On April 4th my new book with Paul Stewart, Brian the Brave, will be published by Otter Barry Books. I’ve collaborated with Paul once before, on Wings!, and it was lovely to be asked to work with him again.
The new story is all about sheep – but it’s also about much more. Brian is a happy-go-lucky sheep munching grass, when he meets a new friend. All is well until more and more sheep arrive, and start forming cliques based on the colour of their wool and the shape of their horns – causing much sheep-based unhappiness all round.
Brian wanders off despondently, but a chance encounter with a wolf brings out the hero in him, and he persuades all the sheep to work together to defeat the fearsome predator.
All the illustrations are made from collage, using scraps that I painted and applied textures to – the scratchiness of the wolf comes from monoprint rubbed with a sticklebrick, and the colours range from gouache to household emulsion, ink and oil pastels. When I first saw the text, I asked Paul where he thought it should be set, and he said ‘Yorkshire’. I’m very fond of Yorkshire, so that was a good starting point for me, and I had fun sneaking in lots of wildlife such as lapwings, moths and red campion. You can read more about the process here.
It’s a great story to read out loud to young children – I’ve tested it on my under 5s art group and they were fascinated by which sheep was which. There’s a handy guide opposite the title page.
Brian The Brave will be published in the US later in the year by Flyaway Books, and is out now in Denmark as Marius den Modige!