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17th October 2019

Pam Ayres: Up in The Attic – Illustrated by Susan Hellard

It’s time to pop the kettle on and make yourself a brew, because we’ve got something really rather special which we’d like to share with you.. And that’s where our ambitious intentions of a rhyming blog post end as we hand over to a professional…

We are thrilled to present a brand new poetry collection by one of the Nations favourite poets, Pam Ayres, not only has she is one of the few authors who has had books in the Sunday Times bestseller charts in almost every decade since the 1970s she has been a hugely successful  writer, broadcaster, and entertainer for over 40 years. Up in the Attic is sensitive, observant collection of rhymes beautifully illustrated by Arena Illustrator Susan Hellard.

A hilarious, reflective and profound collection of poetry featuring funny and often poignant illustrations by Susan Hellard which work in tandem with the text perfectly. From the dubious joy of being an exhausted, panic-stricken hostess in ‘The Dinner Party’ or feelings of unease about pub tableware in ‘Don’t Put My Dinner on the Slate!’, to a poignant reflection of war in ‘Down the Line’ and the bittersweet nostalgia of ‘Up in the Attic’, this new collection will tickle and move readers in equal measure. This is the fourth collection of Pam’s poems that Sue has had the pleasure in illustrating and the collaboration continues to strengthen from book to book.

Pam Ayres says of Susan Hellard’s work: “she’s an absolute genius, I love her… She’s an unsung hero, in my opinion”.
We’ve thought that for years but it’s always nice to hear an author agree. You can hear Pam Ayres chat to Jo Good on BBC Radio London about her book ‘Up In The Attic’ which is published by Ebury Press:
You can see more of Sue’s illustrations for another poetry book by Pam Ayres here: Grab a copy of Up in the Attic HERE 




Up in the Attic – EXTRACT

I’ve got to find a document, whereabouts unknown,

I haven’t seen the thing since George VI was on the throne,

A copy’s unacceptable, or so the jobsworth said,

There’s only one place left to look, and that’s the one I dread.

It isn’t in the chest with the drawers stuffed full,

It isn’t in the cupboard with your old knitting wool,

It isn’t in the garden where the cauliflowers grow,

Where is it? Where is it?   I think we all know…


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SECURITY – An extract

“Can I touch you?” If you must,

Provided you’re devoid of lust,

Come pat me down, come, stroke my bust,

Inspect me,

Protect me,

Don’t let the bombs affect me.


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Boarding – An extract

Relief! I’ve found my seat at last,

Tucked away my boarding pass,

Belted up, secure and fast,

So fly me!

Ply me!

Folk are shuffling by me.


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Landing – An extract

To the upper locker go,

Cabin baggage swinging low,

Concuss the chappie down below,

He’s glaring,

I’m raring,

Ready to go haring.

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8th October 2019

Debut Picture Book by Graham Carter

It’s time for a debut drum roll…….. Presenting every twitcher’s dream, we are so pleased to announce the publication of Otto Blotter Bird Spotter, the very first picture book written AND illustrated by the supremely talented Mr Graham Carter and published by Andersen Press. A story about a little boy, Otto who finds a new friend.

The Blotter family are famous bird spotters who stay in their hide all day, passionate about discovering weird and wonderful feathered creatures. All except for Otto, he’d rather go out and have big adventures. One day on an expedition he follows the BIGGEST footprints he’s ever seen, he finds an unusual baby bird all on its own. He takes the bird home and the bird keeps growing and growing. Otto’s new friend soon reveals a very special ability: camouflage! Otto begins to suspect Bird may have a family after all… perhaps the time has come to take him home?

“The energy in this book shines out from the artwork as Carter uses every square centimetre of the pages to reveal new surprises and give the story depth…” review by Karl Andy Foster for The Association of Illustrators.

Otto Blotter Bird Spotter is a surefire classic made to be read again and again, discovering new things each time hidden within Graham’s intricate illustrations.

So put aside your binoculars for a moment while we delve into the pages of this delightful feathery, family friendly picture book.

Graham Carter Otto Blotter Bird Spotter picture book

Graham Carter Otto Blotter Bird Spotter picture book

Graham Carter Otto Blotter Bird Spotter picture book

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Graham Carter Otto Blotter Bird Spotter picture book

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Graham Carter Otto Blotter Bird Spotter picture book

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Graham Carter is a printmaker with a huge following who is now stepping into the world of picture books. Graham works primarily in digital media, yet also employs the use of traditional methods, such as screen printing and lino/wood cutting. He has made a successful career in commercial illustration, working with many established brands, and recently worked on the hit Netflix series Black Mirror for which he created a digital character based on the lead played by Miley Cyrus (read more HERE) . Graham lives on the coast in Seaford with his wife and son, and can often be found printing, sketching and making a mess in his studio in Brighton.

Watch out for Graham’s spooky illustrations on Halloween treats in Waitrose this month.

2nd October 2019

Joe Lillington – Updated online portfolio

We are thrilled to present Joe Lillington’s brand new updated online portfolio, now featuring his most recent work including some exquisite illustrations from his fascinating new book about the Silk Road and some wonderful new character pieces. Here are just a few of our favourite new additions…

From the Illusory Castle – written and illustrated by Joe Lillington

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Illustration taken from ‘Rocket Boy’ (Stripes)

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The Silk Road

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Born in London and now based in the beautiful city of Bristol Joe has an eclectic pool of influences, from medieval manuscripts and ancient artefacts, to the work of Brugel and since childhood a fondness for Asterix comics which first sparked his passion for history. These influences feed through in Joe’s stunning illustrations in many ways but most notably in the atmosphere, and historical accuracy in terms of detail as well as excellent characterisation and narrative.

Joe’s creative process starts with reference research in museums and galleries, from there he creates pencil drawings where he varies the thickness of line depending on the scale. Sometimes he works over his sketches with pencil and crayon or watercolour, then colours digitally. Joe tries to keep the digital process simple, his aim is to create a sense of depth and atmosphere in his work, Joe has designed a number of his own digital brush sets which are now available on Procreate and often come highly recommended by other illustrators.

Joe has recently completed a spectacular seasonal commission for the Bristol Old Vic Theatre for their production of Charle’s Dickens winter classic  A Christmas Carol which takes the stage in November. With stunning results Joe drew reference from the previous years production. An interesting insight into this particular project, the final image will likely be amended nearer the time of launch due tho the final casting of the actors for each of the characters. Joe used specific dimension so that the image could be used on a variety of platforms form digital banners to posters, working in both portrait and landscape format. We think you’ll agree the image is delightfully atmospheric while maintaining a fresh and contemporary feel.




For more information about Joe’s work please email info@arenaillustration.com, you can find out more about Joe and his work over on his website  or view Joe’s updated online portfolio HERE Follow him on Instagram and Twitter too…

23rd September 2019

Icarus Was Ridiculous by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham

Can you believe this month sees the publication of the 8th book in the Pamela Butchart Baby Aliens series illustrated by the inimitable Thomas Flintham. From demon dinner ladies to vampire rats this bonkers series certainly has something for everyone and this time we find ourselves in ancient Greece… in Icarus Was Ridiculous.

Izzy just loves the mythology and stories the Ancient Greeks told! She can’t wait to tell her friends about Icarus, who was a total wally, and the Trojan Horse, which ended a war and wasn’t even REAL! So pull up a plinth and enjoy all the drama of the original Greek myths, as told by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham, in collaboration with the British Museum. Now with even more sandals and extra laughs!

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“Izzy and friends are back for a new adventure in the brilliantly funny, astutely observed comedy series.”

– Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

Icarus Was Ridiculous is published by Nosy Crow

Read an extract HERE


Grab a copy before they all fly off the shelves HERE 

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20th September 2019

Claude Hits The Small Screen

After taking Disney Junior by storm in 2018 with his very own animated series, Alex T Smith’s Claude now has his sights firmly set on terrestrial TV in the UK, so set your alarms and get the kettle on because at 9:25 every morning Claude and his chums will be gracing our screens on ITVBe.

Based on the much-loved, best-selling series of books by Alex T. Smith, Claude follows the humorous adventures of a little beret-clad dog, Claude, and his faithful sidekick, Sir Bobblysock. It is set in the cosmopolitan seaside resort of Pawhaven – home to an eccentric mix of larger-than-life-characters and colourful visitors.

The series was devised for television by Sixteen South and produced by Colin Williams, head written by Sara Daddy and directed by Tim Harper. The show first launched in 2018 on Disney Junior in all countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.

The interstellar voice cast features greats such as Simon Callow CBE, Anne Reid MBE, Shane Richie, Jane Horrocks, Su Pollard, Brian Murphy, Tameka Empson and Bhasker Patel. Newcomer, twelve-year-old Alexander Molony plays the eager and enthusiastic eponymous doggy hero, Claude.

Simon Callow CBE said of his first ever role as a sock: “I just loved the character and the relationship between Claude and Sir Bobblysock. He’s very well written and the concept of the stories is very original. There’s a lovely innocence about the series, however it’s also odd and wacky. The characters are so vivid, funny and unexpected.”

Colin Williams, Creative Director at Sixteen South, added: “We fell in love with Claude from the moment we saw Alex’s amazing books – the humour, design and styling of Claude and his world are one of a kind. We’ve really enjoyed working with Alex to develop the series for children around the world to enjoy and are excited to see Claude come to a new audience on ITVBe and RTÉ Jr this autumn.”

Hachette Children’s Group have published four Claude TV tie-in titles – two activity books, the Snazzy Dress Up Sticker Book and Ever So Summery Sticker Book and two Claude picture books: All About Keith and Anyone For Strawberries? Both picture books are based on episodes of the TV show, written by Alex T. Smith. Order and pre-order HERE 

The publishing programme continues with a further four titles scheduled for 2020 including two more picture books: Camp Claude (March)and Dream Bun (June). In March the very first comic book publishes, Claude, Claude Comic Capers. Also coming in June 2020 is the Whopping Great Sticker Activity Book.

Author-illustrator Alex T. Smith added, “I’m absolutely delighted to see the Claude TV show come to ITVBe and RTÉ Jr. It’s been a joy to work with Colin and the team at Sixteen South on this series and I can’t wait for even more viewers to meet Claude on screen and in the new books!”

View Alex’s amazing online portfolio HERE .. or check him out on Twitter HERE

For more information about Alex and his work please email info@arenaillustration.com

Read our Video Blog post about the Claude animated series HERE