Something wicked this way comes…

rumpelstiltskin-teaser

This is the teaser image I’ve provided for BalletLORENT, the dance company I was lucky enough to work with on their production of Snow White, who are completing their trilogy gothic fairy tales with Rumpelstiltskin, premiering this October.

On 20th February they are holding a fundraising event for their community cast project, which is all about getting children and older people involved in theatre. Further details and tickets are available here.

The whole production is in its early stages and it’s going to be very exciting to see how it unfolds and what the company do with the story, and the Rumpelstiltskin character… I, for one, cannot wait.

The Princess and the Pea at the theatre

I moved house recently and so this T-Shirt from Atlanta’s ACT1 Theatre group, whose production of ‘Once Upon A Mattress’ last year featured my Princess and the Pea image for their poster and publicity materials, has only just caught up with me in the post.

Thanks so much to the group for sending this over, and for inviting me to be a small part of the production.

Once Upon A Mattress 1

Here’s the original, pre-adapted image –

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Little Red Riding Hood competition entry

This was my entry for the recent Tomie de Paola competition, which runs annually. This year’s task was to illustrate a passage from Philip Pullman’s  retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with a specific focus on how to visualise a very well-known main character in a new or unique way.

Little Red Riding Hood

I wanted a confident Red Riding Hood, boldly stepping out towards the forest, reassuring her mother she’ll be fine. The dark shadow behind the door hints at some of the darkness she’ll encounter later. I aimed for a zig-zag feel to the composition overall, echoing the twists and turns of the path through the woods – and of the story itself. Finally, because red is such a strong and familiar colour in this story, I made my picture black and white, just to be contrary.

What’s really interesting is the wealth of interpretations that were submitted, all of which can be seen in the online competition gallery. So many different ways of presenting a familiar character and situation, it’s fascinating to see where these images cross-over and where they are diverge. The winning entries can be viewed here.

The Railway Museum again

I had a great meet-up last week with my local SCBWI group at the railway museum. It’s always fun to hear what other writers and illustrators are up to and see some of their latest projects. As well as a catch-up we also found time for a look round the museum itself. The place is full of interesting little mechanical bits and pieces. Instead of drawing trains I drew bits of trains and turned them into robots.

lamplighter signalman cranky oddbod

York Literature Festival programme launch

York Literature Festival kicks off in March and the programme launch party was this weekend. I was invited along to do some free-style sketching throughout an evening of poetry and music from a host of local talent. It was a great, varied night, with the poems being performed providing plenty of inspiration for off-the-cuff cartoons. Below are some of my sketches from the evening, you can see my pen progressively running out as the night progressed. Apologies to anyone whose names I’ve spelt wrong (or missed altogether), thank you for sharing your poems!

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Bear and Butterfly

Another trip to the theatre this week, this time to Theatre Hullabaloo, a company that makes, tours and promotes theatre productions for young audiences.

Their latest production, Bear and Butterfly, combines puppetry, live music and beautiful storytelling to tell a charming tale about love, loss and friendship.

It opened last week and tours until Christmas Eve, be sure to catch it. Here’s the poster I designed for them.

Bear and Butterfly

Snow White

A couple of years ago I saw an amazing production of Rapunzel by dance company balletLORENT, at Newcastle’s Northern Stage theatre. I was so inspired I went home and drew these pictures.

So I was hugely excited to learn recently that it was the first part of a proposed trilogy of fairytale adaptations, and that the next one – Snow White – was touring soon. I was even more excited when the company contacted me and asked if I would like to attend a preview performance and do a couple of illustrations for their programme.

With sketchpad and pencils I went along last Friday and was spoilt for choice in terms of arresting images to draw. balletLORENT’s Snow White – in a clever retelling by Carol Ann Duffy – is a powerful, visceral experience that uses a mesmerising mix of music and dance to tap into something primal and highly emotive.

Like Rapunzel before it, it is dark and evocative and not short of the distinctive visual flourishes that made that production so hauntingly memorable. No bumbling, cuddly dwarves here, instead a gaggle of gangly, sharp-edged miners, twisted and bent out of shape through years of toiling in the mines. Beautifully choreographed and performed, I think their scenes were my stand-out moments.

But there was no shortage to choose from – like the wild and seriously monstrous woods, the haunting magic mirror or the ongoing dance between Snow White and her mother, slowly soured by envy. I should also mention the stonking soundtrack by Murray Gold, which, interwoven with Lindsay Duncan’s elegant narration, holds everything together and ensures you can feel the beat of the dance in your very bones. The show opens 16th October and tours through the winter. I strongly urge you to catch it. The programme’s not bad either.

Snow White ballet lorent

Interior Title Page

Snow White Miners ballet lorent

Kids’ Colouring Page

The Nowhere Box at Selby Community Primary School

In my first picture book, The Nowhere Box, George uses a cardboard box to transport him Nowhere to escape his annoying younger brothers. Nowhere soon becomes a cardboard world of adventure and George has a great time until he begins to feel that the very thing he was escaping is the very thing Nowhere is missing…

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The kids at Selby Community Primary School have been reading The Nowhere Box in class and making corrugated cardboard collages in the style of the book, taking George on some incredible new adventures. They were kind enough to share these with me and I am very pleased to be able to share them in turn, here with you (click on the images to enlarge).

Let’s go Nowhere…

Leona and Madison sent George to the moon. I love the pun – ‘spacetacular’!

Nowhere1

In the book, George fails to find any dragons, though he does go looking. Sean and Lewis have remedied that by creating this fire-breathing monster. I’m glad they also gave George a sword and shield so he can look after himself.

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Sam (great name) has provided George with a colourful cardboard vehicle. Nice work!

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Martin sent George somewhere magical, and he looks like he’s having a great time. I love the multi-coloured arch.

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Anna, Chloe and Shannan have upped the adventure and got George back in touch with nature in this scene. He looks like he’s about to go exploring a forest…

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I love what Lewis and Ryan have done with their composition, especially the little blue windows along the bottom. Brilliant work, guys.

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Teagan’s collage is a candy-inspired adventure sure to appeal to anyone passionate about sweets.

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Noah has extended George’s rocket-based adventure, taking him to ever greater heights. ‘Epic’ is a great description!

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Mateusz and Tomas have included the entire solar system in their collage – impressive.

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Wayne and Harry have also sent George ever further spacewards. I really like the little planet Earth in the corner, showing just how far he’s journeyed.

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Nowhere is prehistoric for Brandon and Matt, who took George all the way back to the dinosaurs. I’m glad he’s still smiling, some of those dinosaurs look pretty mean…

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Alana and Charlye also took George back in time, and even let him hitch a ride on a dinosaur taller than the treetops. I bet the view was magical.

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James and Jamie sent George swimming with the dolphins – or is that a shark? Uh-oh…

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Thanks SO much to all the kids for their amazing collages. There’s real imagination on display, I’ve loved seeing all the new places George has been. A letter to the class is on its way to you, as well as signed copies of The Nowhere Box.

Are you a teacher who would like to use The Nowhere Box as part of your teaching? Although I’m not available for school visits right now I’ll happily be involved in any other ways I can – responding to the children’s work and things like that – so do get in touch if you’d like to chat things over in more detail.