My Sister Has a Big Black Beard!!!

A few weeks ago I began drawings for a fantastic new project!

Duncan Ball, who is a complete nut, has written a book of poems which is called, "My Sister Has a Big Black Beard". When I heard that he had written it, and that he'd like me to do the illustrations, I was VERY excited. I was ready to sign the contract straight away but the publishers (HarperCollins) thought it might be a good idea if I read the book first. So they sent it to me as a manuscript, which is what a book is called when it is just pages of typing and before it has been poked and prodded and turned into something between two covers.

OK, I agreed, it probably would be a good idea to read it, but knowing Duncan and having heard some of Selby's poetry (Duncan writes about Selby who is a talking dog and who sometimes writes poems) I knew they would be fun.

But there was a catch! When I illustrate a novel, I read it lots and lots of times before and during the time when I’m doing the drawings. But with poetry, and I've done a lot of illustrations for poetry in "The School Magazine", I like to read a poem and draw the first ideas that come into my head. The illustrations evolve as I draw them and I invent new bits and pieces, but usually a main idea pops into my head the first time I meet a poem which is why I didn't want to read the ones in Duncan's manuscript all at once before I was ready to start sketching. So, I read a few, I looked at a few others with my eyes closed, and flipped a few more pages while looking at the ceiling, then told the publishers I'd like to sign the contract now please.

A contract is very is the agreement between the publisher and the author or illustrator about what everybody is supposed to do and how much they will pay each other to do it.

This week the editor (who makes sure the words are all OK) and the designer (who makes sure it all looks OK) and Duncan and I had a meeting. The others wanted to read through some of the poems so I had to put my fingers in my ears.

I have started the drawings and am having a LOT OF FUN!!!!!

I'll show you a few bits now but you'll have to keep wondering what they're about until it has all finally turned into a real book in June 2009. I know that seems like a long time but it takes a long time for everybody to finish all of their jobs and there are other manuscripts stacked up in front of the printing press waiting to be printed first, and then the pages and cover have to be stuck together, then the books will have to get to shops and onto shelves...but it’s fun to think that a pig I draw on my drawing table today will appear on a shelf in my local bookshop in June!

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going!!!!!