Join me for some HOW TO BE COOLER THAN COOL fun in Stroud on the morning of Sunday, 7th November 2021.

This lively family event will be part of the Stroud Book Festival – which is going to feature a host of special authors this year.

And it’s LIVE!

For the details, including how to get tickets, follow this link:


Interested in becoming a picture book writer? This autumn I’ll be teaching my popular online evening course for Goldsmiths, University of London.

Themes explored will include beginnings and endings, creating characters that children will love, how to ‘keep writing young’, the music of languaged and how to create page-turning stories.

The course starts on 12th October and runs for 10 weeks – on Tuesday nights from 6.30-8.30pm,. It will be a journey into the craft of writing picture book stories, and I’ll be helping all participants come up with one of their own.

Additional features:

  • one to one tutorial.
  • question and answer session with Maria Tunney, Senior Editor at Walker Books.

Full details and how to book here:


If you are an Instagrammer, look out for the Instagram Live conversation I will be having with my editor at Walker Books, Maria Tunney on Friday 14th May 2021 at 2pm, UK time.

I’ll be live in my writing attic in Bristol. We will be talking about my latest book HOW TO BE COOLER THAN COOL, how I write, the craft of making picture books and more besides. Hope you can join us.


My latest picture book is a slapstick celebration of being yourself, from the team behind HOOT OWL, MASTER OF DISGUISE and I WANT TO BE IN A SCARY STORY.

HOW TO BE COOLER THAN COOL published by Walker Books, 6 May 2021

As part of the book’s launch you can join me online at The Stratford Literary Festival for some picture book fun, a reading of HOW TO BE COOLER THAN COOL…and a real cool song. Available from Sunday 16th May: :

Instagramers head here for my takeover of the Walker Picture Books feed, which takes you behind the scenes on many aspects of making the book.

And look out for an interview about writing picture books and working with Jean Jullien, here: .



It’s a treasure chest, celebrating the diversity of animals and explaining the value of some of their strangest, most mind-boggling features.

Here’s a little taste of what’s inside…


2021 sees the publication of two new nature books written in collaboration with ecologist Alex Morss.

BUSY SPRING is a follow-up to Kate-Greenaway-Medal-nominated WINTER SLEEP. And, like that title, it features stunning, life-rich illustrations by Cinyee Chiu.

Spring sunshine is nature’s alarm clock, telling wildlife to wake up after winter. You can see, hear and smell the signs of newness as the season arrives with a rush of energy.

What gives spring these characteristics? Why does it trigger a burst of busyness in plants and animals? How do they help each other to grow and develop? BUSY SPRING answers these and other questions, through a combination of a picture book story and an information section.

FUNNY BUMS, FREAKY BEAKS is a unique compendium of animal peculiarities. Why do living things look so different? Some animals may look funny or freaky, but their strange features have incredible stories too.

In this entertaining and informative title, illustrated by Sarah Edmonds, those incredible stories are told, and the advantages of some of the strangest features in the animal kingdom are explained.

Ideal for 7-11 year olds. Filled with engaging artwork and fascinating information.


A treat for little artists in the dark days of winter. Claire Alexander has made three printable colouring sheets based on her special illustrations for our book THE SNOWBEAR.


Interested in exploring the craft of picture book writing? This autumn I’ll be teaching an online evening course at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Themes explored will include, creating characters that children love, how to ‘keep writing young’, how to create page-turning stories, musical language and redrafting.

I’ll be taking participants on a journey into the craft of writing picture book stories, and be helping them to come up with one of their own.

Additional features:

  • one to one tutorial.
  • question and answer session with Maria Tunney, Senior Editor at Walker Books.

Full details and how to book here:


RIDING A DONKEY A DONKEY BACKWARDS – my laugh-out-loud collection of Mulla Nasruddin stories written with Khayaal Theatre – has been chosen by The Reading Agency for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge book list. And we’re pleased to be joining Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell, Philip Ardagh and Joseph Coelho as part of the SILLY SQUAD Summer Reading Challenge 2020.

This ever-popular library-based reading challenge will be launching on 5th June 2020, in an all-new digital format due to Covid-19 and the ongoing social distancing measures in schools and public libraries.

And very sensibly, given the times we’re in, they’re giving it a silly theme!

Expect lots of reading fun along the course of the SILLY SQUAD programme. It will run from June until September and feature readings, jokes, poems, creative challenges, family activities and draw-a-longs from the authors and illustrators involved.

Libraries around the country will continue to run the Summer Reading Challenge, delivering it via virtual services and e-lending platforms, and adapting their delivery if social distancing measures develop and change.

So head here from 5 June 2020, to join in the seriously silly fun:


I enjoyed a recent chat with Elephant Books about THE SNOWBEAR.

You can find out more about writing that book, my collaborations with Claire Alexander & my thoughts on the biggest challenges facing parents, given the current relationship between kids & reading. Their MEET THE AUTHOR feature is here:


Every February Dubai hosts The Emirates Airline Literature Festival. Some authors accept the invitation to attend. But some do not.

I was invited to attend and, having researched issues around the festival and talked with fellow authors, I decided not to go.

There are many grievances about the way that the United Arab Emirates is governed. The country has a very well-documented record of human rights violations. It relies on a migrant underclass who are treated in ways reminiscent of apartheid. It promotes a culture of wasteful overconsumption that our world can ill-afford.

Although holding a literature festival may appear to swim against these currents, the fact is that the Emirates Festival of Literature’s patron is Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the U.A.E and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. So the event gives a sheen of respectability to an oppressive regime.

My choice would always be to stay part of the conversation rather than close the door. I had hoped to visit the festival in this spirit, and take part in conversations and meetings with contacts in the wider Dubai community. But authors who have attended the festival tell me it’s very difficult to do anything meaningful outside the ‘five-star bubble’ where the festival is held. And this was confirmed when the festival told me they have ‘very stringent rules’ and I would not be able to do any paid or free private events or speak at meetings not organised by the festival itself.

I would have enjoyed the chance to connect with children and families in Dubai and to be a part of feeding their love of reading.

The choice not to go is entirely mine, and I respect the right of other authors to consider the issues and act differently. Freedom of expression lies at the heart of this matter.

As fellow children’s author Laurence Anholt has rightly said:

“The Dubai Government cannot have it both ways – if they want to encourage literature and the arts, then they must allow unrestricted debate and freedom of speech to all.”

And this is the voice of Ahmed Mansoor, human rights defender imprisoned in the U.A.E since March 2017:

“The root cause of so much of the violence in the region is despair. Human rights are being violated on a daily basis and nobody in the outside world seems to care.”