To help celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death The Guardian published my 'How to make a dip pen' in XI acts. It appears in the Children's book section on their site and adds to their burgeoning 'How to' range which is always worth checking out each week to see what's new.
These "How to's" are usually linked to exciting new children's books, and these quill based inkings of mine are linked to the marvelous new story by Tony Bradman 'The Boy and the Globe'. You can see some of the illustrations from the book and photo's of Tony and me on tour (I'm even wearing my favourite dress) in this blog.Published by Barrington Stoke'The Boy and the Globe'is a corking read celebrating Shakespeare's London, his life and his playwriting woes and all told through the adventures of an orphan, Toby, who gets embroiled in pickpocketing, meets Shakespeare and ends up inspiring him. It really is a terrific read and a great introduction to Shakespeare's world for readers ages 7-10. I was chuffed to be asked to work with Tony on this.
At the back of the book are 'Funne Activities for Boyes and Girls' including a make your own 'players', to add to the fun you can download and make your own globe and there's a mini Tempest script too. To encourage such behaviour this blog by Barrington stoke even includes a little vid of me scratching away.
Here are the first Guardian acts up until the interval, you can see the whole 'How to' on the Guardian site here. They even sell the book at a discount if you were to be conceivably interested in such things.
I was in my inky element with these 'How to' illustrations, which included dedicated research of spilling my ink everywhere. I hope you enjoy the inky mess, at least as much as I enjoyed myself when I made it, and that you get a chance to get inky yourself!
My new book, Steven Seagull Action Hero, is published today!
It’s about Steven, a retired police detective, who’s called back into action for one last case when someone starts stealing sand from Beach City and leaving massive holes.
On the way to solving the mystery Steven and his ex-partner Mac (who’s a goldfish) question various suspects including Lola the Lifeguard (Hippo), Ice Cream Harry (ice cream van owning rat) and Rick the volleyball referee (great white shark).
As a FMI exclusive I’ve put together a mini-comic introducing Steven and some of Beach City’s criminal underworld:
Steven Seagull Action Hero by Elys Dolan is published by Oxford University Press. You can find out more about Elys and her work at elysdolan.com and elysdolan.tumblr.com or follow her on twitter and Facebook at @ElysDolan and facebook.com/elysdolanillustration.
I'm delighted to say I have illustrated 'The Boy and the Globe', it's written by the dashing bard that is Tony Bradman and published by the lovely folk at Barrington Stoke.
The Bookseller wrote "This entertaining novel, for readers aged seven to nine, features drawings throughout by Tom Morgan-Jones which have a touch of Ronald Searle about them: it also includes a section of 'Funne Activities for Boyes and Girls'. Perfect for reluctant readers and youngsters new to Shakespeare."
Whilst the author Philip Ardagh has since thoughtfully 'corrected' the bookseller and has written "...features drawing throughout by Tom Morgan-Jones which have a touch of Ronald Mcdonald about them…". I have to say that I'm happy that either have anything to say about this new book. And can't decide which comments I prefer.
A great way to celebrate the release of our book was a visit to Stratford Literary Festival. They invited myself, Tony the author, and Mairi, the top cheese at Barrington Stoke, along to the festival. We were chuffed. Not only was this a chance to wear a new dress (for me) it was also a chance for us all to share our love of Shakespeare with Stratford and Moreton Morrell Primary schools.
I live illustrated Tony's talk and then went on to do live draw alongs, encouraging the pupils to flex their own marvellous pencil skills. Pupils at both schools voted to draw an angry Shakespeare. Who doesn't like a villain after all? It was moving to see a sea of Shakespeare faces looking back at us at the end of each session - and due to the childrens excellent skills a little terrifying too.
I had a ball at Stratford in my dress and I'd like to thank Stratford Literary Festival, all the teachers and all the pupils. Also special thanks to Mairi at Barrington Stoke for making it such fun, and very importantly for the choice of my dress. And of course not forgetting Tony, he was a pro, a gent, and he did write the book after all.
Barrington Stoke have also produced a "Make a Globe and stage the Tempest" with Boy & the Globe puppets, downloadables. If this intrigues you, have a look and give it a pop by downloading it here:
And one last thanks, I'd like to big up the clever designer Julie-ann at Barrington Stoke, she did a great job on the whole book. I particularly liked the endpapers she created from my inkings. So for those of you that love an end paper, and in this case you'd be mad not to, here are the lovely endpapers…
Tom 'Nibs' Morgan-Jones dip pen inker of ink, inker thinker, illustrator & cartoonist
I'm delighted to have won The Folio Society Book Illustration Competition and a commission to illustrate War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. The result was announced by Michael at The House of Illustration in London on Thursday 25 February, and a very good evening it was too.
With The Folio Society’s reputation for excellence and some beautiful entries from the other illustrators, I was chuffed even to have made the longlist. Here’s a link to the list as featured in The Guardian.
The Folio Society makes lovely, covetable books. Quality of binding and paper and reproduction are, rightly, important to authors and illustrators, as well as to readers of course. But I went into the competition because of the choice of book. War Horse is a great story and its themes obviously still resonate.
The central relationship of Albert and his horse, Joey is key, as are the expectations of the time and the industrialisation of war that took men and horses for fodder. For me it’s not the horses that are difficult to get right (though I could always do it better), it’s the apparatus and devastation of war that is hard to fathom. Barbed wire, for example, has a particular way of contorting; a calculated menace. Together, these elements create a tension for both the narrative and the pictures.
It’s a terrific commission; it’s one of those jobs where I think, ’this is what I’ve always wanted to do’... actually, there are one or two more Michael Morpurgo stories that I'd love to illustrate.
‘The Great Big Sleep’, like most of the stories I write, is semi-autobiographical and inspired by true-ish events.
It is a tale of two friends, Squirrel and Bear who are preparing to settle down for their long winter nap. But even after they’ve both had their supper, drank their milk and had one last mess about in the snow, Squirrel is still not tired.
As Squirrel tries his best to make himself sleepy in a number of ever increasingly noisy ways, he begins to test the patience of his friend, Bear. Not wanting to keep his friend awake any longer, Squirrel leaves the den and heads out into the snow.
With the night growing colder and the snow beginning to fall harder it’s up to Bear to find Squirrel and bring him home to the warmth of the fire.
‘Meanwhile, the den was so quiet that Bear couldn’t sleep because he was worried. Where was Squirrel? Bear lit his lantern and headed out into the snow to search for him.’
Although I have illustrated many picture books over the years, ‘The Great Big Sleep’ is the first I have both written and illustrated. It feels like it was a long time in the making but now it’s here I’m really proud of all the hard work that both myself and the publishing team have put into it. The book is published in the UK on 7th January 2016 by Penguin Random House.
I hope you enjoy reading it with your family and have a Great Big Sleep of your own.
This is a first for me; I’ve recently completed a sleeve and a label design for a vinyl record. Vinyl! For a child of the sixties and seventies that’s quite a big deal.
The O’Keefe Music Foundation is a non-profit organization in the USA that gives children the opportunity to record their musical performances for free with professional equipment and engineers.
The sleeve is for covers of Richard Thompson’s ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ and ‘The Worst’ by The Rolling Stones. It’s a very grown-up children’s venture and, as the vocalists are female, the lyrics have been given a feminist slant. In the wrong hands, though, these recordings and the accompanying videos could be a disaster; there are so many possible pitfalls – think ‘The X Factor meets Playschool’ perhaps. But Aaron O’Keefe, who runs the organization, must be a brilliant teacher and enabler because these kids are seriously good. There’s no fuss; it’s for and about the music and I think the foundation gets help from a music industry that recognizes this.