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.

Friday, 19 September 2014


Hi Gillian,

Thanks so much for the copy of FLOOD. It's a lovely book and to me it's a marvel that you have written, illustrated and published this book on your own. A brave undertaking! You need a very special combination of skills. At first you must have been a lone ranger - but as recent articles show, more and more authors are taking charge in this way - including many who are previously published.

The rest of us are threatened on two sides - on the one hand the new breed of self published authors - often very media savvy - why else would they do it? - and good at self promotion. On the other side, publishers forming larger and larger conglomerates with a tight agenda - and with precious few exceptions, smaller publishers afraid to take risks. Which leaves traditionally published authors somewhat stranded.

It's a beautiful book, with your characteristic variety of texture and delicacy of tone - telling a story with a strong theme of survival against the odds - in such a quirky way that I couldn't help wondering where it came from. The happiness
of the ending is muted and left me with a vague feeling of melancholy.

Then, it struck me.  It reads very well as an allegory of your (our) struggles as a writer. You are Fussy Hen, Slodger the children's book industry - now getting old and lumberingly large; fox at first is the wolf at the door, morphing into the guy who helped you set up Plaister Press; the flood is what threatens us all. 'Fussy hen
found to her surprise that she could steer' - is your discovery that you can take control of your career with a bit of financial backing; the island is where you are now - a lone publisher with the big old one beside you -   not altogether secure but
not drowned either. The ending is safety on a tiny lonely island, so both happy and sad.

I didn't try to figure this out - it just dawned. Maybe it is as much my projection as your unconscious. But anyway - it is a very intriguing example of the way images indirectly and metaphorically can tell a story about change.  I think we are both
so lucky to have started our careers in the 70s and 80's. A golden time.

I can only say this because I've known you so long as a friend - and I hope you won't think I've taken liberties. I hope it sails forth into the world with as much courage as you have shown in producing it and in taking charge. Bravo! To you and Fussy Hen!



Thank you, Joyce, for your insights. My last three picture books have had a water theme but not the one I’m working on now. This new book is about a mouse with not a drop of water in sight.  I wonder what that can mean.

Monday, 8 September 2014


Last Saturday was Helen Craig’s 8oth birthday and a surprise party was thrown for her. Friends and family had been asked to arrive early and park their cars, out of sight, in the field, before waiting very quietly for Helen to arrive. Did she suspect?  Here’s her expression as she walked through the door. 
Despite repeatedly saying she didn’t want a surprise party, when it happened Helen was smiling.

 The remarkable thing about Helen Craig at 80 is that she is still having picture books published. She’s currently working on the illustrations of Snowy Sunday, eighteen years after doing the first book in the series, One Windy Wednesday, published by Walker Books in 1996. 

One Windy Wednesday is a story about the animals on Bonnie Bumble's farm having their voices blown away by the wind and all ending up with the wrong sounds. Here’s a link to it and the other books in the series:  One Windy Wednesday, Meow Monday, Turnover TuesdayThirsty Thursday, Foggy Friday and Soggy Saturday.  

Helen told me that she wanted the images for these books to be quite different from her Angelina Ballerina  books. She said she found it hard to draw in a bold manner and so she did the original line drawings very small - about 3 inches square for the single page and then enlarged on the photocopier to 8 inches square so the enlargement was quite great and the line ended up nice and chunky. She then dampened the picture and stretched it onto a board, before colouring it. 

“In Snowy Sunday,” she said, “it’s snowing snowflakes as big as balls of wool and all the animals are shivering, so Bonnie Bumble has to knit them coats and scarves, beak warmers and tail warmers. These stories are always whacky and fantastic but that's what makes them such fun to do.”
This must be the secret to Helen’s long illustrating career – the fun of it all and the sheer delight of drawing and painting.