Meeting the Queen

Me at the 500 Words event, telling the queen how I grew up reading comics ‘cause we had no books in the house. Hopefully this will inspire every kid to know they have a chance of doing all right, if they can get hold of a public library card and access reading that way – they can go far. Camilla pushed for the competition to run this year which is great as the rules are, there are no rules apart from stretching the imagination – v. cool.

And I can’t tell you how excited I was to illustrate Spencer’s winning story in the 8-11 silver category, ‘The Scottish Gangsta’ – it was right up my street! Straight away I knew his madcap heist had to be comic strip style, and to make it special I drew it with ink on paper so he could have an original to take home. Spencer was chuffed with it, so that made my day. (Also, he is my new hero).

Well done to the finalists and every 44,000 kids who entered! You can read all the winning stories in full on the BBC Teach website.

A nice day out at Buckingham Palace

Scrubbed up for the brilliant BBC 500 Words awards at Buckingham Palace, which was magnificent in every way. The winning stories, the mad talent that dreamed them up and the team of illustrators I was proud to be a part of (here we are behind the arch!). I was invited because I illustrated one of winning stories and what fun that was!

I’m a big fan of this competition as the emphasis is on storytelling, imagination and creativity and not spelling, grammar and all that bumf, which take second place. The age categories are 5-7 & 8-11 and every time I’m blown away by the talent out there. I had a great time chatting with the winners and having a nosey inside the palace.

A special The One Show will be aired Thursday 7th March for World Book Day to mark this event.

A right royal invite

It’s a wrap for Maddy!

💛🩵❤️I am SO proud of Maddy Yip, my illustrated humour series for age 8+. Along with the rest of the Yip clan, Maddy has made kids (and me, while I was working on it) laugh their ruddy socks off for the past three years but now it’s time for the next exciting projects – so watch this space!

When my books are released into the wild, I can only kind of guess where they go, but then someone messages and my tiny mind is blown. Get this…

“I really wanted to let you know how you have changed my daughter’s enthusiasm for reading. As she’s got older she’s struggled with longer text and more complex language meaning she gave up easily and didn’t have the love of reading that I had as a child. She brought Maddy Yip home from the school library and she thought it was brilliant – she read the whole book… and we are now on number two! I love listening to her read too it as its just so flipping funny! Thank you for sparking my daughter’s interest and getting her on the track to loving reading. We are so glad we found Maddy!!!”
G Taylor

And that my dear friends, says it all😁

Thank you to all at Andersen Press, my agent and everyone who supported Maddy along the way.

Happy New Year

Reminding with a year round-up which sometimes gets lost while we’re planning and doing and jumping onto the next thing. Some of my highlights:

– Hooking up with Simone Heng author of ‘Let’s Talk About Loneliness’
– Seeing behind the door of No.10 Downing Street
– Completing my ‘Maddy Yip’ kids’ series
– Drawing live on BBC Breakfast with Hacker the Dog
– Being interviewed by Cathy Newman at Times Radio
– Meeting other authors (like Patrice Lawrence here) at book festivals
– Continuing my work with the amazing team at EmpathyLab
– All my events at schools around the country
– Joining the advisory board at Bournemouth Writing Festival

As a kid who secretly envied those high achievers at school, I thought these goals would be way out of reach, so beliefs have been defied and proof is there that anyone can do this. And as always, a salute to the bloody marvellous people who help push us along in that squeaky wheelbarrow.

My tip for 2024: pretend there’s no one out there but you – how far would you go? GO THERE. Happy New Year beautiful people!

Season’s meetings!

I’m so lucky to be an Andersen Press author. The team is first class, and I get invited to grand publisher parties like this! It’s especially exciting to meet authors and illustrators in the flesh that I’ve only chatted to online before – Zoe Antoniades was just as brill as I imagined! I was also delighted to bump into Joelle Avelino again after we first doodled together on the telly back in September and I met loads more people all doing wonderful things in the world of kids’ books, including Kara from The Story Barn and Tamlin from Arena Agency. And of course, it’s also always an honour to see the great Klaus Flugge who founded Andersen Press way back in 1976.

Have a happy holiday season all! x

Making a good impressionist

It’s not often I’m waiting around for feedback on all my projects at once but when it does happen, and I’ve got a day spare, I get straight in front of that easel!  Today’s challenge was to create a countryside landscape using NO green paint, but mixing up yellows and blues instead.

I love that feeling of being back in art class. Apart from creative writing, it was the only subject I really loved. When I was growing up, certain people told me I couldn’t make a living out of art. Well I did! So my advice is to ignore what others think (even if they have the best intentions), follow your instincts, focus on what makes you happy and everything else will fall into place.

Maddy Yip – reader’s pics

As Maddy’s bezzie Dev would say, these look ‘awesomesauceness’! Thanks to all you readers out there who have sent in pics or posted them on social media.

From what I’ve been told, it seems like Maddy’s shortsighted and perpetually befuddled grandad, Agung, comes out tops as your favourite character. He’s mine too and is based on my real gramps who, I thought for years, was the laughing buddha in a cable knit cardi.

The hilarious illustrated Maddy Yip series includes, ‘Guide to Life’, ‘Guide to Holidays’ and ‘Guide to Parties’ and they’re all available to buy here.

500 Words Competition – 2023

I’m excited to be part of ‘500 Words’ again, which launched 26th September on BBC Breakfast TV. It’s a celebration of imagination and creativity through stories written purely by children.

The brilliant Llanfoist Primary in Abergavenny hosted the event with appearances by judges: Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Charlie Higson and surprise guest, Hacker the Dog! I’ll be illustrating one of the winning stories, along with a bunch of other talented artists including: Steven Lenton, Joelle Avelino (pictured), Axel Scheffler, Fiona Lumbers, Jamie Smart and more.

The competition is open to 5-7 & 8-11 yr categories, with gold, silver and bronze prizes to be presented at Buckingham Palace. It closes 8pm Friday 10 November 2023. For more details and to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notices go to the 500 Words homepage here.

Upcoming Wigtown Festival with DBA winners

I’m heading off again this year, to the hidden gem that is Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland. This time with two other past Diverse Book Awards winning YA authors: Manjeet Mann and Natasha Bowen. Pictured here with me are the brilliant DBA co-founders, Helen Lewis and Abiola Bello, who will be chairing.

Join us on stage at this Wigtown exclusive ‘Celebrating Diversity’ event: Sat 30th Sept, 3-4pm

Tickets are on sale now and available here