Monday, 29 June 2015

AMAZING ARTWORK & POEMS from Tidemill Academy

TFL red paper - a proper London red.
We had a most excellent school visit last week to Tidemill Primary in Deptford 

What a marvellous, magical school full of wonderful kids and fantastic teachers - Alex and I left on a total high having been made to feel so welcome and so special. 

One of the children had covered a whole page with writing and drawings based on London Calls and several poems from Okido magazine, rating Alex Barrow a 'brilliant' illustrator. You can't see the images very well here but it's such a great piece of work (on TFL red paper) that needed to be posted. Year 1 accompanied my reading/Alex's illustrating of London Calls with 'actions' for all the London landmarks, different forms of transport and everything in the book, basically - it was awesome! We had a very special morning at Tidemill - thank you so much for inviting us.

We learnt that the children had been looking at our books and lots of other work by us for several weeks. Fantastic drawings and research - and brilliant poems. The kids used "If I were…" as a template, describing some of the landmarks, vehicles and characters from London Calls!  instead. (What a clever idea)

Christina's new double decker bus
The poems were then typed-out and it was interesting to see that the teachers kept the original spelling, rather than correcting it. 
When I wrote things as a kid, my mother never corrected my spelling as she believed it would 'stifle my artistic flow'. I'm sure she was right as when the muse strikes you just need to get it down on paper asap. But my spelling is still absolutely dreadful as I fear I never did learn how to spell certain words...
This makes me sound much more interesting that I really am…
(Love the blue shoe)
Books, Art and 'beautiful shoes'

Because I work with such a brilliant illustrator, I rarely illustrate my own poems, so it's a great pleasure to see the children's response to my own artwork in their above research projects.

The dynamic between words and illustrations is intriguing and Alex and I are quite instinctive about it, but also very aware of it. I always get terribly excited to see Alex's interpretation of my work  because he inevitably adds an extra narrative dimension. In this way, the words and drawings enhance one another and dance together - a bit like notes in a piece of music. 

You could say a poem is words that make music and an illustrated poem, a whole symphony…but that might be going a bit too far.

Sometimes I write in response to an idea or illustration that Alex has already done. That's how A Possum's Tail evolved - we went backwards and forwards with ideas, words and illustrations, which I think is probably quite an unusual way to work. We're working on something at the moment which comes from an idea Alex had in an earlier issue of Okido. Watch this space
In the meantime, check out these amazing poems!
"I'd be wish-washing loudly as a noisy sea monster"

"If I were a pearly queen I'd be sinning (sic)
I'd be signing bountifully" (sic)
"If I were a tiger in London zoo I'd be roaring.
I'd be roaring loudly.
I'd be roaring as loudly as people shouting."
"If I were a soldier I'd be marching.
I'd be marching sensibly"
(Quite right)

So many great ideas and wonderful work here. It's terribly exciting to see an idea turn into something else - take on a life of its own and fly. Great work, kids - keep going!

"Roaring as loudly as people shouting"
(Possibly the title of the next book…?)

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Possibly the best review ever..?

From goodreads

4th down - this is the one - love it. Cheers Ed! 

"Our rainbow world is too much fun!"

We live in exciting times. There may be wars waging, poverty, division and senseless horrors worldwide, but there's also hope, tolerance, acceptance, love and understanding. 

We are capable of change.

It's coming...

Out of the pages of Okido magazine…a brand new show is bouncing onto CBeebies tv...

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

JUMBO - gone, but like an elephant, never forgotten...

Look! It's the latest issue of ECO Kids planet and it's all about the African Savannah. Packed with stories, fun facts and activities, this really is shaping-up to be a must-have magazine for 6-11 year olds interested in animals and nature…

In this issue, I've written about Jumbo, the giant African elephant who was first the star attraction of London Zoo in Victorian times and then even more popular as part of Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth" across the pond in America. But his story is a sad and tragic one so make sure you've got a box of tissues handy.

Read this and much, much more in the latest issue of Eco Kids.
Eco Kids Planet cover
Selection & contents from latest Eco Kids issue 9
Jumbo - a sad & true story

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Pictures and leaves…

Pictures and leaves on a yellow-licked wall;
This is the dress that remembers it all…
Woven with memories as fine as a shawl
Made from the cobwebs that hang in the hall...

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