Monday, 15 October 2012

The Guardian's 'New and notable Apps'

Marvin and Molly

 My children really enjoyed a book called Marvin Wanted More, about a greedy sheep. Now he's popped up on iOS, albeit with a different story. It includes 22 pages, lots of interactivity, and the App Store's first mention (I think) of "sheep face painting" as a feature. iPhone / iPad / Android
By Stuart Dredge
The Guardian
         View/buy app       
iPhone version - click here
Android version- click here

Friday, 12 October 2012

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Marvin and Molly review in Apps Playground

Marvin and Molly make a sheepish debut on iOS

One of my favourite books that I’ve read with my children over the past couple of years is Marvin Wanted More, a tale about a greedy sheep who ends up eating (and then throwing up) the entire world.
Now he’s got an app. It’s not based on that story, but on a different book in the series: Marvin and Molly.
“Join the adorable Marvin and his loving friend Molly in their latest adventure through the English countryside. See how Marvin ends up fabulously dressed at a music festival,” explains its App Store listing.
That means 22 pages, lots of interactivity and sound, and the chance to paint the sheep’s faces and dress them up for the festival.
View/buy app
iPhone version - click here
Android version- click here

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

Festival Kidz - Marvin and Molly review

Marvin the sheep in Festival Heaven!

by Romany, July 30th 2012
Anyone with kids of a certain age will be very familiar with the adorable Marvin the Sheep and his loving friend Molly.  I must’ve read the gorgeously illustrated children’s book ‘Marvin Wanted More’ to my pair nearly every night for several years!
Since then Marvin has been getting into all sorts of adventures and, in his latest story book ‘Marvin and Molly’Marvin ends up at a festival in search of some ‘special things’.
Marvin and Molly had my kids giggling away, and we think it is a great little book to read with your kids before taking them to their first festival, as well as to read after you have been to help remind them of their festival fun!  Or you can just read it anyway – it’s a sweet storyline about friendship, growing up, and the importance of being yourself and allowing yourself to be a little bit crazy.

          View/buy app          
iPhone version - click here
Android version- click here

Author visit to Tettenhall College

Joseph Theobald Author Visit to Tettenhall College
 3rd October 2012

We were lucky enough to have a visit from the Marvin and Molly creator, Joseph Theobald as part of our Book themed week. The pupils have loved listening to Marvin Wants More and Marvin Gets Mad as part of their storytimes over the years and so were very excited to actually meet the author and illustrator.
Joseph was really lovely with the children and he read stories, chatted and gave illustration lessons to our pupils from Nursery to Year 6. Regardless of age the pupils were enthralled by the sessions. A few members of staff commented that it was nice to have an author who aimed his talk at the right levelsfor Early Years and Keystage 1 & 2.
Joseph also put a lot of work into all of the books he signed for the pupils. He drew a little picture of Marvin in each of the books before dedicating them and signing them. It was much appreciated. In fact all of the little touches that Jospeh did before, during and after the visit were really thoughtful. The advance orders for the books and the little Molly and Marvin postcards and magnets he left for the children just added that extra bit of magic.
I would heartily recommend a visit from Joseph, he was entertaining and laid back and certainly not a demanding diva (as some authors/illustrators have been on visits!). I certainly love my new skill of being able to draw Marvin the sheep and I know the children do too!
Debbie Liddle
Head Librarian, Tettenhall College

Marvin and Molly App Launch

Website -

Marvin the Sheep makes his first appearance for young children and parents in the newly-launched app ‘Marvin and Molly’. A worldwide bestseller in the picture book market, Marvin’s humorous adventures are written and illustrated by Joseph Theobald. In this new app Marvin has to win the heart of Molly, and after a number of helpful encounters triumphs with a dazzling display of sheep-dancing.

Each of the 22 pages contains secrets that children can discover, enriching their experience with animation, music and sounds. There are over 100 interactive elements to enjoy, and at the end children can play at dressing up Marvin or Molly and saving their creations to show their friends. As an aid to word identification, the text is highlighted while the narration by Aidan McArdle moves the story from page to page.

This is the first project of Pekingese Puppy Publications, working in conjunction with Sheepsy Publishing. Jacqui Lyons, founder of Pekingese Publications, said, “The Marvin stories have captured the imagination of their young audience all over the world. This new app allows children to enter into Marvin’s world in ways that develop their visual sense as well as their grasp of words and their meaning. The emphasis is on fun, but there is a learning process which parents will be able to share and enjoy with their children.”

The orginal Marvin stories are published worldwide by Bloomsbury. The producer of the app is Hetal Bhuva and the app is available on Apple and Android tablets.
For more information, to talk to Joseph Theobald, or to request a press pack, please contact Hetal Bhuva at 07769720280 or Richard Bannerman on 07951658058.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Feature Article






Southampton writer's character 

Marvin the sheep is a global success

HE is an international star.
He has fans in China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Holland, Iran, Slovakia, France – the list goes on.
And he comes from Southampton . Or rather his creator, Joseph Theobald does.
Marvin the sheep became known globally by children aged between two and eight thanks to the huge success of Joseph’s first book Marvin wanted MORE!
Since that first hit, which was a best-seller for publisher Bloomsbury, selling some 300,000 copies and being translated into ten languages, two more Marvin books have hit the shelves, Marvin Gets MAD! and Marvin and Molly, which came out a few weeks ago.
Joseph published Marvin and Molly himself. It is new territory for him, as is the App that he has also published, giving children the chance to have the book ‘read’ to them by a narrator.
Joseph, 37, has always been a keen painter. He decided to go into writing and illustrating children’s books after a chance meeting with a successful children’s writer.
“I was studying illustration and living on a houseboat in Falmouth when Jane Simmons, creator of Daisy the Duck, parked her houseboat next to me,”
“She thought that my style would be good for children’s books because it was bright and colourful. She taught me everything she knew.” explains Joseph, who lives in Portswood.
Joseph wrote and illustrated his first book while still studying and secured an agent when it won the prestigious Macmillan Prize for unpublished children’s authors.
“I was doing my dissertation about environmentalism and corporations and the question came to me ‘why do people want more when they’ve already got so much?’. I was thinking about greed and the mindless search for power. Trying to put that into a children’s book was quite a feat but then I got the idea for a sheep, which is a metaphor for the way humans sometimes are, consuming without thinking. But I didn’t want it to come across as being political for kids.”
As well as writing and illustrating the Marvin books, Joseph has illustrated other people’s books and has written and illustrated educational books for children.
It’s a career he loves, but in the ten years he has been working in the industry he has seen it change, with book shops closing and publishers reducing their output.
This prompted him to publish the third Marvin book himself.
The book was printed in Southampton by Indigo Press by Joseph’s new publishing company Sheepsy.
“I had some money and some time so I thought I would give it a go,” he says.
“There is a growing interest in Apps (software for mobile devices) and I knew some people who were interested in getting a children’s book App out – a company called Pekingese Puppy – so we got together and did that as well.”
Being a children’s author is the kind of career that many people dream of and Joseph admits that when it’s good, it’s very good.
“At times it’s the best job in the world,” he says with a wide smile.
“My favourite part is the painting. Once I have the story ready, I love that – waking up, taking a few steps to my desk and painting.
“I paint in acrylic on watercolour paper. All I need to work is a small desk and my paints. Quite often I take the work and live somewhere else for a while. I’ve combined it with travelling to places like India and Asia. I usually spend a few months somewhere I like and do my painting or writing there.
“The frustrating part of the job is when you don’t have any ideas. At the beginning I used to get more frustrated but once I started combining the writing with going off to live somewhere beautiful and peaceful I stopped getting so frustrated!”
One of the other frustrations is condensing a story into the right length for a picture book.
“It can be difficult getting a proper story with a beginning, a middle and an end into three to four hundred words and having it there in 12 double page spreads,” he says.
“I’ve had to reject my own stories that I’ve tried and tried to fit into that format but haven’t been able to get to work.
“That’s an interesting thing with Apps, that you can use sound and animation. It can be difficult to describe a lively scene or some action in a book, but you can show it with a twosecond animation.”
Bloomsbury have shown interest in publishing Marvin and Molly, which Joseph says would be appealing as it would mean he had more time for writing and painting, but he plans to carry on developing educational Apps.
In the meantime he needs to sell at least a third of the Marvin and Molly books he has had printed to make his money back – not that that is likely to be too much trouble, given how many fans the series has.
Among those fans are his niece and nephew, Marianne and Jon, to whom he has dedicated the most recent book.
“Marianne’s school friends never believe that I’m her uncle,”
he says.
“That’s why I put her name in to prove it!”
* For more information and to download a free App or buy the Marvin and Molly App visit or find Marvin the Sheep on Facebook.


Marvin and Molly story Q&A with Joseph Theobald

 Q. Where did the story come from?
A. The idea for the story came from children's questions during school visits and book readings of the first Marvin books. Some of the most recurrent questions asked were "Are Marvin and Molly married?", "Are they going to get married?" and "Are they in love?" (usually followed by giggles and the teacher asking them what those things mean, followed by a variety of funny answers). Seeing that children found the subject so engaging and amusing I endeavored to include it in a story. Since most children of a young age will have some kind of fleeting, innocent crush at some point (be it on another child in the playground or even a cartoon character) it can also be useful for parents and teachers to have a story which they can refer to, which invites light-hearted discussion on the subject. With this in mind the idea was to write a story which would include the funny ideas from children, such as how Marvin and Molly would try to impress each other and the possible outcomes.

Q. How it was the app created?
A. Since the launch of touch screen tablets and discovering how much children like playing with them, I wanted to have a go at making an interactive picture book. The aim was to stick to the picture book style as much as possible but enhance it with the possibilities offered by tablets such as sound effects, music, narration and interactions.
With the story already written but not yet illustrated for picture book format I was able to paint the pictures to also fit the tablet formats, and to facilitate the animation process I also separated the painted layers between the backgrounds and animations.
The addition of the dressing-up and face-painting activities were to further explore the format by adding a creative element and the possibility of saving pictures created by the user.
The app was produced and published by Pekingese Puppy, developed by Sherston Software and the music was contributed by friends.

Q. What is the background to the Marvin series?
A. I wrote the first book - 'Marvin wanted More!' in 1999 and within a few months it won a Macmillan prize for unpublished picture books. It was first published by Bloomsbury in 2003 and subsequently published in over 10 languages with the characters Marvin and Molly finding a significant following around the world. The second book - Marvin gets Mad!' was first released in 2008 and has already been translated into several different languages. It is still being picked up by new foreign publishers every year. The two books are proving to have stood the test of time and the combined sales are very close to the 500,000 mark.
In the long gaps between the release of each title I wrote and illustrated titles for a Harper Collins educational series,
and also spent time traveling in several countries, working on various wooden boat and house restoration projects.
Q. How does the new story fit into the Marvin series?
A. As character based books the main link between the three stories are the characters of Marvin and Molly. In a nutshell, Marvin is a slightly reckless young sheep who doesn't think much before he acts, and Molly his more thoughtful, intelligent counterpart who looks out for him.
Another theme which runs through all three stories is that they are all about common emotions that young children experience. Marvin Wanted More is about wanting to keep up with others and then the pitfalls of striving to be on top. Marvin Gets Mad is about tantrums and and the feeling of uncontrolled anger over something small. And Marvin and Molly is about feelings of affection and the things children do to try to impress each other.
For emphasis of the subject matter as well as entertainment value the stories all go off on tangents, taking the characters out of their normal space, but a common theme remains in that children can learn a lesson through Marvin's or Molly's mistakes and then talk about them with their parents or teachers. My aim has always been to make funny stories which children can also learn from. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Publishers Weekly review

Marvin Wanted MORE! 
in Publishers Weekly

Marvin the sheep certainly seems hefty enough—he resembles a plump, dimpled marshmallow—and his friend Molly assures him that "I like you as you are." But Marvin believes he is too small to "run as fast or jump as high as the other sheep" and decides to eat his way into becoming an Alpha mutton. His gustatory diligence pays off quickly, and soon he's making the other sheep look like fleecy golf balls. But Marvin isn't satisfied. "Just a little bit more," he says, a theme (or variation thereof) that becomes the book's refrain. He eats the entire meadow (including the trees); he stands in the ocean at the earth's curvature and blithely consumes a country as if it were a patch of lawn; and finally, he "ate the world!" (using the moon as a stepladder). Theobald makes a promising debut here. Working in stylized shapes and lines and using a bright, limited palette, he creates ostensibly serene, deadpan renderings that make Marvin's creature-feature metamorphosis all the funnier. Theobald understands his audience's taste for expulsive humor, and draws upon the motivating forces of both loneliness and regurgitation ("Baaaaaa!" says Marvin, as he spews the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks) to restore the natural order. Ages 3-5. (Aug.)

Friday, 5 October 2012

School Library Journal Marvin Wanted More! review

Marvin Wanted MORE! review
in the School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3-Life is lovely for all the sheep that play in the lush, green meadow under clear, blue skies except for Marvin: "I can't run as fast or jump as high as the other sheep-. I'm too small, it's not fair." So with dreams of becoming just a little bigger, he begins to eat more-and to grow. The problem is that he doesn't know when to quit, and his out-of-control behavior drives him to devour everything in sight, including, ultimately, the world. Together with comical, bold illustrations, the spare, repetitive text tells a cautionary tale about self-acceptance. Each full-color spread provides ample space for the cavorting, puffed-up sheep, whose expressive faces reflect the increasing peril of Marvin's self-centered romp. In the tradition of "The Fat Cat," the story is predictable with a satisfying, if slightly far-fetched, conclusion. A delightful choice for storytimes, with enough hilarity to pull in older children.
Review by Lee Bock