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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

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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.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


'I smell the mouse with my wet, black nose.'

With each new book, I try and do an accompanying workshop. I thought the theme of the workshop based on ‘Mouse in the House’ could be the senses; sight, hearing, smell and touch.
I had a chance of airing this new book and the new workshop too at the Wisbech Reads Festival.
    Parents with their toddlers in push chairs arrived at the gazebo in the middle of Orchard School Primary School playing field where I had a display of artwork and some props as part of an event promoting family learning. First I read the story and we looked at the pictures. Then came an activity linked to the senses.
    'Touching' was the easiest. Babies all seem to have grown up with touchy, feely books and the babies at my workshop solemnly fingered the different textures I had brought with me. ‘Seeing’ was a little trickier but we were able to play a modified game of ‘I spy’ without using any letters. ‘I spy my Mum’s eye, my Dad’s nose, etc.’ ‘Hearing’ was fun; I had all kinds of things that made noises in my bag. The tots were looking quite alert by now. But 'smell' and sniffing things, was problematic. This sense, like taste, has the potential to disgust or even bring on the sneezes. So I asked the parents to have a sniff of the scents first. In my little sealed jars I had some chocolate powder, a cinnamon stick, mint leaves and a lily flower. The parents decided whether their child would like a particular smell and the sniffling passed without mishap and my workshop ended without tears…until... a great gust of wind hit the gazebo, knocking over the flip chart, scattering pens and pencils and blowing away my artwork. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015


I dedicated Mouse in the House to Connor, who is eighteen months old and can point to his eyes, ears, nose and fingers. His cousin, Liv, is two years old and starting to link her eyes to ‘seeing,’ her ears to ‘hearing,’ her nose to smelling and her fingers to touching. 'Mouse in the House' is the new Plaister Press book and is aimed at the very young child beginning to become aware of the senses. 
 Is there a mouse living in this house? Well, the bird has seen it,
 the squirrel has heard it,
 the dog has smelled it and the cat has even touched it. But this is no ordinary mouse…

This is a simple, question and answer mystery story that I chose to write in the style of a nursery rhyme with the rhyme running over the page turn. I matched this two page rhythm with a parallel rhythm in the pictures. Each animal is first seen on a double spread, followed by a close–up after the page turn where the rhyme falls; like a camera zooming in, on the eye, ear, nose and paw (in the case of the cat.)
It took me a long time to arrive at a style of illustration to match this story. Reading to both Connor and Liv, I realized that they didn’t need flat primary colours to be able to read pictures. So in the end, I settled for large painterly double page spreads in water colour with a scratched texture and simple bold patterns. The technique I used for this was to put down a dark ground colour first, then coat it in white gouache which I scratched with a pen nib at the point of drying. I'd recently seen an exhibition of Winifred and Ben Nicholson's paintings at Kettles Yard and was influenced by their scratchy look.