28 Jun 2012

...look what arrived in the post today!

... a real life David Wojtowycz sketch, it's Zebra Pete from 'Elephant Joe is a Knight'. 

Isn't it brilliant? We did a swap. I sent him a sketch from the Night Iceberg.

I particularly like the strange floating foot at the bottom.

And the envelope had Elephant Joe on it too!

27 Jun 2012

Recreating an old blog post...

When we first moved into our house 2 years ago Gerry took a picture of us outside our house, you can see it here. I've had it on my blog ever since, so I decided it might be a good idea to do it again, 2 years on. So here it is.

Here's 2013.

25 Jun 2012

A Sneaky Peek at JoJo

This is what I have been working on today. It's artwork for a new book I am doing called JoJo the Melon Donkey. It's written by Michael Morpurgo and, as I've said before here, it's set in Venice, where I went to do some sketchbook drawing as research for the book.

It's full of drama, beautiful buildings, and high emotion, which is what I like to draw best.

21 Jun 2012

How to Hide a Lion Launch Party

I know it's a bit early, but I just thought I'd tell everyone that I will be having a launch party for How To Hide A Lion.

The book uses Berwick as a backdrop for the story, so the launch party will be at:
Berwick Town Hall on Saturday 29th September 12 - 3pm. 

Everyone is welcome, there will be refreshments, signed copies of the book, lion face painting (for children, not lions), a display of children's work from 4 local schools, a drawing activity and a competition. I am hoping the Berwick Mayor might come too, as he features in the book. 

From How to Hide a Lion, due to be published Aug 2012

20 Jun 2012

My desk

I'm working on a book called Jojo the Melon Donkey at the moment. I am really enjoying it, the book is set in Venice and I went there to do some research. I've talked about that on my blog before and you can see some of the sketchbook drawings here.  A lot of the illustrations come almost exactly as they are, from the sketchbooks. I drew donkeys here in Berwick, at a nearby farm. I'll put some of those sketches on here soon.

Then, last week, while rummaging at a car boot sale, I found the little vase that's on the shelf. It's a 1960's Rington's vase called 'Little Pedro' and has the most beautiful little donkey on it. I have it there to inspire me.

16 Jun 2012


I took these pictures while walking the town walls the other day. I love these net curtains with the model boat, this house overlooks the old harbour.

Those dogs are there every day, sometimes sitting watching, sometimes sleeping, sometimes barking.

14 Jun 2012

Kiln Hill Reading

I visited Kiln Hill nursery today and read my new, soon to be published, book called 'How to Hide a Lion'. They seemed to like the bit where the Mum says 'that lions always eat you up.' Hopefully there will be no nightmares tonight!

13 Jun 2012

Dundee Picture Book Award

Last week I was invited to the Dundee Picture Book Awards, as one of my books The Night Iceberg was shortlisted. I didn't win, a fab book called The Loon on the Moon won. The awards were judged and presented by children from Dundee schools, they did an amazing job, so much confidence for such small people! One of the nicest things that happened was that an old friend, Ross Collins was there. His book,  Where Giants Hide was shortlisted too. I hadn't seen him for about 16 years, then in the last month or so, our paths have crossed twice, it was good to see him. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of each other now. The other book shortlisted was called Zebedee's Zoo by Giles Milton and Katherine McEwen, whose work is beautiful.

The award organisers Moira Foster and Elaine Hallyburton visit lots of schools in Dundee and teach the children how to read a picture book out loud, then the older children read the books to the younger ones. All of the schools do some sort of art project around the books, then each child votes for his or her favourite. The picture above (a scan of a photocopy) is an iceberg and penguins made by some of the children, isn't it brilliant? I should explain, the penguins are not dead, in the book the penguins play a sliding game, where they slide down the slippery slopes of the iceberg, that is why they are all lying down.

12 Jun 2012


Last week I visited Hay-on-Wye book festival for the first time. Sadly we got rained on, but happily, it didn't seem to keep the crowds away. I forgot my waterproofs and wellies, and when I got home my shoes needed to be surgically removed from a carrier bag. They are still on the kitchen windowsill drying out.

One little boy cried because he wanted the picture I'd drawn of a bear, I handed it over immediately! You can't have disasters like crying at book readings, it's not right. I am blown away at the passion of a 5 year old boy for a piece of paper with a crayon drawing of a bear on it. No bells or whistles, no knobs or lights, just a piece of paper with a drawing of a bear. Who says children are lost to a digital world?