New book out now (and more on the way)

Hello readers!

James here, finding a quiet moment while the toddler is asleep to update my blog. And there’s lots of news to share …

FUNNY BONES out now

Funny Bones came out just this week. It’s a whopping 700-page kids’ anthology from the funniest Australian authors and illustrators, with all royalties going to the charity War Child Australia.

I’ve got a couple of pages of comics in there, but you’ll also find Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, Garth Nix, Jacqueline Harvey, Richard Roxburgh, Sally Rippin, Tristan Banks, Gus Gordon … you name them, they’re probably featured in here. It’s a brilliant book for a brilliant cause, and would make an absolutely brilliant Christmas present.

Grab your copy of Funny Bones here:
Allen & Unwin
Dymocks
Booktopia (Aus/NZ only)

… or ask your local indie bookshop for a copy.


TOFFLE TOWERS 2 out in January

The next installment in the adventures of young hotel manager Chegwin Toffle will land in bookstores in January 2020. Words by the incomparable Tim Harris; illustrations by me.

This time around, Chegwin’s hotel staff are ‘reverse mugged’ by two mysterious men. Chaos ensues and it’s Chegwin’s job to get to the bottom of these attacks before Toffle Towers loses all its hard-earned guests. Meanwhile, the town of Alandale is preparing for the annual Great River Race. Once Chegwin discovers his saboteur is none other than Brontessa Braxton, owner of the rival hotel in town, Chegwin find himself preparing to go head to head with her in the Great River Race to save his beloved staff and Toffle Towers.You can pre-order Toffle Towers book 2 here:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Dymocks
Readings

… or ask your local indie bookshop to order it in for you.


More books coming in 2020/21

Look out for these projects coming next (I’m excited!):

Chickensaurus (Sally Tinker book 4)
Toffle Towers Book 3
– the follow-up picture book to cult favourite My Dead Bunny (more details on that soon)
Stellarphant, a new picture book written and illustrated by me

That’s all the new book news for now! Thanks for reading.

– James

Brobot in The West newspaper, term 3

Brobot book cover

Sally Tinker and Brobot are coming to the West Australian newspaper’s ED! liftout every week in term 3.

It was a big challenge to reformat the story – I had to edit it down, rearrange the panels to fit the newspaper’s dimensions, AND divide it into 10 episodes.

Your school can get in on the action with an ED! section subscription: full details here.

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked – cover reveal!

Great news!

I’m illustrating a new chapter book series written by the very talented Tim Harris.

The series is called TOFFLE TOWERS, and the first book is out August 6th.

Here’s the cover …

… and here’s the official synopsis:

Toffle Towers hotel has been run by a Toffle for over one hundred years – and it’s about to be inherited by the next generation.

Chegwin Toffle is only ten years old. But he isn’t going to let that stop him from turning this run-down hotel into a success. Chegwin is determined to transform Toffle Towers from a boring hotel for grown-ups into an incredibly exciting destination for children (and their families).

But running a hotel isn’t easy. Chegwin has a lot to learn, and his tendency to drift off into daydreams isn’t helping.

Chegwin has plenty of ideas. But can he turn his madcap daydreams into reality?

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked is published by Penguin Books Australia, and available in all good bookshops from August 6th, 2019!

PRE-ORDER your copy now:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Kinokuniya (Australia only)
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Dymocks
Readings
Or find your local bookseller

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I illustrated the front cover.

Step 1: cover design

Here’s my final rough:

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 3: cover design

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I designed the robots and vehicles in the story.

Quick recap: Sally Tinker is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve. In Gastronauts, Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows her latest invention. So Sally and her friend Charli shrink themselves down in a tiny submarine and journey into Joe’s body.

Here’s how I designed the cover.

Step 1: really bad first sketches

Sometimes you get the cover idea pretty quickly and clearly from the start.

This was not one of those times.

I struggled with this a lot at first; I couldn’t figure out how to show the reader that Sally and Charli were inside a sub, inside Joe, and make Sally and Charli big enough so that they were recognisable, without being too big that the scale stopped being anatomically correct.

None of these ideas really work, but I’ve included them here to show you how a cover design process can go. There are usually lots of rejected, fairly ordinary ideas.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 3: cover design”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 2: submarine & robot design

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I designed the robots and submarine in the story.

Quick recap: Sally Tinker is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve. In Gastronauts, Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows an invention called the smartCHIP, along with a bunch of tiny robots called smartbots, and also a tiny shrunken submarine containing Sally and her friend Charli.

Here’s how I designed Sally’s SUB and the smartbots. But:

**SPOILER ALERT***

I’ll discuss plot points for the book, so if you haven’t read the book yet, go do that first, then come back.

All good?

Have you gone and read the book?

Ok, here’s how I designed the SUB and the smartbots.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 2: submarine & robot design”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 1: illustration process

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I made the illustrations.

Here’s one of my favourite spreads from the book. It’s where Sally leads her friend Charli into the SUB (Sally’s Underwater Boat) for the first time.

I thought it would be easiest to show the insides of the SUB by just drawing a massive cut-away diagram. Here’s how I drew it.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 1: illustration process”

The Gastronauts book tour was a gas

I’ve just been on a book tour, celebrating the release of my new junior graphic novel called Gastronauts. From Sept 26 to Oct 14, I had 23 events across three states.

I started in my hometown of Perth, then visited Sydney and Melbourne. We had four book launches, heaps of cartooning and comics workshops, and I got to deface decorate the windows at a few bookstores too. It was a brilliant trip, but I’m very happy to be back home with my family, and gearing up to work on some new projects.

Fun fact: Gastronauts is probably the first book in the world to be launched via a giant nappy. It will probably also be the last, as I don’t recommend it. Too messy. Watch what happens in the video below.

Here’s my favourite photos from the trip.

Thanks to everyone – bookstore owners, librarians, teachers, kids and parents – who came to events. And big thanks to my publishers Fremantle Press who helped organise the tour.


Gastronauts

Buy local – find your closest bookshop

Or order online:
– Booktopia (Australia and NZ only)
Angus and Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Boffins
Dymocks
Book Depository

Total Quack Up is out from today

Earlier this year I got to illustrate a story written by Paul Jennings.

Yep, you heard right.

Paul.

Jennings.

Back in May, authors Adrian Beck and Sally Rippin were putting together an anthology of funny short stories written by some of Australia’s best kids’ authors. They were calling it Total Quack Up. All the writers were donating their time, Penguin was publishing it, and all profits were going to Dymocks Children’s Charities. The only thing they didn’t have yet was an illustrator.

I caught up for coffee with Adrian in Melbourne. He explained the project, but he didn’t say who any of the authors were. He said everyone was donating their time, and whoever illustrated it would need to do it quick – they’d only have a month to do 30-40 illustrations including a cover.

I said PLEASE LET ME DO IT PLEASE YES IT SOUNDS AWESOME.

He said, ‘are you sure?’

I said YEP COUNT ME IN ALL GOOD LET’S DO IT PLEASE AWESOME THANKS YES.

So Adrian and Sally and Penguin said okay, and I’m glad they did, because Mr Paul Jennings was one of the authors contributing to the anthology.

So …

… I got to illustrate a Paul Jennings story! OMG!!

I loved reading Paul Jennings’ stories as a kid; I would get chills from the spooky stories, and laugh myself silly at the funny stories. And of course I was glued to the TV whenever Round The Twist came on. So it was a fantastic surprise to find out that Paul was one of the authors in the anthology and that I’d get to illustrate one of his stories.

 


This is all a very long-winded way of telling you that I’ve illustrated an anthology called Total Quack Up!

It features stories from Paul Jennings, Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Adrian Beck, Jacqueline Harvey, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, Sally Rippin, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton.

It also includes a story written by Ella Wallace (aged 11 and three-quarters), whose story won out over 172 other entries in the Total Quack Up kids writing competition. It is an incredibly funny story and easily my favourite in the whole anthology. Ella is a young writer to watch.

Continue reading “Total Quack Up is out from today”

Teacher resources for Gastronauts

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

I’ve pulled together a bunch of free resources for teachers (and interested kids). You can find the full set on my website, but here’s some of my highlights:

Teaching Notes

Heaps of ideas for discussion and links to curriculum.
Download the teaching notes (pdf).

Read a free sample

Read the first 16 pages before you buy the book.
Also great for using to read the start of the book to a class.
Download the free sample (pdf).

‘Make Your Own see-through body’ activity

This is a super fun activity. You need scissors, glue, string and a piece of A3 coloured card – and a print out of the worksheet for each student. (And don’t forget to print the teacher cheat-sheet for you.)
You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Continue reading “Teacher resources for Gastronauts”