Nationale Voorleesdagen


Im in shock at all the events in Holland! The dutch version of A Bit Lost, ‘Mama Kwijt’ won the Dutch Picture Book of the Year 2012 and as part of the Voorleesdagen (read aloud week) there are many amazing events across the country. It was awarded by CPNB, a read-for-fun/literacy non-profit equivalent to Booktrust or CBI. Each year they choose a book for its read-aloud qualities and on the 18th Jan they celebrated by hosting ‘reading breakfasts’ (complete with pancakes!) in libraries and schools across the country. Its the 9th year of this award you can read more about it here Im so proud of the book’s success in holland as im a huge fan of dutch design and dutch picture books



Many celebrities were pictured taking part for the press including Princess Laurentien from the Dutch royal family and prime minister Mark Rutte (!) In the last photo there is even a real owl at the school!!!!


There was even a reading at Schipol Airport Library


There are puppet performances too. The second to last performance was by Ton Meijer in the oba library (the little girl in the picture is pretending she is a sleepy owl about to fall) and the last was by Pagetti jeungdtheatre

It was interesting to see how the story was adapted to performances and to see how each adapts it differently. One of the performances is of Oma Kwijt (I lost my granny!)


theres even a Mama Kwijt song…(!!!)


I did some press events too, on thursday 19th I opened the amsterdam stock market!!!!!! i had drawn ‘99%’ on my t-shirt in black marker and unzipped my hoodie right before i gonged (!) 🙂




At the moment Mama Kwijt is the best selling BOOK in the Netherlands #1 in the book chart (!!!) and also no.12 as there are 2 versions. The bookshops also got involved and there are amazing shop window displays as well as little hand-puppets and bags. 60,000 finger puppets were made by CPNB to be given away free with the books, we really tried to have the finger puppets made fair trade (thank you CPNB) but the cost and timescale sadly could not work out. Then 7 bookshops emailed me and clubbed together to make an order of the fair trade owls too..! Thank you to all the bookshops who supported this!! You can see some of them on sale below…




This last few days in holland has been INCREDIBLE! im in total shock. To have my book at the centre of such wonderful events promoting literacy and reading for fun in public access libraries is all i could have ever wished for, i cant tell you how honoured i am. I was amazed by the thought, care and humour that went into these events and the quality of the other beautiful children’s books and events that I saw. The time and resources that go towards childrens events seem incredible to me, the Dutch certainly seem to be really focused on all the the good things. I have met amazing people in the last few days. Thanks to so much to everyone involved in this amazing project, in all the libraries, Gottmer and CPNB. Hartelijk bedankt!!

Getting your children’s book published: Offset 2010

Myself, Niamh Sharkey and Childrens Books Ireland had a discussion at Offset in Dublin last year under the heading Getting your childrens book published: from idea to publication

For more videos have a look at offset’s video page theres lots of great speakers. Hopefully see you at Offset next March. They have another great lineup and i think ill be doing something smallish in the second room.


By | 2017-11-25T00:34:31+00:00 December 20th, 2011|Tags: , , |0 Comments

online shop

Ive just opened a shop!
Everything is fair trade and made in Nepal.
there are owl toys, lampshades, bags and also some digital prints
take a look….


i meant to sort this out a lot earlier but i have been very busy, if you order in the next 2 days you can make christmas if you are sending to the UK (!)














the amazing product shots above were all taken by nikos tsogkas
By | 2017-09-02T02:18:35+00:00 December 19th, 2011|Tags: , |0 Comments

Ivor Cutler and clowning in Walker Books

Im a big fan of the late scottish poet and comedian Ivor Cutler. I had read an interview with David Shrigley ages ago and he mentioned him as his biggest influence and since managed to get hold of some of his amazing recordings… he has a wonderful surreal and skewed view of the world. This BBC4 documentary is really really worth watching if you dont know his work..



I was absolutely in AWE when my editors Deirdre and Lucy mentioned they worked together with him at Walker. I didnt even know he had done books… they were big fans of his and david lloyd who i work with now  was his publisher and editor. WOW! Apparently Ivor had a thing for printing his own stickers and then sticking them all over the office, this is david’s old typewriter…
I also discovered at Walker recently that not only has my old editor Lucy studied as a clown (amongst many other fascinating things) but that my new editor David worked for 12 years as a clown and successfully taught a goose how to dance (!)
What a magical place Walker books is….!
this is david, maria and deirdre (taking the photo) and me editing our new book ‘dont worry, i have a plan’ recently..


I will be sure to keep you up to date with any new stories i hear from the office. In the meantime you can follow them on twitter. they meet very interesting people and eat a lot of cake
By | 2017-09-02T02:20:21+00:00 October 28th, 2011|Tags: , |2 Comments

South Ken Kids Festival

Im very very excited about the South Ken Kids festival next month.
The line-up is really AMAZING… have a look… quentin blake / marc boutavant / kitty crowther 
the entire list is really amazing, ive really never seen such an exciting line-up like that before and im very honoured to be alongside those names


I will be doing 3 different events. see my events page here. It includes a DRAWING DUEL with Joëlle Jolivet …. Im not exactly sure what is involved but im sharpening all my best pencils in preparation (owl is sharpening his beak just in case it gets nasty)


The full programme can be viewed from here


PS if you look on the website you might see a stray owl has accidentally fallen in there. we are very sorry about that. myself and owl are working on our professionalism over the next month to make sure this wont happen again.




We also did some school workshops and invented our own little stories
In the original early version of the story owl bumps into animals on the way down when he falls from the nest. So, in the workshops we invented some things that could happen to owl on his fall. Here he bumps into birds/down chimneys and into the mouth of a crocodile! Fold a page in half and do a before and after fall!
By | 2017-09-02T02:20:23+00:00 October 17th, 2011|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

5 1/2 months on Sunkyung’s sofa


While i was making my book in Korea I was extremely fortunate to meet the picture book artist Cho Sunkyung. I was introduced to him through our publisher Borim press and ended up staying on his sofa for an incredible 5 and a half months. Fairly cheeky even by my standards!

Sunkyung is one of the most interesting people ive met and as it was his work that made me appreciate the craft of book-making i thought i should do a post about him. He is an incredible illustrator and artist. His very interesting career path includes working for the ny times amongst many others as well as designing film sets and several best-selling picturebooks. Underground garden has been translated into 6+ languages. Ive posted some of his work here….




He also single handedly runs the SOME Institute, which is an independent post-graduate course specifically for picture-book making, the likes of which there is really no equivalent in the UK. He has brought the most inspiring people working in picture books worldwide to Korea to teach at SOME including Beatrice Alemagna, Martin Salisbury, Chloe Poizat and Katsumi Komagata… he even brought Marshall Arisman (the legendary co-founder of the School of Visual Arts in NY) over to Korea to do a workshop. Below are some images from his workshops and some shots of the end of year show… the standard of the students work is incredible.


Sunkyung collects picture books from all over the world and his studio is sort of operating as a library to the students. SO many incredible books… better than any bookshop ive ever been in…


Some of the stories i have heard about him are just completely nuts. He was so inspired by the film the sandman (the film that inspired tim burtons nightmare before christmas) he flew to London looking for the studio that made it. This was the early 90s and pre-internet and he had no address for the studio, only the name ‘Batty Berry Mackinnon Productions’. He asked at the heathrow information stand where was ‘aardman animation’ because he knew they could tell him the address. He went by train to Bristol only to be told that he wasnt allowed into the studio uninvited so he waited around until lunchtime when a few animators came out and told him they were based in manchester. By the next day he arrived at their doorstep, he explained his story and they (understandably) allowed him to work with them for the next 2 months. !!!?!!!! and I thought I was passionate about animation…?

I stayed with Sunkyung in his studio and I worked on my book while he worked on his own book ‘Blue Bird’ and we spent most evenings in the local restaurant drinking soju. These are some photos of the studio. He worked downstairs and me on the mezzanine. The last photo is a shot at dawn of the scene of me finishing A Bit Lost (….i wasnt to know i would then drag it on for another 2 months ….aagh! )


During the time i stayed with Sunkyung he was working on ‘Blue Bird’. Its an incredibly beautiful and personal art book based around the death of Sunkyung’s mother. ‘Blue Bird’ (Palang Sae) in Korean means hope. It is a wordless book about the story of a a blue bird who is selflessly looked after by its guardian who is a sow (the pig has a special symbolism in Korea) The mother teaches the bird to fly knowing that she herself cannot fly and that one day the bird will fly away without her. The bird flies away as its mother is left behind in a flock of birds. 


As Sunkyung worked on Blue Bird, I worked on A Bit Lost and in fact we had almost exactly the same publishing date. I came to the end of my stay in Korea I began looking for a quote for my book about ‘loss’ and we realised the same quote would suit both A Bit Lost and Blue Bird. It dawned on us that we had both spent the last year working beside each other on a story about the loss of a guardian.

We have been close friends since and in fact sunkyung came over to visit me in Nepal and even gave a lecture at Kathmandu University when i was doing a workshop there.

Sunkyung has also set up his own publishing company SOME books (i dont know how he has the time!!!) I HIGHLY recommend visiting SOME picture book website
You can see SOME institute and if you click the top left link you can also see the books they are publishing, their books have been bought by the V&A/ Roma Museum and many other institutions

As you can imagine A Bit Lost owes Sunkyung a huge debt. Im very grateful for all his advice and input. Gansamida!

Have a look at the site for SOME Picturebooks>>>


By | 2017-09-02T02:20:24+00:00 September 13th, 2011|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Glass Owls and Blue Manatees

I just got sent these images from Blue Manatee Childrens bookstore in Ohio. They have made these amazing owls based on Little Owl Lost in Brazee St Studios  see more images on their facebook page here
They read the book and then made their own owl from fired glass. Apparently other glass studios are also doing the same project including one in Texas(!) …amazing!! So inspiring to see these amazing art projects. Thank you so much to everyone at Blue Manatee.