Argh! Half a year gone and I haven’t achieved nearly enough, including blog posts. Here’s few things that have been going on:

Creature Teacher

The first book of this series came out in April. It can sometimes be a bit confusing working on a set of books that are being published at relatively short intervals. Whilst book one was appearing in the shops I was working on the illustrations for book two and simultaneously working on the cover for book three! I keep getting the books mixed up in my head. Here’s a rough pencil-version of an illustration from book two, with the CT gang on the hunt for mischievous creature!

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Creature Teacher writer Sam Watkins had a very busy launch event at Thomas A Becket School in Worthing in May. She spent the whole day doing short events with children from years 1 and 3 – I think she was losing her voice by the end of it all.

I joined her for the afternoon sessions to do a bit of drawing whilst she read from the book. It was a lot of fun but quite exhausting! It was the first time Sam and I had actually met (she is lovely, thank goodness!). Sam even made some swirly biscuits to match the book cover design. I can personally vouch for how tasty they were.

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Here’s a pic of us at the end-of-day signing (we didn’t play the bongos, alas). Not sure who took this photo – apologies for pinching it.

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Our visit even made it into the Worthing Herald. Oh, the heady heights of fame. Here’s a clipping from Sam’s Twitter feed:

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(You can read the online version here.)

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We ran a competition at the school to design a cover for a Creature Teacher book – you can see all the entries at the CT website here. I love how much energy there is in all the drawings, but then it is a very energetic book!

More recently, Sam and I visited Brighton Waterstones for a drawing and reading session. Everyone got to design their own Creature Teachers, drawing or doing a bit of collage.  Here’s some photos from Sam’s Twitter:

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It’s great doing events with someone else – you get to bounce ideas off each other, as well as providing a bit of support. Sam and I will be doing more events together at some point soon.

Monster & Chips

I was thrilled to see Whitchurch School in Hampshire have been reading Monster and Chips as part of their Year 4 book group. You can read all about it here. The readers have been creating their own monsters and even making up their own ‘delicious’ menu:

  • Bashed Beetleburger AND CHIPS
  • Slimy Slug Surprise with antennae eyes
  • Eyeball soup with slug slime chips
  • Bogey burger gravy AND CHIPS
  • Smelly cabbage soup with poo plop croutons
  • Earwax tart

Poo plop croutons! Tasty. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book – I love seeing people’s reactions to it. Thanks to librarian and book evangelist Jo for the tip-off!

I was very pleased the group had read Jampires too! The US edition is out at the end of the month and my co-author Sarah McIntyre and I were very happy to have a nice review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Sarah has been very busy – and successful – with her Pictures Mean Business Campaign, trying to get more recognition for book illustrators in their contribution to a book’s success. You can find out more here, or follow the #PicturesMeanBusiness hashtag on Twitter.

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DinoPolice_cover

Sarah has a new picture book out in June: Dinosaur Police! I saw the print proofs for it a while back and it’s her best book yet – absolutely brilliant!

Red Alert! How will Dinoville’s police squad catch Trevor the T-Rex, who’s at the pizza factory, gobbling up all the pizzas meant for the town fair? Inspector Sarah Tops and Seargeant Stig O’Saurus are on the case!

This Book is Funny!

I’ve blogged previously about Alex Milway‘s initiative to promote funny books for children. He’s been sending out thousands of stickers to schools and libraries so they can help their readers find the books they love.

Alex has also produced a couple (so far) of podcasts full of comedy sketches, readings and interviews. I’ve written a bit material for him for a future recording featuring Fuzzby and Barry from Monster & Chips. Need a laugh? Then follow Alex’s Soundcloud for guaranteed chuckles.

Out and about

I try to get away from my desk when I can. Whilst in Brighton for the Waterstones shindig I popped along to the Brighton Illustration Fair, part of the town’s fringe festival.

It was good to catch up with comics chums Joe Decie, Warwick Johnson Cadwell and Amber Hsu, who all had tables, as well as bump into Matt Baxter (who designed the This Book Is Funny logo).

Lots of lovely things to see, but I was very much taken with the drawing activity they had: rotating towers of cardboard boxes that you could draw on in a heads-and-tails fashion. Worth bearing in mind for a future event.

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Nunhead Cemetery is an old Victorian graveyard near where I live. It was abandoned for years before the local council took it over and in the intervening years nature completely overran it, turning it into some kind of gothic film set.

Burials still take place there, but the council have wisely left most of the cemetery untouched. I think some bits are ‘managed’ to encourage some bio-diversity. It must be heaven for foxes, judging from the number I’ve seen there. You have to be careful in some parts in case you fall into an ivy-covered tomb!

I’ve been there several times (it’s good for dog-walking) but they had an open day in May, providing tours for those interested. I prefer to wander and soak up the peaceful/melancholy atmosphere (depending on your mood!).

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I’ve also made a couple of visits to the recently opened Sky Garden. It’a worth a trip if you’re able, as it’s free (though you have to book) and has one of the best views in London, in my opinion, plus added tree ferns.

 

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