I’ve just come back from having the MOST FUN being Festival Illustrator at Chester’s WayWord children’s festival for the second year in a row. This was my first chance to read ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO! with children (even though it’s not published until 5th March), and to try some monster-themed drawing and making.
At one event we read ALPHONSE and The Girl with the Parrot on her Head and played drawing games together, just as Natalie and Alphonse draw together in the book.
I also ran a monster finger puppet workshop.
And another (with a lot of help from Nicola and Helen of Chester Performs) on stencilling onto canvas bags. It would have been hard to do screen printing (which is how I usually make my illustrations) in this workshop, unless everyone had printed the same image, but the freezer paper stencils were quite magic, and the resulting bags were so cool!
I spent the rest of my time drawing the festival – which was embarrassing as I’m heinously out of practice with observational drawing, but good for me. Here’s one of my drawings – visit WayWord for more (and next year, maybe visit the actual WayWord as it is ALL THE FUN).
Mark Carline took lots of other brilliant photos too. This one’s mine and not so good but I did particularly like the robot-rabbit den:
I also did a reading and talked about how I came to make picturebooks:
And there were two more workshops in which we made animals to go on our heads. The animals were AMAZING. Here’s The Boy with the Jaguar on his Head and The Girls with the Tasmanian Devil and the Pink-faced Polar Bear on their Heads:
On my final day at the festival Kate Pankhurst and I made two completely new books in a picturebook jam. One of them started like this (me then Kate):
As resident Illustrator I also got to loiter around drawing all the other goings on – from an amazing range of author events to giant chess and never-ending free crafts. Some of my festival drawings are on the WayWord site but here’s the queue for Shlomo, followed by Alex Wiltshire talking about minecraft:
I felt very lucky to be there and very well looked-after – Chester Performs put on a grand show (and are incredibly good at collecting cardboard).
Here is a heap of my first book, The Girl with the Parrot on her Head, published by Walker Books on February 5th – which now, finally, actually feels quite soon. Many exciting things will happen around the launch to help introduce the parrot, and the Isabel under its feet. For starters, I’ll be writing about the process of making the book over on Walker’s Picture Book Party blog. Then during February half term I’ll be working with children in Chester, making animals to go on our heads and incredible cardboard dens, as Resident Illustrator at Wayword festival. I’ll also give a talk and reading, document the festival on the Wayword blog AND do a picturebook jam with Kate Pankhurst! See: MANY THINGS!
Details of further events will follow soon – including something at House of Illustration which I think will be GRAND.