Friday, February 27, 2009

I won the Triple Mock Columbus Caldecott!

I just got a lovely email from the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio saying that they ran a program with groups of children where they were allowed to pick the book they thought should have got the Caldecott Award from a load of picture books... and apparently "There are Cats in this Book" won three times in a row, which never happened in years before... The children were not happy to hear that it's actually not eligible. They awarded it anyway.
I am seriously considering having a scout badge made to sew on my bag for that.
Thank you kids!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


So... today I will go and pick up a small laptop that someone wants to be rid of, and I'll try and fix it up to be a writing machine for a friend. I'm looking forward to the challenge... it's turning into a hobby, this whole putting-Linux-on-knackered-computers thing. This one doesn't even have a CD drive, so it'll be fun.
It's near the river, so I think I'll take a walk, depending on the weather... Maybe sit on my favourite bench right at the very end of Southwark Park and look out over the river towards Tower Bridge.
Nothing else to say, except that I slept well and that I am making another monkey after all, because I promised someone.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Exhibition! Come and see! It's at the German Gymnasium (Opposite St Pancras Station) in London, 5th to the 9th of this month.
Here's the official website.

It's an an exhibition of art inspired by forgotten words... and it includes a piece by me, which is a) knitted and b) bigger than you'd think and c) comes with a screen-printed limited edition one-page comic that you can buy!
Every participant is illustrating one word that has dropped out of common usage. Mine is "Morsicant", meaning "producing the sensation of repeated biting or pricking". There are more than 40 other good mysterious words, and more art for sale. The proceedings go to the National Literacy Trust.

Night Terrors

Good morning world! I am back in London. Adjusting to the fact that I have run out of friendly Belgians to bring me coffee, I crawled out of bed just before lunch to make my own after the second night in a row of very weird dreams... everyone in the flat has been dreaming weirdly. The night before last, my friend Kris (who was visiting) and I both woke up to find we couldn't move, and we were convinced that we saw shapes floating above out heads... only in my case they formed into a big half-finished sock monkey with threads dangling from it.
Last night, I frightened her by suddenly shouting "What am I doing? But what am I doing?" in the middle of the night - I had half woken up and to my horror my arms were outstretched straight up into the air and I could not work out where I was or even if I was vertical or horizontal myself, or how to get my arms back down. For a while I thought gravity had gone wrong. I was just looking at my hands up there in the air and shouting in fear. Kris said crossly: "Yes, what ARE you doing there???"
I think I was possibly trying to grab that floating sock monkey and finish it.
Today I have shoulder cramps nd I worry I might have slept with my arms sticking straight up into the air for ages before waking up.
Alexis, meanwhile, heard someone walking all through the house, but no on was there.
I don't know what's going on, there must be a new noise in the neighborhood making us dream, it's hard to tell in a noisy town.

Anyway, I'm doing my expense accounts now, and then I'll send off for some "Linux Inside" stickers to stick on all the computers I've fixed up lately. Am looking forward to peeling off the Microsoft ones.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The End Of The Trip


Back at the hotel. I took two of the guys with me, and we're having a beer in the bar. I am looking forward to going home tomorrow – I might go back for another round of workshops in April, if I can come up with a nice way of making something new...
I really enjoyed staying here, and meeting lots of new lovely people.
Oh, and this is what happened to Gregory's Monkey. He had more coffee. Be careful, children. Don't drink too much coffee.


And here is the official web page for the event where you can also download monkey making instructions if you like.

Last day of Monkey Making


We had a family day today, and some people stayed after the workshops and finished their monkeys in the library... these were made by the one of the last families to leave. Wow, eh?


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Surprises, good and bad, all artistic though

Today I went to Antwerpen and saw one of the most beautiful train stations of the world, then I went to a performance by Silvie Moors, which was beautiful, and then to my utter amazement I realised my ticket was also good for a reading of Toon Tellegen - who is one of my favourite authors ever! I couldn't believe it! - It was a reading with jazz ensemble accompaniement, so I bought the CD and had it signed... eeeeeeep! :)
I also went to a bookshop to look for my book, and I found it! The first time I found my own book abroad in a shop!
After that I saw a play I didn't like, which made me so cross that I couldn't think one nice thought until I got back to the hotel. Ooof, I disliked it so much... I really really really get wound up by performances I don't like. I don't know how a play could be so bad that I could forget that I found my own book in a shop in Belgium and that I had a signed CD of Toon Tellegen reading beautiful stories with great Jazz music. I must be a fool.
But now that I am back, I am happy. Comfy bed... and tomorrow it's family day at the exhibition and apparently I'll be making sock monkeys with 90 people. I better get some sleep...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sock Beasts of the Day

Man, I am enjoying these workshops. I didn't have time to photograph the children's monkeys, but other people did, and I might get a chance in tomorrow's workshops, then I'll show and tell.

In the meantime, I made this, from pieces I cut to demonstrate how to do it. It's not a monkey.

And I did not make this one. My colleague Gregory made it. He had lots of coffee. This is what happens, children.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More pictures

Here's some pictures of the Exhibition: "While you are Sleeping" by Alexis at the De Bijloke in Ghent.





A Monkey that An made from the instructions.. she made loads. And some tea.


The opening was lovely an included live concert of lullabies.

This is great!

I just went into the library where I'll be doing monkey-making workshops this week - am not supposed to be here yet, just sheltering from the rain - and it looks great! Lovely tiny tables and baskets full of materials and a great exhibition, all positioned really really low down...




Monday, February 16, 2009

Belgium so far:


- spacious trains
- mayonnaise with chips embedded in it
- everyone speaks English
- hooray!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Back home for a few days

I'm back from my very first lecture! And it went well. The students were very friendly, and although I can't really remember anything I told them (too nervous) I remember I got applause, and a small crowd looking at my books and asking questions in the end, and some people saying it was a good lecture, and thanks for not swearing (I think I did a bit, actually - and gesticulate wildly and I think I danced a little jig at some point... possibly).
I didn't realise that I had to speak in a lip-readable way, meaning standing right at the front and not turning back to check on my slides, but that turned out to be a good thing because otherwise I'd have hidden behind the lectern with a microphone and tried to be invisible.
I wish I'd had more time to chat to students afterwards and give some advice on drawing characters and such, because I kind of just got started, but I had to leave right after lunch...
Now I am worn out from five and a half hours travel (and the same yesterday to get there).
Cornwall was sunny, warm and full of very breathable air, and I got to visit some very friendly horses, budgies and people. All good I think. And it's still a lovely college, is Falmouth.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am still preparing my Very First Lecture. Today I scanned and photographed pages and roughs of the books... I keep remembering more stuff that I would like to show, I think tomorrow will be devoted to editing the whole thing back down again!
I really enjoy looking at these roughs (except sometimes I find some fun thing that got chopped and think awwww, I'd have preferred it that way)

Here's a rough from Timothy and the Strong Pyjamas, showing that I tend to grab whatever paper is to hand when I work things out, and here the Original Bear, from when I was still arguing that it was important that the Bear be a Proper Wild Dangerous Bear.


We changed him into a teddybear eventually so as to not scare the kids, except with claws, the claws were important for the plot. I will, however, put a big proper bear into a book soon, just you wait.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Big Talk

If you are in Cornwall on the 13th of March and want to go to an open forum with lectures (and discussions) by Sara Fanelli, John Vernon Lord and Audrey Niffenegger, why, you can likely still get a ticket! Oh, and I'll be ginving a talk, too!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today's offcuts

bits and bobs and a cat

Excitement Ahead

Whoo hoo! All my train tickets and hotels are booked for the sudden surge of lectures and workshops I'll be doing all over the place in the next weeks. This is very exciting... I better learn how to use whatever the OpenOffice equivalent of Powerpoint is, and quick - I've never given a PowerPoint presentation in my life, but I have a hunch it must be doable.

And here's the illustration I had to get ready last night to go to Bologna... a moment of despair, but also inspiration.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Flyboy and the Wicker Cat

Matthew Robins made a new book!

That is, he is making more than one, by hand. And I am very happy I am getting one, because they are most beautiful. You can get one, too!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snowman Invasion

Here's a quick Flickr search showing the kind of thing going on in my neighborhood today...

My Haul...

...well, part of my haul, from the Alternative Press Fair yesterday. Including a lovely print by Sarah McIntyre, hooray! And the most wonderful little Educational Booklet by Kaye Blegvad - I'd never seen her work before, just picked up this booklet, shouted HOORAY and bought it. Treasured now.

Great Haul

Snow Men

Snow men have appeared all over town, in the middle of pavements, on playgrounds, on cars, on walls.
Very small ones...

Snow Man Set Me Free

very tall ones...

There is Snow God

Alexia and I built a Snow Mole, who drew a small crowd and was much hugged, kissed and photographed.

Snow Mole

I lost that fight.

snow fight

White Silence

Last Night, when I was coming back from town, the dry white flakes that had been blowing through the air like ash all day suddenly started settling.
The world became luminous, the whole sky glowing yellow and red with the city lights.
Then it became very silent.


I slept very well. It's still silent. I might go out. But I am enjoying so much sitting in my room and fo the first time hearing NOTHING. The stream of cars has been cut off. The people have shut up.

None of the cars or people are equipped for this extreme weather... several inches of real powder snow! They are out there, marvelling and shivering.