winter tree

Here’s a new winter version of the Just Imagine logo I created for the story centre in Chelmsford, Essex, last year.

Just Imagine (@Chelmsfordbooks on Twitter, where you can see the original logo) is a real hub for creators and for people of all ages who love books, run by the powerhouse that is Nikki Gamble. I’ve written about fifty reviews of picture books and graphic novels for her children’s book database, which you can read here (be sure to scroll down below the search engine part of the page.) There’s everything from my review of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival to Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales, a very strange book by Chris van Allsburg called Probuditi, and one where I went off on a wild comparison essay for Beware of the Frog by William Bee.

Reviewing picture books was very helpful for me, it made me slow down and think, not just ‘are the pictures attractive?’ but try to figure out what makes text and picture work well together. (So yes, in answer to Inis magazine’s question, should writers review books?.) And illustrators, too. I tend to skip books that are badly illustrated, and not even give the text a chance, and I’m sure a lot of writers don’t give enough attention to illustrations. Speaking of Inis magazine, I recently interviewed publisher Alison Green for a big article, so keep an eye out for the Autumn issue. (Now there’s a woman who loves pairing texts and pictures and does it brilliantly. And she’s a natural-born storyteller, we ended up chatting for two hours and afterward, I had a mega-load of stuff to sort through on my dictaphone.)

But I love getting reviews and responses from very young readers, too! Here’s a smashing reading of Morris the Mankiest Monster by Tess in Wisconsin. (Ha ha… He got poop on himself. Well said, Tess!)

I’m feeling a bit under the weather this week, and I drew this picture to make me feel better, while my studio mate was setting up protest camp at St Paul’s.

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