This is the fifth adventure for Ollie and a very special day for her – her birthday! She’s wearing her new tiger suit and practising her roar, when she spots a bunch of balloons floating past her window. Ollie can’t help but follow and soon she finds herself in the middle of a magical birthday party just for her!
My favourite part of writing this book was imagining which animals would be at the party, and which games they would enjoy playing! I thought back to what I had enjoyed when I was little – pass the parcel and musical statues (or freeze dance) were two I always loved! I also remembered a game where, if you rolled a 6 on a dice, you put on a hat, scarf and gloves as quickly as possible, then tried to eat chocolate with a knife and fork before someone else rolled a 6 and it was their turn! But that one didn’t make it into the story!
It was also a lot of fun imagining all the prizes that could be inside the parcel. Have you noticed the lovely hair slide Zebra has won? Or the fortune telling fish that Monkey is holding? And can you guess who is the best at keeping still?
I always knew there would be birthday bubbles in this book and I wanted this spread to be totally joyful! I can’t imagine a better way to have fun with all your friends! I painted the artwork for this book over the summer of 2022 – it was very hot here in the UK (with some record breaking temperatures) so every time I looked at the picture where Elephant helps them all cool down, I felt quite jealous!
Before I paint the artwork for the book there is lots of planning involved. This starts with storyboards with thumbnail drawings, then I draw small roughs at about half the size of the final book. Once my editor, designer and me are all happy with the story and planned images, I draw up full-size roughs which I’ll use as my guides for the artwork. They have to be very accurate as I cut stencils to paint with, and also to make sure that all the die-cuts will work! Here’s my full-size rough for one page. The orange line shows which part of the page will show through the die-cut onto the following page.
Ollie’s Birthday Surprise was published by Simon & Schuster UK in August and The Little Tiger will be out in the US in early December, also published by Simon & Schuster. The book is also available in French and Italian and will be published in French Canadian and Spanish soon too!