Oliver and the Seawigs is a great, fun new book for children published earlier this month by Oxford University Press. It's beautifully illustrated and very funny, and you can read my review here.
Thanks to Sarah and Philip for providing the early illustration and the story of The Thurlestone below. It's a great picture, isn't it?!
Usually the illustrations for a book aren't done until the words are finished, but here's a picture of one of the characters from Oliver and the Seawigs which Sarah McIntyre drew before the book was even started. We came up with the idea for the story together when I was visiting Sarah in London, and by the time I got home to Devon and began writing it she was already sending me pictures of how the characters might look. These early pictures didn't make it into the final version, but it was great to see them, because it meant that I had a very clear idea right from the start of how our book was going to look. And it was also useful, because there were all sorts of funny little details in Sarah's pictures which I was able to mention in the text.
The hero of Oliver and the Seawigs is a boy who sets off to find his missing parents and winds up on a friendly moving island which is trying to make a nice wig for itself. But this is a picture of a very unfriendly moving island (because all good stories need a villain). It's called the Thurlestone, and it means to take over the world with the magnificent wig which Sarah has drawn for it. Those figures dangling in the glass globes are Oliver's kidnapped parents. And the little creatures falling off the sides are early versions of the cheeky Sea Monkeys (the ones in the finished book have smaller bodies, bigger heads, and shorter tails). Those other islands are right to look a bit nervous. Wouldn't you?