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fabulous babette cole, 1950-2017



A sad day, I'm going to miss grande dame of picture books Babette Cole and her anarchic, irrepressible humour.



She lived by her own set of rules; I was a bit scared of her, she might say or do ANYTHING, but I loved her, too. She was a flash of bright colour in the world of books, and probably one of the people I saw most often at festivals and parties. She often left me dizzy and bewildered, but always laughing.


2013, Daunt Books, with Philip Reeve at the Oliver and the Seawigs launch

When I heard the news this morning that she'd died, I couldn't find any official mention of it from a news source and I had a sneaking suspicion that it might have been a prank on her part; I thought, perhaps she's had a few drinks with the lads and, giggling wildly, thought she'd get one of them to leak the news she'd died, so they could watch everyone talking about her and writing nice things. I held out hope for most of the day that I'd get to see her again, but sadly the rumours were true.


2013, London Book Fair

My favourite of her books is Mummy Laid an Egg, with children's diagrams of their parents having wild sex in unusual ways, including on a skateboard, on a space hopper and sky diving.



Her painting style was anarchic, too; rough, un-prettified and bonkers, in a way that suited her irreverent work hilariously. And I love that even well into her sixties, she was competitively jumping, riding sidesaddle. The first time I met her was when she was a speaker at the Bologna Book Fair conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in 2008. She'd been asked to talk about illustration, but she mostly talked about horses. No one could tell Babette what to do. she was one of my heroes; I can never be like her, but I love how she threw herself passionately into everything right up to the end. Condolences to her friends, family and husband, James Gutans (aka 'Tree Elf').

I doubt she'll rest in peace, I hope she'll get to a heaven with a stable full of unicorns staffed by a team of hot grooms.


2013, Babette's tribute to Oliver and the Seawigs

Click here for lots more photos under the cutCollapse )
Here's my ink study for today's @StudioTeaBreak drawing challenge:

Una Lady Troubridge

Here's the original painting. If you get a chance, read about Romaine Brooks, she had a fascinating life. And see other #PortraitChallenge interpretations here on Twitter! I hope I get some more time to try it again, with the pooches.



Here's another one by Rainbow Orchid creator Garen Ewing: I couldn't resist today's @StudioTeaBreak #PortraitChallenge - Evelyn Crow, after Brooks' 'Una, Lady Troubridge' (1924)



One more thing, huge congratulations to The Phoenix Comic for five solid years of awesome weekly comics!!


Photo taken by Jamie Smart

You can spot my name and Philip Reeve's; due to time constraints (comics take so long to make!) we only managed one strip, Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair in Issue 44, but it went on to spawn a whole book a few years later. Amazing Jamie Smart managed to have comics in every single issue!! You can either subscribe to The Phoenix Comic weekly magazine here or buy compilations of its strips in books (or single issues) in its online shop here.
Amazing! The five Book Boys at Scholastic Reading Club have made a new video featuring Pugs of the Frozen North... and PUGS!



I can't get over this, so much cuteness. Click here to watch the video on their site!



Thank you, Book Boys!! You can watch more of their videos here.