Friday 7 December 2012

Christmas Fair Stall

Hi chaps,

I shall be manning a stall at the Christmas Fair at Orleans House in Twickenham tomorrow selling Books and Christmas cards.
So do please come along and say hello if you are nearby.
I shall be there between 1 and 4pm.

There will be mulled wine and the Sally Army band :)

Here is the poster for the fair, with all the info.

Monday 8 October 2012

Big Draw at Strawberry Hill

Hi chaps,

Well we had a Big Draw event on Saturday at Strawberry Hill House.

Strawberry Hill House is a great venue to have an event, it's Horace Walpole's old house, and is basically a Gothic Castle, so is very inspiring.
The event was organised by Clare and Lizzie, and in keeping with the surroundings, they decided to get the kids to do frames in a stained glass window, which then formed part of the exhibition in the house. Very nice idea.
But it was basically felt tip pens on tracing paper, which works very nicely. May try it at home :)
Here are pens and scribbles of works in progress

and here's the window in place, nearly full.

It took place in their 'art room', where there are picture frames painted on the wall, which get filled up periodically, so we did that too.

I did this slightly psychedelic felt-tip fruit still life.

And here are some of the Gothic spires.

But it was a great thing to be involved with, and a lovely day.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Box of Blooz

Hi Chaps,

I got a big box in the post the other day, here it is.

And it's my copies of Stuck With the Blooz. It's great fun to open something like this. Thanks to they guys at Harcourt.

I was tempted to dance on the bed, flinging them up in the air, like people do with money in films.
But they are hardbacks, so I decided to just make a nice curved pile instead.

Also, there has been another review of the Blooz, this one at publisher's weekly, you can read it here -
But it strikes me as being a very intelligent review, I like the way they say the story has an impressively light touch and that the readers are given room to feel the arc of the girl’s struggle.
I think that captures it nicely. So that makes me pleased with what they write about the art too.

Friday 24 August 2012

The Art of Children's Books Exhibition

Hi Chaps,

I wanted to write about 'The Illustrators: The Art of Children's Books Curated by Julia Donaldson' exhibition, which I saw a few days ago.

Basically it's an exhibition of illustrators who've illustrated Julia Donaldsons's books.
It was at the Rheged Centre just outside Penrith, info here -
Here's the leaflet -

But it was very interesting indeed, it had examples of work by Axel Scheffler, Lydia Monks, David Roberts,
Emily Gravett, Joel Stewart, Paul Hess, Anna Currey and Thomas Docherty.
It was great to see the actual artwork, and some artists had supplied pencil roughs too.
There were some great ones by Anna Currey, which I enjoyed seeing.

It was especially good to see stuff by David Roberts and Lydia Monks, who I'm particular fans of, and own books by.
And there were some great streets and bulky clouds by Thomas Docherty.

The exhibition also had some great activities. there was a giant magnetic wall-mounted Gruffalo jigsaw and they had a Deep Dark Wood reading corner too, see the picture below.

And also a short film of Quentin Blake talking about his illustration, showing him working from roughs and idea sketches, very inspiring indeed.
So, if you're up by Penrith till 2nd Sept I recommend popping along.
Otherwise, I believe it's a touring exhibition, so keep a look out.

Friday 10 August 2012

The Blooz Arrives

Look what arrived in the post, an actual copy of my book 'Stuck With the Blooz'.
Here it is just out of the package.

It's great to see it in real life and see all the pictures properly in real life on paper rather than on screen.
And with my Artist's head, rather than my Reader's head on, I do think it's been designed as a package really nicely.
Just noticing all the bits and bobs that the design team did with the cover etc.
I like the way they've echoed the stripes on the Blooz's Victorian swimsuit on the back cover and dust jacket, and have used the goldfish, crayon and paper plane on the dust jacket flaps and back cover.
Also, the picture of the Blooz dripping on the child was a favourite with everyone, but it had to be lost from the story on the inside, but a use was found for it on the back there, which was very nice.
Here are some pics of said bits.

And the paper texture is lovely. Really nice feel, and it shows off the colour and texture in the art really nicely too.
Well done indeed all the chaps at Harcourt.

But enough of me talking about the design and paper texture like some pretentious artist with a funny haircut and silly trousers.
Here's a sneak peek at one of the spreads.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Lawks, my book is out.

"Watch Your Tongue Cecily Beasley" is now actually available to actually buy.
It's published by Sterling in the US, but is also available in the UK.
You can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and The Book Depository.
It's a fun rhyming story written by Lane Fredrickson, and it was great to illustrate.
Here's Cecily -

And there are already a few reviews out for it, this is from Publishers Weekly
"It is said that the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the human body, and the one belonging to ill-mannered Cecily Beasley is a whole lot stronger by the end of her ordeal in this cautionary tale. Cecily has many bad habits—“She tap-danced on tables./ She cartwheeled in dirt./ And she wrote, ‘I won’t share’ on the front of her shirt”—but worst of all is her tendency to stick out her tongue at friends and family alike. She is warned that her tongue might get stuck that way, and, wouldn’t you know it, it does just that. Debut author Fredrickson doesn’t stop there: a bird promptly builds a nest on Cecily’s tongue, forcing the girl to carry it around in front of her face. It’s not until the Mockingbeak Tongue-snatchers hatch (and promptly stick out their tongues at Cecily) that she has a change of heart. Fredrickson’s galloping verse delivers the story’s message with a light touch (and some clever rhymes), while British illustrator Davis’s loose, expressive cartoons make the most of the comic absurdity of the premise. Ages 4–7"

And this is from Parents & Teachers Blog
“Cecily Beasley was never polite. She never said, ‘Thank you,’ or ‘Please,’ or ‘Good night.’”
Cecily Beasley is, in fact, a rather rotten little girl. She sticks out Her tongue at her teachers and ruins her friends’ birthday parties. Will she ever learn to be a polite young lady?
Lane Fredrickson and Jon Davis’ rhyming book about a girl who learns manners the hard way will be a laugh for children and parents alike. Kids will enjoy the tale of Cecily’s misadventures, and the book will give parents the opportunity to help their own children learn a lesson about how to be polite.
Not only does the book teach young readers a lesson, it’s also a joy to read. I love the humor of Fredrickson’s rhyme about Cecily, and Davis’ colorful illustrations are fun from the very first page. This book is great for those who need a brush-up on manners and those who enjoy a funny story."

So that's good, they're nice and positive.

So everyone rush out and buy it :)

Wednesday 25 July 2012

The Blooz Is Coming!

Hi Chaps,

Well, I've got another book available to preorder.
This one is called 'Stuck With The Blooz', due out in October, published by the lovely people at Harcourt Children's Books in New York.

The story is about a child who is feeling blue, and is visited by a manifestation of a blue mood, called the Blooz., a big soggy lump of a thing.
But the story is about the child dealing with and coming to terms with the Blooz, and so the blue mood.
It's a very nice story indeed, written by Caron Levis, who you can find out more about here.
But it was great fun to illustrate, and I'm really pleased with it.
I had the idea that the illustrations could start out quite washed out, with muted colours, and then gradually get more colourful as the child's mood lifts.

Everything was done via email for this, so I've not met or even actually spoken to the editors or author, but nevertheless it worked very well.
Even though the only communicated was via emails and with a 5 hour or so time difference too, I found it to be a good way to exchange feedback and ideas and get some really good creative stuff going.

So, here are a few spreads from the book, as a bit of a sneak peak.

As this was done with US publishers, it's available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble over there, and they are also publishing it over here in the UK too, so it's available on Amazon and The Book Depository here too.
Here are the links.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Amazon, Book Depository

Tuesday 24 July 2012

More Pirate Sketches

Arrrrr, I left these scurvy pictures off my last Pirate Post, so here are a couple more.The ship and the captain.
I really enjoyed doing all the decorative woodwork at the back of the ship, and was pleased with how the angle came out.
And with the captain, I was trying to get a real rough seadog sort of  character, but make him young child friendly too.

Monday 23 July 2012

Pirates, Arrrr

Hi Chaps,

Well, I've just recently been working on a Pirate book, which has been great fun.
And, an interesting spin on it, is that it's also a game story book.
It's got a spinner on the front, so you don't need dice, and three board games inside which I had to design and draw as part of the book, too.
A bit of a challenge, but fun, and also quick. Eleven spreads, and covers and title page etc, and  from sketches to artwork delivery in just one month, which is the quickest I've done a whole book.
It's been a bit of a push, but I don't feel it's been rushed.
It's been great fun designing a galleon and a pirate captain, and a bunch of pirates for the crew, and a pirate map and everything.
So, as I've suddenly got a bunch of new work, I thought I'd post a couple of my preliminary sketches.

And, a quick note -
In my research, I found someone who'd put 'Oooh Arrrr' for pirates.
However, this is actually farmers ( See 'Brand New Combine Harvester' by The Wurzels)
Pirates just go 'Arrrr'.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Hurrah, A Review For Cecily Beasley

Hi Chaps,

My book, 'Watch Your Tongue Cecily Beasley' has been reviewed by Kirkus Reviews!
This is the first review I've had, which is quite exciting, and luckily it's a good one.

It says some lovely stuff about the story, which is spot on, and says that my artwork has 'fruity tropical colour and theatrical linework', which is a great phrase.
But after working away largely alone on something, it is very nice to get some independant positive feedback.

This is the full review.

“That’s right, Cecily. If you make an ugly face, it just might get stuck.
There once was a time that little Cecily Beasley was a grade-A brat. She wouldn’t share; she slurped her food; her belches—public and smirk-enhanced—were stinky. She would stick out her tongue and waggle her fingers, and she took no heed when warned her gesture might freeze just so. Sure’s shootin’, one day her tongue won't retract, and a Mockingbeak Tongue-snatcher quickly makes a nest thereupon. A doctor counsels the family not to disturb the bird, which can be as feisty and ill-mannered a customer as Cecily. She had to wait—patience not being among her virtues, either—for the eggs to hatch.
Fredrickson’s salute to the risks of bad manners is gladdening and admonitory in all the right, playful ways. When the Tongue-snatcher hatchlings stick their collective tongues out at Cecily, it makes for a fair rebuke. Fredrickson also has her share of fun with the dexterity of her rhymes: “It’s a Mockingbeak Tongue-snatcher, rude and tenacious. / They roost on the tongues of the loud and audacious.”

Then there are Davis’ illustrations full of fruity, tropical color and theatrical line work; they are spot-on in catching Cecily in her predicament—the sheer misery of having a tongue as big as a mature sea cucumber.
This snazzy cautionary tale packs quite a bite (even with its tongue in the way). (Picture book. 4-7)”

It's available for subscribers to read now on the website here, and I believe it will appear for everyone to read two weeks before publication.
But I'll blog or tweet again when everyone can see it.
Here's an interior spread from it.

Monday 28 May 2012

Authors Live

Hi Chaps,

Here we are. I've found a bunch of talks by children's authors on the BBC iPlayer.
They are from Authors Live, organised by the Scottish Booktrust, and BBC Scotland.

It's part of Scottish Booktrust's 'Meet Our Authors' programme, where they have authors talking to a live audience of children whilst being filmed and broadcast simultaneously over the internet.
They've got an archive of the talks that you can watch from their website, all about 30-40 minutes long and they're a good bunch of writers, people like David Walliams, Julia Donaldson, Eoin Colfer, Francesca Simon, James Mayhew and Jacqueline Wilson.
So it's like being at a school when the authors do a visit.

Here's a link to the page on the Scottish Booktrust website

And they're also on the BBC iPlayer too here

And I didn't want this post to be all writing, so here are some pictures too :)

These are character sketches for an idea for a book I've got, of Bentley Rhino, and Minty the Monkey. The story's also going to have Henley the Tiger and Spicy Jack the Parrot in it, so I'll see if I can put some sketches of them up in a post soon too.

Thursday 17 May 2012

My Book Is Available To PreOrder!

Hi Chaps,

I mentioned this in my last post, but I thought I'd cover it a bit more fully in this one.

'Watch Your Tongue Cecily Beasley' with illustrations by me is due out in September, and is now available to pre-order.

The story is about a girl, Cecily Beasley, who makes faces and sticks out her tongue at people all the time, but she learns her lesson when a Mockingbeak Tongue-Snatcher bird makes a nest in her outstretched tongue.
A very nice rhyming story written by Lane Fredrickson, which was great fun to illustrate.

It's being published by the lovely people at Sterling in New York, so everything was done via email.
I work digitally so roughs and artwork were emailed back and forth, and ftp'd and it worked really well.
Which I think is interesting. Not so many years ago, working for publishers in New York would've been really impractical, but now, pretty much all my work is done this way, even if working for someone nearby.

But here are a few spreads from the book, as a bit of a sneak peak.

So, as it was done with US publishers, it's available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble over there, and they are also publishing it over here in the UK too, so it's available on Amazon and The Book Depository here too.

Here are the links.

Amazon     Book Depository

Amazon     Barnes & Noble

And more soon on another book :)

Monday 23 April 2012

London Book Fair

Hiya Chaps,
Last week was the London Book Fair, which I went to, so I thought I'd write a roundup post.
I was intending to write a post beforehand, but didn't manage it, so I'll just have to make do with this one :)

I managed to bump into a few people I know, and say a short hello, or even a fairly long hello, in a couple of cases, so that was nice.

It seemed to be a bit slim on the talk/seminar side of things this year, compared to last year. Or for things I was interested in anyway. But I did see a nice talk by Julia Donaldson about the Picture Books she's chosen for a promotion she's doing with Waterstones as Laureate. There seemed to be some interesting unusual ones, as well as some more common choices, so I think I shall pop in to a branch and have a good leaf through.

I also saw a talk with Patrick Ness, who's just published A Monster Calls, which has fab illustrations by Jim Kay. Very interesting talk about writing, and he seems a v. nice chap.
And the Walker stand had a copy I could have a look through.

Also on the Walker stand I noticed a copy of an Abney and Teal Picture Book, by Joel Stewart, to come out as a companion to the tv series on CBeebies which is a big hit in our house.

The Little Tiger Press stand was good as well, they always have lots of good stuff to see.

And, bit of a stop press highlight - on the Sterling Books stand was a copy of Watch Your Tongue Cecily Beasley, which is illustrated by me. Bit of a thrill to see it in real life, and I had a nice chat with the chap manning the stand too.
But here's a picture. A bit blurred inevitably, but you can see it ok.

It's due out in September, and, in case you're interested, it's available to preorder on Amazon here

But anyway, if you went to LBF as well, do let me know what you saw.

Thursday 23 February 2012

New Website Image

Hi Chaps,

I've just put a new image up on my website, so I'm putting some accompanying sketches up here.
The image is of a Pensive Wolf. I think I may name him Hemster Whealhough.
But. he's really having to think hard over a period of time, bless him.
So I wanted to show the passing of time with four different images of him thinking, but wanted to have variation, and keep it interesting.
Here are my first idea sketches,
which developed into these poses
Which became this series of pictures, showing his cogs going round.
And you can see the colour image on my website here second row, on the left.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Shall I Make My Story Rhyme?

Hiya chaps,
Here's a sketch for a book I'm working on.
This one ended up not being used, it's all sort of moved on a bit, but I do have an affection for it.
So I thought I'd pop it up here.

BUT, In between doing this, I'm working on a story as well.
I've just got the start and the end, and I know what's going to happen, so it's 'just' a matter of filling it all in.
But what I was wondering was if anyone had any thoughts or experience with rhyming stories.
This one is at the very early stages of becoming formed but it's threatening to be rhyming.
They sort of keep popping out, and seem to fit the feel of it.
But I have heard that publishers prefer straight prose, cos it's easier to translate with co-editions, so I was wondering if I should wrestle it into straight prose instead, or just go with it.
Will it have a better chance of being picked up if it doesn't rhyme?
There are of course rhyming books that get published and do well, Julia Donaldson's stuff being an example, although maybe she is an exception, because she's very very very very good at it :)

Has anyone else out there done a rhyming story, or would you advise against it while there is still time to change?