Featured post

PAM ROYDS 1924 - 2016

Pam Royds on Grasmere , 1971 with Sally Christie, children’s author and daughter of Philippa Pearce. I was just twenty two when I fir...

About Me

My photo
United Kingdom
My blog is about writing and illustrating children's books which I have been doing since 1974. www.gillianmcclure.com has all my books. I also have another blog: www.paulcoltman.blogspot.com where I publish my father's poems.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


There's a workshop I give in Primary Schools where I ask children to draw a place they know really well - where they can look around and know exactly what is there. It could be their bedroom, their garden, a playground. Once I have them in this familiar place, they have to think of something that could be the entry point to an imaginary world.  This task always grabs their imagination; even the most unimaginative pupils come up with a point of entry: a shaft of light from a window falling on a certain floor board in their bedroom; a particular wood pattern on the garden fence that looks like a door; a swing in the playground that, when it reaches a certain height, catapaults them into another world. The key point is to establish a very real and ordinary world before attempting to enter any imaginary world. 
    The illustrators here draw two such very ordinary places - Arthur Rackham, a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland and Pauline Baynes, a wardrobe in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Neither of them show the entry actually taking place; that is left for the text to describe and the reader to imagine. But in a picture book, more is shown in the illustrations. I talk about this in the previous post GOING BETWEEN WORLDS where I illustrate the scary moment of entry into the world inside a tree in The Little White Sprite.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


There's always a scary moment, going between worlds - a shock when Alice falls through the rabbit hole or, in The Lion the Witch and theWardrobe, when Lucy pushes through the fur coats at the back of the wardrobe and  finds herself standing in the middle of a dark,snowy forest.
'Lucy felt a little frightened but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well'. 
In my new book, The Little White Sprite, I've used these three feelings:  fear, curiosity and excitement in a story suitable for picture book age, where a child squeezes through a hole in a hollow tree and enters another world. This is the picture that shows the scary moment of entry. I make sure I follow it with a much more reassuring one once the child finds his feet. I won't give away what happens but, once in this 'other' world, the child will have to eventually find his way out again and arrive safely back with his family.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


The other day, I looked through the completed spreads of my new picture book. I find, if I refrain from looking at them for several days, I can see everything afresh and any anomalies jump out at me. As I followed the visual sequence, my eye moved smoothly from page to page until I reached the tenth spread when I got a colour jolt where there was a sharp colour change, quite out of sync with the rhythm of the story. I'd forgotten I still had spread  9 on its board and so had accidently jumped from spread 8 to spread 10.   Had I needed a climax there, a colour jolt like this would have been a good way of achieving it.
    So it was with relief I inserted spread 9 in its correct position and could see it act as a colour transition, in harmony with a change taking place in the story at that point.
  I'd always known that each page of a picture book has its own feeling and atmosphere but I don't think I'd been fully conscious, while painting, of the subtle part colour plays in the dynamic and overall rhythm of a story.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


This year the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture was given by Michael Morpurgo in the Seven Stories Children's Book Centre in Newcastle. It's normally held at Homerton College in Cambridge. Here some of the Cambridge contingent, among them Morag Stiles and Diana Boston, are met by the Collection Director, Sarah Lawrence.
Michael talked about following in Philippa Pearce's footsteps. Afterwards he and his wife, Clare, joined  members of the Pearce Memorial Lecture committee and Seven Stories for dinner at the Hotel du Vin.
    The following day a group of us was shown around the archive which is in Gateshead, some distance from the Seven Stories Centre. I loved seeing the artists' dummies and roughs. On this occasion, Sarah got out ones by Harold Jones, Edward Ardizonne and John Lawrence as well as showing us the new Enid Blyton archive.
Follow the link to find out more about the Pearce Memorial Lecture: http://www.pearcelecture.com/ and come along next year to hear Philip Pullman.