Thursday, 26 March 2015

"You've got mail…"

Look at what those fantastic kids from The Cavendish School in Camden Town sent us…
#Love x

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Hell, yeah…let's go!

Running to raise cash for #thebraintumourcharity
In memory of Silas Pullen


Talking of dinosaurs, did I mention that the latest Eco Kids planet has landed..?

Another fun-packed issue of animal adventures, facts and activities, this time based around the amazing Amazon River!

Discover Amazing Fish!
Play Astonishing Amazon River Trumps!
Read RIO 2 - fact and fiction…
Explore the RIVER MONSTERS (if you dare…)
and find out about the Lost Expeditions of long ago…




Monday, 23 March 2015


What a wonderful school we visited this morning right over in the east end of London's Canning Town! A hugely mixed nursery class - many of the children speak very little English but all so engaged and engaging. They drew a 'Family' bus of friendly folk, including mummies, daddies and friends from their class, shyly drawn with a twinkle of delight!

We called it: The Magic Star Family Bus…

We even had our own book display!

Thank you Star Primary - you are ALL stars!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

In the shadow of the cross

Another haunting song from the album all about coming to terms with loss, love and living. 

That seems to be the theme today. 

I've also been trying to post a video from YouTube but it's not recognising the link. 

So follow this one instead: 


Brain Pickings

Another fantastic article from an inspiring blog:

Pulitzer-Winning Poet Mark Strand on the Heartbeat of Creative Work and the Artist’s Task to Bear Witness to the Universe

Illustration by Bárður Oskarsson from 'The Flat Rabbit,' an unusual Scandinavian children's book about making sense of mortality
“It’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention.”(Mark Strand)
Illustration by Bárður Oskarsson from 'The Flat Rabbit,' an unusual Scandinavian children's book about making sense of mortality
Illustration by Bárður Oskarsson from 'The Flat Rabbit,' an unusual Scandinavian children's book about making sense of mortalityIllustration by Bárður Oskarsson from 'The Flat Rabbit,' an unusual Scandinavian children's book about making sense of 

Monday, 16 March 2015

A 2nd half to make it a whole...

The new Just Giving page for the 2nd half marathon...

So on the 19th April 2015, I'll be running what I like to think of as the second half of the half marathon I ran last year, making it a WHOLE marathon! But I can't run again without remembering Silas and trying to raise a bit more cash for The Brain Tumour Charity. I totally understand there is such a thing as 'charity fatigue' but hey, I'd rather a few people got fed up with me if it meant a few others donated to a fantastic cause.

No amount too small (or large). Check out the fancy new Just Giving button on the right of this page that will miraculously take you to exactly the right place...

So go on, just take a look. See if it works...

Thanks xx

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Should Have Known Better

Oh hello Sufjan Stevens, how we've missed you.

Here is Should Have Known Better from the new album CARRIE & LOWELL, a response to the death of his mother. 
He's a poet oh yes...

Friday, 13 March 2015

Sit quietly and read...

The following poem is by the mother of a seven-year-old girl who suffers with an Autism spectrum disorder. It is breathtaking, heartbreaking and most of all, full of a love so huge it rolls off the words in sobs. 

“I stand quietly while you do somersaults on the bed as you aren’t being naughty, you are just trying to get your out of sync body under control.

I stand quietly by the toilet door every time you need to go, and come with you around the house, and sometimes even just across the room, because I know you can feel truly frightened when you are not near me.

I stand quietly at the supermarket checkout while everyone stares at you barking like a dog and blowing raspberries on my arms to cope with the buzzing lights.

I stand quietly while you tell the baffled shop owner that you are looking for shoes that feel hard like splintered wood because your skin can’t bear soft things.

I stand quietly when the attendant gives us scornful looks when I ask for the key to the disabled toilet because the hand dryer noise is too overwhelming for you.

I stand quietly while the nice old lady who lives over the street tells me you wouldn’t be like this if you had siblings.

I stand quietly watching the part-cooked dinner flush down the toilet as the smell was becoming too strong for you to bear.

I stand quietly as you diligently brush your teeth even though it feels like the toothpaste is burning you.

I sit quietly while you scream at me, trying to control the panic you feel because I gently touched your head when brushing your hair.

I sit quietly while the teacher tells me she knows about autism and that you are not autistic and asks if I would benefit from some parenting classes.

I sit quietly while the GP, the occupational therapist and the paediatrician agree how bad it is but say that there are no resources to support us further.
I sit quietly while you cry because your friends say you can’t play with them any more because you tried to change the rules once too often, even though it was only so you could cope.

I sit quietly watching you desperately try on countless items of clothing, searching your cupboards, feeling the textures, knowing that we will have to cancel your beloved horse riding lesson again because they all feel too bad to wear.

I sit quietly as you explain to me that you can go to no more birthday parties and no more clubs as people are just too scary when they are excited.

I sit quietly when my family tell me that you will grow out of it, you just need more routine and earlier bed times.

I sit quietly and rack my brains for something for you to eat as everything you try today makes you gag and wretch until your eyes stream with tears.

I sit quietly when an old friend suggests I would be better off putting you on the naughty step and taking away a beloved toy.
I sit quietly all night whilst you sleep on the cold wooden floor with your head on my leg as you are really poorly but the warm softness of the bed that should be a comfort is making you feel worse.

I sit quietly while you try to regain some kind of control over your body in a meltdown, scared and sobbing and writhing about, hitting yourself harder and harder and begging me to hit you as hard as I can too.

I lay quietly with my back to you as my smell makes you feel sick and although we both desperately want and need to cuddle, you can’t bear to.

I lay quietly beside you when you tell me that you are the wrong sort of special and the wrong sort of different and you want to die.”

Read the article here: dirtynakedandhappy
#Autism #Asperger's

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

ISSUE 34…sneaky peak!

Ooooh - I wonder what the new issue of Okido is all about..?

Dinosaurs were awesome...

Monday, 9 March 2015

Book Week...

…was busy, busy, busy as the London Routemaster bus and Possums flew north, south and west to visit schools (Don't worry, we'll be heading to a school in east London in the next few weeks, too!)

I did a several of the visits on my own this time as Alex was on tour with his band, The Severed Limb (I rather enjoy the fact that this benign and gentle children's book illustrator is in such a gruesomely-titled group)

Monday: A Possum's Tail in Portobello...
Our visit to Chepstow Place School, near Portobello Road W11 was a joyful event! We had been a bit nervous about reading/drawing for an entire school assembly - but as it turned out, not only were the children beautifully behaved, but there were only 70 kids at most. 
This is a very young school (it was only started 5 years ago as part of the 'Alpha Group' of schools) but so sunshine-filled with happy kids that we feel sure it will fly!

Tuesday: London Calls in Brixton...
Off to the 'world-famous' Corpus Christi Primary School, in Brixton, SW2. No Alex this time, so I ran the two workshop/reading/activity sessions for the Year 3s myself. The kids were (as CC kids always are) utterly fabulous! They particularly enjoyed filling the Magic London Bus with fantastic characters (including the Queen, Princess Kate and baby George in one - a very 'royal' bus - and characters that included an alien, ghost and 'carrot' in the other…that carrot sure gets around…you just need to mention him and someone draws him in.)
What was really gratifying was that the CC children had recently visited Tate Britain and seen one of the paintings featured in London Calls! (Ophelia by Millais) so knew all about Shakespeare already…
Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais
Wednesday: A Possum's Tail in Camden Town...
We visited The Cavendish School in Camden Town, NW1 and continued our run of light-filled, joyful schools packed with happy, engaged children and welcoming teachers. This time I set forth to entertain the whole of nursery and reception without the help of Alex and his mesmerising drawing, sartorial quirks and twinkling demeanour…It was quite a relief when he arrived to run the year 2 sessions with me…and had brought his accordion. The rest is history! 

(A day off)

Finally Friday: London Calls in Swiss Cottage...
At The Hall Junior school in Swiss Cottage, NW3. Some super-bright kids here, so a bit nerve-wracking when you know that they know more than you…well, about some things, like maths. And possibly historical facts. And maybe more stuff…but they were great and drew some wonderfully imaginative (with a hint of 'Minecraft') characters on their Magic Buses! I particularly enjoyed the range of 'Horizontals' (being blob-like creatures that looked like giant amoeba) and the boy who knew all about Pearlies!

Thank you thank you, you fantastic kids - we love our school visits and have never been disappointed/unnerved/attacked by an angry mob yet.

Never say never, of course…


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 AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE or 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 has now finished production, and will be coming to your screens S O O N ...! (Autumn 2018, to be exact)



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