World Book Day Top Five:5

To mark World Book Day, I have been sharing five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.

This is the final one of the day:

5:The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers


Why do I wish I had written it?

I do like a concept book. And this is a great one. It tells of the story of Duncan, who just wants to do some colouring . But when he opens his box of crayons, all he finds is a pile of letters – each one written by a different coloured crayon – all saying the same thing, that the crayon has quit. Some of the crayons resent being overworked, others feel overlooked. Each of the letters reveals an individual personality. All of them are hilarious. The child-like illustrations by Oliver Jeffers are wonderful too. I would love to have written this original, clever, funny book.

World Book Day Top Five: 4

So, to mark World Book Day, I’m sharing five of the books I most wish I’d written.

We’re on to number four:

4: Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie


Why do I wish I’d written (and illustrated) it? 

I love this book. It’s funny and charming and beautifully written. But the thing I like most about it is the characterisation of Biff, the (male) dog who dreams of being a ballerina and pines away when he’s not allowed to dance. His character is beautifully written by Anna Kemp, but it is brought to life by Sara Ogilvie’s wonderful illustrations. This book makes me smile! I would like to write a character as convincing and loveable as Biff.

World Book Day Top Five: 3

For World Book Day, I am sharing five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.

This is the third.

3. Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book? By Lauren Child


Why do I wish I’d written it?

Well, I do have a soft spot for books about books. Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler’s Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book is another lovely one. But what I love about Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book? is that it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Lauren Child is so witty, subversive and clever. My favourite bit is where our hero, Herb, is trying to climb up the text to escape, but ‘Some of the words were a bit weak and the whole lot started to wobble’. I can honestly say, I know that feeling!

World Book Day Top Five: 2

I thought as it’s World Book Day, I’d share five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.

Here’s number 2:

2: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler



Why do I wish I’d written it?

It’s the favourite Donaldson/Sheffler book in our house for all sorts of reasons. But the reason I wish I’d written it, is for the quality and ambition of the language. I so admire the description, the rhythm, the rhyme, the alliteration: ‘These are the waves that arched and crashed,/That foamed and frolicked and sprayed and splashed.’ It’s a wonderful book to read out loud. And I love the audacity of a picture book that uses words like ‘immensely’ and ‘towering’. It shows great confidence in the beauty of the way language sounds. Young children don’t have to know what every word means to love it. It is like listening to music.


World Book Day Top Five: 1

I thought as it’s World Book Day, I’d share five of the picture books I most wish I’d written.

So (as Dermot O’Leary would say, were he here), in no particular order:

1: Once Upon A Time by John Prater


Why do I wish I’d written I?

Because it’s so clever. I love the subversiveness of picture books where the words tell a story, but the pictures tell so much more, or even a different story altogether. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is a prime example, but 0nce Upon A Time takes it to the nth degree. The words tell of a mundane day at home with ‘Not much to see. Not much to do’. Meanwhile, in the pictures, every nursery rhyme creature you’ve ever heard of is running amok. Fabulous!

Look out for number 2 on my list later today!

Looking forward to World Book Day!

I always look forward to World Book Day, which this year takes place on 2 March (this Thursday).  I love to see all the kids dressed up as their favourite book character (or, failing that, the character they happen to have the right clothes for in the dressing up box).

It’s even more exciting for me when someone dresses up as one of MY characters. I have already heard about one Hairy Fairy and one Isabella planned for this year. I look forward to seeing (and hopefully sharing) the photos later this week.

In the meantime, here’s the lovely Polley, who dressed up as Isabella in 2016.

For me, World Book Day will actually be more like World Book Week this year, as I am off to the lovely Tolworth Junor School in Surbiton on Thursday 9 March for storytelling and craft activities with their nursery and reception children. I’m really looking forward to it!

Storytelling at Barton

I have had a wonderful morning with the creative and talented children at Barton Primary School.


The Year 1 and 2 children used the opening lines of my book, Jamie and the Joke Factory to develop crazy, imaginative stories through illustration.  I loved the fact that they were so engaged in the task and working in teams, and their stories were all so different.

barton year 1 standing

But I am especially pleased that one of the teachers said she found the session ‘inspirational’ – not just for the children but for her too! – and it’s exiting to know the children will be developing more stories based on my approach.

barton year 2

I also had a really enjoyable time with the Year 5 class. We used rhyme to inspire our stories, based on my approach to writing Hairy Fairy. I loved the way the children worked on this task and look forward to seeing more of their rhyme-inspired stories (which they’ve promised to send me).

barton year 5

All of the sessions I lead today are based on some Resources for Schools which should be appearing on the School visits page of this website soon. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more.

There goes another New Year’s resolution!

You may remember that, at the beginning of January, I undertook to write around 1,000 words a day , in order to complete the first draft of a 30,000 word children’s novel by the end of the month. Well, guess what? I failed! But I have got more than 15,000 written so I am now aiming to complete the first draft by the end of February.  I will keep you posted!

Happy New Year!

I know a lot of people don’t like January, and I can see it has its downsides: it’s long, it’s cold, it’s dark…

But I rather like it. I welcome the opportunity to get rid of the Christmas clutter – the physical stuff like decorations and packaging and the head-clutter of lists and Important Things to Do. And I do see January as something of a blank page.

Over the last few years, January has been a very productive month for me. In January 2015, I wrote the first draft of Jamie and the Joke Factory and in January 2016, I wrote the first draft of Isabella’s Adventures in Numberland.

jamie front cover screen grab
This year I’m going to try and complete another first draft in January. The difference is, this is a 30,000 word chapter book, not an 800 word picture book. I actually started the book back in November, and managed to write around 2,500 words. I’ve just started on it again this week and am now up to 3,798.

I’m going to have to speed up if I’m going to get the first draft completed by the end of the month. I thought if I shared my target with you, it might concentrate my mind. I will keep you posted on my progress via my Facebook page. Wish me luck!

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for your support in 2016 – see you again in 2017!

In the meantime, here is my Christmas poem:

Christmas Wrap


Christmas cheer:
Guess who’s here?
Jolly fat man, red-nosed deer!

Early morning,
Not yet dawning,
Daddy’s grumpy, Mummy’s yawning

Tea is sipped,
Wrap is ripped,
Batman onesie, on and zipped.

Jingle bells,
Whoops and yells,
Yummy scrummy cooking smells

It’s fantastic!
(Dad’s sarcastic.)
Overwhelmed by so much plastic.

Corks are popping,
Needles dropping,
I like the cake, but not the topping.

Weather’s murky,
Grandma’s perky,
Roast potatoes, bacon, turkey.

Teenage pouts,
Brussel sprouts,
Lots of laughter, lots of shouts.

Lights and holly,
Talking dolly,
Think that Grandma’s getting jolly.

Cranberry jelly,
Excess telly,
Too much food inside my belly.

Battery’s dead,
All are fed,
Think it’s time to go to bed.