Read for Empathy 2020

I’m very happy that my picture book about a small monster learning to read, I Do Not Like Books Anymore! has been chosen by Empathy Lab for their 2020 Read for Empathy Collection, intended as “a diverse collection of books for primary and secondary children, all carefully selected by an expert panel to improve children’s empathy skills.” Founded in response to research suggesting that reading fiction can build our capacity for empathy, Empathy Lab describes empathic concern as “a powerful motivator for helping others, a force for social justice.” Whoop to that. 

I loved making I Do Not Like Books Anymore! because the subject was so important to me – and because it’s always fun to spend time with Natalie and Alphonse. But I also felt quite a lot of anxiety about getting it right, and about how it would be received. Natalie’s struggles with reading, and the ways she and Alphonse find of reclaiming books and stories, were largely based on my own experiences as a child. Things I learnt as a Teaching Assistant and while working for an early-years education charity fed into the book too but I’m (obviously) no expert.

Spread from I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

I think all that worrying about making A MASSIVE PEDAGOGICAL/DEVELOPMENTAL ERROR has made it extra-lovely that people have responded so positively to the story. The support of wonderful organisations like Empathy Lab and Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) means a lot – as do all the messages I’ve received from individual teachers, librarians and parents. I especially love it when children make their own books in response to the story, as Natalie and Alphonse do: like these ones shared by teacher @today_we_read on instagram or those I’ve been lucky enough to see develop at workshops and events (below is a very excellent book being created at Heffers in Cambridge in 2018).

A book-making workshop

There are foldable books to download and fill with stories on my Free stuff page, based on the titles of Natalie and Alphonse’s books – but I’m just as excited if children’s stories have nothing to do with Tomato And The Chair or The Magic Pigeon (although I would love to find out what happens in Whale Goes Shopping).

I DO NOT LIKE BOOKS ANYMORE!

I made these two gifs to celebrate the publication of my fourth picture book, I DO NOT LIKE BOOKS ANYMORE! This is Natalie and Alphonse’s second adventure, following ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO! and is all about what happens when Natalie starts learning to read, and how she and Alphonse manage to carry on enjoying books and stories in their own way.

I only started making gifs again a couple of months ago – you can find a few others on my Instagram. Alphonse in his fairy costume comes from a part of the book where he and Natalie dress up to play “stories they remembered or made up.”

If you’d like to know more about the book and how I made it, have a look at Walker Books’ Instagram which I took over for publication week. I also have a couple of events coming up soon, and am busy making window displays – this one was at Jaffe and Neale, a bookshop-cafe in Chipping Norton, and it will be moving to their Stow shop in a few weeks too.
Window dispaly

Natalie and Alphonse at Greenwich Book Festival

Photo by Andrew Porter PhotographyOn May 27th I caught the boat to Greenwich Book Festival where I read ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO! to the excellent people pictured (and excellent others) and then let them loose on the googly eyes and double-sided tape, leading to Most Excellent Fantastic monster finger puppets. There was much innovation in the areas of spots and extending grab-hands. Thanks to Andrew Porter Photography for the brilliant photos, to Greenwich Book Festival and everyone who came.
Photo by Andrew Porter PhotographyPhoto by Andrew Porter PhotographyPhoto by Andrew Porter PhotographyPhoto by Andrew Porter PhotographyPhoto by Andrew Porter PhotographyAll photos © Andrew Porter 2017

Hatched!

It was really exciting to be invited to exhibit some of the original screenprints from Hilda and the Runaway Baby as part of a group show at the Hive library in Worcester. Hatched! featured illustrations from seven new books by four Illustration tutors at Worcester University: Piet Grobler, Becky Palmer, Stephen Fowler and me. Here are few photos by Steve Waldron:
Hatched! exhibition from above
The Hive is such an amazing space for an exhibition – or to just visit and read in. The children’s library has tunnels under the bookcases and a brilliant workshop space, where Becky Palmer and I ran some vegetable print-making sessions. It turns out you can do incredible things with carrots and cauliflower, so after the workshops we added the children’s prints to the main exhibition. Here are an owl and a rabbit followed by a purple bear.
Owl and rabbit Purple bearBanner printing

Hilda goes to Chester

Earlier this year I took my new book, Hilda and the Runaway Baby, to Wayword festival in Chester. It was my third year as Festival Illustrator so I decided to draw everyone as animals for a change.
I also ran three workshops. Paper puppets:

Photo © Mark Carline for Storyhouse

Photo © Mark Carline for Storyhouse

Stencilling onto tote bags (unfortunately only the space pigs are shown after the stencil came off, but just look at that narwhal!):


And story-making and drawing games:

Thanks to everyone at Storyhouse for having me AGAIN.