It's always good to celebrate when something nice happens. Heaven knows there is enough rejection in the world to deal with. So I am happy to tell you that 'Why Am I Here?' won the children's section 1st place in the Eric Hoffer Independent Book Award 2011. . Well done to Matthew Kelly and all at Beacon Publishing.

I took 'im indoors out for a slap-up meal and had a glass of bubbly. And then I got back to work on 'Hidden New Jersey'.

I have a lovely librarian (Holly) and I made up a 'Max Pack' from 'Why Am I Here' and gave it to her son, Briar. Here he is with Max ... apparently he won't even let Mom cut off the hang tag ... how sweet is that! Thanks for letting me post this photo Holly :-).

I am THREE spreads away from finishing the New Jersey book, and I have them printed out and on my wall so I can see the progression. On the whole I am pleased with them. Like most artists and illustrators I get disatisfied with the finished article, as it never matches what I set out to do. But I think these are fun, and educational and can't wait to see the finished book.
Here's another taster ....

That's it from my corner of the illustration world... more soon!
aka The Wacky Brit

Max Winners and NESCBWI Conference ...

First ... and the winners are - Jessi, Candace and Michelle Henniger ... please send me your mailing address to my email

and I will get the Max Pack to you!

Thanks to all who entered, I'll be giving away a few more packs in another post, SO CHECK BACK SOON!

Great news for Max and 'Why Am I Here?' this week - the book is shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Independent Book Award 2011.

 Winners will be announced on May 26th I am told. So that's exciting! Nothing like an award ....

Last weekend I tootled off to the New England SCBWI conference in Fitchburg MA. I travelled down with Russ Cox (

) fellow illustrator in the next town to me and I think we talked non-stop for the 4 hour journey there and back .... and then I probably didn't stop talking all weekend. No surprise there.

Great conference ... I did Fri and Sat only (trying to save a few $$ - I have attended a lot of conferences this year.) It was the 25th Silver Anniversary bash so all the top SCBWI folks attended and we had a blast. As usual great info and inspirational talks. To say nothing of the after schmooze in the bar. Got some time chatting to Tomie de Paolo and isn't he just the nicest man? One thing meeting some of the big names in the industry brings home is: on the inside you are all struggling with the same issues, insecurities and aspirations. Just at different levels :-)

There was also a VERY exclusive 'High Tea Party' (tea for two) with myself and Mr Harold Underdown partaking. At a previous meetup in NV we discovered a shared gluttony for clotted cream ... so Mr. U brought the (dark chocolate) scones and I the cream and jam and we had ourselves a little feast, much to the amusement of onlookers. Not sure if dark chocolate scones is totally traditional, but YUMEEEE. We DID portion up what was left and hand out to the the registration volunteers. I just want to say now, there was no IPA involved.

My poster entry (Charlotte's Web) did not garner any prizes, but that's ok. It got lots of admirers and went over well. The high standard was good to see this year. The winner (Melinda Beaver's Aesops Fable) was truely beautiful).

Good breakout sessions - particularly Robert Squier and Andy J Smith (who I insist on calling Andy Lewis - well I am easily confused!) and their crit group - this is the kind of stuff we want at conferences.

Also great to reconnect with Jim Hill, Jaramy Connors, Katia Wish, Betsy Devany Mcleoud, Kirsten Cappy and Mona Pease and everyone else YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

I didn't take any photos and many others have had to be destroyed due to their incriminating nature. Oh dear.

MEANWHILE on the drawing board (and /or wacom) I am still working on 'Hidden New Jersey' ... nearly half way through the finals ... huzzah. I think there is a point in every book where you think, will I ever get through this? I am about there now. So it is taking up most of the work day ... here's a sample spread ...

Hoping to reveal the chapter book series I am working on next week with Kane and Miller as soon as their catalogue is out .. so stay tuned.

The school project I have been working on with 4th graders in Maine is almost completed. We have a dummy book! Here's a picture of the kids and a couple of sample pages ... the whole book will be available to purchase on Well done Corinna 4th Grade! There I am in the centre looking exceptionally jolly.

That's it for this week.

Happy Spring Planting from Maine



aka The Wacky Brit.

On the Bedside Table

Many books by Stephen Gammell

Win a Max Pack!

This week I got a lovely package in the post - a whole heap of goodies that accompany the children's motivational book 'Why Am I Here?'. I illustrated and did the layout for the book in 2009 for Simon and Schuster bestselling author Matthew Kelly.

Author of several NY Times bestselling motivational books for adults and top class motivational speaker, this is Matthew's first book for children, published by his own publishing company: Beacon Publishing. Matthew is head of a phenomenal organization and the book itself has sold thousands already. To go along with the book his foundation has developed a whole teaching pack, including dolls, lesson plans, posters ... and I worked on the design  and layout of everything you see in the photo ... including the packing boxes and hang tags on Max the doll. It was great fun, and even more fun to see it all together like this ... I feel quite proud!

So here's how you can win a goodie bag ... please be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post and you will be in the draw to win one of three packs including the book. Max the doll, pencils, badge, fridge magnet and a couple of other goodies! Good luck.

Other goings on in the life of The Wacky Brit ... next weekend on my way to the NE SCBWI conference in Fitchburg. Going to be entering the poster showcase again (last year I won 2 places, I am not expecting to replicate that though!). Here's my entry (this year we had to recreate a landmark children's book cover)
If your going, come say hello :-)

Meanwhile, working my way through the finals for the 'Hidden New Jersey' book for Charlesbridge Publishing. I love it when I get to the colouring stage, that's the most fun. The deadline is mid June so It's coming up shortly.

And in between I am putting together the school project for the local elementary school 4th grade that they have illustrated and written (it's about The Seasons in Maine).

So - heck it's been busy. Trying to stick to a good routine of bed early and up early. A bit like being a long distance runner .. pacing oneself.

Right I'm off - hope you will enter the competition!

aka The Wacky Brit

Lot's of book on the bedside table ... too many to mention right now.