‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam!’ My Inspiration… By Tracey Corderoy

The first of my Shifty and Sam picture books introduce two dogs far from perfect. But Shifty and Sam do have big, warm hearts, and the minute they see the error of their ways, they change.


The inspiration for the first book came about following a trip to the vet with my dog, Dylan…


Dylan had barely bounded me in through the door when he spied a teddy in the window. Dylan loves teddies. VERY much. So, quite without thinking, he’d snaffled the bear in a shot! Cue: vigorous (loveable) shaking on Dylan’s part, and a rainstorm of slobber all over the unsuspecting public.

“DYLAN! Drop the BEAR!” I cried. And Dylan (for once) actually did as he was told.

I couldn’t believe it. “Wow, Dylan!” I beamed.  “Clever you!”

Bad move. For now Dylan was SO happy that I was happy, he just couldn’t contain his joy. So he promptly did a wee (and a big one at that) all over the vet’s nice clean floor…



(Not the actual ‘puddle’!)

I felt the colour rise in my cheeks. That hot, pink blush.

But then it happened.

Dylan looked at me with big brown beautiful eyes.

He was SORRY. He wasn’t bad. He just hadn’t thought it through. And we all make mistakes sometimes, right?

‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam’ was then written with ‘being sorry’ in mind.

At first the pair scheme…


and try to rob…


But then, when made to think through the consequences of their actions, they are very sorry. Their robbing is making everyone SAD…


The cute dog crying BUCKETS moment!

 So they hang up their swag bags for a life of baking CUPCAKES instead!


After I had written the story, it was then Steven’s turn to bring it to life. But it’s such a nail-biting moment in those seconds before you see your characters for the first time. Will they look like you imagined them? If not, how will you feel? Will you love them? Or, or… what if you DON’T? Eeek!

I needn’t have worried because Steven has created the most lovable duo ever. Even if I do resemble Sam in size. (Just a bit!)


For me they’ll always be a dream-team to write for. Why? Because I LOVE them!



Hiding Heidi by Fiona Woodcock

Hopefully better late than never!



Before writing Hiding Heidi I’d been working freelance in the animation industry in London for over fifteen years. Working on a mix of animated films and commercials. I ended up working in quite a niche area of predominantly hand drawn painterly work. Sometimes art directing, but often being one of the team translating an illustration style into moving image. Projects include working as Lead Assistant Animator on ‘The Snowman and the Snowdog’ at Lupus Films and doing animation artwork for a short film illustrated by Quentin Blake for the West End Stage production of ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’. 


Alongside the animation work I was always developing my own illustration work and ideas.

I’d had a few ideas for picture books, but it wasn’t until I thought up Hiding Heidi that I made the transition to the printed page.

But of course my background in animation proved invaluable, because there are a lot of transferable skills when thinking about narrative, pacing, character design etc. And it also comes in quite handy when it comes to producing an animated trailer, which I did alongside my good friends Maki, Jason and George. Here are a few words from Maki and George re how they approached working on the trailer…



Maki (Animation) – 

“For me, the big challenge was to see how to animate Fiona’s lovely illustrations.  There were many pages in the book I would have loved to animate, because all the characters have a lively energetic movement in them, like they were paused in mid action. As an animator, it’s always fun to take those images and make the characters move around on the screen. In the end, we decided to animate the spread of Heidi and her three friends bouncing up and down on their space hoppers.  

I animated the bounce in flash and then recreated Fiona’s pencil work in photoshop. It was all combined in photoshop using the original artwork textures, to make it look as close as possible to the illustrations in the book. Jason the editor and After Effects compositor put all the layers together and added effects to it. He also did additional animation and added depth and movement to the wood scene and the balloons.” – Maki Yoshikura https://vimeo.com/153752014 Jason Guest www.jjguest.com


George (Music) –

“I’ve known Fiona for a while so knowing her personality and illustration I couldn’t help but hear a ukulele. We have a few lying around the house and my two kids are always picking them up and larking about. The sound of fun. Thinking of a simple rhythm to match Maki’s bounce animation and silly songs I sing with the kids, the ditty basically wrote itself. Add to this an old jaw harp we had lying around and hey presto, the song was born”.  – George Thomson from Sounds and Sons  www.soundsandsons.com


I am thrilled how the trailer has turned out and I can’t wait for more people to see it and be introduced to Heidi – if they can find her! Fiona x

The Sandwich Thief By Andre Marois and Patrick Doyan

Marin loves the sandwiches his parents make for him-every day they’re different and more delicious than the last. One morning, someone dares to steal his favourite sandwich: ham-cheddar-kale. Furious, Marin begins a fevered and famished investigation to unmask the thief. The days go by, the suspects multiply and Marin’s sandwiches continue to disappear. This droll, graphic caper is a funny school mystery exploring the high stakes of low blood sugar.

The first in a series, the book’s witty text and graphic illustrations make this funny school mystery perfect for early and advanced readers alike-and for anyone who’s been the victim of lunchtime crime.

Published by Chronicle Books.


Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure – Dr. Dominic Walliman & Ben Newman

As a parent, how do you answer those curious questions from your inquisitive children without reaching for your smart phone? “Dad, why is the sky blue?”  One way is to add these three components into a mix: Dr. Dominic Walliman, Ben Newman and Flying Eye Books. The result is ‘Professor Astro Cat’.

Children and adults alike, get ready – Professor Astro Cat is about to be dropping science as he takes you on an ATOMIC ADVENTURE through the mind-boggling world of physics. Prepare your brain for clarity because this feline professor is about to school you on energy, forces and the building blocks of the universe. Where does electricity come from? What is smaller than an atom? What is air? What are Newton’s laws? All these questions and many, many more will be explained with easy-to-follow explanations and beautifully designed infographics.

In my opinion, it should be mandatory that every child’s bedroom and every primary and science classroom should have a copy of this book on their shelves.

Published by Flying Eye Books.


Cars Go by Steve Light

My little boy loves cars – he especially loves car noises. He finds them hilarious. Steve Light’s latest board book of things that go, hits all the right buttons for my son Reggie.  First and foremost, it’s robust enough to withstand his brutal handling of books and their pages. Inside the book, are a variety of different cars, from a police car to a monster truck and each one is accompanied by the unique chorus of noise they make. Reggie loves hearing me read aloud the VRROOOM VRMs and the BRRM BROOOOMs (equally, I like making them).

Published by Chronicle books.

Publishing date:  25th April 2016


A Typical Day in the life of Britta Teckentrup


A typical day …

I usually get up at around 7am when my teenage son gets ready for school and tend to start working around 8am. My day has to start with a cup of coffee…or two…or three… and lots of raspberries!

Britta Berlin

I live in Berlin.

I moved here about 10 years ago after living in the UK for 17 years.

I live in one of those typical Berlin flats in a turn of the century building with my Scottish husband, our teenage son and our almost 20 year old cat from Hackney – called Oskar.

Britta Hackney cat

My desk is facing a big window and I there is a huge chestnut tree right outside.

Right now is my favourite time of the year with the first buds appearing and the birds singing …

I almost forget that I live right in the middle of a big city.

Berlin can be a bit depressing and grey in the winter but it is wonderful in spring, summer and autumn.

Britta _window (2)

If I am not too busy I first have a look at my emails and Facebook and Twitter but am careful not to get too carried away.

On a very busy day I try not to get distracted and only check my emails a few times.

I love to work on various projects at the same time.

Going back and forth between different projects helps me see things in a fresh way.

I always have to put everything I am working on up on my wall  – it is getting quite busy now and is starting  to look a bit like a big collage.

But thankfully Berlin apartments have got very high ceilings!

Britta studio 2

Britta studio

I tend to work through lunch until our son comes home from school in the afternoon, but sometimes meet up with fellow illustrators and authors. There are lots of us living in my area for some reason and we go for lunch and coffee on a regular basis – which I love!

Even though there are quite a few studios nearby I prefer to work from home.

My husband who is also an artist works from home as well and it all works out very well.

The only ‘problem’ working from home is that I tend to work far too much.

But that’s not a major problem as I absolutely love what I do…

If you’d like to see more of Britta’s work, check out her website.

Before I Wake Up cover (2)


Before I Wake Up… By Britta Teckentrup

A young girl falls asleep and travels in her dreams through the sky, down to the ocean’s depths and into a jungle. She is accompanied by a lion friend, who eases her fears, gives her confidence and helps her explore the world around her. Along the way she meets whales, jellyfish, grizzly bears and wolves. Then it is time for the moon balloon to take the girl home to her bed, where she awakes, snuggled safely next to the lion, who returns to being a stuffed toy. Award-winning children’s illustrator Britta Teckentrup’s collage-like artwork creates a magical world of captivating colours, classic shapes and softly detailed textures. The gently told story reassures children that they are never alone, even in their dreams. Exquisitely produced, this book is certain to become a bedtime favourite for children and their parents.

Published by Prestel Publishing

Visit Magpie That tomorrow for Britta’s guest post.

Here are some magpies Britta illustrated for me some time ago. Aren’t they beautiful.

Britta MagpieBritta Magpies


This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien

Jean Jullien is an exciting new talent to hit the children’s book market. With his unique style and playful illustrations, he has created a board book that makes his young readers look at things from a different perspective.

Each turn of the page, presents us with a new way to imagine this rectangular shape of the double page. The book presents us with suprising views of the world: it becomes a gaping, open mouth, an open laptop, a set of piano keys with sheet music and a birdseye view of a man tightrope walker.

It’s a deceptively simple and playful concept and can be enjoyed simply as that alone. However, I feel it could be used to inspire children to explore other shapes in the world around them and develop their problem solving abilities. What if the book was a semi circle and the pages opened up into a circle? What could the images inside reveal?

My Verdict:

This is Not a Book is a playful, imaginative board book that encourages young minds to think outside of the box and explore the world around them.

Published by Phaidon.



All Kinds of Cars by Carl Johanson

All kinds of Cars is a catalogue of automobiles, from everyday cars to weird and wonderful vehicle creations from the imaginative mind of Swedish illustrator Carl Johanson. Amongst them, you’ll find an ambulance, a digger, a drilling rig, a banana car, a poo car, a snow plough and an amphibious vehicle to name a few.

It’s a seemingly simple concept that will fill both adults and children with joy. My personal favourite is the Mondrian car.

Published by Flying Eye Books.