Looking back at 2018 ... and forward to 2019

Toby with medal.jpg
Cover How Do Fairies Have Fun In The Sun.jpg
Farmers Market Surprise.jpg
Borrowing Bunnies Image.jpg

Last year went by so fast! Much of the time was spent settling into our new home here on the coast of Maine. I have a brand new studio converted from the space above the garage and in between wielding paintbrushes and screwdrivers I’ve been busy with book deadlines. So the months passed by too quickly and here it is, 2019 already. It’s amazing to have a purpose built studio (just big enough for me) and even better to be able to walk to work after years of working inside my house (even if that’s only 20 paces!). The poodles love the new studio and Toby can’t wait to run out and up the stairs in the mornings. You can see the whole process here. … Studio Photo Album.

2018 began very nicely indeed with ‘TOBY receiving the Dog Writers Association of America’s MAXWELL medal for best children’s book 2017. I traveled to New York to receive Toby’s medal at the awards night which was held at The New Yorker Hotel. Alas Toby is still much too fearful to attend. He stayed home and kept Lucy company. He would have been in good company, because it was the Westchester Dog Show and the hotel was full of pimped pups. Toby is very proud of his medal! Find out more about DWAA here … https://dogwriters.org/

In late winter I escaped the cold Maine winter in exchange for the spring of Scotland and England. I took part in what I can only describe as a children’s lit. pilgrimage. Organized by Kindling Words West, which is a retreat group for published children’s writers and illustrators. (Check out their website at https://kindlingwords.org/). We journeyed from North to South (and back again). Some of the stops included CS Lewis’ house, Oxford - for our share of Pullman and Rowling sites, Beatrix Potter’s houses in the Lake District (both of them!), The Children of Green Knowe house and Lucy Boston’s home, the Wind in the Willows museum … and much, much more! Incredible! Finishing the whole shebang with a week in a (haunted) Scottish Castle for R&R and writing time. A fantastic trip by KWW. I came back inspired and ready to work. See full album here … UK KWW 2018.

In mid summer the third in the series of Fairy books illustrated by me, ‘How Do Fairies Have Fun In The Sun?’ written by Liza Gardner Walsh, was published by Maine’s Down East Books. It’s a sweet book full of encouragement to children to get out and about in nature. More details here … Summer Fairies.

Even more good news for fairies! The fourth and final installment is underway on my drawing board and will be published in Fall 2019. You will have to wait for more details, but it’s sure to be loved by fairy fans old, young and everywhere.

Also in the summer ‘Farmers Market Surprise’, a count and seek book, (written and illustrated by me), was published by Kane Miller books. It’s a sweet story about an aardvark and a kangaroo who love to go to their local farmers market and shop organically and sustainably. I had much fun illustrating this one. More details here …. Farmers Market Surprise.

I’ve been out and about at book stores and festivals this year, certainly one of the highlights was taking part in the wonderful ‘WORD’ literary festival in Blue Hill, Maine which takes place every October. If you have not encountered this literary feast, take a look at the WORD WEBSITE. Take a trip to this beautiful town in Maine next year - hear amazing speakers and peek at E.B White’s house as you go by! It’s a special event, which was made even more so for me by a great elementary school visit and then a drawing session with talented and enthusiastic children at the beautiful Blue Hill library. Next year I will go as an attendee!

As well as bringing the spring, 2019 sees the publication of a new book from Newbery Honor winner Cynthia Lord - ‘Borrowing Bunnies’ published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Cynthia fosters rabbits and their babies on a regular basis, she is really, REALLY amazing! The book tells the story of two particular bunnies that I was fortunate enough to sketch when they were with Cynthia. Photographer, John Bald, (Cynthia’s husband), supplied the beautiful photographs and I was lucky enough to be asked to do spot illustrations to compliment the words. A must for all bunny lovers and just in time for Valentine’s Day, available on Feb 12 or pre-order online or at your bookstore. More details here … Borrowing Bunnies.

Yes, I am looking forward to spring! But here and now, in the deeps of winter, with the wind blowing up the hill from the sea it’s hard to imagine green things ever growing again. For me it’s time to hunker down in my attic studio and bring the fall fairies to life. I will be out and about in book stores and festivals and schools during 2019 and hope to see you somewhere on the road. Please say hi if you see me. So, stay warm if you’re in a cold region … and cool if you are in the tropics!

Toodles from Pooh-dle Corner!


Cape Elizabeth AuthorFest

It takes a lot of planning to hold a book festival as good as the one I attended this weekend at Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, Maine. The attention to detail made it a great experience for those promoting their books and for readers eager to meet creators and buy books. In the preceding week authors and illustrators visited schools, libraries and other venues, giving presentations and raising awareness for the event. At the Authorfest itself thoughtful table layout, bright table coverings, bobbing balloons and hand drawn name signs gave the hall a lively air. Sixty or so authors and illustrators kept busy all day talking to the public, with plenty of presentations going on to keep the crowds entertained.

Volunteers kept us hydrated with bottles of water and staved off the legendary hunger that comes from selling  books with little snacks in baskets plied by happy kids. After the crowds drifted away the booksellers tackled the mounds of boxes and packages, and we were treated to a wonderful lobster bake! Doesn't get better than that ... ah-yuh.

Thank you for a lovely day, Cape Elizabeth! See you next year!