Unexpected item in the bagging area...

Back in January I sat with Sarah Finan in the Cambridge Library looking at Fogras proofs, the last check before sending files to the printers. By mid march, wit the Bologna Children's Book fair round the corner, I knew that Umbrella had gone to press some time ago and I knew that at some point my advance copy would arrive. It's the sort of knowledge that you can place carefully on a shelf and forget, in fact it's best to forget about it so not every envelope that comest through the letterbox becomes an instant disappointment.

I love old out of print picture books books from last century and I spend too much time looking for them online and in market stalls. I still managed to look at the brown envelope on the floor on March 26 and think "Did I buy something online? What is this?" I was slightly annoyed, why do I keep forgetting stuff? And while unravelling all that paper, the realisation came to me that this was wrapped because it was special: that this was actually my book, yes, MY book!!!! And as if nothing, 4+ years in the making, in may kitchen Umbrella poped out of all it's paper wrappings into my hands in all it's magic 3D-realness! And it was glorious!

When I had stoped jumping, my son Oli (14) took this photo and I was so completely delighted! I'm not sure I'm ever going to overcome the delight of holding a book of mine in physical form. This has not been the first one, but my goodness, Scallywag had done such a brilliant job with the book-object itself!

The next day I was going to go to my first session of parents book club at UCPS, and because my friend Tonka was going to be there, I brought the book along to show her.  Before the session began there were lots and lots of beautiful picture books and chapter books to browse. My intention was only to show Tonka discreetly before everyone arrived, but then she showed it to Aimee Durning who is learning coach, reading for pleasure lead and (in not just my view) heart of our school and she asked me if I would read it to the book club to start the session, as they always start with a reading.... So right there and then, less than 24 hours since receiving my copy of the book I was having my first ever public reading. Eeeeek! The words felt like boulders in my mouth but everyone there was so supportive and attentive and got me through the reading somehow. Afterwards pictures were taken and the Umbrella was tweeted about by the head teacher and so, the afternoon went from "I'll just quickly show it to Tonka" to the book being put out there for everyone to see. 

I am glad it all happened there as I could not have wished for a more supportive outing.   

This outing would lead to an invitation to return to the school as a visiting author for empathy day, and thus the start of the book taking me places rather than the other way around. 

I'm holding on to the edges, and hoping it's going to be along ride!

Ma Children's Book Illustration show 2019

I had a bit of time to kill yesterday morning and sat in the waiting room of the station and, for a change, got my sketchbook out and drew the other occupier of the room, a man in a puffy jacket thumbing his mobile and occasionally tapping away in his laptop.  Easy prey for an illustrator, sedentary and still. Or it should have been, had I been drawing with the constant discipline of the first module of the course. But it had been a while. Not that this should make me feel properly inadequate, considering that the train would be taking me to London to the Cambridge School of Arts Masters in Children’s Book Illustration show. Rusty old me was going to go and feel the pressure of the upcoming graduates, and the relief that I have already persuaded a few clients that I can draw and write before all this lot made me feel like an amateur. They also made me feel incredibly proud of our course, which continues to nurture and develop exceptional qualities now with Shelly Jackson at the helm, and excited about our expanding alumni community.

Al Rodin

It is no surprise that the cohort selected Al Rodin for the cover of their catalogue and it is the first display that greets you as you come in. I spent a while there. Al is a great storey teller with a striking and unique visual language. I could see in the effortless read of his books that story is in the driving seat of a very unique looking vehicle. In Ned Ronaldo Nubowski we follow the ball kicked by the lead character, who is a very keen footballer with appalling aim, over the wall, into crazier and crazier settings  which reminded me a little bit of Sempe’s Nicholas. Little Echo, has to overcome her natural shyness in order to save her new friend from a bear. In Lia and Lion, the girl and the lion of the title set out in search for a pet. Upon finding each other and deciding that neither is willing to be the other’s pet they agree to take a couple of beetles as such. An ending that invites the question: why would the beetles then agree to be pets?

Rosie Haine

Another book which looks at human’s place within the animal family is Rosie Haine’s Hooves and Hands. Here, Rosie juxtaposes the human and the equine in amusing and surreal ways. I love the fluidity of her brushwork and her sense of fun in It isn’t rude to be nude, and We are human animals.

  Also commenting on people and the natural, I really loved Lindy Norton’s, The visitor and The man who planted trees. Lindy has a good eye for composition and uses space very effectively in her storytelling.

Bethan Stevens

Bethan Steven’s  Home was a real treat in which a new neighbour is welcome by the inhabitants of No 100 to her new home in a block of flats. Her search for those of No 100 allows her to connect with the other children in the building while they go up and up the stairs in search for the friendly neighbour at no 100.


 Dong is great storyteller who tackles the theme of prejudice in her book Wonderland, where friend characters are fooled into booking a holiday in the island of Monsterland. The heroes are stranded there and have an eventful encounter with the monster inhabitants, who get spooked by them and quickly retreat, leaving behind a baby monster in the confusion. The heroes chase after to return the baby all the way up a volcano where mud renders all creatures indistinguishable. A timely story about the sameness in others.

Adam Beer

Islands are a common thread this year, perhaps signifying a more open political engagement, or perhaps a subconscious response to sadly isolationist trends of our time. One of my favourite this years is Solo by Adam Beer, where an adorable dog used to his own company has to learn to share his island and his treasures with some visiting dogs. They embrace him and they become a little gang, but they were only visiting and is sad to see them return to their boat. Adam revisited this theme in Monster Tea Party but where as in Solo, there is a tinge of loneliness at the end, in Monsters Tea Party allows us to see the delight it is to recover our spaces for ourselves. Friends are missed when not there, but can be a bit too much when they are.
Virginia Coyne

A great evolution in this cohort is the increased presence of characters from diverse ethnic backgrounds such as Virginia Coyne’s version of the wonderful Wizard of Oz, Julia Miranda in Flora and Flo Forever and Rosie Haines Hooves or Hands, amongst others, not just as sidekicks but as lead characters present on the covers.

Megan Hobby-Kauffman
Megan Hobby-Kauffman tackles a more openly philosophical questions. In How does the world work after introducing us to a series of fantastical creatures such as the moon hoisters, Tip and Tindle lead its deep into the heart of the world where we find that what makes our world work is kindness.

Meria Palin
Politically engaged Meria Palin’s The fox and the sea follows several generations of a fox family’s visit to the seaside to show the impact that plastic pollution has in the life in the sea. We all want to chip in and help the clouds and the foxes remove the plastic from the oceans and return them to a pristine and life giving condition.

Chihiro Inoue

I also saw in the show more classical children’s book material, such as the counting book Big harvest by Ching Yang.  Chihiro Inoue’s The Twin dogs is a tale of sibling rivalry.  Twin dogs are constantly bickering about which of them is the oldest plot to get rid of the new arrival that has taken the attention of their loving grown ups. Chihiro also has an innovative take on the ABC alphabet book where she combines three concepts per letter (except for x…) I laughed out loud at “egg’s emergency escape.” Belonging and accepting ourselves as we are appear in several books: My name is treasure by Phoebe Lien. Here work is delicate and detailed, and follows a girl coming to terms with something that makes her face different, as does Yessica Beten’s book about wearing glasses because of a squint.

Sophie Burrows
There were several artists developing comics. It is nice to see diverse approach to the possible outcomes that can be nurtured in this Masters Degree as not all dummies in the show are targeted at small children nor limited to picture books. I particularly enjoyed Sophie Burrows “Crushin” a comic depicting the feelings of single inadequacy felt by a girl as she climbs down from her bench in the park and is faced with multiple scenes of a society designed for paired  people. Clearly for an older audience it is really enjoyable as it is “Get me a snickers” a collection of short comics that made me laugh out loud. Sophie has great timing and plays with expectations as a true comedic talent. 

Laura Chamberlain

Two books I loved that had older characters, in Laura Chamberlain's Malo and his lighthouse, Malo is an old man content to live through the seasons with his cat in a remote lighthouse which he lovingly maintains. When hit by a particularly bad storm his solitude becomes a bit harder to bare, but with the arrival of good weather and the postman he gets to find out that people did care about him and his lighthouse. 

Jo Berry

Jo Berry’s sensitive take on The Gardeners where an old couple tend to their precious garden until it’s time for them to go, and their garden overflows and becomes a beautiful natural landscape that takes over the spread in a feast of greens. 

Artists develop finals at differing rates. Some will produce open storytelling with an economy of line, others will create sumptuous worlds where the fabric of the compositions will make us stop and take note of the details.

Aoife Greenham

Aoife Greenham has made such a rich visual experience in her book Big Dance. Finding your own way in life to do things is a process and within this Aoife has given us a beautifully inclusive line: “The big dance is big enough for all our different dances… and that’s just the way it is. “ Aoife also has some impressive collaged mono prints.

Precisely rendered and carefully researched  in A beautifulday like any other day by Chiu-hsuan Haung, a child finds in her garden a living world of imagination helping her to cope with uncertainty.

Trish Phillips

Trish Phillips had an impressive pop up anthology called I am not a dot, her display also featuring a tablet.

Tom Zaino
Tom Zaino

I loved the humour in Tom Zaino’s The Duck and the Hare.
How can you not love the duck’s naivety in counterpoint to the hare? One of the great delights of visiting the graduation show is that you get to read dummies that contain a lot of rough drawings which sometimes contain a freshness in expression quite hard to reproduce in finals.

And Gorilla and Banana from Wang Ning where the two characters keep missing each other although they are destined to be together and change the colour of their town. I forgot to take a picture of it, but alas I am the happy owner of a risograph print of it.

Kate Winter

Kate Winter’s Lascaux on the discovery of the caves with prehistoric art, treating a non fiction subject with wonder and skill.

I have given a flavour of what I saw on Tuesday. I did not get to read all dummies or browse through all sketchbooks, that would have taken me days.  Also some dummies where unavailable because they were at meetings which is fantastic at this stage for a few of the graduates. Some of those meetings may result in offers. For the vast majority of graduates this show is, however, the beginning of the process of putting their work out there looking for a publishing home. I was delighted to meet my publisher, Sarah Pakenham, on the last hour of my visit. I feel quite at home in Scallywag, a feeling a wish upon all CSA graduates, wherever, whenever and however your books are published.    

Back in 2013 I felt I had arrived at the wrong platform on my graduation show and although I hoped that one publisher would one day "take me", I never thought it was inevitable. Hindsight and the vast range of experiences of my year group has allowed me to see more clearly that books take all sorts of paths into publishing and the shape of our careers are as unique as our work and interests.

Graduates, you have made it to the station which means you have moved way, way, oh way beyond anybody who ever tells you at a dinner party how they have a perfect book idea. It is through your craft and months of dedication that you have developed blobby ideas into viable book forms. Anybody that walked into your show would have seen a demonstration of your ability to do this. You have arrived together with your graduation year into a moment of celebration. After this week you each depart into your different platforms and you will ride your different trains that will depart at different times. It is a lonely profession but don't forget that we have one another.

Enjoy this moment, and enjoy the ride, and see you at Bologna!

MA Degree Show 2017

There is a very nervous group of people making their way to London tonight. I may add that it’s a very talented group who have just finished their Master’s Degree in Children’s Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art. 

Their degree show is at Candid Arts House off Angel tube station from Feb 7th to Saturday 11th, but tonight is the private view, where most of British children’s commissioning editors and publishers get to explore the exhibition, and meet their potential collaborators. I may be biased as a graduate of Cambridge School of Art (CSA), but there is a buzz surrounding the output of this centre of excellence, as alumni and students excel in international and UK illustration awards and have a great catalogue of published books worldwide.

This exhibition shows the work of master of illustration students with a surplus of ambitions and talents. From superb craftsmanship, character development, eloquent drawing there is work here by great storytellers and by some great writers, and sometimes those are in the same book.  Of course not everybody writes all their books, so there was a great offering of retold classics such as The Jungle Book by Sally Walker.

Sally Walker

 With CSA’s access to a print room, it is no surprise that this course attracts illustrators who are interested in exploring print media, such as Beatriz Lostale, who's understanding of the medium of screen printing is evident in her Greek hero’s collection; or Chie Hosaka, and her maze like animal adventure screen prints.

Beatriz Lostalé

In a change from previous editions, this year’s exhibition is in two floors, allowing plenty of room for each student to display. I only had a few hours and had planned to do an overall scan before reading anything, but my plans were thwarted early on as I became captured by dummies here and there. For the uninitiated a dummy is the trade name for a book prototype. The opportunity to read work at dummy stage of development is one that I always take. As a practitioner, it excites me to see processes and innovation in books. I indulge in reading this version of a book. Before it is taken by a publisher, it has a very distinct vision, undiluted by the considerations of marketing departments, so books here exist in a form that will not exist in the bookshops. Mostly.  

The spectrum of work on display ranges from sketchbooks, portfolios,  conceptual dummies to quite accomplished “almost finished” offerings such as a biography of Ada Lovelace, with a very defined and coherent aesthetic by Anna Doherty.
Puck Koper, who’s work is on the cover of the exhibition catalogue,  is one of the first displays of the exhibition. Her work just beckons. She has a simple and efficient use of line, a minimalist approach to colour, and an instinct for fun. Her story follows a mother looking for one of her daughters, who she has lost in the department store. A relatable plot and delight in observational detail. The “lost” theme is one recurring in other student’s work. But this is hardly surprising as it is such a common occurrence in childhood and something so relatable. 
Patricia Uresti

Besides common threads in the stories, there were lively probes into book forms: there were several concertinas and comics.  Tommy Fry’s Wormhole followed a parallel story from and alien and earth children, the stories are connected by having two covers; Patricia Uresti’s Are you sure it is this way? was a delightful board book that plays with the binding and direction of the reveal; and completely unbound “book” such as Letters which made me yearn for the time to unravel it slowly.  Alina Kasparyants book Who and Why explores alternative narrative combinations by rotating segments. 

Rachel Stubbs

There were also innovations on the ABC type books such as Rachel Stubbs A big day out, which has delightfully fresh and detailed drawings; Ali Roberts who’s understanding on pattern and experience with children has produced the beautiful ABC Come dance with me; and a brilliantly detailed and composed offering by Shih-Yu Lin in The Shops Alphabet

Jessica Meserve

Form apart, I found myself laughing out loud with Ronghao Li’s Story of little Squirrels teeth and Niveditha Subramanian Don’t let the monkey drink your milk.  There was delightful observation and space in Jessica Meserve’s book  Time for Tea where toys wait for the children to come and play with them. In  Animals can animals do  Jessica uses counterpoint very effectively: Professor Know-it-all (I wonder who inspired this name?) stops looking at what is in plain sight, the story develops around him as he guides the children around a zoo, making pronouncements about what animals can or can’t do. I bet children are going to be delighted in pointing out how wrong he is! Jessica’s output is generous, eloquent and hilarious. I spent a happy while looking at her work. 

Roxana de Rond

Roxana de Rond’s Monty and Mortimer follows a dog (Mortimer) that feels out of place amongst the boisterous family he has been adopted into, then finds a kindred spirit in the quiet and reserved boy cousin. I saw it as a very tender way to explaining  how children with ASD may not join in in the same way as other children,  and how this does not mean not being participant or not caring. There is such lightness in her approach that it could be good for anyone who feels like an outsider. It ticked all my boxes. 

Old age featured in several books. Elina Ellis offers a very refreshing look at this group who ware routinely portrayed as vulnerable and past all fun. It had the same subversive charm on this subject as Dimange. The father and child relationship and how it changes as time goes by was beautifully treated by Kate Young in Fish Dada and Ellen Vesters in a very minimalist book reminiscent of Mon Tout Petit by Germano Zullo and Albertine.
 Some of the student’s voices are  already sharp and non equivocal, some are still close to their illustration heroes, but I’m sure that time and work will drive the outcomes into more distinct areas. I look forward to seeing their  voices evolve in the following years. There was a great homage to Eric Carle in Jacqueline Rayner’s The most hungry maggot.
Jo Loring Fisher
Kate Milner

The political always finds its way into the exhibition and I was blow away last year by Kate Miner’s  My name is not Refugee which went on to win the VA Illustration award 2016.  It is no surprise that content mirrors the world as it is, and I’m delighted with the engagement of students, and the freedom and space their tutors give them to explore and develop such subjects.  Just like you by Jo Loring-Fisher reads as a reinforcement of empathy, page after page and it’s only at the end that the conditions surrounding the child in who we have come to see ourselves is revealed. A picture book where text and images really complement each other. 

Ana Gordillo’s Refugiada follows a girl from her comfortable home, in a journey of danger and fear. Her angle on this story is concerned with the loss of a whole community which is the extended sphere of the child,  not an unnamed crowd, but named characters of her daily life, escaping with their families (the man that gave her free oranges in the market, the boy that picked his nose). It is heartbreaking.

Rose Robbins

Rose Robbins combines great storytelling with an important message about our relationship with objects in Elena’s Shells: The purpose collecting is sharing. This work echoed with another environmental concern in Phoebe Swan’s King story of a character who could afford to replace any possession but for his teddy, a book that invites us to not throw away, but to mend. And skipping the material altogether, Lucy Morris  tackles the visual representation of a non visual experience, in this case sweet music that flows from a window in a street, touching several characters that come to be surrounded and changed by it.  
Yeseul Cho

Yeseul Cho

The artist that captured me most was Yeseul Cho. The sheer ambition of her concertina: A Chronology of the Universe, again portraying visually the non visual had such force! Consistently through her work she is a master of shapes and composition. 

Her bold use of the page is just fantastic. Her Sisters of the Revolution is a book I want to buy NOW, and if I did not have time to go slowly over many other great at Candid Arts its because I was glued to her sketchbooks. 

All students have accomplished great things and time spent looking around their exhibition was well worth while. Ahead of them come big challenges: continuing to work and to believe in their stories unassisted and unprompted by the academic environment;  pursuing their voices and methods and their commitment detached from the groups where they have evolved ;  and finding their places in and out of the the publishing world. 

I wish them all best of luck! 

Bologna Children's Book Fair 2016

 Not all fairs are the same.
The first one of course is an unforgettable experience, a terrifying yet delightful epiphany. The ones that follow allow us to reconnect with the wonderful people we meet; to gradually find our place, to see where and with whom our work belongs, because the one certain thing about books is that there is room for all kinds of work within them, as all kinds of people make them. 

I would have thought that 2014, the year I was first published and had my book on the shelves at Donzelli would be unsurpassable, but it's going to take something quite grand to top 2016. This year had something very new and very special. It had an actual purpose, a social dimension, that perhaps has been there all along but it took a set of coincidences, forgetfulness and connections to see it.

While having a gelato on Wednesday, where Hall 25 meets 26, I ambled  a bit and came across the IBBY Italy stand.  I saw little print out request for book donations. 

Idomeni is a small greek village near to border with Macedonia. Thousands of people are ending up in Idomeni in their journey to northern europe. But there is hardly anything there and more and more people arrive in the hope that the border will  be open.  The situation is desperate. I have often felt impotent and small and irrelevant on the face of such suffering. Refugee camps are better than death in the conflict zones, but they are still horrible places. 

Here was the opportunity to actually do something for the refugees.  I asked the person there what sort of books they where looking for and she said, "Any books." Their stand looked a bit bare. So when I finished my ice cream I walk over and asked Carmine (my italian publisher) if we could donate one of mine, and he agreed and handed me the book. I put it in my bag and then I had a meeting to rush to and, as it often happens in this place of so many possibilities, I forgot about it.

Later, much later, in the early swine bar hours of the next day I was chatting to someone, who I had just met during this fair. He was telling me how sometimes books are just given away or left at the end of the fair. And then that really important thing that had slipped my mind returned. So later that morning, on the taxi I had my book to donate and the knowledge that there would probably be a lot of books being left or given away which would not find their way to IBBY unaided.  But sharing the taxi, was one of my favourite partners in crime, my  dear friend and picture book genius, Steve Antony,  so by the time we got to the fair we had a plan: the two of us would go -with our natural cheek and enthusiasm- and ask publishers for donations and collect as many books as we could and take them to IBBY ourselves.

It was incredibly exciting. Steve and I went on a spree around halls 25  and 26 looking for donations and personally taking them to IBBY, it was a race against time as most stands go an a furious pack on thursdays getting things ready for their stands to be shipped back to their countries, and we also had to go back to Bologna to get our bags to catch our plane back home!

We started collecting a few here and there, stacking them in our arms, and then going back to Ibby.

As I mentioned before,  books are made by all kinds of people, and not surprisingly their generosity and imagination varies a great deal. Soon our wonderful publishes would make it necessary to have a trolley.

All donations, we really appreciated, but above and beyond our expectations Child's Play, Little Tigger Group, Parragon and Hachette (who lent us their red trolley) all donated boxes of books.  We don't know how many books were in the boxes but they sure were heavy!

Flying Eye Books  donated lots of beautiful books that they could have very easily sold there, as did Adrian from Nosy Crow

Klaus Fluge from Anderson Press personally chose the titles which would most help with learning to read, giving us more and more.  

We didn't need to ask Greet from Book Island, she was already donating at Ibby her wonderful Azizi and the little Blue Bird.

We met Marcella Terrusi , who is coordinating this project for IBBY Italia, towards the end of our collecting spree.  She asked us to focus our search on more wordless books (unfortunately not widely published in Britain) and beautiful books.                                                                                                                                                                         

She particularly was after Shaun Tan's The Arrival, which sadly we could not find for her on that day. You can see how his wonderful wordless book by Shaun Tan about finding new life as a migrant and reuniting with family at the end would be incredibly helpful to children experiencing the hardships of that journey. 

We then concentrated a bit more on the italian publishers, who already knew about the collection and were very keen to pick up their best books for their donation. 

Lots of publishers donated books, and I feel so proud to be part of a caring and giving industry.   Thank you all! 

You can follow the journey of the books here. (link coming soon) You can learn more about IBBY's work with children in crisis here.

For the children at Idomeni to experience beautiful books, what ever the future holds for them, to have that time inside those pages to know themselves valued, strong, intelligent, imaginative, to be able to experience the alternatives to reality that exist within all books,  to have played a small part in this project, that is going to be very hard to top.

Bologna Book Fair 2015

Ah... The Big Buzz:  The delight that is the Bologna Children's book fair:  The terrifying scale, the familiar faces, the happy reunions, the chance encounters, the enormous opportunity, and of course the ice cream!

It never seizes to make me feel alive and part of something wide and wonderful, a place of recharging creative batteries, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, reseting of goals.

This year I brought a new project, a silent book, to the fair. I was fortunate to get feedback from some of the best publishers in the world, who's view on any potential book is instant and comes from a deep understanding on the industry and a great love for their lists.  I know this is a digital age, but for me nothing can take the place of a face to face conversation about a project. Information is exchanged verbally and non verbally. The reactions upon page turning, the hesitations when something isn't clear, all those minor deep breaths and pauses feed into my understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in my work. I'm grateful for every opportunity.  After much feedback I believe that I have made a book conceptually well received but which needs a little more" baking". You get as many different opinions as people you show your book to.  But trends emerge nonetheless and I have a better map to get to wherever we're going together, this book and I.

One spread from my new book "umbrella"  turned it into fliers. 

The months of writing and illustrating and the 4 days of the fair couldn't be more different. The introspection and space needed to create something can give that something a very skewed look. But I'm fortunate to come from a very supportive community, where feedback is exchanged and work championed and celebrated in it's uniqueness. Our camaraderie is nurtured and shared from Cambridge School of Art(CSA), throughout the year on line and in real actual meetings. Some of us have made life long friendships in the course, and the fair offers the opportunity of spending quality time with the ones that come (Steve! Suzanne! Catalina!), while missing the ones that this year couldn't (Yes you there, I missed you!)

Even after we have graduated a long time ago, and our dummies are no longer at the stand, seeing the CSA new output of work is a source of great collective pride.   Seeing our tutors at the fair, Pam Smy and Martin Salisbury and Marta Altes, who are brilliant at connecting people together, always gives me great pleasure. As is meeting new people thorough them.  A highlight this year was meeting Dave Barrow a new graduate who will be published next year by Gecko Press and Fernando Perez Hernando who's book Conducir es fácil was shown to us on our first week at university. In the vast isles I also met author Vivian French and Nikky Gamble from Just Imagine. I'm looking forward to catching up soon!

Outside of the fair I had an awesome evening with Steve Antony, Linda Owen-Lloyd and Marcia Williams. And it was great to re connect with Sun from Some Books, whose work always opens my mind into something real and important and very different approach to bookmaking to anything else at the fair.  Meeting Peter H. Reynolds as we sat together on the plane back to London was an amazing end to another year of adventures in picture-book-making at the fair!

Here are some highlights of the exhibition.  As soon as I get hold of a copy of the catalogue I'll credit them:

Adolfo Serra

And my top favourite was this little detail:

I am delighted for Maisy Paradise Shearing form CSA who was selected as the overall winner of the illustration competition. She has done all of us so proud and I sure I'm looking forward to purchasing her book next year!

 I've returned all beans and enthusiasm for the load of work ahead. Let's see how much changes next year and what else stays the same.