Thursday, 29 October 2015



Bit late posting this, but at last Bus King Theatre got a smashing and long-overdue mention in London's most widespread newspaper The Evening Standard

Bravissimo Athena and Cesare!

Spotted by a friend!
The show runs until Sunday 1st November in Spitalfields - still time to book your seats!


Thursday, 22 October 2015

A letter to Mayur the peacock

"What a wonderful thing it is to feel as proud as a peacock!"

The postcard I wrote as from Mayur (the peacock)for the India issue of Eco Kids magazine got a fair few replies but none so fine as the letter below...

An illustrated letter to Mayur the peacock

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Dragon Stone

The Dragon Stone- a short story written for Eco Kids Planet magazine 

Heidi stared into the flickering flames of the campfire and warmed her hands. The sun had disappeared behind the mountains and the air had become sharp and chilling. She sipped her cup of hot, sweet tea and rested her head on her grandfather’s shoulder.

“Why couldn’t we have camped in the caves behind, Gramps?” she asked. “It would have been much warmer…”

Her grandfather shook his head and smiled. “Those caves go deep under the mountains – no one has ever reached the end of them. You never know what animals might be spending the winter months in hibernation there. Perhaps a sleepy bear decides it’s time to wake up…or maybe a dragon thinks he can smell his supper!”

“A dragon, Gramps?” cried Heidi “There’s no such thing as dragons!”

The old man looked deep into the fire, as if deciding how he was going to reply. He coughed a little.

“There are stories…” he began, “Stories that go back hundreds of years. Of travellers who lost their way and wandered off the path, only to be confronted by beasts with cat-like heads and the bodies of serpents; huge, leather-winged-dragons with claws like a ravens…Some claimed to have seen these creatures blow fire from their nostrils, turning trees into charcoal in a matter of seconds. There are legends that describe the beasts as cruel and merciless, with poisoned blood, a single drop enough to kill…”

Heidi shivered, but it wasn’t the cold.  “Steady on, Gramps!”

The old man chuckled. “Then again, other stories describe the creatures as shy and gentle... “

“I’d far rather think of them as friendly…as we’re camping out here tonight!” Heidi whispered.

“Yes, me too!” her grandfather winked, before continuing.

 “There was a young girl from our village, about the same age as you, oh many, many years ago, long before you were born. One day, as she was hanging out the washing for her mother, she realised that within moments of pegging something on the line, it became bone-dry! And when she took the laundry down again, she discovered a small beast, no bigger than a horse, asleep in the field behind her house. While it snored, it was blowing out such red-hot air that it had dried the washing like a heater! The girl was terrified and she ran off to fetch her brother. By the time they returned, however, the creature had

gone. The grass was scorched brown where it had been lying and only a smooth, blue-black stone the colour of night remained.” Her grandfather stopped and coughed loudly, patting his chest.

“Here, have some water, Gramps. Did the girl keep the stone?” Heidi asked.

“Yes, she did, for a dragon’s stone is supposed to have healing powers, curing anything from coughs and colds to chickenpox!”

“And did she ever see the dragon again?” Heidi wondered.

Night had now fallen and a blanket of stars winked from the dark skies over the mountains behind them. Her grandfather sighed and coughed again. Heidi put her arms around him protectively and closed her eyes.

 “When the girl grew-up, she went to study in the city and became a scientist and explorer. But she never forgot the little dragon she had seen as a child and many years later, she returned to her village, determined to find it. She believed it must have been living in the deepest caves of the mountains, perhaps with others. One cold morning in 1709, she bid farewell to her family and set off on her quest, taking the dragon stone with her.”

“So, did she ever find the dragon, Gramps?” Heidi yawned. It had been a long day of walking and she was feeling very sleepy now.

The old man hesitated. “No one knows. She was never seen again…”

Heidi had fallen asleep. When she awoke in the morning, there was a cold, heavy mist in the air, yet the campfire was still burning with an intense heat and strange brightness. As she helped her grandfather pack-up their things for the new day’s hiking, Heidi realised that he wasn’t coughing any more. Suddenly she felt a tremor that seemed to come from the heart of the mountains and the flames of the fire disappeared, as if blown-out like a candle, except that there was no wind that morning, not even a breeze.

Heidi gasped. There in the glowing embers, lay a stone. A smooth, blue-black stone the colour of night…

Monday, 12 October 2015

Friday, 9 October 2015

They Tuck You Up

It may not be National Poetry Day any more, but here's a delightful poem to motor you through to next week and beyond.

Based on Larkin's deliciously cynical "This Be The Verse", "They Tuck You Up" is a sort of antidote to the iconic original.

Perhaps a bit too sweet? No, we all need a bit of hope now and again.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Rolling back into town...

BUS KING THEATRE arrives at Spitalfields to present their fabulous puppet adaptation of London Calls!

Roll-up, roll-up and book your tickets by calling Athena on: 07935462605 or email:

And you can now follow the Bus King Theatre on Facebook


Monday, 5 October 2015

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