On this page you can find out about my picture books. I love writing picture books, when I have an idea of the right size. It’s the closest I come to writing poetry, because the texts are short and every word has to count.
They are the hardest books to write, though, because you have to be able to tell the whole story in twelve “spreads”, which is what you call a double-page. That’s not much, if you think you have to introduce characters, set up a background, cause some sort of crisis to make the story happen and then resolve it.
I always want the story to end with a bang, usually with a page turn in order to have a punch line on the last page.
The other important thing about picture books is pictures! I have been lucky enough to work with some of the best illustrators – Joanna Burroughs, Caroline Binch, Jane Ray, Jan Ormerod, Jackie Morris, Chris Riddell, Karen Littlewood, Christina Balit, Cornelius van Wright, Ros Asquith – they have all been great. Some have worked on my picture book texts and others on the other kinds of illustrated books I write: re-tellings and non-fiction.
As the writer, I have to remember to leave space for the illustrator, not only by not producing too many of them but by allowing full rein to the artist’s imagination, so that she can add her own contribution and distinctive style to the book.
Most of my picture books are published by Frances Lincoln, who do lots of multi-cultural books you might be interested in. You can find out more about them on their website. I have also written non-fiction picture books. Four of my Amazing Grace books are picture books. You can read about them on the Grace page.
I often write books about or featuring ethnic minority characters. My husband is of dual heritage (Indian Parsi + White British) and this has had some effect on my awareness of how children are portrayed in picture books.
Multicultural picture books
Most of my specifically multicultural picture books touch on aspects of family life but I have written lots of others where family is the main theme. Many of these drew on my own family life and incidents from when our three daughters were little. Even How to be a Cat is about family really.
Family picture books
How to be a Cat Frances Lincoln (2001) Buy from Amazon
Leon’s Lucky Lunchbreak Dent (1991) Buy from Amazon
My Grandma has Black Hair Methuen (1988) (Dial in USA) Buy from Amazon
Clothes for Sale Macdonald (1986) Buy from Amazon
The Perfect Pet Macdonald (1986) Buy from Amazon
Animal Hide and Seek Macdonald (1986) Buy from Amazon
My latest picture book is Pirate Baby, illustrated by Ros Asquith and published by Otter-Barry Books