Upcoming events (Feb 2019)

Hello you! I hope your 2019 has been treating you kindly so far. What did you get up to? I spent most of January soaking up time with my wife and son and labrador. We paddled in the river, read books, watched more than a little netflix and had bbqs. I also got to work on some new sketches and picture book ideas that I’m excited about. It’s been great to spend quiet time relaxing and ‘refilling the well’ so that I’ve got the energy for the year ahead.

I’ve got a few great events coming up at the end of this month – the Perth Writers’ Week family day and a teacher/librarian PD in Sydney. See below for details. Hope to see you down the track!

Happy reading/creating/living,

James 🙂

Feb 24:  Perth Writers’ Week family day

It’s one of the most important dates in the WA kidlit calendar! Come down to UWA on Sunday Feb 24 and meet a bunch of awesome children’s authors and illustrators from across the country. Hear talks, join in activities and workshops, grab a feed from the food trucks – it’s always an awesome day.

For more info check out the Perth Writers’ Week website or download the full program.

I’ll be in two sessions:

Alfred’s War

I’ll chat to author Rachel Bin Salleh & illustrator Samantha Fry about their illustrated children’s book which confronts the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen returning from World War One.

TIME: 10am – 10:45am
No bookings required.

Telling Tall Tales with Words and Pictures

Children’s authors and illustrators Kelly Canby, Ian Mutch, Jessica Walton and me will chat with Heather Zubek about why we can all have fun with words and pictures.

TIME: 11am – 11:45am
COST: free
No bookings required.

NB: We’ll have books for sale on the day in the Boffins Books Festival Bookshop marquee. Click here to view the collection and to buy online beforehand.

Feb 26:  Creating Creative Writers (for teachers/librarians)

Creating Creative Writers is a one-day PD conference on Tuesday Feb 26, which will bring together teachers, librarians and 21 children’s authors and illustrators to focus on fun, practical ways to develop enthusiastic, confident young writers and illustrators.

I’ll be chairing an illustrators panel with superstars Sarah Davis, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall and Liz Anelli!

The day also features Deb Abela, Sandy Fussell, Yvette Poshoglian, Tim Harris, Sue Whiting, Claire Saxby, Sally Murphy and Libby Hathorn. Full details and program here.

WHEN: Tuesday Feb 26th
TIMES: 9:00am-4:00pm
WHERE: State Library of NSW
COST: $250 per person (inc. lunch, morning & afternoon tea)
BOOKINGS: are open now at trybooking, but payment can be made up until Feb 20, 2019.
Use the code PayFeb2019 to register now and pay later.

NB: the day will contribute 5 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Registered PD.

To get email notifications of future events, you can either:
– head to my blog and subscribe to new posts via the little box on the right.
– sign up for my newsletter, The James Foley-o, and get all my news and events in a quarterly email.

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”

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”

Competition time!


Sally Tinker (the world’s foremost inventor under twelve) and I (some dude) have made ourselves a YouTube channel!

It’s called ‘STinker Tube’ and it’s where you’ll find funny extra stuff to go with the STinker Inc graphic novels.

If you subscribe to our channel before June 15th, you’ll go in the draw to win the first ever copy of the next STinker Inc graphic novel, GASTRONAUTS!

You can watch our first video below – but don’t forget, you need to subscribe to the channel to go in the draw. To do that, head over to see the video at Youtube by clicking here , then click the subscribe button.

Good luck!

– James

In The Lion: crappy costumes!

2017 marks the 5-year anniversary of my book In The Lion.

In The Lion, front coverIt’s a catchy cumulative picture book about bravery, heroism and a very hungry carnivore. It was my first book as author and illustrator, and my first with the wonderful team at Walker Books.

I recently realised that in the five years since the book came out, I never got around to sharing the costumes I made for each character in the book. These were quick, easy and – yes, slightly crappy – costumes I made in an afternoon from things you could find around the house, plus a few things from the $2 shop and the art and craft store. When I talked about the book at the Perth Writers Festival in Feb 2013, kids from the audience wore the costumes and helped me act out the story.

An example of the crappy costumes – here, the character of the armadillo.

Hopefully these costumes (or something like them) would work for you and your kids at home, or even the students in your class, so that you can act the story out too.

Continue reading “In The Lion: crappy costumes!”

9 ways to encourage young artists

When I meet parents at events they often say,

‘my child loves to draw/write/create. How can I encourage their interest?’

Best-selling Australian author Matthew Reilly says, ‘never underestimate the power of your encouragement.’ He writes it in the thank you section at the back of every one of his books; he knows that it got him to where he is today. Encouragement is an incredibly powerful thing; young artists grow when they know that people believe in them and support their interest. (The same goes for adult artists, too!).

My advice comes from my work as an artist (who was once a young artist), my studies in primary teaching and psych (though I’m not a child psychology expert by any means), and my experience of working with kids in workshops. Here’s 9 things you can do to encourage the young writer and/or illustrator in your life … or even your own inner artist.

Continue reading “9 ways to encourage young artists”

Win a copy of my new book, Brobot

It’s almost here!

My new book is called Brobot. It’s a graphic novel for younger readers and it’s coming out with Fremantle Press on September 1st.

Sally Tinker makes machines … and Joe Tinker breaks them. As the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, Sally knows she can build a better brother than Joe. But is her invention – Brobot – really all that a brother should be?


Want a cheeky sneak-peek? Click here to read the first 16 pages for free.

Want to use the book in the classroom? Teacher notes are available now.

Want to order a copy? Ask at your local bookshop. If you don’t have one near you, Booktopia is taking pre-orders.

Win a copy of Brobot for you and your school

Fremantle Press is offering five lucky schools the chance to win two special Brobot gift packs: one for the classroom and one for the person who designs the best robot. Each gift pack features a poster and bookmark plus a signed copy of Brobot the book!

Want to enter? Visit the Fremantle Press website for entry information.

Entries close October 15th, 2016. Good luck!

Teacher resources for My Dead Bunny

Children’s Book Week is coming up fast: this year it’s August 22nd – 26th.

My latest book My Dead Bunny is shortlisted in the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, in the Picture Book of the Year category.

A lot of older students will balk at the mention of picture books because those are just for babies.

But this book is different.

While it is technically a picture book, it’s definitely not a bedtime story for little ones – it’s for older readers, 8-ish and up (teenagers and adults especially seem to love this one.)

Older kids take one look at this book and know it’s not for babies, so they don’t feel like they’re being talked down to. It’s a great book for looking at rhyming texts, visual narrative/visual literacy and generic conventions. Plus it has zombies in it. Kids love zombies.

In preparation for Children’s Book Week, Walker Books and I have put together some free teacher notes for My Dead Bunny.The notes include heaps of discussion points and activity ideas, with links to relevant behind-the-scenes posts from my blog. It should all make studying the book in class super easy.

Download ‘My Dead Bunny’ Teacher Notes (pdf)

Behind-the-Scenes blog posts

My blog has heaps of posts about the making of the book; each post is tagged with ‘My Dead Bunny’.

View Behind-the-Scenes blog posts

Craft Activity – make your own zombie rabbit softie

Shannon at OhCreativeDay.com has put together this brilliant tutorial on how to create your own zombie rabbit softie.

Blackline Masters

Here’s some fun activities for early finishers – two word searches and two colouring-in sheets. Feel free to download these for use in your classroom.

– My Dead Bunny word search –
Download word search (pdf)
Download solution (pdf)

My-Dead-Bunny-word-search-600px– Zombie vocab word search –
Download word search (pdf)
Download solution (pdf)

My-Dead-Bunny-zombie-vocab-word-search-600px– Mindlessness colouring sheet #1 –
Download now (pdf)

MDB-mindlessness-colouring-1-600px– Mindlessness colouring sheet #2 –
Download now (pdf)


If you choose to use the book in class, I’d love to hear about how you use it! Please leave a comment below, or send me photos of displays/student work via james(AT)jamesfoley.com.au   [replace the (AT) with an @].

MDB_cover-400pxBuy ‘My Dead Bunny’ now

Booktopia (Australia)
Readings (Australia)
Angus & Robertson (Australia)
Book Depository (UK)

Author Visit: James Foley

Thanks To the staff at Carey Baptist College iCentre for the great write-up on my visit!

Teasdale iCentre

On Tuesday the 5th of August, we had a visit from author/illustrator James Foley at the Carey iCentre.  James is the illustrator of The Last Viking and The Last Viking Returns, and the author/illustrator of In The Lion and My Dead Bunny, which will be released later in the year.

James 3

James came to speak to the year 7s and 8s about picture books, how it got his start in them and of his love of drawing.  He shared art and stories from when he was at school, speaking of his early attempts at art and story writing, and how it progressed with practice, all interspersed with humorous stories.

James 1Students

From there he shared of how he came into illustrating books, of the story-boarding and trail and error it took to arrive at the final version ready for publishing.  He also read and showed his latest book, My Dead Bunny…

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How to make a picture book in a day


Narrogin Primary School kids are creative legends. Last August I got to hang out with 20 of them, making a picture book in a day.

Impossible! I hear you cry. What form of sorcery is this? It cannot be done!  Well, we did do it, and here’s how.

Continue reading “How to make a picture book in a day”