Another busy, strange year. This is the only post I’ve made to my blog this year and it might well be the last. I tend to use my Instagram account for news these days. However, here’s a summary of what happened in 2022.
The Naughtiest Unicorn On A Treasure Hunt came out – the TENTH book in the Naughtiest Unicorn series. It introduced the poo cart, a necessary piece of equipment when Dave the Unicorn’s around.
On the very same day, Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List by Jenny Pearson was published! I don’t think I’ve had two books that I’ve illustrated out on the same day.
Grandpa Frank was a lovely book to work on – very funny and full of heart. Jenny is a brilliant writer, and the book was deservedly The Sunday Times children’s book of the week. Here’s one of the illos – where Grandpa Frank and Frank Jr join a geriatric synchronised swimming squad!
Also in February, the second book in Dr Ranj’s non-fiction series was published: Brain Power! It’s a really informative read, all about the brain’s workings and how we each use it in very different ways. As ever, it’s told in the good doctor’s warm, reassuring style.
The previous book I illustrated for Dr Ranj – How to Grow Up – was nominated for the award for children’s non-fiction book of the year in the British Book Awards.
March means World Book Day, and that means people dressing up as characters from your books. The Naughtiest Unicorn has been the inspiration for a number of excellent and inventive costumes over the years, and 2022 was no exception, including a reproduction of one of the book covers!
@davidoconnell My daughter Esme is the wonderful Dave today! We love him” x pic.twitter.com/7BxsJCl04r
— Claire Davies (@CDConservation) March 3, 2022
Happy #WorldBookDay! Dave, The Naughtiest Unicorn (At Sports Day) will be burping, napping and munching doughnuts at @HayfieldLanePri today🦄🍩 @PipBirdAuthor @davidoconnell pic.twitter.com/v5PmbLrj0N
— Ruth Varley (@RuthVarley4) March 4, 2022
Somebody even made a fantastic Dave cake:
@PipBirdAuthor thought you’d like my 7 year old daughter’s birthday cake we made. Dave is her favourite book character. All her friends liked Dave’s poo.#thenaughtiestunicorn pic.twitter.com/ctpNvpmYGU
— Natalie Masters (@NatMasters5) April 23, 2022
The second book of The Smidgens series came out: The Smidgens Crash-Land. In this book Gafferty meets the fearsome Burrow clan, hidden under the 13th hole of the golf course! Plus the villainous Claudia Slymark returns … all drawn in Seb Burnett’s unmistakably brilliant style. Here’s my favourite illustration: how to make sticky shoes from jelly chunks. Handy for climbing walls!
The big publishing parties returned after a break during the pandemic. I drew a portrait of myself at the biggest – the HarperCollins party at the V&A museum.
Here are some snaps:
L-R: Paul Howard, Guy Parker-Rees, Jack Noel and Sarah Horne.
L-R: Sarah Horne, Leigh Hodgkinson and Sarah Massini.
The Case of the Runaway Brain by Nick Sheridan was published. A clever and funny mystery with the bonus of added sausage dogs. A lot of fun for me to draw.
My final book of the year was published! The eleventh Naughtiest Unicorn book – The Naughtiest Unicorn & the Firework Festival. This one had a firework night/Diwali theme, perfect for reading on dark autumnal evenings.
That’s six books published in one year – my best year to date!
2023 will be my tenth year as a published author/illustrator. As it begins I’m looking forward to a whole new set of challenges and perhaps some new directions too.