Rabbit in Chipping Norton window

I’m back from my travelling. As I wrote last week, I spent a nice couple of days in Munich International school.


Then I took a  train to Prague, the city I was born in. I love walking through sunny Prague. It was the 80th birthday of one of my favourite artists and illustrators Jiri Šalamoun.
I went to see an exhibition of his prints. I could easily spend a whole day looking at his work.
Jiri SalamounI’m back now getting everything ready to start working on my next picture book about a greedy goat.
I looked at my sketchbooks for sketches of a goat.




96These are the pictures I found.


A goat in the tent.IMG_8009 copy



Lady s kozouOne rather strange goat.
koza a stin Goat and the shadow.
At the weekend I was at Chipping Norton Literary festival.
On Saturday I decorated the shop window in Jaffe and Neal, the independent book shop. It’s a great bookshop and cafe run by very nice people.
Chpping Norton This is the finished window. It was fun. Thank you Steve Strong from Walker Books for all your hard work and helping me to get everything ready for the display!

I stayed until Sunday when I did a talk and reading in the local library.
The festival was great, very well organised. Everybody I met were so friendly and the whole festival had a great atmosphere. Good fun.
Thank you for having me!


A bit of travelling

I was in Germany for a couple of days, visiting Munich International School.

The school is in a small beautiful town Starnberg.

From my window I could see a beautiful view with a lake and snowy mountings on the horizon. I met lots of very nice people there and very enthusiastic children, who made great art like the drawing of a rainbow and elephant below. I was looked after by the school librarian Isabel. Thank you for making me so welcome! FullSizeRender

I’m now in Prague, having a little break. I think I need it. I was quite busy recently, working on a big book full of animals.

I love illustrating this book. Each page is individual and it’s giving me an opportunity to try different drawing materials and techniques. I’m having a great time, but I also think it’s good to have a break, otherwise I wouldn’t know if I’m painting a cow, a zebra or a goat.

stracenaTalking about goats…just as I was leaving for Germany I had good news. My latest picture book was contracted!

Yes, it will be a book about a goat.Scan 1

I’ll be coming back this week and on Saturday I’ll be going to Chipping Norton. It’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival and I’ll be there!

On Saturday between 14:00 and 16:00 o’clock I’ll be decorating the window in “Jaffe & Neale” .  It’s a lovely bookshop and cafe and I know it quite well. I’ve been there a couple of times before as a costumer.

So I’ll be making a window display for the bookshop and I had an idea that if anybody comes to say “hello” I will draw them a picture. I mustn’t forgot a sketchbook!

This is an  idea of how I would like to decorate the window.Bookshop window copy

Then on Sunday I’ll be doing a talk for children their parents and anybody who loves picture books. I’ll be showing lots of pictures and read some of my books, so if you have time, please do come!


Coral and a Speaking Tiger

Next week I’m off to Germany to visit Munich International School. Munich is a great city with amazing galleries. I may not have enough time to run around, but I’m looking forward to my trip anyway. I’ll also pop in to Prague for a couple of days, since it’s “just around the corner”.

Knowing that I won’t be in my studio for a while, I’ve been working hard on the book. I’ve been painting mostly underwater scenes, starting with coral.corals

I’ve finished a picture with seahorses too. It’s the male seahorse who gives birth, did you know that?seahorseLast week I also mentioned that I’ll paint blue whales. Here are two versions of them.Whale 1

Whale 2A picture of  jellyfish seems easy, but I had to paint them a couple of times.

jelly fishClownfish.clownfish 1 copyOh yes, I also did a picture of a cheetah chasing an antelope.

cheetahI’ve already finished the tiger.IMG_0700I looked at my little sketchbooks for related sketches of tigers. here are some.83

Swimming with a tiger.84

And the talking tiger at the end.


Zebras and stripes

I’m working on ‘My First Book of Animals” written by Nicola Davies. The more pictures I do the more I enjoy the experience. It’s such a lovely book to illustrate and the text is so inspiring.

Here is a sketch for zebras.
Scan 8

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 17.12.25Zebra copyAnd the finished picture.

Painting mostly stripes these days it made me think that I must have more zebras in my little sketchbooks.

Here are some of them.


This is quite an old picture.4The zebra is sleeping.

61This is another sleeping zebra.  ”Zebra’s stripy dream”.

184Looking at black and white animals and animals with stripes, here we have a zebra in company of a panda and tiger. A panda and tiger will also appear in the book. I’ve already finished the illustrations.



186Little sketch of two pandas having a friendly fight

The next time I will probably write about…BLUE WHALE!

Shortlisted Mouse!

IMG_0689Last week I visited St. Paul’s Primary School in Leamington Spar. A really nice and friendly school. I did my usual talks and ran a big workshop, but the highlight of the day was the opening of the new school library.IMG_0688I’m even mentioned on the plaque!

There is always something very exciting about opening new libraries. All the school children and the adults who are involved are swelling with pride and enthusiasm and quite rightly so.

I had a great day in St.Paul’s CE Primary School.

I also popped in to a local school in Worcester where I live. The school was Cranham Primary School. We had a great morning.


I did a bit of painting with the children and I got lots of drawings to take home. Some of them are stunning.

This picture is from Sadie (St. Paul’s).

I also found time to work on the new book.
Here is a sketch for a tiger coming out of the jungle in the moonlightTiger
and here is the final picture.
Another finished illustration is a picture of a big panda.IMG_0702

At the weekend I went to Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival. I did two talks to a great and lively audience.

The festival was well organised and it was also a nice opportunity for me to meet up with fellow writers and illustrators.

On Sunday it was Oxford Literature Festival. I did a workshop in The Story Museum.

IMG_0551This is Alexander. A good drawer and well dressed, matching the occasion.



And here is another great artist. Alex surprised me not just with his picture but also with the fact that he could speak Czech!

The festival was of course very well organised and I had a great audience. The Story Museum is definitely the place to visit. It’s beautiful!

And now the exciting news.

“The Mouse Who Ate the Moon” has been shortlisted  for the Independent Booksellers Week Award 2015

It’s always exciting when your book is noticed, but this shortlist is even more special to me. I associate independent book shops with people who are 100% devoted to what they are doing and with people who know the books they are selling. People who love books. It’s impossible to do it any other way if you want to compete with big bookstores.
I do admire those who do the jobs they love and they do it well.
I’m honoured to be on the shortlist this year.THE MOUSE WHO ATE THE MOON

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.