Official World Book Day Illustrator 2019 and 2020

I have some exciting news that I am FINALLY allowed to share with you: I am going to be the official World Book Day Illustrator for 2019 and 2020! Pretty cool, huh? For those that don't know, World Book Day is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in more than 100 countries all over the world. Our main aim is to encourage children to develop a love of reading for pleasure. I am super-proud and super-honoured to be working with the fab UK team for the next two years. You can read little interview with me here.

Also, I am thrilled to introduce you to my Bookmark characters that will be popping up all over the place very soon.

Here's to a fun couple of years...

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#PackedLunchPostIt: Kitty’s Top 120 Kid's Characters Ever

You may or may not know that for the last five years I have drawn a little picture on a post-it note for my youngest daughter Poppy to look at while she eats her lunch at school. It started because she was nervous about staying at school for lunch, and it's snowballed from there. I have now drawn about a thousand of them! As you can imagine, it's quite hard to think of new things to draw each day, so at Christmas I asked my middle daughter Kitty to come with with her top 120 children's characters of all time. Then I drew one each school day until we got to the summer holidays (we worked out that there were exactly 120 school days between Christmas and the summer). And now, we've finally reached number one! Here's a little film of the entire countdown. 

You can browse all of the post-its I've drawn so far here... 

Anti-bullying Week

This week is #AntiBullyingWeek and my sausage-dog friends and I are very pleased to be supporting the Anti Bullying Alliance. As it says in my book Odd Dog Out, it's very important to be who *you* are, no matter who tries to say otherwise. All children should be confident enough to stand tall, be proud and blaze their own trail. 


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Two CILIP Greenaway nominations

I am proud to say that both Sunk! and Kevin have been nominated for the 2018 CILIP Greenaway Medal. Thanks so much to the fab librarians who put them forward. I"m very honoured.


New prints available

I have been asked lots of times whether I will be making any Odd Dog Out/Kevin prints, so I thought that maybe I should. So I have. They're beautifully produced and there are only eight of each design so they won't be around for long.

The official bit: "Printed on archival quality 100% cotton Hahnemühle German Etching fine art paper, each artwork is signed, numbered and embossed with an official seal. Every order will be accompanied by a signed letter of authenticity." 

They're only available through this site and once they're gone they're gone. So if you fancy one, get in quick... 

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four season in one dog NEW.jpg
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Update: Flat Stanley, Kevin, Spectre Collectors

I've been a bit lazy and not updated my news blog for a while. Soz. So here's a lightning quick update...



I have reillustrated six of Jeff Brown's classic Flat Stanley books for Egmont. The first three were published in July. Here they are. Click a cover for more info.



My fifth author/illustrated picture book with HarperCollins, Kevin, was published on August 10. I wrote this story about nine years ago (based on my daughter Kitty's 'real' imaginary friend) and am very proud of it. I'm so excited that it's finally in the world. The book has had some lovely reviews and there are some other VERY exciting developments that I'll hopefully be able to tell you about soon. Watch this space. In the meantime you can read more about the book here.



I was delighted to illustrate the cover for the first book in Barry Hutchison's new series for Nosy Crow, Spectre Collectors. It's a really fun story - my girls loved it - and you can read more about it here



I'm proud to say that Odd Dog Out is in the running for two more awards taking it's total of nominations to nine. It's been shortlisted for BASH (the Book Awards of St Helens) and longlisted for the UK Literacy Association award. What an honour. Go Odd Dog!

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Well, this has been hard to keep a lid on. 

We heard around Christmas that the amazing Tom Hardy might be reading Odd Dog Out as one of CBeebies' Bedtime Stories. "There is a 90% chance he'll do it" they said. Then last week we found it that there was a 100% chance of him doing it. In fact, he'd done it! Last night the BBC posted the trailer...

...and then today it went live on the iPlayer. It's available to watch here (UK only) until July 2. It airs on CBeebies on 2 June at 6.50pm. I think Tom (we're mates now so I can call him Tom) does an amazing job. I really hope you enjoy it. Here's a little teaser.

Janod card games

Last year I was very proud to be asked by Janod, a French toy maker who have been making wooden toys and games for over 40 years, to illustrate three card games for them. 

The first, called Mémo des Mots, is a memory game for children aged 5 to 10. Player try to be the first to pair the illustrations of the animals with their names. Here's a video trailer...

The second is called Castagne. This one is a battle game for children aged 3 to 7. A colour and a number is associated with each animal and you must win all of the cards in the forest. Here's another little video trailer...

The last one is called Happy Tree and is a memory game for children aged 4 to 8. The objective is to reconstruct a tree formed of 6 cards, based on the model provided, by each taking turns drawing cards. The winner is the first to build the Happy Tree in order. Here it is...


More info here, including details of where you can buy them.


I'm so pleased to (finally) be able to tell you that I'm re-illustrating the Flat Stanley series of books for Egmont. It's a huge honour to be working on these bona fide classics by the late, great Jeff Brown. I only hope I can do the characters justice. The first three books (covers pictured) will be published on 27 July and each contain around 30 illos. Hope you like 'em :)

Here's the press release...

Odd Dog Out shortlisted

I'm thrilled to tell you that Odd Dog Out has received it's fourth and fifth awards nominations. What a lovely surprise! 

Firstly it was shortlisted for Oscar's Book Prize. The award is in memory of Oscar Ashton, who was three-and-a-half when he died from an undetected heart condition in December 2012. It was set up by his parents with the support of the London Evening Standard, Amazon and the National Literacy Trust. I am very proud and touched that they think that Oscar would have liked my book. What an honour. And what great company I'm in. Full story here...


It has also been shortlisted for the #IBW2017 Award. It's my third consecutive shortlisting for this prize (the first for Blown Away, the second for GRRRRR!) and it's a record I'm very proud of. Again, the shortlist is unbelievably strong so I don't hold out much hope for winning. Still, it's such an honour to be in the mix.

So, as you can see, this book is really starting to blaze it's own trail... 

Book five ✨TITLE REVEAL✨

My fifth picture book with Harper Kids UK will be published at the end of July and it will be called ...(drum roll)... "KEVIN".

This story means a lot to me as it was one of the first that I wrote. Also, the idea came from the imagination of my daughter Kitty. I definitely think it's my favourite book so far and I really hope you like it when you get to see it.

The Sunk! Spring Tour

Well, that was a LOT of fun. I've just got back from nine days on the road visiting book festivals, schools, libraries and bookshops up and down the country, reading stories, drawing pictures and generally having a nice time. Massive thanks to everyone who came along to see me, to all of my very generous hosts, to the amazing booksellers I met along the way and to HarperCollins and Annie Everall at Authors Aloud UK who organised the tour.

Here are some of the highlights... (click an image for a closer look and a caption)

A closer look at my adventure in Waterstones Nottingham's window...

Revealing the line art.

Colouring in Penguin Blue.

My knees hurt quite a lot by this point.

No wonder it took such a long time.


AHOY THERE SHIPMATES! I am very proud to say that last Thursday my fourth picture book Sunk! was published by HarperCollins. It's now an actual thing that you can buy in the actual shops. Look!

It's such an exciting moment when a project you've worked on for a year, often in quite an isolated fashion, is finally out there in the world for everyone to see. I really hope you enjoy it. Here's a little look inside (click on an image to enlarge)... 

Waterstones Piccadilly were kind enough to host a launch event yesterday in the children's department. It was a busy, noisy, fun-packed session featuring lots of small pirates who sat and listened beautifully while I drew and read stories. Big thanks to everyone who came along. It was lovely to see you all. 

Now, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a few thank yous. Firstly to the AMAZING team at HarperCollins Children's Books, led by Ann-Janine Murtagh. My editors Rachel Denwood, Alice Blacker and Lydia Barram are total geniuses who know exactly what works and what doesn't. Their ideas, their prompting, their prodding, their cajoling, their patience, their faith and, above all, their encouragement are all things that I have come to totally rely on. It is a FACT this book would be nowhere near as good as it is without their help. I say it every time but I really do feel incredibly lucky to be working with them. 

The same can be said for Nia Roberts and Manda Scott who were in the art department when this book was made (they have both now moved on to pastures new). It must be difficult having to deal with a former magazine art director who thinks he knows best all the time. The reality is that he doesn't and that he appreciates all of your guidance. Thank you.

My publicity and marketing team, headed up by Geraldine Stroud and Jo Hardacre, are awesome. Jo, you make my events such fun to do. Thanks so much for all of your hard work sorting everything out for me over the last nine months or so. I really appreciate it. Also thanks for the posh lunch the other day - let's do it again soon! Massive shout-outs also to Siân Robertson (cut-outable pirate hat creator extraordinaire and my number one source for #PackedLunchPostIt ideas), Jess Dean (powerpoint slides wrangler and fellow working-from-home-and-the-procrastination-problems-that-exist-therein empathiser) and Sarah MacMillan (who was very calming when I was about to go on stage in Glasgow in front of 2500 kids AND whose great, great, great, great grandfather invented the bicycle). Thanks for everything that all of you do. I know what hard work it is and I really appreciate it.

My agent Jodie Hodges at United is always the first one to see the finished book (as well as several draft versions along the way). This whole me-writing-books thang is totally down to her and as such her good opinion is one that matters so much to me. It's great to have you in my corner Jodie. Thanks also to Emily Talbot, Jodie's assistant, who is patience personified and the most organised person in the entire universe.

Finally, I want to thank my wife Ally and children Ella, Kitty and Poppy for their support and their patience (I seem to be using that word a lot!), particularly as I got closer to deadline. There were a lot of ballet runs that I didn't do because of this book. Thanks, as ever, team. I love you all xxx

Right, I think that's about it. I'll leave you with this little trailer that I made for the book. In the meantime I'd better get on with getting the next one finished. Deadlines are a-looming...