Friday, 28 January 2011

Books we love (No.3) - The Pigeon Books by Mo Willems

Sam was given a copy of Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus just before we went to live in New York for two years in 2007. The book totally cracked Sam up and we all loved to shout NO! loudly at the pigeon but we didn't know much about Mo Willems until our frequent visits to Barnes and Noble in the early days of living in Manhattan (very cold, didn't know anyone, homesick and two year old climbing the walls in the apartment - it got a lot better but the first six weeks were hard!).

Anyway, we found lots of other brilliant pigeon books and much more and fell head over heels with his books - Mo Willems is a really popular Brooklyn-based illustrator - he's (deservedly) won loads of awards, and one of the highlights of The Brooklyn Children's Book Festival. Sam loved the fact that his friend from preschool, Niko's grandma lived on the same street in Park Slope.

Sam's (6) favourite are the pigeon books, Laurie (1) loves Cat, the Cat and I think Knuffle Bunny is totally awesome! Check out his website here:

Monday, 24 January 2011

Lovely Lino

So I started to send Cat, I Can Say That! off to publishers last week. Most submissions guidelines suggest that you might hear something within two months, so I'm trying hard to put it out of mind now or it's going to be a long two months!

In the meantime, I thought I'd post some of my recent experiments with lino print. When I started CICST I thought it might be nice to create the wallpaper for the backgrounds in lino, as it might add a bit of texture and be less clean than creating a pattern in illustrator or photoshop. So I ordered myself a kit and - WOOSH - headed straight back in time to 1991 and my GCSE art class... it was so nostalgic! It was also trickier than it looks... and was a very steep learning curve. I had ambitious plans for a christmas card and the result was somewhat, well, as if I'd just created something in GCSE art class! Anyway, here they are...

the original print and its wallpaper use...

the stars and their wallpaper...

... and a rather splodgy robin!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Books we love (No.2) - Banana by Ed Vere

Aged 1, 6, 35 and 37, we all love this book in our house. The brilliance is in its simplicity. Using only two words - 'Banana' and 'Please' it tells a tale of many monkey emotions and usefully teaches us how to share as well! Here is Laurie getting very excited by it:

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Nosy Crow

Last night I started the hunt for someone who might want to publish Cat, I Can Say That! and spent a couple of vaguely despondent hours pouring over slightly sniffy submissions guidelines pages. However, a highlight was stumbling across a brand new independent publisher - Nosy Crow, who sound very exciting.  Their first book is published today - check out their website...

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Brilliant Books (no1): Mog The Forgetful Cat

One of the great things about having kids is rediscovering books that you loved as a child. There is something goose-pimply about opening up a book and recognising a picture that must have worn grooves in your memory from the number of times you looked at it when you were five. I gave this book to Sam for his first birthday and he loved it so much he now has an inseparable fluffy companion of the same name. No matter how many times I read it I still chuckle when Mog is indignant that she hasn't had her breakfast.  The picture here is from the 70's edition that I grew up on. I think Judith Kerr is a genius!

Monday, 3 January 2011


Here is my blog! I'm feeling some first time blogging nerves, so do be kind and read my dribbles but, friends, please shout if I drift into boringness or pretentiousness as I do have a tendency to witter on.

So, it all started a couple of months ago when I went to a Devon Open Studios event. Jane Cabrera, the brilliant children's book author and illustrator (, gave a talk about how to write and illustrate children's books. I've worked on and off as a children's book designer for years (my other job is slave to two small boys), but have never worked on my 'own' book despite squirrelling away ideas and ambitions. Anyway, the talk inspired me so I got to work in my spare minutes... and more on that later. However, something she also recommended was starting a blog, especially useful if you don't have a website to showcase your work. So here I am! In the process I've looked around and realised that there are so many very talented people with really good websites and blogs so I'll be linking up to them as well as shouting about lots of my favourite children's books too.

And to start off, here are some pages from my first book. The idea for this comes from Laurie, my one year old, who loves to look at books and point things out but rarely waits for the accompanying words. I realised that from his point of view they are just black scribbles getting in the way of the pictures. So I've told a story with just the pictures. It's not a new idea, but it does contain all the things he loves to say.
It's a mixture of pencil drawings, photographs and linoprints (which is how I created the wallpapers). Comments gratefully received - it's not been sent off yet so all constructive criticism is good.