Wednesday, 28 October 2015

What Made Tiddalik Laugh

WHAT MADE TIDDALIK LAUGH is one of my most popular picture books. The story of the  giant frog, Tiddalik, who is so thirsty that he drinks all the water in the world, is a big favourite with young children. They love all the comical attempts of the birds and animals to get Tiddalik to laugh, and so to spit out all the water he has drunk. This myth comes from Australia and was told by the indigenous people, the Aborigines.  I tried to illustrate the extremes of heat and drought of the Australian Outback in my water colour pictures. I have just published this book as an ebook available at the iBook Store here

Here is a short film of WHAT MADE TIDDALIK LAUGH available on YouTube.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

How The Birds Changed Their Feathers

My picture book HOW THE BIRDS CHANGED THEIR FEATHERS was first published in 1976. It was commended for the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal that same year. This book has always been one of my favourites, so I was very upset to learn that the publisher had lost the artwork during an office move. I did however still have two spreads which I had borrowed for a talk I was giving in a Glasgow children's library. So using these and the printed book as reference, I decided last year to re-do the artwork in order to publish the book on the iBook store. I could have simply scanned the printed book, but the quality of the colour and the definition would not have been good enough, so I traced my designs onto tracing paper and then using a light box, transferred  them onto water colour paper.  The finished coloured illustrations took me longer than they did forty years ago, but I have finally published the book as an ebook on the iBooks Store. You can find it here:
 How The Birds Changed Their Feathers

Friday, 16 January 2015

Mill Hill Library and me

Mill Hill Library has been threatened with closure or cuts by Barnet Council, along with Burnt Oak, East Finchley, Childs Hill, Osidge and South Friern. On Wednesday evening I went to a packed and lively meeting to discuss this threat:  Save Mill Hill Library

The first books I can remember borrowing from Mill Hill Library were the coloured Fairy Tale books by Andrew Lang when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Then when I was at Hornsey College of Art, it was fine art books that I borrowed. After I graduated and became an author/illustrator I searched Mill Hill's shelves every week for folk tales, myths, legends and picture references. I also gave talks to the children in the Junior Library Club about my artwork and books.

THE LITTLE MOHEE was my first published picture book. In Mill Hill Library I researched American folk songs for the text. Then I needed pictorial reference for the illustrations:  Native Americans, 18th century costume, English wood cuts,  canoes and sailing ships.

Libraries are the centre of any community, open to young and old, rich and poor. I could not have become an author or illustrator without Mill Hill Library. What will become of Mill Hill without its library? Not a place I would want to live in. Libraries have proved a soft option for cuts. There is no government political will to save them, so councillors feel they can do as they please. Libraries should have an increase in their budget not a decrease. They are an important part of the education system in Britain, not a means for shaving a few pence off the council tax. Here is a link to a petition to save Barnet libraries: Save Barnet Libraries