Kangaroo and Butterflies

I’ve spent most of the week in my studio. I’m now back working on “My First Book of Animals” written by Nicola Davies.

I was supposed to do a picture of a kangaroo. I remember the time when I once sketched a kangaroo from my memory. The drawing was so bad, that my editor laughed at me. It made me learn how to draw a kangaroo properly.

In fact I have a kangaroo in two of my books. One is in “Silly Suzy Goose” and the other one in the popup book “Animal Counting”.

I also looked at my little sketchbooks and found this drawing.188

Here is the sketch for the book illustration


and here is the final kangaroo.

kangarooI’m trying to keep the “freshness” of the sketch in the final picture, but it’s not always easy. It’s the scale of the final picture which makes the difference.

The next was a bumble bee bat. A bat which is so small, than he can sit on top of your finger. Here is the sketch

The Bumble Bee Bat

and here is the final picture.

bumble bee bat

The third picture I did this week was a Blue Morpho Butterfly. Again, I did a couple of butterflies before. In fact I have a whole book about a butterfly. It’s called “Butterfly, Butterfly”.

I looked at my little sketchbooks and this is what I found.



Two sketches. The next one is a very colourful butterfly flying against the sun.

37This is the sketch of Blue Morpho Butterfly.

Blue Morpho Butterfly


And here is the final illustration.

blue moroho butterflyI love working on Nicola’s book, because her texts are so beautiful and inspiring.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 17.44.10On Friday was a solar eclipse. I was driving south with my wife and we were lucky enough to see it and experience it all. The Sun was overshadowed by Moon and the world changed colour for an hour. Everything was quiet for while.

Friday was also the day when the very nice man and great writer Mal Peet had his funeral in Exmouth. It was as if a big butterfly had flown into the Sun.



Three schools, a horse and birds

I had three more schools to visit last week. The first one was the friendly small Buryfields Infant School not far from Hook, then another nice school Little St Helen’s School in Northwood and the lovely Blackheath Prep School in Blackheath.

The children were great and the teachers nice and friendly.

It all went very well and everything ran smoothly, so THANK you Speaking of Books for all the great organisation.

In my talks I often mention that as a little boy I used to draw horses a lot. No surprise then that I get drawings of horses from children.

I love the drawings of horses. Have a look at this one.

ScanAs much as I enjoy working with children, drawing with them and reading them stories, after three weeks I get tired. It’s the moving between the hotels I suppose, but I don’t get tired of seeing pictures done by children.
Scan 5

I always end up with a bag full of them.Scan 4This is a sitting bird.

Scan 3This bird is flying in incredible speed.

Edith 10.3.2015This is a Snowy Owl by my niece Edith age 5 1/2. I love it!

Scan 2 And this is a portrait of me by Guy from Blackheath Prep School. It’s nice to see myself with hair again.

I finished my “tour” on Friday in London at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. There was a Boys and Girls Come Out to Play Early Years Conference. I took part in a discussion with fellow illustrator Viviane Schwarz and with lovely Fen Coles.

It was a nice afternoon and Centre for Literacy in Primary Education is a jolly place with very nice people running it.

I was asked to do a drawing on “the wall of fame” and that is how Suzy Goose and Puffin Peter end up right under the Elmer Elephant by David McKee. I’m so honoured!


World Book Day Week and Mal

Mouse-mural 2We had World Book Day last week. I went to five schools. The first one was a really nice small school in Ombersley not far from where I live.  Then I went to three schools in Blackheath and finished on Friday in Worcester where I live. Quite a busy week, but it was fun.

Thanks to Speaking of Books my events were well organised and it all ran smoothly. I’ve met up with lots of excited children and friendly teachers.Scan 7

Aa usual I got lots of presents from the children. I love the drawings.Scan 6


Here is an (co) illustrator of one of them. Edith Harrison (who happens to be my niece ) and a picture from one of my books Look Out Suzy Goose.image

On Friday in Perdiswell Primary School in Worcester children and the teachers were dressed up. I like that. The children take they dressing up very seriously, but not as seriously as the teachers. It’s a kind of healthy competitiveness between the adults and everybody at school are jolly and it’s all great fun. I think dressing up day should be at schools at least once a week.Scan 2

I also happend to be in one class full of mice. It was great and very appropriate, since we were reading “A New House for Mouse” and ” The Mouse Who Ate the Moon”.Elsa

This little girl’s mum sent me a photo of herself dressed as Little Mouse (the character from “A New House for Mouse”).


This is Darcy dressed as a Puffin Peter. Prety impressive too!IMG_0522

At schools we also made murals. Here is one of them.

It was a busy week and I was thinking a lot about Mal Peet who died last Monday. Mal was a great guy and great writer. I remembered the times when we shared our experiences of school visits.  Mal told me how he went once to do a reading a prison. Every time he tried to get through the strict security he always got sent back, because he always forgot something “dangerous” in his pocket, like a wrapping from chewing gum for example.

Because of that, he was late and trying to apologise he started his talk by saying “Sorry guys I’m late,  you wouldn’t believe how difficult it’s to get in here”. The prisoners shouted back: “Yeah mate, you wouldn’t believe how much more difficult it is to get out of here!”

Mal was always good fun and a really nice bloke to be with. Julia Eccleshare wrote a lovely obituary.mal-peet





Schools and Nurseries

IMG_0507For many authors, illustrators and for anybody who has something to do with books and publishing, these couple of months are the busiest time of year. I’ve already started to travel around  schools, doing readings, showing pictures and sketches from my books and doing workshops.

My school visits and workshops are brilliantly organised by Speaking of Books.

IMG_0517Last week I was in Stoke on Trent. I went to five schools and on Thursday I visited NINE nurseries in one day. Modesty aside, I think it’s quite an achievement!

I like talking to children in nurseries. They are fun and you know straight away if you’re doing well or not. The little ones let you know.

The purpose of my visit to Stoke on Trent was to promote and inspire reading in schools and nurseries. It’s not difficult to make children excited about books I thought. Every child likes a good story, good pictures and every child likes to play. I was thinking a difference could be made if  parents would take part as well. I’m talking about parents who find it easier to give a child an i-pad to play with or just press a button on the telly rather than open a book and read to the child.

In fact you can spot a child who is read to and a child who spends more time with a television. A child who is used to books can sit, concentrate, participate and be involved much easier and quicker. For some children concentration is a big effort. A book doesn’t flash and it doesn’t make a noise. A book needs time.IMG_0521As usual I do lots of drawings with children. I can’t have enough of children’s art.IMG_0520Here are some the masterpieces.IMG_0630Just look at this beautiful horse. Isn’t it amazing?IMG_0634I got some drawings to take home with me.IMG_0633A cheetah on a skateboard.IMG_0635The rest of the week I was got on with my book “My First Book of Animals”. I’m pleased to say that the gorillas are now finished.GorilaI also finished a picture of a viper. This is how I did the illustration.IMG_0627

First I painted and printed the skin of the snake,IMG_0628cut a stencil for the patten Snaikand here is the final picture.

That’s it for this week. I’m in five different schools next week, so I’d better get packing.

Flamingoes are finished

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 18.59.52


I spent a couple of days getting ready for a meeting with my editor Denise. We planned to discuss new ideas for two board books and some ideas for picture books.

It’s always nice to see Denise and I was looking forward to showing her my new sketches. As soon as we started to talk about the new ideas I learnt, that we have to postpone the board books. New Health and Safety measures are going to be introduced, so there is no chance I can make any board books with holes and cut outs at the moment.

We are living in dangerous times where a novelty book can seriously hurt you.

So that is that for the board books – done. Then my new idea for a picture book about a Big Dog who is looking after a big garden.Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 18.59.30

“Hmmm, I don’t like this one”, said Denise. “O.K”, said I with a broken voice. That is that for the picture book – done. It was cold and it was raining. What a miserable day it was, but, still nice to see Denise and there are more ideas in my sketchbooks.

Then I had another meeting this week. Lovely Nicola Davies came to visit us. She just flew in from U.S.A where she was getting another award. This time for her and Emily Sutton’s book “Tiny”. Congratulations!

I’m working with Nicola on our new book “My First Book of Animals”. I invited Nicola, because I wanted to be sure, that all my sketches for the book are O.K. and I wanted to discuss all the details I may miss out. It’s so inspiring to talk to Nicola, because she knows so much about the animal world.

It was a great afternoon and it helped me a lot to have a chat about all the pictures.

So how am I doing so far?  Well, I have lots of things ready. I have all the sketches, I’ve measured and cut the papers, printed some of the backgrounds..now I need time to do the pictures.

Sailfish is ready

sailfishand the flamingoes as well.

Here is the sketch,Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 08.45.49

work in progressIMG_0618

and the final picture.flamingoThat is all for the the week. I’m now packing for my trip to Stoke on Trent, where I will visit five schools and nine nurseries in four days. Surely, it must be a world record!

Painting Sailfish

I’ve started working on the final pictures for a book by Nicola Davies  called “My First Book of Animals”.
It’s so inspiring that I would like to do nothing else but paint and draw all these exciting animals.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this. There is always something else I have to do as well. Little pictures I promised to do some time ago, school visits (quite a few of them in fact) and I was also at the Imagine Children’s Festival at Southbank centre in London.

I did two talks and two workshops. Imagine Children’s Festival is a great event and I’m pleased to say that it all went very well. It was good fun. The children (and their parents) were nice and friendly and also keen to do some good art.FullSizeRender
We made little concertina books based on my book “The Mouse Who Ate the Moon”.The Mouse Who ate the Moon
I was signing books and one of the dads came and asked me a favour. He told me that one of his son’s favourite books was my Animal Opposites. He told me that it is read so much, that the book got a bit battered. Then he produced a copy of Animal Opposites that is definitely well loved. Some of the pop ups were torn a bit, but the pop up peacock was completely missing, so I was asked if I could draw a new peacock into the book. I did …my best. IMG_0499I always like to see my books being well read and used.
Back to ” My First Book of Animals”. I thought I would start with a picture of gorilla with baby. The reason is, that I consider this picture to be one of the most difficult pictures in the book, so I wanted to get on with it. IMG_0614I fact I enjoyed drawing the gorilla. The picture isn’t finished, but I think it’s going o.k. so far.
Then I painted a sailfish. In this case I choose the sailfish because I really like this fish and I couldn’t wait to have a go.IMG_0617
I did the picture twice. The second picture was much better than the first one, but it still needs a bit of work.

IMG_0618And I started flamingoes. It’s a work in progress….well the whole book is a work in progress.

A couple more things to mention. Spending three days in London this week was great. There’s so much going on, but the high light for me was exhibition of Marlene Dumas in Tate Modernmarlene dumasIt’s so nice to see an exhibition of somebody who can still paint and draw. Great exhibition.

Another highlight for me was an exhibition of MA graduates from Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge School of Art. Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 21.08.02I wished I could spend more time in the exhibition, but I was running out of time. What I saw was very impressive. Lots of great illustrators. One of them is my friend from the Academy of Fine Art in Prague - Zdenka Pozarova. Great to catch up and congratulations!

And one more thing. It was St. Valentine’s Day and I received this nice review of Jonathan & Martha. It’s funny how this books always get mentioned at this time of the year. Thank you myfriendlucy.