all about hugs and bedtime fears. ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ explored birthdays and surprises.  ‘Eggy Leggy’ deals with issues such as making friends or being curious. It ends with Wee Bear helping shy Eggy Leggy come out of her shell.

I’ve illustrated the book to appeal to young readers, and the vibrant colours look great on a tablet computer screen. Anyone with a Kindle Fire will be able to  download a copy easily from Amazon stores. It can be viewed on the Paperwhite and on Mac or PC computers using the Kindle For Mac/Kindle For PC software.

I’m already getting great feedback, indicating these books are perfect for parents who want a quality ebook to share with their young ones. Rolling eggs and Easter are made for each other. Why not have a wee read yourself? 🙂


Other books in the Wee Panda Bear Series:

‘Wiggle Jiggle’  – available on Amazon (UK link)

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ – available on Amazon (US link)

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (UK link)

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (US link)


Elmer: The Patchwork Elephant – reviewed by Alan Dapré

Okay – I’m reviewing much loved picture books – er, much loved by me that is. Being incredibly ancient I have read lots of children’s picture books over the years … and I’m writing about the ones that really impress me. Feel free to offer up your own views (and books).

So today I’m reviewing ‘Elmer’ – the patchwork elephant – written and illustrated by David McKee.

Elmer the patchwork elephant by David McKee

Elmer - book review by Alan Dapré

Imagine you are a patchwork coloured elephant surrounded by grey elephants. It’s a dull life for everyone and the only bright bits come from Elmer, who has a zest for life. But Elmer wonders what life is like for dull grey folk and disguises himself to match his friends. Now no one knows where Elmer is and everyone wonders where the fun has gone …

I won’t go on or I’ll spoil the gentle twist. This book is justifiably a classic because of its strong plot, simple narrative style and fabulous character creation. In only a few words David McKee conjures up the spirit of Elmer – ‘It was Elmer who kept the elephants happy. Sometimes he joked with the other elephants, sometimes they joked with him. But if there was even a little smile, it was usually Elmer who started it.’ (Text Copyright David McKee)

Adults who are reading with their children will guess the plot twists, though young readers will delight in them. The illustrations cleverly support the words and make everything easy to understand …

We are taken on a simple journey of pachydermic (self) discovery and are left with the conclusion that it’s best just to be yourself … appearances don’t matter, it’s all to do with how you act not what you look like. In a world that increasingly celebrates surface values it’s a relief to have a book that invites children to look a little deeper. Written in 1989 it still resonates today – perhaps even more so – and is a must-have story.

I once met David McKee when he came to Nottingham and I was a newly qualified teacher. Elmer had just come out and he was happily reading aloud and sketching his creation on big sheets of paper. This is the man who brought us ‘Mr Benn‘ in the early 1970’s – another favourite of mine. Like ‘Mr Benn’, David McKee excels in exploring magical worlds and characters. There is a gentle warmth throughout his work and an obvious love for his creations.

So if you want your child to think a little more about others and reflect on what makes us so similar then this is the perfect book. Best of all, there are at least ten in the Elmer Series. I have my favourites … and soon you will have too.


You might like to consider downloading a sample or two of my sunny, funny Wee Bear picture ebooks … (available for KindleFires, Paperwhite, Kindle For Mac & Android).

Cuddle Muddle by Author Alan Dapré

Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapré

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (UK link)

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (US link)

Wiggle Jiggle Picture ebook by Alan Dapre

Wiggle Jiggle - picture book by Alan Dapré

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ –  available on kindle (UK link)

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ – available on kindle  (US link)

‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?’ reviewed by Alan Dapré

As a professional author, occasional illustrator and former primary teacher (oh, and current At-Home-Dad) I have come across many children’s picture books. I thought I would blog about the ones I like the best, giving reasons why they are so brilliant. There is no definitive list – I will write about the ones that really strike a chord with me (and my wee girl).

First up is ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?’ written by Bill Martin Jr & illustrated by Eric Carle of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ fame.


Brown Bear Brown Bear - review by Alan Dapre

This book is one that I often read to my daughter and put aside only to find she would crawl over to her book box and pluck it out. Many a time she would plonk it in my lap, snuggle up and open the cover – all with a look of expectation and impatience.

The text has a gentle rhythm and satisfying flow as it repeats throughout the book. ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? I see a …. looking at me.’ The bear sees another animal that in turn sees another … until children come in sight. In one version a teacher features but our version just has the animals.

By 18 months – and just a few weeks after getting the book –  my daughter was ‘reading’ it herself, turning pages and saying the words aloud from memory. It was a joy to behold. She loves to commit texts to memory and say them aloud in the car, while drawing etc.

For me, the real delight is in the inspired illustrations. They are (I think) made by careful placing of coloured tissue paper. Sometimes the paper overlaps to create satisfying blocks of darker colour. The ripped edges add to the appeal.

At the front and back of the book Eric Carle added pages decorated with just strips of colour which meant my daughter could see all the colours that related to each animal featured in the book. Soon she was able to name each colour and use this skill in everyday life. Her collage work began in earnest – and she now enjoys creating pictures out of brightly coloured torn paper.

I rated this book so highly I gave a spare copy to the local doctor’s surgery so that other children could happily enjoy the captivating words and pictures.

What more can I say? If you like colourful, engaging children’s picture books that feature dynamic rhymes and lots of animals then this is the book for you & your child.


Of course, you might also like to consider downloading a sample or two of my cute Wee Bear picture ebooks 🙂

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (UK link)

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (US link)

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ –  available on kindle (UK link)

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ – available on kindle  (US link)

To be (free) or not to be (a free ebook) …

on Amazon …

Well, I made my ebook ‘Cuddle Muddle‘ free for two days last week and plugged it on some Freebie sites, Twitter & Facebook, taking advice from some ‘so called’ ebook Gurus. One had a list of 50 freebie sites and I dutifully accessed some of them, putting my details in a few days before my book was due to go free on KDP Select. Some of the sites required a listing on the Free day so I got up early and did that chore too.

Now the fun started and I watched my KDP reports page to see how many people were downloading a free copy. After a slow start my book began to go from 220000 up to 6000 and then to 2000 in the Free Book rankings. By the end of the two days it had peaked at 715. So what were the scores on the doors for my KindleFire colour picture ebook for preschoolers?

600 + downloads.

Now I was pretty pleased with that especially as I made a cack-handed fist of self-promotion on Twitter. So after the two free days were over I attempted some analysis.

I reckoned most of the downloads came from the Freebie sites so I wouldn’t be getting many sales of the companion ebook  ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ from that. Those who buy freebies tend to, er, buy more freebies. It takes a lot to convince readers to part with their dosh when so many good (and bad) ebooks are freely floating around the web. By all accounts about 50000 are released each day … which makes my position of 715 not bad at all.

So how come I did okay? I also reckon some downloaders are only interested in how I managed to create my Fixed Layout ebook and have downloaded it to pick it apart with their software.

So how many downloaders will buy my next book and be interested in any others? That is the real question and I’m erring on the pessimistic side here. That’s probably realistic. I am lucky to have a track record in traditional publishing and that has helped with creating an interest, if not a buzz, but I don’t expect to break any sales records – just yet!

I thought it would be fun to see how many ebooks these gurus are selling. I was surprised to discover that all the ones I had read were selling books ranked lower than 2 million. Yet their sites acted as if they were storming the charts and selling millions. I guess it is wise to always question the advice you get on the web.

In a few weeks time I will probably make another ebook free and see how that goes. When my KDP select time is up in two months I will probably duck out of it and promote my stuff on my site and with sellers other than just Amazon. I don’t like having my eggs all in one basket. No one knows how the ranking/sales algorithms work. I certainly don’t.

What also struck me as my book lodged at number one in the Animals>Bears category in the Free list was the dross that was being bought alongside in the Paid list. Really badly drawn books with dull narratives were coining it in. Most had a low price point so I guess that readers were just having a punt, but a few were priced high and still selling.

I could see that these ones had the same sort of Tags and these Tags were liked, and that must help get the book’s ranking up.

It’s all just a game really, and one that doesn’t pay off for the professional picture book author and illustrator. Personally I like dealing with a traditional publisher who can offer editorial advice and an advance. Such deals are never easy to come by but they are always worth having.

I shall continue creating ebooks while writing my ‘traditional’ books – and it’ll be interesting to see how this ever changing ebook market pans out. If you have any comments feel free to drop me a line by clicking ‘Leave a comment’ below.


‘Wiggle Jiggle’ by Alan Dapré – my new Kindle Fire fixed layout children’s book

So I finally have ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ available on Amazon.

"Wiggle Jiggle" - by Alan Dapre

A fixed layout KF8 ebook by Alan Dapré

My previous posts have given a sense of how to get a fixed layout book made. What I like about images being fixed is that they are more like a printed book, and text will remain just where I want it to be on the page. ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ features region magnification boxes which enlarge the text.

This is great for kids who can choose to double tap the words and get the story in bigger letters, against a light background, rather than just the usual text. I always try to get my text to stand out in my drawings but sometimes it is not possible, so it makes sense to use region magnification.

I have not got round to enabling speech so that a computerised voice can speak the words. Not sure if that is something I’d like. For my ibooks version of Cuddle Muddle I added a movie where the pages flipped as a recording of my voice read the story. Seemed to work. I would rather than a child attempted the words themselves, or invented their own.

Now that ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ has been successfully created for the KindleFire/Paperwhite/KIndle For iPad/Kindle For Android … I can begin to rework ‘Cuddle Muddle’ into fixed format too. Though this leaves me with a slight problem. Do I delete the original Free Flowing epub which is currently on Amazon stores and replace it with the Fixed Format? – or do I allow both to run alongside each other and risk confusing my readers? This is certainly something to mull over.

I have enjoyed drawing Wee Panda Bear again and she is becoming quite a character, adventurous, curious, sometimes timid and always cuddly. Her next adventure will be set in the snow … I had hoped to have written and illustrated it by now … hopefully I can get it done by next Christmas!



Creating a Fixed Layout Kindle Children’s Picture eBook – some tips by Alan Dapre

NOTE: The Template under discussion here is no longer available.

This post was first published on Dec 10, 2012.

If you are familiar with my blogs you’ll know that I occasionally write about my experiences in creating ebooks. Recently Amazon published Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapré , a free flowing epub for the b&w Kindle (update:  if you click the above link and download now the ebook has been reworked for KindleFires & is backward compatible with the b&w kindles).

Now that the KindleFire is here I decided to create a fixed layout ebook of my Wee Panda Bear story ‘Wiggle Jiggle’.

I studied the Kindle Fire guidelines but they seemed quite complicated … so I had no option but to scour the net for a decent template.

I found a company called U-DO-IT which makes templates for children’s books and graphic novels. Better still, there is a template which includes region magnification. This means that when text is double tapped it is enlarged in its own box and therefore stands out. Very useful for children’s picture books.

The KF8 Region Magnification template is well constructed, with advice in grey text throughout, and follows the Amazon guidance for region magnification KindleFire books.

I have made my own flowable epubs using other templates so I was kind of familiar with the folders and structure. That said, this is for a fixed layout template so there are definite differences and it is wise to follow the instructions carefully.

One point to note is that helpful guidance is in the UDOIT DOCUMENTATION folder in the form of the index.html document.

It is good that the advice in the tutorial movies is clear and can be stopped and rewound at anytime, though you will use each movie as and when you need one.

It took a moment or two to understand how to format my images and where to put them etc but the advice is there. I just needed to read it all, not just jump in.

After compiling my ebook (i.e. assembling the images at the right size and resolution, added text, setting the layout and look of the region mag boxes, etc) I dragged the content.opf file to Kindle Previewer where I could check for errors.

For me when I got the odd error it meant that a photo was put in the wrong place or I had not put the correct path to it – my error. It helps to make sure that the info in the style.css matches what you put on xhtml pages. A bit of common sense meant I soon sorted issues out.

The resultant mobi made automatically by the Kindle Previewer is found in the Compiled-content.opf folder.

I then went to the KDP site and added my new book title. I entered the details, wrote a description, added an ISBN in my case, verified my publishing rights, added categories & uploaded a cover. (By the way – the tutorials show how to make a cover the right size – all very helpful). I now easily uploaded my Kindle Previewer mobi.

Amazon works some more magic and flashes up the words ‘Upload and conversion successful’. To preview their converted mobi I downloaded it – ‘Wiggle+Jiggle.mobi” – by clicking ‘download book preview file’. I now had it in my downloads folder and could double click it and have a look at it in Kindle For Mac. It worked perfectly.

Amazon has accepted the story and I  have it for sale online. Just click my ebook’s title – Wiggle Jiggle – to go to Amazon –  where you can download it at a great price. 

The whole process of making an ebook for KindleFire was vastly simplified by using this KF8 region mag template. It works. If you have any questions then it’s easy to fire off a comment and get a helpful, slightly grumpy sounding, response.

Please note I am not getting paid to blow U-DO-IT’s trumpet regarding the template – I’m just happy it worked well for me, and is a good tool for authors who don’t want to pay hundreds to get a digital book created. Reckon the template creator owes me a pint for all the traffic he gets.

Update May 30th, 2013 – I have now also created my third ebook – ‘Eggy Leggy’. :)

Update June 21st, 2013 –  Sadly, I am unable to offer advice to anyone stuck using the current updated U-DO-IT template. I have not used it so cannot vouch for its usefulness. The template I used did work for me but involved a lot of head scratching before I got it. The software maker has provided detailed info but it takes some getting used to. Best to read his comments section and then write your own.

I am getting lots of hits on this article. Please buy and download my ebooks -feel free to  take them apart to see how well they are made.


Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (UK link)

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (US link)

Cuddle Muddle Author Alan Dapre

Cuddle Muddle Book 1

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ –  available on kindle (UK link)

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ – available on kindle  (US link)

Wiggle Jiggle Author Alan Dapre

Wiggle Jiggle Book 2

‘Eggy Leggy’ –  available on kindle (UK link)

‘Eggy Leggy’
 – available on kindle  (US link)
Eggy Leggy - picture book by Alan Dapre

Eggy Leggy – picture book by Alan Dapre


‘Wiggle Jiggle’ – new picture book by Alan Dapré (for Fixed Layout Kindle Fire/HD/Paperwhite)

In a few days ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ will be up on the Amazon Kindle Store. ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ is the follow up to ‘Cuddle Muddle’, and the second ebook in my Wee Panda Bear Series.

I decided to make this one a fixed layout book for the Kindle Fire (standard and HD) and Paperwhite. It should work on the older black and white e-ink Kindles as Amazon makes the mobi files backward compatible.

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ will initially be available from Amazon Stores. At some point I will make an epub version for other platforms. I will also make a fixed layout iBook version for people with iPads and Apple macs.

‘Wiggle Jiggle’ is the story of a Wee Panda Bear who discovers her coat is too tight. Why? She has grown an inch in the night. It’s her birthday but no one comes to visit, so she sets off to find her missing friends. None of them are in and she trudges back, full of gloom, to her room … where she gets a brilliant Birthday surprise.

This story sits well with its sister book ‘Cuddle Muddle.’ Both feature an adventurous Panda Bear who gets into all sorts of muddles. Of course, the stories always end with a heartwarming cuddle.

My Wee Panda Bear Series echoes the way that young children interact with the world, through chance discoveries and bold investigations. Whenever there is dramatic tension in the stories I introduce humour and warmth, not to mention friendly characters and big HUGS.

So I am hopeful that I can soon get this book out to its rightful audience, such as preschool children and anyone who loves a well written, thoughtful and cuddly tale.

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover.

Wiggle Jiggle - by Alan Dapré

Wiggle Jiggle - by Alan Dapré (available for KindleFire/Paperwhite and e-ink kindles)

Wiggle Jiggle!


Lost your Blogging Mojo?

Well, it’s been a while since I last blogged.

The reason is that I lost my blogging mojo. It happened after I’d spent countless hours in front of the computer trying to boost my profile on the web – joining sites for Authors, asking for reviews, sending out PR mail shots, updating my website etc … but for what?

Sure, I got  a few more hits.  But I missed spending precious ‘daddy’ time with my wee daughter. I began to wonder if I had virtually run myself ragged online for virtually nothing. You see, Google’s algorithms are deliberately mysterious and vague and after so much effort I saw precious little change in my page rank, visitor numbers etc. And precious little of my girl in the evenings … though to be honest she is usually all over Mum when she gets home.

As a writer it is important to write the stuff that really matters but I was finding myself writing publicity articles and reviews. Stuff that might improve my rating online but will do nothing for getting my work out to a publisher. The rise of the net has left writers with immense opportunities but immense challenges too. Time is limited and we have to use it wisely. So – I ducked out of the net and wrote two stories and now I am pleased to say they will be published next year by Pearson. Always great to get another book out and these stories will be a fun read for Primary Age kids.

My next mission is to get ‘Wiggle Jiggle’ out as a picture story eBook for Kindle and Mac – it’s the follow-up to ‘Cuddle Muddle’, starring Wee Panda Bear. I aim to make it suitable for Kindle Fire as well as the iPad, Nook etc. More steep learning curves to climb. And more time away from actual writing and illustrating. The act of getting a book self-published online involves image resizing, html coding, knowledge of software such as Sigil, Photoshop, KindleGen and iBooks Author … the list goes on.

Meanwhile I am still hoping that a fantastic picture book story I have written for youngsters will get commissioned. A very well known illustrator is keen on doing the drawings but I need a publisher.  A bold, funny, energetic publisher willing to publish my bold, funny, energetic prose.

At the moment,  many traditional publishers  are just using the big names, and tried and tested formulas. There is fear in the air and money is tight. They stick to their lists, not willing to risk anything – which is why so many of their previously published books are being digitally scanned and flogged on eReaders,  just to make a quick buck. The online book market is saturated with these books and ‘amateur scribblings’.

Professional children’s authors who are not Julia Donaldson or J.K. Rowling are caught in the middle. We want to write books that get read in print … or on eReaders … by loads of children. But to do that we really need to be noticed. Getting our books seen and bought on the likes of Amazon is hard. There is so much competition needed. So much Time needed. So much luck needed.

Which is why I walked away for a bit and spent time with my family and wrote the stories I wanted to write.

And why I will still keep writing this blog – when it feels right. Oh, and probably when I have a new eBook to plug. 😉