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19th June 2018

Levi Pinfold Wins The Amnesty CILIP Honour

Congratulations to Levi Pinfold for winning this prestigious honour at the CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway Awards 2018 for the wonderful book written by A F Harrold published by Bloomsbury.


The Song From Somewhere Else Paperback cover artwork

The Song From Somewhere Else Paperback cover artwork




Levi says…“While working on the pictures for The song From Somewhere Else I was routinely struck by how important kindness is for a person who can only see shadows and a world in black and white. Amnesty International’s amazing work encourages us to work hard towards caring for each other and I feel truly honoured that our book has been recognised by such a vital and life-preserving organisation.”



The Song From Somewhere Else artwork by Levi Pinfold



Amnesty and CILIP, the library and information association, are working together to raise awareness of human rights through outstanding children’s books.

All titles shortlisted for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are now eligible for an extra commendation: the Amnesty CILIP Honour, for books that best illuminate, uphold or celebrate human rights.

‘Stories are central to Amnesty’s work and we have a long and proud history of promoting children’s literature to help shape a better world. Good books have a unique ability to inspire empathy, raise awareness, broaden horizons and empower young readers to stand up for themselves and others. We hope this Honour and our human rights explorer resources will make it easier to find books that help children find out about core values such as truth, freedom and justice.’

— Nicky Parker, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Publishing


In each category, Carnegie and Kate Greenaway, the panel look for books that:

Celebrate the values of freedom, truth, justice and fairness

Contribute to a better understanding of any one or more of our human rights,

as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

at and the Convention on the Rights of the Child


Levi Pinfold was awarded CILIP Amnesty Honour at The British Library on 18th June.

“I’m just going to say a few thank yous if that’s ok, because this kind of thing doesn’t happen on it’s own. First of all, I’m going to say thank you to my friend and all round excellent fellow, A F Harrold, who has been unfailingly open and generous throughout the whole process of making the book. He’s the kind of guy who’ll change a sentence to suit a mistake in an illustration. Huge admiration from me.I owe you a hot chocolate.

Thank you to CILIP, for putting the weird and the wonderful into the hands of kids. If I hadn’t had access to some of the more out-there books as a boy, I wouldn’t have had a reason to pick up a paintbrush to make sense of it.

Thank you to all the young, intelligent readers of fiction. Keep reading the things you like,the cool books, the weird books, the funny books, the spooky books, and the illustrated books. If you keep reading because you like it, the world will open up to you and your imagination will take us into a golden Age of Enlightenment, peace and tolerance.Leastways that’s what I think. Plus, if you keep asking for cool stuff, we get to make it and read it too.

To my fellow illustrators in the room… Thanks for being so inspiring. It can be a lonely profession, but seeing amazing work always stokes the fire and keeps it burning. Thanks to all the people working like crazy behind the scenes at Bloomsbury, and to my wonderful agents doing the same at Arena.

And finally thank you to Amnesty, the incredible work you do makes me think we all might just have a chance. I think learning about the depth and complexity of another person’s world should start pretty young, so thank you for articulating how important books are for all of us, this makes me want to do more and do better.”


AF Harrold’s book The Song from Somewhere Else features in Empathy Lab’s

2018 Read for Empathy Guide.

You can read A.F.Harrold’s guest blogpost HERE he says,

“You can never know what is happening inside another person’s head, or heart. But the characters in books, in your favourite books – they open up and share themselves with you. You can hear their thoughts and know them, a little. And perhaps, by knowing them, a little window will be opened into the lives of your friends and family, into the strangers and people you see in the news. Just knowing that window exists is one beginning of empathy.”


The Song From Somewhere Else artwork by Levi Pinfold

The Song From Somewhere Else artwork by Levi Pinfold

Levi Pinfold Portrait

Levi Pinfold

10th June 2018

Football Crazy, Football Mad

Time to dust off your football boots and prepare the orange segments because 14th June – 15th July sees the kick off if the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

We’re celebrating with all things football related starting with a back of the net goal by the team behind the Football School series Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton illustrated by our very own Spike Gerrell (published by Walker Books) this phenomenal series is everything a young footy fan could wish for and more, with a brand new Quiz Book to add to the mix.

Test yourself and your friends with brain busting football trivia including brain bogglers like “Which World Cup player wore a wig?” and “What is Lionel Messi’s creepy-crawly nickname?”.

Each fantastic fact and mind boggling fact is illustrated with cheerful anarchic line illustrations by life long footy fan Spike Gerrell


Quiz new

Grab a copy of Football School the Amazing Quiz book HERE 

Read all about the Football School books written by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton HERE


Spike isn’t the only football mad illustrator on the Arena books, Simon Bartram is a lifelong Sunderland AFC fan and football often features in his work most famously in his Templar picture book Up for the Cup (Buy a copy HERE).

View Simons complete portfolio HERE


Up for the Cup Simon Bartram




5th June 2018

Double Mega Lols with the LOLLIES



It’s that time again with a huge chuckle filled fanfare the 2018 Lollies shortlist has been announced and it includes two magnificent Arena illustrators, Thomas Flintham and Spike Gerrell.



Chair of the judges Michael Rosen commented;

“Anyone around children looking for books to have them giggling and laughing over and over again, these 12 books will do the job.  They are infectious and contagious and dangerous. Children will want to read them and ask for more. People talk about the importance of getting children reading, well, these shortlisted books do the work all by themselves.”

Rosen and the judging team chose the shortlist from 120 submissions. The final winners will be picked by school pupils and announced in January 2019.

First up, from the back of the field Football Season 2: Where Football Saves the World by Alex Bellos, Ben Lyttleton and Spike Gerrell (Walker Books).

Just ahead of the 2018 World Cup this hilarious book is packed with awesome true stories, real science and fascinating facts and will make you laugh your football socks off.

What is a vomitory? When do footballers wee? Where do goalkeepers let in chickens? When did women start playing football? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more in chapters on subjects such as biology, maths and history. Illustrated throughout with hilarious cartoons by Spike and filled with laugh-out-loud gags this is the perfect book for any boy or girl who loves football.

Grab your copy HERE 

Find out more about Spike’s work HERE or follow Spike on Instagram HERE


LOLLIES Football School

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To further tickle your funny bone There’s a Werewolf in My Tent! by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham (Nosy Crow)

Izzy and her friends are SO EXCITED about their school trip. They’re going camping and there’ll be marshmallows and no washing and everything. But then WEIRD things start happening! There are howling sounds at night, and some sausages have gone missing, and it’s nearly a full moon…

But it’s when they see their new teacher’s hairy legs that they KNOW! There’s a werewolf on the school trip and they’re all DOOMED!

Another brilliantly funny longer read for the newly confident reader from the best-selling, award-winning, author-illustrator team, Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham.

Grab a copy HERE 

Find out more about Thomas’s work HERE or check him out on Instagram HERE



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It’s a double whammy for Thomas this week as he also celebrates  ‘PRESS START! Game Over Super Rabbit Boy!’ which has been nominated for 2019 Otter Award! Grab a copy HERE 


2019 Otter Award

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29th May 2018

Alex T Smith’s Claude from Book to Screen

Claude animation by Sixteen South

Claude animation by Sixteen South


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Don’t Forget the Creator!

On the 4th June, Disney Junior UK will premiere the brand new Claude animated series based on the best-selling Claude books created by Alex T Smith.

In April, Alex and a panel of industry experts took to the stage at the London Book Fair to discuss the process of keeping creatives at the heart of a cross-platform partnership, and the process of transitioning from a character on the page to one on the small screen. 





Alex T Smith – Creator, Claude
Karen Lawler – Publisher, Hachette Children’s Books
Colin Williams, Producer, Sixteen South
and Orion Ross, Broadcaster The Walt Disney Company





Chapter 1 – The Wonder Years      As a lifelong eavesdropper and people watcher, Alex’s early childhood influences included many British TV classics such as ‘Allo ‘Allo and the Carry On films. At this time, personalities like Les Dawson and Larry Grayson were an almost constant presence on our screens, the influence these entertainment figures and many others had on the work which Alex went on to create is clear.

At its heart, the character of Claude is based around the perspective of 6 year-old, viewing the adult world in the special way in which only a child can, with innocence, awe, delight, confusion and a smattering of mischief. A concept which, when first embodied in book form almost a decade ago, provided a unique voice and reading experience that could be enjoyed on multiple levels by children and adults alike. Alex very much sees Claude as inhabiting an everyday self-contained world, finding excitement not in extraordinary fantastical scenarios in space but in situations like adventuring around an art gallery, or getting into a pickle at the seaside. Claude’s charm absolutely lies in the fact that he does the things which children really want to do but aren’t really allowed to.

Claude - Hello

Chapter 2 – The Pitch 

Alex often sees his creative process as if he was watching an animated feature in his head, and it is this visual insight from an early stage which enabled Alex to come up with the perfect pitch for the Claude fiction series.

Sending a beautifully designed pitch document alongside a kooky piece of music immediately grabbed the attention of Hodder Children’s Books, who had every confidence in this becoming a visually unique series for emerging readers, despite it being a concept very different to that on offer in the children’s book  market at that time. When the series emerged, with it’s stylish, unconventional two colour printing and bright humorous illustrations, it was soon supported by Waterstones and the Richard and Judy Book Club.

Claude, Sir Bobblysock and a cast of charming support characters soon won the hearts of the nation, and the books gained momentum both in the UK and worldwide.

Claude Stories

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Chapter 3 – Hitting the small screen 

Hachette soon saw the potential of Claude starring in his own animated series due to the episodic nature of the books. In 2012, Karen Lawler from Hachette Children’s Group began talks at MIP with Colin Williams, Creative director from Sixteen South. 

With the success of Driftwood Bay and the potential of employing over 90 people in Belfast, Alex was sold on the idea of the series being developed by Sixteen South and production began. Most importantly Karen could see that Colin truly ‘got’ Claude – having read the book with his own children, he understood that Claude reached them on their level, alongside loving the sense of humour and the daring two colour graphic approach. 

Colin’s approach was to retain the distinctive illustrated style of the artwork, making it quite different from the mass market CGI that children are used to. The essence of the books had to be retained which was much more challenging than designing a TV series from scratch. Colin maintains that the potential success of the series will be down to the relationships of all the core people that worked on the show, they were all on the same page as Alex throughout the entire process.

Alex T Smith Chaude Characters

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Chapter 4 – Production 

A strong creator such as Alex, with his confident creative identity is imperative in order to move through the numerous difficulties of the broadcast process. There is dialogue at the centre of the creative journey for transforming the books into a TV series. Which characters from all the books will work? It’s a small town and Claude is like The Fonz, everybody knows him. Can Sir Bobblysock talk? It was decided that he could talk and moreover could play an important role as the narrator – this was a suggestion made by Disney once they were on board as broadcasters, and Simon Callow was chosen for the role. All of the characters’ voices were a key element, they needed to have that “seaside postcard naughtiness” about them and Su Pollard was top on Alex’s list, joining Jane Horrocks, Shane Richie and Tameka Empson. Alexander Molony, a ten year-old newcomer, authentically voices Claude. The music was also going to be a huge factor in creating the mood for the show, it was a 1950’s/60’s world of films with a jaunty, jazzy feeling that the team drew on for inspiration. Original music was commissioned for the show, played live, jazz that sounds cool and timeless.

(Read more about the vocal cast HERE)

Shane Richie as Denzel and Jane Horrocks as Kimberley - Claude © Copyright Sixteen South Limited and Walt Disney EMEA Productions Limited 2018

Shane Richie as Denzel and Jane Horrocks as Kimberley – Claude © Copyright Sixteen South Limited and Walt Disney EMEA Productions Limited 2018



Orion from Walt Disney Co. said the pitch from Sixteen South was not an obvious fit for Disney Junior, due in part to it’s limited colour palette and the very ‘British’ landscape, but he strongly supported the concept because it was ‘now’ and very different, with magical storytelling at it’s heart. It is a show brimming with optimism and, even though Claude is a complete disaster magnet, but he has certainly has a friendly core!


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Grab your popcorn and a juicy bone baguette and take a look at the theme tune and some preview episodes over on Disney Junior UK’s Youtube channel HERE

The show is aired on Disney Junior in the UK on Monday 4th June 2018, after a six year journey from conception. Subscribe to get a new dose of DisneyJuniorUK fun every day! Disney Junior UK





Alex T Smith creator of Claude

Alex T Smith creator of Claude at Belfast premier

22nd May 2018

Matilda Harrison Portfolio

Matilda Harrison studied at Middlesex Polytechnic and St Martin’s School of Art. She remained in London where she lives with her partner and their daughter.Matilda’s work is fantastically detailed which lends itself naturally to narrative illustration and children’s books. She paints in acrylics with tiny brushes. Her style of painting is influenced by naive and folk art but filtered through a sophisticated eye.

She has worked for a wide range of clients in many different specialities, from editorial and publishing to advertising, packaging, print and design. She greatly enjoys problem solving, which has given rise to some of her most interesting and successful editorial and advertising jobs, including Heinz Salad Cream press advertisements and a pet food campaign for Purina. Clients include: Bloomsbury Publishing, Chrysalis Books, Radio Times, Reader’s Digest, Saatchi and Saatchi, Templar Publishing, The Independent, The Sunday Times, The Times, The Sunday Express, Trickett and Webb (Royal Mail), University of Southern California.








La Dentelliere


All Is For The Best In This Best Of All Possible Worlds


Pirates Cover Hodder Children’s Books


Faery Magic (Story Worlds Cards) Published by Templar


The Toy Maker (Story Worlds Cards) Published by Templar


Faery Magic (Story Worlds Cards) Published by Templar


Priscilla The Pigeon And Toys


Poster Design


I Am, My Inspiration


Flying Sheep Commissioned by Ogilvy and Mather, Frankfurt


Heinz Salad Cream Commissioned by Leo Burnett


The Owl & The Pussycat Illustration from Bisky Bats and Pussy Cats published by Bloomsbury


The Owl & The Pussycat Illustration from Bisky Bats and Pussy Cats published by Bloomsbury


The Queen’s Amulet Published by Chronicle Books USA for Lucas Books for STAR WARS Episode 1


Cats & Dogs Greetings card designs commissioned by The Art Group


Fairy Poems Gift book commissioned by Macmillan


Puzzed? Halloween No 3 A cover commissioned by the Daily Express


Radio Times Cover Illustration For the millennium edition.


The Book Of Christmas – Merry Christmas llustration for the poem by Aileen Fisher


The Book Of Christmas – Country Carol Illustration for the poem by Sue Cowling. THREE KINGS CAME RIDING illustration for the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow