23 hour commute, 9,136 visitors, 6 thirty minute performances, 8 hours of signing, 5 mins on Good Day Sacramento, 4 large cups of Coke, 2 signing pens. One amazing opportunity to meet my readers at the 18th annual ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival at Fairytale Town. We sold out of Mr Pandas during my 2nd signing (sorry ‘bout that!). But it was AMAZING to sign (and totally deface) so many worn out, much-loved copies of Mr Panda*, and the brilliant Time Tested Books were very quick to produce ‘rain check’ vouchers and sticky bookplates for me to sign. Other highlights included meeting the other guest authors, eating a mighty tasty vegan Earth Burger and being shown Old Sacramento. Plus, I made two new friends (or 3, if you include my Humpty plush). Thank you Kathleen and Kathy and the rest of the FairyTale Town team for an unforgettable weekend. You took great care of this author. If only I could shake off this jet lag! x
The National Literacy Trust in my hometown of Swindon is known as #SwindonStories. With Swindon Borough Council and WHSmith, Swindon Stories encompasses activities to equip children with literacy skills. Blip (from my book, Unplugged) helped spread the word with some fun downloadable posters and flyers. You too can help by downloading and printing our flyers and posters, which can be found here: https://literacytrust.org.uk/communities/swindon/
Ok, so I’ve got my new ‘event’ tees ready for headlining the ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival at FairyTale Town in Sacramento, California this weekend! You can probably guess which books I’ll be reading! Details here: https://www.fairytaletown.org/calendar/childrens-book-festival/2018-09-29/
Author Nicola Davies will this autumn sell off artwork donated by illustrators, including me and many, many amazing illustrators, to raise money to help child refugees.
The artwork, which you can find on Instagram under the hashtag #3000chairs, will be given away at an a special event at Foyles Charing Cross on 3rd September. The chairs will be distributed anonymously in exchange for a standard donation on the night.
The money raised will then be donated to Help Refugees, which provides humanitarian aid to and advocacy for refugees around the world.
I am most thrilled that the Mr Panda books won the much coveted Most Polite Award. The Most Polite Award was established by Lee, age 5. Lee also designed and created the eye-catching and totally awesome medal (with help from Mom).
Thank you Lee (and Lee's Mom) for this great honour! Below you can see the award and the award's creator.
Staying true to yourself & being in a minority is not easy. It can be emotionally crippling which is why I had to contribute to this powerful book of LGBTQ+ authors & illustrators curated by Juno Dawson. This book is trailblazing. I know people are weary of showing their true colours for one reason or another, even people in this industry. I understand that. But life is short. Live it.
The short story I've illustrated* is by NY Times bestselling author and YA master, David Levithan. Its title: 'As the Philadelphia Queer Youth Choir Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’…' It's beautiful. You can pre-order this powerful book from Waterstones. Proud will publish by Stripes in March 2019.
Last year I held two art competitions for Swindon Libraries: Design a Doughnut and the When I Grow Up art comp. We received hundreds of amazing entries from across the borough. This summer I'm launching a brand new creative competition with Swindon Libraries - Design Mr Panda's Hat! 15 winners will receive a signed book (and possibly some extra bonus goodies!) and the overall winner will receive a class visit from yours truly.
How will you design Mr Panda's hat? Patterned? Full of doughnuts? Stickers? Pick up an entry form at your local library from this Saturday the 21st of July! This art comp is for Swindon Borough only. You can pick up a competition sheet from any one of Swindon Borough's 15 Libraries. Deadline: Sept 9th. I can't wait to see all the entries!
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Whitchurch Primary School in Hertfordshire. Super school librarian and award-winning book blogger, Jo Clarke (AKA Book Lover Jo) had invited along to read some of my books to their pupils alongside pupils from Long Parrish Primary (who bussed their way to Whitchurch). It was a full house and the pupils were so prepped and engaged that they practically read along with me. I read Please Mr Panda (I can't not read this book); we journeyed through the detailed visuals of When I Grow Up; we met the Monster in the Hood; and I taught everyone how to draw Mr Panda by only using shapes and letters. They especially enjoyed listening to Monster in the Hood. Bookstore, P&G Wells, kindly attended with a piles of books. Here are some photos from the day courtesy of Jo and Dave from P&G Wells. Oh and if you're not already familiar with Jo's Clarke's book blog, I recommend you go check it out: https://bookloverjo.wordpress.com/
Out now in the UK!
You may remember the big cover reveal of Tim Minchin's When I Grow Up at Waterstones Piccadilly last Oct. Well, I'm so pleased to see that Waterstones are still displaying my artwork from the book, as you can see from these photos. This time they've added speech bubbles. I can't help but wonder where window designer, Annie, stores my giant illustrations! I absolutely love what she's done here.
There's just no stopping Mr Panda. As if four picture books wasn't enough, Mr Panda is now applying his dry wit to board books (board books are like picture books but smaller, thicker and biteable). Mr Panda's Colours and Mr Panda's Feelings were both released last month in the UK. I know many Americans are wondering when they'll publish Stateside (gotta love Twitter). The honest answer is: I don't know. Watch this space, I guess. For now though, you can order them from pretty much any UK bookstore.
I had such fun drawing these board books. I hope you like them!
Here are just a few press cuttings. I've been meaning to upload these for a while. I never want to become complacent or take any of this for granted which is why I keep all the articles I can get my hands on. My mum keeps them, too, and my dad has an actual scrap book.
I've sort of fallen behind with my 'event' blog posts. What can I say? I've been busy. Below are just a few photos from recent events.