INTO THE FOREST: A Willow and Blue adventure

So Martin and I moved out of London a few months ago. To the countryside! It’s quiet and peaceful and has been a bit of a lifestyle change for me. In a good way. Peace and quiet suit me. So do trees and animals and adventures to find mysterious creatures called Whompodomps. So I started a little comic about it. My name isn’t Willow (obviously) and I don’t have a pet bird called Blue (sadly) but I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with them….

Part one

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So in case you missed it, this happy little book is OUT NOW! It’s my first foray into the world of fiction illustration and I’m VERY excited that it’s now out in the world.  I had so much fun working on this with Philip Ardagh and my tip top team at Walker Books, which is lucky because I’m about to start illustrating the second in the series...

Originally scheduled to be published in May this year, Walker Books brought it forward for the Dubai Lit Fest in March. Philip and I are now starting to get out and about doing Stick and Fetch events at schools and festivals in the UK, and having lots of fun with these new characters (and new props, because let's face it, who doesn't love an inflatable flamingo?) Any upcoming public events will be listed on my events calendar here.

Want to know what the book is about?

Sally loves nothing more than investigating a good mystery – and her shaggy canine companion Fetch loves nothing more than to be at her side when she does. There's just one small problem: they always gets the wrong end of the stick! The hapless pair remain undeterred, however, dashing from one crime scene to another on their bicycle, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake ... yet always emerging blissfully unaware. A fun, madcap trio of stories featuring two loveable heroes with a LOT of hair.


"Slapstick, hilarious adventures which may not always quite go to plan!  Bringing back a wonderful partnership – Ardagh and Elwick – and introducing a promising new one,  Sally Stick and her best friend Fetch, [in] a fantastic, appealing book for keen mystery solvers,  emerging independent readers, big thinkers and those who love a big splash  of humour and colour in their lives! A good fun adventure, some great vocabulary,  and wonderful vibrant, colour illustration. "

-- Louise Ellis-Barrett, Armadillo Magazine


If you've already read it and want to write a nice little review (on Waterstones, Amazon, Foyles, your local indie, etc), please do! We love reading them and they really help us authors and illustrators out.

Signed and sketched in copies of Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Stick and Fetch Investigate is available to buy here

Why a talking sea sponge will always be my hero...

I'm often asked "What books did you love when you were younger?" and I'll always respond in the same way: Goosebumps, Harry Potter, The BFG and The Neverending Story.

Those were books that hooked me, that captivated me at various points of my childhood. But when I'm asked "Which books made you want to become a children's book illustrator and author?", the more I think about it, the real answer is actually...none of them.

It was cartoons before it was books, for me. That's what carved out the section in my brain that now stores names and shapes and the rough bones of a character idea. That's where colours and plots and endings are kept, safely waiting for me to use them. Books came later, and the more I read and the more I drew I knew that this was the right choice for me.

My bookshelves are now so crammed, each shelf is three books deep: picture books, middle grade books, young adult books (in truth, I rarely read adult books). I think, over the past 10 years since graduating university and finding myself in a very book orientated world, I'd almost forgotten some of my heroes that helped shape me into the kind of illustrator and author I am. So here it is, an ode to cartoons, without which I may never have found this brilliant job in the first place.


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Books mentioned:

Goosebumps series by R.L. Stein

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The Neverending Story by Micheal Ende