Building a Longship – Cardboard Engineering (part 1 of 3)

To recap-  a boy who lived across the road from my parents was helping me develop the main character for the book. This boy, Nick, seemed very much like the main character of Josh (Knut)- both are very inventive and creative boys, with vivid imaginations. For research purposes (and for fun), Nick, his dad Roy and I set about building a Viking longship out of a cardboard fridge box.

Step 1.

We laid the cardboard out flat and ruled a line straight down the middle- we’d be building two identical sides for our ship, so we would need to divide the cardboard in half.

Nick and his dad Roy measuring

Step 2.

We drew the outline of the boat onto one half of the cardboard, making one half of a ship.

Nick consults the blueprints
the dragon-head of our longship

Continue reading “Building a Longship – Cardboard Engineering (part 1 of 3)”

Finding the real Knut

I wanted Josh to be ‘real’ to readers. I can draw cartoony people pretty easily:

Illustration for the inaugural BookWiz, organised by the Children's Book Council (WA Branch)

…but I wanted to have a character that was a bit more realistic than my usual style- still a simple drawing, but with more accurate body language, proportions, and the little quirks that real people have.

I needed to practice drawing kids, so I figured- why don’t I ask a boy about Josh’s age to help me out? I knew there was a blond-haired boy living opposite my parents, who seemed about the right age. His name was Nick (and it still is, I don’t think he’s changed it).

Continue reading “Finding the real Knut”

Competition for July – Win 10 books from Fremantle Press!

Hi everyone, welcome to the first of our monthly competitions.

About the competitions

There’ll be a new prize every month from now until April 2011, leading up to the launch of The Last Viking in May 2011. Competitions will open on the first Tuesday of every month, and close by the end of the month.

We’ll set a different challenge each time- you might have to write, or draw, or research. And for the extra big final challenge, you might like to do all three.

The final competition will run throughout Term 1, 2011. We’ll ask you to put together a Viking-related project- and in return you could win a class visit from Norman and I*. But more on that later. What’s this month’s competition?

This month’s competition

You could win ten children’s books from Fremantle Press!

We’re making the first challenge easy on you – to enter, all you have to do is:

a) leave a comment on one of the posts published between now and the 29th of July,(see Guidelines for adding comments)


b) subscribe to the blog at the link on the top-right.

The winner will be drawn from a Viking helmet, and announced on July 30!

The fine print: this competition runs from 1 July to 29 July. Winners will be drawn on 30 July at 2 pm WST and announced on the blog. To be eligible, students or teachers must either subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment. Employees of Fremantle Press or their families are ineligible to win.

*class visit will be offered if the school is in the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia- otherwise an online session will be offered.

Sketchy Vikings

While Norman was in the Shetlands researching, I was at home in Perth, doing some research for the pictures.

I made a few initial sketches of Viking things- costumes, houses, the bows of ships,  rune stones, helmets… Norman has a huge collection of books on Vikings, so I wasn’t short of material. These sketches gave me lots of ideas for how the pictures and characters might look. (I haven’t shown all the sketches here, because  don’t want to give away too much of the story).

In all the kid's reference books about Vikings, they show these cool little carved chess pieces. There's two in this sketch- the king up the top, holding the sword on his lap - and the warrior down the bottom, biting his shield

Continue reading “Sketchy Vikings”