I've got a few contests up my sleeve to celebrate the May 1st publication of 'The Queen's Hat' (Hodder Children's)! For a chance to win one of these signed guards, or a signed copy of the book OR a print of the Big Ben spread you'll need to follow me on TWITTER or FACEBOOK, then ALL will be revealed.
OK, I am building up to the May 1st release of 'The Queen's Hat'! Check out the plan!!
Firstly, I'll be in this week's issue of The Bookseller answering questions about the book, and I'm mega flattered that they wanted to feature my first book!
Secondly, I will be holding a 10 day countdown to 'The Queen's Hat' with things that happened OUTSIDE the book via my blog, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag: #TQHcountdown
Thirdly, I've teamed up with The Book Sniffer to hold an exciting CONTEST via Twitter (details are to be confirmed, but chances are it will involve audience participation) where you can win a signed Big Ben print from the book, and a signed copy of the 'The Queen's Hat'. I've also answered some rather amusing questions for the Sniffer's specially themed blog post too, which will be posted later! The Book Sniffer is such a great blog, and I'm super stoked to be collaborating with the literary world's most revered pug.
And I might have a few other things up my sleeve too.
After the release, I'll be out and about. I've got a spot at both the Hay Festival and Hoo's Kids Book Fest, PLUS I'll be live drawing images from 'The Queen's Hat' in the window at Foyles grand opening of their new flagship store in London! All event details are HERE.
OK, I'm kidding: it was AMAZING - and, for me, it was amazing for five reasons.
Reason 1: Mr Panda
My third picture book, 'Please Mr Panda' (Hodder Children's Books) was revealed to the world, and I can tell you that behind his ordinarily expressionless face, Mr Panda is secretly smiling!
Reason 2: Betty
My second picture book, 'Betty Goes Bananas' (OUP), which was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair, had a poster of her own!
Reason 3: My first presentation at a book fair
I took part in a presentation, alongside the hugely talented author/illustrators, Sarah Lodge and Carolina Rabei, which was about 'digital printmaking'- how traditional print processes relate to and inform our digitally generated work. Martin Salisbury organised and led the presentation - so thanks, Martin, for allowing me to ramble. Thanks also to the audience for coming, and thank you to Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar for sending me these photos!
Reason 4: Friends!
Books aside, one of the best things about the Bologna Children's Book Fair, for me, was spending quality time with friends and forming new friendships. One of my very good friends, Elena, had a book launch at her publisher's stand, and, unsurprisingly, she sold out!
Reason 5: The MA Children's Book Illustration stand
These guys rock big time!
...and, of course, the books, THE BOOKS. So many books, so little time, and sadly (from me) not many photos of them; and there were the evenings too, but I might save that for another blog post.
I have to say a massive thank you to my agent, Elizabeth Roy, the Hodder team and the OUP team, along with the MA tutors at Anglia.
See you next year, Bologna!
Panda. Manners. Doughnuts. Need I say more?
'Please Mr Panda' (Hodder Children's Books) was officially revealed to the world of children's books at the Bologna Children's Book Fair this week! It will be published early next year.
My debut outing into the wonderful world of picture books will be 'The Queen's Hat', published by Hodder Children's Books. I've had great fun with this book, and I intend to keep on having fun with it. So, for the lead up to the launch date, May 1st, I will be counting down the days by posting some rather amusing images of things that happened outside of the book - and I can't tell you how brilliant it's been to really indulge myself in this Great British Countdown! I won't give anything away just yet, so you'll just have to watch this space. If you don't already, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as I'll be using the hashtag #TQHcountdown to mark each of these posts.
In other news, I've got some fun events already planned for May, including one at the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts and one at Hoo's Kids Book Fest! I'll post more on that a bit later though. Cheerio for now!
My cat dressed up for the occasion.
The proofs for my third picture book (my second with Hodder Children's Books) arrived in the post yesterday! Here is a ridiculously tiny sneak peek. This one is going to the Bologna Children's Book Fair in a few weeks, and its publication date for the hardback edition is next Jan; and it features two of my favourite things in the whole wide world.
'The Queen's Hat' will be my first published picture book! But why would you make a book about a daredevil Queen chasing her hat all over London, you might ask?
Back in April 2011, I saw a photo in a news article of the Queen holding on to her hat on a blustery day while visiting Prince William. Immediately, a funny story unravelled in my mind about the Queen chasing her windswept hat all around London.
As a fan of Pop Art, I envisioned the book as a sort of 'pop arty' picture book featuring iconic British images, like Big Ben, the Union Jack, double decker buses and umbrellas. The whole idea of creating a picture book with strong shapes and bold visuals with a fun, page-turning narrative inspired me to draw a rough story board of the Queen chasing her hat through London, closely followed by her royal guards and excitable corgi. 'The Queen's Hat' was an obvious title choice.
The next day, I showed the storyboard to Paula Metcalf, one of my tutors on the MA Children's Book Illustration course, and she encouraged me to finish the book in time for an approaching contest. I had only a few weeks to do this, but I did manage to finish most of it, even though many of the spreads were a little rushed.
Shortly after I found out that 'The Queen's Hat' was unsuccessful in the contest, I received an unexpected postcard from Ronald Searle complimenting me on an illustration from the book, which he'd seen on my website! The reason he had visited my site was because, earlier that year, I emailed his agent to express my appreciation for having been highly commended for the Searle Award for Creativity (for a different picture book). I didn't expect a response, and I certainly didn't expect a handwritten one from Searle himself! His encouraging comments spurred me on to complete the 'The Queen's Hat'.
Over a year later, I finished it just in the nick of time for my class's graduation show, along with two other picture books - and, later that year, Hodder Children's Books offered me a book deal!
'The Queen's Hat' is definitely the kind of book I would have liked poring over as a child. My family and I moved from the UK to New Mexico when I was 8 after my mum married my American step-dad. Although I was happy in the States, I did miss my home, my dad and my grandparents. They would often send things over like crisps, chocolates, comic strips from the tabloids, and Beano magazines. So, while developing 'The Queen's Hat', I think I may have subconsciously channelled my inner child that enjoyed the nostalgia gifts from home evoked.
'The Queen's Hat' will be published by Hodder Children's Books first in hardback on May 1st and then in paperback on October 2nd.
SPOILER ALERT! 'The Queen's Hat' features swinging spider monkeys, a pigmy hippo, a fish on a busby, a giraffe, a hissing cobra and a komodo dragon, amongst other things - and that's just on one spread!
Here is the front cover of 'The Queen's Hat' - my first picture book publication! It will be published first in hardback in the UK on May 1st by Hodder Children's Books - so that's 95 days until publication... and counting.
What started out as a university project has evolved into a full-blown picture book!
At the risk of sounding over dramatic, a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this, and I couldn't be happier with the end result. If you like London, the Queen, or picking out interesting and amusing details in illustrations, then I think you might like this book (or at least I hope you will)!
My second picture book, 'Betty Goes Bananas', will be published first in hardback in the UK on August 31st by Oxford University Press. I had great fun developing the character for this book. Betty is very expressive. I tried to capture her character with bold lines and expressive mark-making. I even used banana paper to fit the theme.
Let's just say that Betty, the toddler gorilla with the pink ribbon in her hair, has a few tantrums herself - and over what: a banana?! I'm sure everyone probably knows one or two 'Betty's' - I do!
The Queen's Hat Hardback (Hodder Children's Books) May 2014
A sudden gust of wind sets off a marvellous adventure for the Queen, lots of Queen's Men, and one very special hat. Just where will that hat land? A witty and stylish celebration of London, the Queen, and the new royal baby.
Pre-order online or at your local bookshop.
Betty Goes Bananas Hardback (Oxford University Press) Aug 2014
Who would have thought a banana could cause such a BIG drama?
Pre-order online or at your local bookshop.
A spread from 'The Queen's Hat', to be published by Hodder Children's Books in May '14. Can you spot the odd one out of all the Queen's men?
Hodder Children's Books will be publishing 'The Queen's Hat' in hardback in May 2014! Below is an image from the book.