Sunday, 22 December 2013

"So we sing in our own vibration and dare angels 
to eavesdrop and stop mid-flight 
to pluck feathers from their wings 
and write demands 
that God's hands 
take the time to catch you. 
So, even if God doesn't, 
it wasn't because we didn't try."

Shane Koyczan, The Crickets Have Arthritis

Thursday, 19 December 2013

For some dear friends and their beautiful boy.
Because life just sucks sometimes and you don't know what to say to make it better.

One of the reasons we moved to Brixton...

The spirit of Christmas is right HERE!
(Also have to admit to hugely looking forward to Anchorman 2...)

Friday, 13 December 2013

And here's the poet himself. Shane Koyczan doing a TED talk and performing: To This Day...

Breathtaking, heartbreaking, brilliant.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Poetry workshop went really well the other day, though had to abandon most of the plan as not enough time. Thing that worked best was the box of SEEDS (of ideas). Kids picked out a title and wrote the poem it inspired in groups of three. One of my faves was: If I was someone else
"If I was someone else, I'd be Nelson Mandela, 
'Cos he was one cool fella.
If I was someone else, I'd be Taylor Swift
And sing in the lift.
If I was someone else, I'd be Charles Dickens
So I could write about chickens..."

I'd thought initially I might talk about the power of words, since the title of the workshop was; "What's the point of poetry?" I'd imagined discussing that old chestnut idiom: Sticks and stones...and how actually, even though words can't physically hurt you, they can cause plenty of other damage. I never liked that annoying little saying because even as a child I felt it to be hollow; a feeble, rather desperate retort to painful verbal taunts.

There has been a bit of funny business with some of the girls in the class recently; the usual friendship stuff I suppose, but unpleasant and tricky to negotiate. So even more reason to talk about how powerful and upsetting words can be, perhaps. But I didn't go there because it didn't feel quite right in what was supposed to be a fun poetry session.

My finale was going to be; choose your words carefully, because words can change the way you think and if they can change the way you think, they can change the world. Look at what happened to Nelson Mandela and Invictus; now that's the point of poetry!(Bit much for a class of 9-year-olds, maybe...)

But here's that very notion in practice; an audacious, heartbreakingly beautiful and shocking poem by Shane Koyczn articulated in a hypnotically ecclectic animation. While the ripples caused by verbal sticks and stones continue, here's to fighting them with the power of new words
Back in the year 5 poetry workshop, If I was someone else finished along the lines of:
"But I'm ME,just me.
And that's exactly who I want to be."

To This Day by Shane Koyczn

Thanks for the link, B x

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Oh huge excitement!

Our book is on Amazon already...

A Possum's Tail

"They pass the pub and cross the street,
the dog on wheels, the boy on feet.

Past people walking up and down
the busy streets of London Town."

...out February 6th 2014!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Felt that Monday needed a cheery sort of poem.

This was inspired by the middle child, who when he was very young and got caught doing something naughty used to say that the "shadow R***n" had done it! We've all got one of those...


There's another me that's naughty
And it’s very plain to see
That the other naughty person
Absolutely isn’t me.

When I tidy up my bedroom
I make sure it’s spic and span,
But the other me that’s naughty
Doesn’t buy into my plan!

So with everything I put away
The naughty me will shout
That she hasn’t finished playing,
And leave all the best toys out…

When my clothes are in a jumble
Don’t you see, it’s just the same?
It’s not me that left them messy,
It’s the naughty me to blame!

And that special bar of chocolate
That went missing from the drawer?
It’s the naughty me who took it,
(Like the many times before…)

If someone left the lights on
Well there’s no use in asking: “Who?”
It’s the naughty me that just forgot
The thing she had to do.

So remember when you think it’s me
I’m really not the one...
It’s the naughty me that’s far too fond
Of having all the fun!

GD December 2013

Saturday, 7 December 2013

OOOH! Latest cover for London Calls! from clever Alex…

I'm preparing a poetry workshop for a year 5 class at local Primary school.

The workshop is called: What's the point of Poetry?

Legend of the Library 

In the stillness and hush of the carpeted room 
In the space between Magic and Rhyme, 
By the window that lends a warm light to the gloom 
Sits a child who’s forgotten the time… 

With her head in a book and her heart in a land 
That is made up of legends and spells, 
She is holding a world in the palm of her hand 
And absorbs every tale that it tells… 

Many wonders reside on the pages of books 
Resting quietly, tucked up in bed 
As they sit on the shelves and collect in the nooks 
Waiting each to be picked out and read.  

Because here in the silence of library life, 
In the rustle of books and their kind, 
You will find that the pen is a mightier knife 
And that power lies all in the mind. 

GD 2013

Because Poetry can change the way you think, and if it can change the way you think, it can change the world. 

If you are in any doubt, read Nelson Mandela's favourite poem, Invictus

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Doing a bit of research into Curious Creatures and there are some absolutely astonishing animals out there...check out my current top 10 and their Super-Powers.

In a poem, of course. Read it HERE

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Heterocephalus glaber

The 3rd in the series is out! 
Read all about these gloriously fascinating and amazingly CURIOUS CREATURES on the brilliant JUMP! mag now...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

From deep water to deeper space; if ever there was a film than needs to be watched at the cinema, this is it.
Breathless, beautiful, vision of vast, endless space...
Ode to loneliness and the human condition...
Homage to instinct, resilience and survival, wrapped up in ace music and gob-smacking visuals...
Or deeply traumatic horror film with no monster?

One thing's for sure, I won't be booking a mega-bucks seat on Virgin's Space Shuttle in a hurry.

What happens when a youngster is brutally snatched from its mother and family, kept in a space the equivalent of a bathtub, along with two girls who bully him, and then has to perform tricks every day for a screaming crowd? Not only does he loose his mojo, he starts to kill people.
Hugely uncomfortable viewing about the nature of an industry that has whale, as well as human, blood on its hands. Also a stunning insight into a beautiful and majestic animal.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Two more tracks worth a listen…

Open Eye Signal: a compelling peach of a film for Mercury short-lister Jon Hopkins. I posted a beautiful animation a while back for a song he made with the inimitable King Creosote - this is a very long way from that sound/collaboration, but just as haunting.
It's also unsettling and ambiguous (including the litterbug moment, when I gasped, immediately showing my age.)


Life Round Here: super-smooth, enigmatic crooning from James Blake, cruising through an alternative suburbia with an edgy-looking Chance the Rapper. Someone a quarter of my age might call the track sweet. No, not sure that's quite right. Safe? 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Going all trippy with the next four duets - just in that sort of mood. So cold and wet out; let's move to warmer climes for the following golden oldies, some more golden than others and some considerably older…all have their unique qualities.

1. Some Velvet Morning - Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood sing two strange songs that blend into one soft focus film. With horses. And flowers. And some great '60s facial hair. And fulsome head hair…etc etc

2. Summer Wine - far and away the best version of this haunting song, sung by luscious-voiced/lipped Lana Del Ray and Mr James "Handlebar" Barrie O'Neil.

3. Who Built the Road - Isobel Cambell and Mark Lanegan - not sure what's happening in this video, no idea at all…but great track.

4. This one is really peculiar but aurally addictive. Impossibly louche Nick Cave and too-cute Kylie duet about death as he bludgeons her with a stone.

This post was inspired by the wonderfully eclectic mix cd a very dear friend made me for my birthday

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"The strangest creatures are to me
the ones I love the best.
The creepy, crawly and the odd
are cooler than the rest!"

Read all about these Curious Creatures in the brilliant online magazine for girls called JUMP! which covers everything from archiology to Zen!

And watch out - another curious creature will shortly be added to the gang...

Lucanus cervus

Alytes obstetricans

Friday, 15 November 2013

"You'll find theatres and cinemas, markets and stalls, oh you'd better listen when next London calls!"

Page 12 of London Calls! 
Alex may have to change/hide the names of shows and the big cinema chain…but here's the original for posterity!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

This is a film I initially resisted going to see because things have got so bad with my emotional threshold that I now sob at tv adverts. And you just know that anything even loosely based on an Oscar Wilde story, set in a bleak, industrial but hauntingly beautiful northern landscape that revolves around the friendship between two teenage boys and their tenuous relationship with the local 'Giant' scrap metal merchant - oh and throw in some horses - isn't going to end well. I don't even think that I need to say 'Spoiler Alert' before confirming that inevitably, it doesn't. Yet thanks to the sparkling and joyfully natural performances of the central  boys, the unsentimental yet tender direction of Clio Barnard and the exquisite cinematography of Mike Eley, the film never falls into hyperbolic cliche and the final mood is that of redemption rather than despair; reflection rather than melodrama. Silence, or rather the removal of any extraneous sensations at moments of unbearable intensity, heightens the drama without sensationalising it, forcing the viewer into the landscape, to reflect upon the smallness of life and the potency of it.

Perhaps, more than anything else, the film is remarkably full of love; carefully drawn in the loyal and affectionate relationship between the boys, in the strong bond they have with their caring, if despairing mothers, and then in that extraordinary, epiphanic moment, that act of instinctive sacrifice when the 'Giant' steps up wearily, as if it were something he should have done a long time ago. It is a moment when the director more than nods towards Wilde for the common threads that tie the film together; those of love and the acceptance of humanity, in all its shapes and forms, alongside the basic human need for forgiveness and absolution. It is, quite simply, a very beautiful film. And yes, I cried a lot at the end.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A different kind of Wild Walker...

Just been to see this clever-without-being-smug, moving-without-being-sentimental and utterly- engaging-while-still-hilarious film that aims to get kids to go outside and enjoy nature by - if nothing else - raising awareness that the Great Outdoors is not only good for you but really great fun!
So much to think about - loved every minute of it - didn't want it to end...
Check out the website for more info here: PROJECT WILD THING

Thursday, 17 October 2013

"A small step for man (sic) a giant leap for mankind..."

Yes, the new OKIDO space issue has landed...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


"...I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption 
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway 
And more, much more than this, I did it my way..." 

It's finally over and - SPOILER ALERT - never was so much invested for such rich reward.

The joyful relief of seeing Jesse free; that broken, beautiful, moral compass and the final release and redemption of Walter White. Walt, rooted for, loved, respected, hated, despised and finally, finally surely had to be admired once again, if only for his sheer chemical genius, resilience, brilliant planning capacity and ultimate honesty. 

I will miss them yet don't want to see them again any time soon....the goodbye was too perfect.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

This is an extraordinary and magical book by illustrator Charlie Sutcliffe. The artwork is surreal and almost hypnotic at times, full of obscure references and hidden treasures. There is a strong sense of almost-past or of the world seen through a looking glass. It just might be the book your child doesn't want to put down...and surely Spinglefranks will be entering the dictionary of folklore soon?

I'm proud to say I was asked by Tate to do some work on the text, which I hope helped to give it a shape and rhythm that only enhanced the fabulous graphics. So good luck Charlie - and looking forward to seeing the further adventures of Zubert sometime soonish..!

Get your copy here: TATE

And read a great review here: A LITTLE BIRD

Monday, 26 August 2013

And another one!

Hello Messy, you look like you can't wait to get on tv...

Thank you to The Sunday Times Business section for the mention.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

How thrilling to find this little Messy Monster on the cover of 11th August Observer! 
Old news now - but posting as we've only just returned from being away...

Monday, 29 July 2013

Wonderful JUMP! magazine has just published the second in my series of Curious Creatures...

The visitor in our garden 

Read it here: THE STAG BEETLE

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Finally watched this gorgeous gem of a film -  magical despite hyperbolic ending. Hypnotic soundtrack - addictive title song. Beautiful performances led by magical Eloise Lawrence and anchored by gentle, understated turn from Tim Roth.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Hooray! The latest OKIDO has arrived and I know I say this every single time, but it really IS the best one yet! My daughter read through the entire magazine this morning; we laughed out loud at Squirrel Boy's adventures with Squirrel Girl, coo-ed over Messy Monster's tiny new pal "Yellow Mellow" and all joined-in with reading the different voices in: ROBOT'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL.

The Zim Zam Zoom pages were particularly entertaining/informative in this issue (esp. holding the page up to the light - always magic) and I believe will genuinely help some parents explain the tricky questions kids have about growing up.

My poem went down well, too...

We are, however, being driven slowly mad by the number of times daughter is asking us all to do the chatterbox. You CAN have too much of a good thing, it seems...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

URBAN ART 2013 in Josephine Avenue, Brixton, really got urban this year...

A specially-commissioned tube train (which will be exhibited in Windrush Square, Brixton next week) and loads of giant hoardings were transformed by a crew of top graffiti artists: read more about them... 

This guy is surely an Essex boy? (Braintree)

THIS is what I LOVE about Brixton! If you're intrigued, match the images to the artists

Monday, 8 July 2013

If you happen upon this post, you may not know who Michael is.
It doesn't matter - he's a bloke on a bike cycling a long way for a great kid and a great cause. 
No money required, just your vote please...

Thank you xx

(The kid being Silas and GOSH being Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, specifically the potentially life-saving Immunotherapy Trials it runs. Your vote could mean he'll win an extra £5,000 for these woefully under-funded trials and research) 

Monday, 24 June 2013

JUMP! illustration

Thrilled to see my Curious Creatures article about Midwife Toads go live in Jump! magazine today...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Stag Beetle on brickwork

After really quite a strange and traumatic day yesterday, I noticed this magnificent beastie resting next to a pipe on the back wall of our house. The sight of it caused an almost child-like delight in me (I love these creatures) and it certainly took my mind off bleaker thoughts.

"Draw it!" urged my friend.

So I did...

Lucanus cervus
Observing the details of this beast; its careful movements and tentative antenna prods, it's subtle textures and colours, how it clung to the wall with its delicate legs - was engrossing and wonderful. Actually, it was totally Art Therapy in action.

I remember walking home from the park with my daughter a few years ago and hearing a tremendously deep humming/whirling sound - the sort of noise you might imagine a mini-helicopter making. We saw a dark shape hovering and realised it was a stag beetle in flight, like some kind of remote-controlled toy. I experienced the same sense of "how do they do that?" that you get when you see a bumblebee fly; all the dipping and bobbing as they apparently struggle to keep in the air...

Read more about these extraordinary and beautiful creatures here: Wild London
The Midwife Toad - Alytes obstetricans

Have written a Curious Creatures piece for a new online girls magazine called JUMP! It's all about Midwife Toads and I did this little illustration to go with it.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Eldest son wants to be a tattoo artist when he grows up...

                                           ...I'm still pushing for surgeon/barrister.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Have I posted this already? No matter - it needs a replay!
Fabulous animation by the very talented Leslie Barnes, whose cake-eating animals brought The Animal Zoo to life!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Giddy with excitement at the prospect of French supernatural thriller THE RETURNED arriving on channel 4 soon: What happens when coach load of kids killed in tragic road accident return to their village with no memory of the crash?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Came across this beautiful film: London in 1927

Reminded me of the new book!

BACKGROUND information...

My first picture book - called A Possum's Tail - is a collaboration with brilliant illustrator Alex Barrow and came out 6th February 2014. A second book called London Calls! is a whistle-stop tour of London, led by a Pearly grandma and her granddaughter. London Calls! came out on 4th September 2014 and is my second book with Alex Barrow. A Possum's Tail was nominated for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
Both books are by Tate Publishing.

Please see my CURRICULUM VITAE for more details & updates.

As well as writing children's books, for children's television and two award-winning children's magazines, I do both private and commercial art commissions, a selection of which you can see here.

The children's shoes are part of an ongoing series of "first shoes", including several cards commissioned by the Almanac Gallery.

Hand-drawn, bespoke invitations, announcements, portraits and menus, such as the examples here are also available upon request..

Any enquiries please email:


I've been a regular contributor to children's art and science magazine OKIDO since 2007. HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY (WOW) beautiful Okido!

An Okido animated kids tv show, based on characters from the magazine is currently in production with Doodle/Squintopera The original adaptation of the show (co-created/adapted by myself, producer Ceri Barnes and Doodle Productions) was acquired by CBeebies. 52 x 11 minute episodes will be coming to a screen near you soon in 2015.......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............................
N E W S F L A S H! MESSY GOES TO OKIDO Series TWO is now in production, following a super-successful 52 episode first series!



Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet

Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet
Okido Cartoon Forum 2011

Happy Birthday OKIDO!

Happy Birthday OKIDO!
Okido was 5 years old this issue...the wonderful art and science magazine for kids I've been lucky enough to have worked on for the past - 8 - years now