Image from Lauren Childs book 'Who's afraid of the big bad book?' source: bswigshoppe

Author/Illustrator: Lauren Child

Genre: childrens picture books

Artists medium: collage, pen, photo montage

Age Appropriateness: 4 and up.

Introduction: Of course, I had seen Lauren Child’s artwork used to animate the Charlie and Lola series of books but one Christmas I came across “Who’s afraid of the bog bad book?”. After looking through it quickly I saw that it was perfect for our no. 2 who at the time was about 6. It’s a fantastic read aloud and talk about the pictures….. as your read the font becomes part of the illustration and experience. Turing the book this way and that it makes for a very fun experience.

Other work: Beware of the storybook wolves, many of the Charlie and Lola series, The Clarice Bean series, The Princess and the Pea, The Pesky Rat,I want a Pet, My Dream Bed, Hubert Horatio Barten Bobten -Trent…



For all the surface brio of illustrations that are crammed full of everything from photographs to fabric scraps, in person, Child remains as tentative as her books are bold, as hesitant of her success as her characters, with their crimped mouths and vast, wary eyes, appear to be of their exuberant environments.

Video Interviews: An extended  interview about how she became a writer illustrator.

Her website: Milkmonitor…. a very fun and arty website.

Other things they do: Lauren works with UNESCO to help children in need.

Her work can be purchased through the Illustration Cupboard.

This one I find super exciting…. Lauren’s illustrative style has been commissioned  by Liberty of London for fabric. Beautiful and playful.

You can find out about the design process here.

Image of Lauren Child fabric for Liberty from Design Wotcha

Image taken from the Design Wotcha of Lauren Child fabrics for Liberty.

Illustration from Hansel and Gretel by Anthony Browne. Image from The apple and the egg.

Author/Illustrator: Anthony Browne

Genre: childrens picture books

Artists medium: Pencil and very controlled watercolour.

Age Appropriateness: a bit book dependent…. baby to older primary…… through to adults.

Introduction: Although Anthony Browne is best known for his books featuring gorillas, my first real exposure was very recently while in the library with 5 year old ….researching for this series of posts. I came across and read ‘In the forest’. I love how the pictures are predominantly  black and white with the subject being in colour. I also loved the way the story required other book knowledge.

This book lead us on the path of revisiting fairy tales (which we hadn’t read a lot of recently). The experience reminded me of Tim’s english literature lecturer who said (20 years ago) …. much of the imagery in literature is lost because students don’t have a good grounding in biblical literature….I wondered how much children miss out on when not exposed to the ‘old fairy tales’. Interestingly enough….at least to me … academics are starting to acknowledge that reading the ‘old fairy tales’ and experiencing books from moments in history when thinking was different to ours, aids in encouraging the imagination. Nic blogs about it  this idea here.

Other work: Voices in the park, My Dad, My Mum, Zoo, Willy and  Hugh, Little Beauty, Gorilla, Willy the Wimp, the tunnel, Silly Billy, Piggybook, Changes, Willy the dreamer, Look what I’ve got, Hansel and Gretel, Bear Hunt, Willy the Champ, The Shape Game, Willy the Wizard, Through the magic mirror, Willy’s pictures, Bears Magic Pencil, Me and You, The night Shimmy, My Brother, Things I like, King Kong, I Like Books, The Tunnel, Willy’s pictures. (Over 40 books if you include translations)


…again too many books to show the covers of all of them


 Anthony Browne is an internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of children’s books, with nearly 40 titles to his name. He creates strongly narrative watercolours that blend near-photographic realism with fantastical, surreal touches and ingenious visual puns. His skilful use of colour, pattern and background detail subtly conveys an exquisite empathy for his lonely and sensitive child protagonists (both human and ape). Gorillas feature in many of Anthony’s books. He says, ‘I am fascinated by them and the contrast they represent – their huge strength and gentleness. They’re thought of as being very fierce creatures and they’re not.’

Children’s laureate website.

Interviews: You can read CBBS’ author spotlight…including questions from kids here.


Activities from books: Play the Shape game.

Art: book illustration plates available as artworks from the Illustration Cupboard.

The Self-Portrait by Shaun Tan. From 'The Red Tree' Image his.

Author/Illustrator: Shaun Tan

Genre: childrens picture books

Artists medium: painting, mixed media

Age Appropriateness: The pictures can be a little scary and melancholy, so probably not before school age…..and on. Think adult fables rather than children’s books.

Introduction: During a library visit about 7 years ago I first came across ‘The Red Tree’. I loved the book but it felt too sad to own. I remember being intrigued by the art of Jeffery Smart and Martin Sharp as an early teen and by the great skill of cartoon artists. Shaun Tan combines these artistic ‘looks’ in a thoughtful whimsical way to explore complex issues. His work reminds me a little of the ‘Wallace and Gromit’ creations of the Aardman group…..but with less of a sheen.

Other work: The Bird King, Tales from outer suburbia, eric, the arrival, Sketches from a nameless land, The Lost Thing, Lost and Found and What Miscellaneous Abnormality Is That?


‘The lost thing of the title is a curious amalgam of what could be best described as a teapot melded with a crab. 

The environment Tan creates is deliberately unsettling. Buildings and concrete slabs are old and decayed with rusted pipes jutting out at strange angles. The city looks worn out and tired, and there is a complete abscence of plant life. 

The city is populated by self absorbed adults, preoccupied with their ritual habits. Too busy with their dreary and gray lives, they neither notice nor care about the lost thing. But the unnamed protagonist does care. He is a beacon of goodness and decency in a dark, detached environment. 

The youth, a tireless collector of bottle tops, takes on the responsibility of finding the lost thing a home. 

Shaun Tan’s illustrations are a homage to several artists, such as John Brack and Jeffrey Smart.’

Review from Speechlanguage- resources

Video Interviews: A preview of Tans Award winning short film The Lost Thing.

An interview with Shaun Tan on madness and Nonsense and the Writing and Illustrating process.

Tan talks about the idea of an adult fable and the process

Other things: As well as working on concept drawings for Wall-e and Horton Hears a who, Tan has created murals, made award winning short films and had his work adapted by artists in different fields. You may recognise his drawings from “Fuel Your Mind’ Book Week 2008 .

Shaun Tan's illustration for 'Fuel the mind' Book Week 2008

The ACO adapted ‘The Red Tree’ into a musical production, puppets have been used to bring his books to life and theatre productions have also been made of his works.

Art: Like many Illustrators Tan’s artwork can be purchased through the illustration cupboard and is the feature artist of the moment.…as it turns out.

Norseman by Shaun Tan.

'Estuary' by Shaun Tan.

'Fighting Crows' by Shaun Tan.

'Track Layers' by Shaun Tan.

'Alert but not armed' by Shaun Tan.

'Never leave a red sock on the line' by Shaun Tan.

'The Gift' by Shaun Tan.

* All images are the copyright of the artist. Click through on the images to go to original source.

Image from The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers.

Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers

Genre: childrens picture books

Artists medium: collage, paint, ink, everything!

Age Appropriateness: kids get it at about 4…… I know lots of adults who like this one too. Very readable aloud.

Introduction: a few years ago Cathy  gave one of the girls the fabulous book….. “The incredible Book Eating Boy”

Other work: How to catch a star, Up and Down, The great paper caper, The heart and the bottle, The way back home, Once there was a boy.



‘Exquisitely trained art critics and recently potty-trained children equally love Oliver Jeffers’s work. The Brooklyn-based artist, originally from Belfast, Ireland, leaves viewers of all ages and backgrounds in awe with his whimsical paintings, installations, illustrations and picture books. He is best known for the latter, which led The Times naming Oliver as one of “The Best New Picture Book Illustrators” in 2008. Following that praise, his book Lost and Found was made into a short film that went on to win 60 international awards, including a BAFTA for Best Animation in 2009. Oliver remains humble and charming despite his substantial success…’


Taken from 10 answers

Video InterviewsAuthor video fun guy…interesting to see the process.

                                  Kids talking about what they like about Oliver Jeffers books.

Other things they do: You can see more of his artiness at the design label You and Me  The Royal We


The Before and After Painting No 1 by Oliver Jeffers.

Still Life with Logic and a Choice of Beverage by Oliver Jeffers.

Landscape with metal and Trajectory by Oliver Jeffers.

Another Penhall!

July 20, 2011

Silvery grey Penhall..... with floral lining.

I’ve just posted this new one on etsy

It’s the second promised bag made using the colours inspired by you. You can see the green and blue version here.

I’m loving it, and was glad of the opportunity to put a silver grey bag together….as I have been wanting to use this colour combo for a while.

So thanks…..

The repositional rosette....

....and the back.

...the oval base with pleats...

The bag is also completely reversible. The other side is lined with a liberty-esque floral in blue green and grey tones with a touch of pink….so it’s a bit girlie.

...a peek at the inside....

Front cover with journal pocket..... look closely from the green button to the top.

My latest commission was a really lovely one for me to be part of.

Jenny’s daughter made her profession of faith* last weekend and this is her gift.

It’s a bible cover!

I know some of you who are right now scratching your head in confusion….. and saying “Why cover your bible and give it handles?” Well the reason is when bibles are taken to and from church week after week they don’t last long…so some Christians cover them and make them easy to carry so that they last longer…. and look cooler.

Zipper enclosing pages

...other side

I’m so happy with the way this one has turned out….especially as I haven’t made one before.

It completely made from her late grandfather’s ties, which her wore mostly on Sundays as he preached to his congregation. So it is so special.

Jenny said:

So special! I think there may have been a few quiet tears shed. She has been discovering all the little special parts – pockets and hand-stitching  and thinking of all the things she can use the different pockets for.

inside back....with hidden slip pocket....

Front inner flap....with hidden pocket.

...the other side....or back.

* profession of faith: a public commitment to be a follower of Jesus always.

...see my little guy doing the excited dance...?

I’ve recently come across an addictive new product.

Hairties made from covering buttons with vintage reclaimed paisley ties.

With 5 members of our family with long hair, we have lots of experience in hair bands/elastics/clips. These are designed to be worn not just by the little girls but bigger ones as well ….. no more sparkly pink plastic bits for us.

These button elastics are about the size of a 10c piece…. and I think look fantastic, and unique.

And only $6 for the pair.

Postage is free if you buy 3 or more pairs. Just comment or email me to let me know which ones you would like.

They are limited runs of only  2-3 sets of each colourway, and I will post the remaining ones on etsy for sale in a week or so.

The first range uses paisley fabrics from ties….. stand by for a spot range and other exciting instalments for the hair.

I do need some ideas on how to photograph them. They are tricky little things.




Black...with a little sparkle

Complete range. Click to enlarge.


Deep red with a touch of navy and silver...... a Wheaton.

Notice the vintage vintage car buttons.

Recessed zipper.

Inside zip pocket.

Adjustable leather strap.

Big book pocket.

Skirt and top upcycled from a dress.

I began making this skirt and top for someone else, but once I asked 4 year old to try it on to see how the size was ….. I couldn’t part with it.

Navy really is great on her.

The long sleeve t-shirt is made from a new t-shirt (k-mart on sale) and different bits and pieces from my stash. A lace doily, buttons and embroidery thread.

It’s a great little style for this age. Comfy and practical to wear all day, but looks really special.

I am loving the converted shirt and dress into this skirt and top style.

Here is another made last year for 10 year old.

Must write a tutorial for it soon so you can all share the love.

Singing in her new outfit.

Top detail.

Skirt detail. Pocket made from sleeve and shoulder of dress.

Blogoversary give -away

April 30, 2011

Wow… it’s been 2 years today since I started blogging!

I’m pretty stocked that I have kept it up and that you guys have kept coming back for more.


Last year I had a harrysdesk bag to give away, so I spent a long time wondering how I could celebrate this year.

So…… here’s what I have decided.

This year I have designed a new bag shape…. and it will be the prize.

That’s right, it isn’t made yet….. but it looks something like the sketch.

You all get to choose the colours.

I will make three…. in the most favoured colours.

One will be given away randomly to one of you, and I will list the other two on etsy for sale. A 10% discount for every entry you make will come off your purchase …. should you choose to buy one of these.

To enter leave a comment below telling me what your colour choice is….

…if you want more entries, you can…. blog it, facebook it, tweet it….. or some other creative form of getting the harrysdesk name out there.

Just leave a comment and tell me what you did and I will enter you as many times as you promote what I do.

I probably don’t need to say this…. but I love creativity… so if you think of an exceptionally creative way to tell others about what I do …. extra entries will come to you.

The bag will also be named after the winner.

The competition ends May 30th.