Last year the illustrator was the amazing Chris Riddell, and guess what, I'm this year's illustrator! The Summer Reading Challenge encourages kids aged 4 to 11 to read six books during the summer holiday, and last year 810,089 children took part.
This year's theme is 'Mythical Maze', and I got to design the poster with the homes of the creatures who live in it:
Click on the picture to see a larger version.
Of course, there's a minotaur living there, but lots of other creatures, too. Can you guess which ones, looking at their habitats? When you get the poster, you'll also get stickers, which will set the characters in their surroundings. (The Unicorn will strut his stuff on Unicorn Island, for example. You can guess where Anansi might be chilling out with his cup of tea.) Here's a sample of just some of the huge amount of fun stuff available in the order pack:
And now for a little peek at how the pictures came about! Here's me at my lightbox, drawing out the maze poster in India ink with a dip pen, tracing the pencil lines I'd drawn earlier. I coloured it digitally, but I used some scanned-in textures, such as a big sheet of paper I stained with instant coffee.
And here are my first drawings of the characters. Kids from Leith Library helped me come up with some of the ideas for how they'd look: a Leprechaun, a Garuda, Anansi and Medusa. (Click on the link to find out more about who they are; I didn't know who Garuda was when I started out.)
And here's Nessie, Yeti, Unicorn, Minotaur, Dragon and Mermaid. The dragon probably changed the most when the committee decided they wanted it to look more Welsh. And the mermaid is probably the closest to how the Leith Library kids had me draw her. She's not quite Iris from Oliver and the Seawigs, but there are traces.
A little blurb about me in the brochure:
Check it out, there really are a zillion things you can order for your library, including presentation medals, wristbands, key chains, a maze toy, bags, t-shirts, you name it.
The last day you can order is quite soon - 24 January - so get cracking if you're interested! Check out The Reading Agency page for all the details. You can even 'Like' the Summer Reading Challenge on Facebook. I hope lots of kids start drawing their own mythical creatures, this is going to be an awesome summer.
One more thing, here's a video I made (filmed by my husband, Stuart) in my studio for last year's Summer Reading Challenge, while I was in the middle of painting Superkid. I really liked the sharks in that book, and when I drew it here, I had such fun that I decided to do a whole new book about SHARKS. Which resulted in this year's book, There's a Shark in the Bath! So thank you, Summer Reading Challenge, for being part of that process. And a big thanks to the three people I worked with, Damian Kelleher, Jesse Brown and Anne Sarrag, you people are total stars.