Monthly Archives: October 2014

Oh, RATS!

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but a severe case of “hopelessness” has prevented me from doing so.

Back in the dim and distant past that was the month of March I wrote about the uber-talented Amanda Sutton, who I commissioned to take one of my pictures and make it into one of her amazing creations.
Here’s the final thing, and the images he’s based upon.

 

RatPhoto
Rat
He’s fantastic! He’s got a gun, and a little set of keys, and big, brass wings, and everything.
He currently lords it over the living room from up his position up high, perched like a rodent Batman (Ratman?) ready to swoop on injustice as soon as the rest of us have gone to bed.

The latest injustice we’re the victims of is that we’ve been infiltrated by a single slug (before anyone raises an eyebrow we live in a “currently” rather damp and wild part of Scotland), who leaves us a fresh silvery trail across the carpet each morning.
As of yet the Rat has done nothing.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Try as I might I can’t think of a witty title!

Recently a number of books I’ve been working on over the last year or so have finally gone to print, which means I can throw non disclosure agreements out the window and blab about them to my hearts content.

Firstly, the biggest illustration job I’ve ever been involved with will be seen in classrooms overseas.
“Oxford Rooftops” is a series of ELT (English Language Teaching) books, published by Oxford University Press and illustrated by yours truly, which are aimed at children who don’t speak English as a first language.
They revolve around the adventures of a small group of children and their families and friends, and contain more of my artwork than anything else I’ve ever been involved with.
It took all of last year and some of this year to complete, with the aid of lots of coffee, lots of hours, and sometimes very little sleep.
To think that my work is part of a curriculum, and can be found on the bookshelves of schools abroad is equally mind-boggling and fab!
Rooftops

Another book that should be out on the shelves just about now is “The Egyptian Cat Mystery”, published by Franklin Watts and written by Penny Dolan.
When Jed and Ruby spot an Egyptian cat statue at the local museum, things soon get a lot weirder than they were prepared for.
After illustrating this story my advice, as far as museums are concerned, is to keep away from Security Guards with ancient amulets *taps side of nose.
You’ll thank me in the end.

The Egyptian Cat Mystery (Cat not shown)

The Egyptian Cat Mystery (Cat not shown)

 

Finally, although you’ll have to wait a bit to see this one, Usborne Publishing’s take on Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” is due to come out in March 2015.
Is it wrong of me to admit that I’d never actually read the story before doing this job?
Isn’t “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” one of those books where grown ups nod sagely and say they’ve read it when really they haven’t? like “1984” and “Wuthering Heights”.
I thought I knew the story because I saw the 60’s movie of it when I was a kid, but I’ve just “googled” the movie and found that what I saw was actually “The Adventure’s of Tom Sawyer”.
Oh the embarrassment! The number of posh soirĂ©es and dinner parties I’ve attended, where I’ve regaled an eager crowd with stories of Huckleberry Finn, but have in fact been sharing stories of Tom Sawyer can be counted on the fingers of one foot!

Huck

Huckleberry Finn. (Not as weird looking as the kids in the 70’s tv show)

Mind you, I definitely remember this Huck Finn children’s show in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

I think it’s the same sort of exotic, “foreign” thing from my youth that I’d put it in the same box as The Flashing Blade, Heidi, White Horses (frankly you can turn that one off as soon as the music finishes), and (best theme of the bunch) The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
It always struck me as weird how the people in these shows generally seemed to move their lips far more than was necessary for the words that came out of them!
Strange that….

A few months ago I was delighted to hear that a book I’d illustrated for Scholastic, called “Time Jump”, was a finalist in The 2014 Extensive Reading Foundation Awards.
Unfortunately the book didn’t win, but to be nominated for anything at all is a real privilege.

TimeJump2

Time Jump (Jumping not shown)

 

I love my job!

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