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Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Kate Greenaway Medal Nominations 2017

Yesterday the nominations for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals were announced, and I'm thrilled that Life Is Magic was included in the latter.


It's very exciting, and a little strange, to be listed alongside so many of my illustration heroes.

You can read all about the medals and see the full lists of nominees here

North Somerset Teacher's Book Award

In some rather exciting news, which I forgot to share,  Life Is Magic has been shortlisted for the North Somerset Teacher's Book Award.  

They even found a magician to model the book!

You can read all about the award here and the picture book category features some really excellent books, all of which you can see here.  My favourite thing about the lovely North Somerset Award is that each book gets a review.  You can read the full Life Is Magic review here which is full of tips to further explore the book in the classroom, but here's a little excerpt I particularly enjoyed because it was a real joy to fill the book with background bunny shenanigans,

'As engaging and fun as the story is (because really, it is), there is true brilliance in the illustrations. The host of little bunnies are absolutely hilarious and constantly up to mischief in the back ground. There is also much that can be inferred from the pictures: they show glimpses of the action behind the scenes and give clues about what might happen next (did you see where that dreaded banana skin came from?). There is so much on each page to look at but the illustrations remain gentle and uncluttered.'

Thank you to everyone involved for your thoughtful review.

Winners are announced on November 12th so good luck everyone!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Northern Lights

I've been re-reading Northern Lights by Philip Pullman recently.  I first read the His Dark Materials trilogy when I worked in a teeny tiny workshop as a model tree maker.  Yes, I made model trees.  We worked in the middle of the Welsh countryside down a windy narrow track that delivery men could not find, and lunchtimes were spent reading and eating packed lunches.   There was no phone signal and nowhere for us to go so we dove into our books and visited lands far and wide, real and imaginary.  It was a pretty perfect way to spend lunch.  I was lucky enough to have the set that was beautifully illustrated by John Lawrence.  As far as I'm concerned he's untouchable and that is the version I always think of, but I've been having a bit of a go on my own, just as a sort of personal project, to see how I would do it.  It's very experimental so far, there's so much atmosphere to capture, but here's how it's going... 

I initially had something much darker in mind, concentrating on the lights, but there's something so appealing about the cleanliness of snow.  One of the beauties of working digitally is that you can chop, change and generate new ideas quickly as you work.

Original sketches

The original cover idea

The drawings for the cover.

Some drawings of our heroine Lyra

Playing with watercolour brushes this time.

Thursday, 8 September 2016


Here are a few sketches of my dog Wilson.  He's a corgi, and full of mischief.

Screen prints of this image are available here

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


With my second picture book finally finished I've been busily writing my third whilst waiting for other projects to begin.  Everything lately has been very much in a rough pencil drawn stage so it's been a while since I actually completed an image.  Today I just wanted to finish something, and these little chaps were waiting in my sketchbook.

Here are a few more raccoons from the same sketchbook...

Thursday, 19 May 2016


Booktrust have launched a new bedtime routine initiative called #BathBookBed.  This is an illustration inspired by that.  With birds of course.  What else?

Be sure to check on Twitter to see plenty of other illustrator's take on this.

School Is Magic!

In February and March of this year my partner in crime and I took it upon ourselves to visit a few local primary schools to read Life Is Magic,  draw with the pupils, and do a little magic ourselves.

For those of you who don't know, I live in Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland.  That means I'm this far up...

The schools we visited were very rural and absolutely lovely to us.

Houdini's first day at school...

Highland cow spotting

I was bowled over by the kid's enthusiasm for books and their absolute love of drawing.  My favourite part of each day was seeing the pictures they drew.  Here are some of the pupil's drawings from a few of our visits

Knockbreck Primary 1

Dornoch Primary 2


Rhian was inspired to put on her own magic show at home.  Here are the tickets

Come on, come to it!

On World Book Day we were lucky enough to be invited by OnFife to perform to school children in two of their local venues.  Huge thanks to all the wonderful staff for their magical organisational skills and enthusiasm.  Here are some pictures of that lovely afternoon

Monsieur Lapin and Houdini
The best seat in the house

Mid-magic at the Buckhaven Theatre

Reading at the Lochgelly Centre

And here's a wonderful display by the pupils and staff at Chryston Primary School from the village I grew up in.

What a talented bunch

In progress


I'm particularly fond of this Gary