What with the launch of Val Anne Lee's and my new children's book On The Banks Of Hatchet Pond this week, I thought I'd share a press cutting from my first book launch back in 1994.
Blimey, that seems a long time ago, now.
The launch was for New Forest Friends & The Litterbugs and it took place at Bolton's Bench in Lyndhurst and then across the road in the Lyndhurst Park Hotel. I was very lucky in that Chris Packham, at the time appearing on the Real Wild Show, had been kind enough to write a forward for the book - which he went on to do with both the other New Forest Friends books - and he also made it along to the launch to give a speech.
On the BBC at the time was an adaptation of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe with a spectacular large-scale Aslan lion puppet. The people that created it made four heads of the book's characters and these were worn by children from Beaulieu Primary School - asked because of the lead character in the book being Beaulieu the Hedgehog. To cap it all off, Beaulieu Motor Museum loaned their Rolls Royce Silver Ghost for the four children wearing the masks to arrive in.
The press coverage was so good that the initial print run sold out in a fortnight, and to date it has sold almost 15,000 copies - not bad when you consider it's only available in the New Forest. It's also appeared as story of the day on the BBC children's programme PlayDays.
I still feel tremendously fortunate that I made it into print so young and in such a manner. It's reached a stage now where adults introduce themselves to me, who were children back then, to tell me they now share the book with their children.
Thank you to all who've bought it.
Just wanted to share my favourite illustration from the new book. There was something rather appealling about drawing a frog high up an oak tree.
You'll have to buy a copy to see more! Look out for it throughout the New Forest or order direct from me by dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday I spent the day with the children of Beaulieu Primary School. The principal reason for going was to talk to the children about how children's books are created and to assist them in creating their own superhero so they could make a story of their own.
It's by no means a large school, so I was able to get to know the children really quickly and spend time sharing cartooning and illustrative tips, flesh out stories and give feedback. It was one long workshop broken down into class-sized chunks with everyone mucking in.
As always, the most off the wall session was with the reception children (always a favourite year group) who got me to draw a superhero for them on the spot made out of various types of fruit, veg and sausages. His name? Rockstar Potato. Curious as the potato was one bit of veg that didn't feature on his body, but hey, they were the collective boss.
At the end of the day I'd been invited to sell my children's books in the hall, and that fortunately coincided with me taking delivery of my new book, On The Banks Of Hatchet Pond. I've only illustrated this one, with the wonderful words coming from first-time author Val Anne Lee (who I'm sure you'll read more from in the coming years - she's brilliant).
It was great to share it for the first time with the children of the school and sign a few copies too!
I really enjoyed the visit and I look forward to seeing some of the children's finished creations.
It's taken a while, but I've finally finished a new children's book. It's called On The Banks of Hatchet Pond and it'll be hitting shops shortly.
I've not written this one - just illustrated it - so the concept and words are those of the very talented Val Anne Lee. Val is a wonderful poet with a gift for fun children's verse; the sort of thing that's an absolute pleasure to cuddle up next to your child and read out loud.
The story is set, as the title suggests, on the banks of the New Forest's Hatchet Pond, and features a beautiful glittering dragonfly called Dizzy and a lumpy, grumpy frog called Podge. Podge doesn't think much of himself and even when he tries hard it doesn't go too well - but beating inside him is the heart of a hero.
It's been great fun to illustrate Val's words, and today I shared the book for the first time - hot of the printing presses - with the children from Beaulieu Primary School. It went down very well, but more on that soon!
Although it's going to take a little while for the book to find its way into the New Forest shops, you can buy a copy now direct from me if you like. They are £4.99 each plus p&p. Drop me a line at email@example.com and I'll let you know what you need to do.
More On The Banks Of Hatchet Pond news in the coming days!
I mentioned a while ago that Currencies.co.uk had asked me to draw the latest Currency Hound cartoon with a hint of Alice Cooper about him for their latest press ad. Well, here he is...
This afternoon was spent in the good company of Orchard Infant School's Reception classes. They've been looking at telling stories, with an emphasis on a few popular fairy and traditional tales, and they will ultimately be creating their own books with what they learn.
I love going in to Reception. The children are still familiarising themselves with how a school works and sharing their time and space with a large group of their peers, so something always happens that you could never predict. Always a giggle.
I was asked to go in wearing my author and illustrator hat to talk about why I like writing and illustrating stories, why I enjoy it, and how I go about it. Obviously there's only so much you can share with four to five-year-olds, but they were wonderfully responsive and attentive. I then did some large cartoon illustrations to show how the story's words become a picture, and on both occasions I was asked to draw the three Billy Goats Gruff and the inevitable troll (clearly a current favourite). The children then set off to have a go on their own, and the pictures they created, bearing in mind many of them were still getting to grips with the motor skills to wield a pen, were fantastic, from Big Bag Wolves to Goldilocks, and from Jack to the Golden Goose; there was oodles of imagination and a palpable sense of fun. We even managed to embrace diggers and Spider-man into the artwork.
So, for a change, I've not illustrated this blog post with one of my cartoons, but with one of the children's pieces of art from today - one of the three little pigs. I think it's great.
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