Big Yellow Taxi Little Red Plane Big Silver Spaceship Little GreenTow Truck Big Red Fire Engine Little Orange Submarine Big Blue Engine The Sun is a Bright Star Daytime / Night-Time L is For loving Kwanzaa Kids Best Friends in the Snow Tic Tac toe Flush the Potty I can Do it Too You Can Do it Too Max Loves Sunflowers Max Paints the House Max’s Coin Max’s Letter Baby Goes Beep Good Night Little Monster Wake up Buttercup Halala means Welcome Furaha means Happy
Zelda in the City Dexter Gets Dressed Long Train/101 cars Splash Joshua Splash Can You Hear the Sea? Police Rider Firefighter Traffic Police
I Hate to be Sick Lenny in the Garden Lenny Has Lunch Where’s Lenny? Lenny Goes to Nursery School Diamonds and Squares Sunny or Cloudy Blue Sky Blue Ten Fingers Amazing People Circus A book of Letters The House that Mack built Catch Happy Cat Me Tickle Tickle Crocodiles Don’t Brush Their Teeth This is the Way we Take a Bath The Little Plant Doctor Setting the Turkeys Free Just Like Me Baby Ruby Bawled The Sun Is a Bright Star
Astro Girl The Drum The Flute Lenny and Wilbur Stars With Flaming Tails Chicken Newspaper for Children Kind (Contributor)
Magazines & Periodicals
Highlights Magazine, US Scoop Magazine, UK Chicken Newspaper for Children, UK, ZW
Boxer Books, UK, US Bloomsbury UK Kane Miller, US Frances Lincoln UK Tamarind Books UK Scholastic UK, US MacMillan UK Alanna Max, UK Pavilion Books UK Hachette, UK Pavilion UK Simon & Schuster UK, US Dref Wen, (Wales), UK Jump at the Sun (Hyperion Disney imprint) Hodder Australia, Holiday House, US Hyperion Books US Chronicle Books US Phyllis Fogelman Books US Koala Books, AUS Albin Michel, FR Mango Editions, FR Seuil Jeneuse, FR Bokklubbens Barn, NED Destino Infantil & Juvenil, ESP Ediciones B, ESP Mondadori, IT Jacana Media, SA Juventud; Translation Edição, BR arsEdition DE JULA出版局 Japan Korea – China – Taiwan – Estonia-
Old is new again
I came across Officina do Cego, run by a group of crafts and art people in Lisbon, thanks to Kristine Martinova. She introduced us to the president of the Association, Nuno Ramos, who explained how they teach and make work using screen and letterpress printing. They make their own books, so also teach bookbinding.
Walking into the place I found machines that fondly reminded me of my early days in graphic design. I started young, around 15 years old, working during school holidays in the Maviyane Project.
These were the days before computers in the office and we did all the artwork by hand. I mean, totally by hand. We traced letters to make layouts and stuck things down with hot wax. We calculated the size of type that would work for a book using a formula and then sent that to the typesetters who sent us back rolls of text on photographic paper. If it wasn’t right the whole process had to be done again, causing delays, among other things. Attention to detail meant a lot more than it does now- it could end a project, or worse still a job.
We carried all of that exerience to the computer age, thankfully.
It was a wonderful trip down memory lane. I might take one of their courses next time.
There were many children online for the live reading, which was followed by a discussion about the book Astro Girl. Many more will watch the recording of the event on the San Francisco Public Library YouTube page. All in all, it’s been a good few months for the book. It was also featured in the South African Festival of Children’s Literature and the insights section of Communication Arts Magazine.
If it were any other time, I would still be recovering from jet lag, but the pandemic meant harnessing the power of the internet.
I had the pleasure of working with poet and author Valerie Bloom on an anthology of poems for children called Stars With Flaming Tails. It was the first time I have illustrated poetry, and hopefully not the last.
A while back during a literary event we had talked about possibly working together, but either of us knew how exactly that might happen… the catalyst turned out to be our common publisher, Janetta Otter-Barry.
I worked in black and white digital paint, another first, and together with the team – Valerie Bloom, Ariana Osti (designer) and Janetta Otter-Barry (publisher and editor)- we’ve created a very powerful, meaningful book.
Early in 2020, Scoop Magazine asked if was interested in illustrating some stories in a comic strip style. I have secretly wanted to do something like this for quite some time so jumped at the chance. Furthermore, the strips were to be activist or historical, which is a space that I follow regularly. In fact, many of my books are inspired by some sort of activism.
A couple of stories has become one per issue. Almost every assignment is different from book illustration in the best possible way, of course. Each story is slightly better than the last, I feel. I sketch them in pencil and finish digitally.
I am looking forward to finding a digital style. That medium requires a slightly different way of thinking to paint and canvas. I chose to use a tablet, which meant taking a chance and buying one. So it’s more expensive than working traditionally and more time-consuming learning how to make the digital tools do what you want.
The overall effect is that it feels like being a fresh new illustrator who is risking a lot to make this work. When there is a lot at stake it can be easier to focus and stay focused, which is a good thing. Still caught up in the excitement of each project I can see a bigger picture… a graphic novel one day, perhaps, or some other grand project involving telling a story frame by frame.
The work hasn’t gone unnoticed. One of the assignments was to tell the story of John Blanke, an African in King Henry’s court. It has led to a commission for the John Blanke Project. So on some level, the results are exactly as hoped. And it seems like Scoop readers are enjoying the stories too. Working with a team of people that have the same goal is always a pleasure ad they have been patiently supporting and fine- tuning each story. Long may it continue
Astro Girl has just won an award- a science award. While I have been fairly consistent through the years I haven’t won many awards. That isn’t my aim, so perhaps that’s why it has turned out that way. It always seemed way too obscure to come up with an award-winning idea. Sometimes just seeing a book in a shop window feels like an award, or seeing a child’s face light up as they hear or read the story feels like a victory.
I had a strong feeling that Astro Girl’s story would resonate with families, gender politics, aspiration, and race in a very natural way. We all have dreams. But exploring the WHY and the HOW behind those dreams was a revelation! The vision for the story opened up and I remember being very excited. All this thinking took time, of course, and I wonder if there will ever be that much time available again. There is a reason why a book should take as long as possible to complete…
There are many wonderful books for children and families out there. They inspire us to be better if we allow them to. So what not be inspired?
Astro Girl is a winner, just like its readers and the real people that inspired it.