crocodile and the others

I’ve been traveling a bit this week talking about books to children and adults too.

Look at this amazing horse I was given by little Sofia.1

I visited Horton Grange Primary School in Bradford and did a workshop with rather clever children. I went to London to do a talk at the CLPE conference. It’s always nice to visit The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. It’s full of nice people who like books!

The feeling must be mutual, since  ”A First Book of Animals” by Nicola and me has appeared on the CLPE list of the staff’s best books of the year 2016! Thank you! You can download the list here.

Mentioning “A First Book of Animals”, The Federation of Children’s Book Groups published my blog about how I illustrated the book. Thank you!

For the rest of the week I was painting crocodiles. I previously mentioned how challenging  it is for me to simplify the animals for my latest board book.

I illustrated a crocodile quite successfully in the past. Here is one from ”A First Book of Animals”.AFBOA41In fact my Dutch publisher Lemniscaat liked the crocodile so much that they changed the cover and they have the croc on the cover of the book instead of the panda.

Opmaak 1

So it seemed to me that painting a crocodile for my board book couldn’t be easier. I was wrong. I tried to make him simple, but he was too green. Here is my first attempt.crocc 2 copyI had to print him again a couple of times and add a bit more colour. It worked – I think.Crocc 1 copyCan you see the difference?

The next in line was a frog. You can’t see it!IMG_6277Now you can.IMG_6279I started this blog mentioning my school visits. I will finish with one more school. I  received these delightful photos from Ethelbert Road Primary School in FavershamCx0J0VBXgAA1mpL

It seems to me that Blue Penguin is rather popular in the school.Cx0J0VhWIAAIY9UI think the display is amazing!Cx0J0VVWIAAu2R6


Talking a lot

IMG_6212I was in Luxembourg visiting the European School of Luxembourg II . It was a couple of very busy days.

In three days I did 9 talks, 8 workshops, saw and worked with 390 children. We finished 4 big pictures.

It was busy, but I also met lots of very nice parents and book enthusiasts who made my trip very interesting and made me feel very welcome.

This sign, made by Miriam Mala age 7, welcomed me at the airport!IMG_6239Here are the boards I prepared on the first morning of my visit. They are ready for the workshop.IMG_6209And here are the final masterpieces.IMG_6227This one was created by children aged 4 – 6.IMG_6235Here is one done by older children. It all started with a picture of a pig flying over a banana!

IMG_6237Here is a jumping elephant and more.

IMG_6230And one big picture with a cow and Suzy Goose.

I know I have helped make similar pictures before, but I can’t have enough of seeing what ideas children come up with, for example look  at this funny bird.IMG_6235

I also got lots of presents – drawings from children.IMG_6238I like the kingfisher.IMG_6241Or how about this picture done by Richard who loves tigers!

IMG_6245We talked a lot about mixing colours and textures. Look at this Mr.Bird.IMG_6240Janette did a puffin for meIMG_6249and Josef and his friends did this big oil pastel. It was as big as my suitcase and it’s a shame you can’t see all the details. The lion has a fly on his nose for example.

Anyway it was really nice to spend four days in Luxembourg and thank you to everybody involved for making the school visit successful and for making me so welcome.

I came back and on Saturday I went to Hay on Wye – the Winter Festival. Nicola and I we did one more talk about A First Book of Animals. Nicola was great as always and I did the paintings as best as I could.

The event itself was in the old castle. It was cold, but rather atmospheric.IMG_6264

I stayed a bit longer and saw one really nice event with Piers Torday and later on I saw Rob Biddulph.


Here I’m with Rob and with the first glass of mulled wine this year.Rob Biddulph-1It’s always nice to see fellow illustrators in action. Rob was very entertaining, his books are very funny and the event was a great success. I’m glad I stayed longer!IMG_6266Thanks to the HAY Festival for having us.


Painting an Owl

1 copyI’m a bit busy organising upcoming events and getting ready for my visit to Luxembourg. I’ve never been before and I’m looking forward to spending a couple of days in the European School of Luxembourg II.

So doing lots of other things I thought I won’t start working on my new board-books until I come back, but I just couldn’t wait. I’m doing a board-book full of sleepy animals. I love drawing animals. The first of them to do is an owl.

I have painted an owl before. This one is from the book I did with Nicola Davies “A First Book of Animals”.

OwlIn fact Nicola and I met a beautiful owl quite recently!IMG_0120

This owl is from my book “Look out Suzy Goose”. She has just woken up_MG_7235 ..and she is not happy!

_MG_7236The owl in the board-book should be a bit simpler.1 1

And she should be in a tree.

I thought there’s is nothing easier than painting an owl, but I was wrong.

I shouldn’t do this, but I will show you how bad some of my pictures can be. These two owls are a real disaster!1I panicked a bit. I remembered that I must have a picture of an owl I did some time ago and I liked it.

Finally I found it, but it was a bit scary.1

Anyway, I didn’t give up. At the end of the second day I had a picture of an owl. The very first spread of my new board-book.IMG_6205It will be a lift the flap board-book, so now you can see her.IMG_6205 2and now you can’t!


As I said Luxembourg is my first stop. I’m leaving ….now and the Hay Festival Winter Weekend is next. If you want to see Nicola and me talking about the book and painting animals come to see us next Saturday!