All About David Lucas
David is fascinated by how stories work, and sees both writing and drawing as pattern-making. It was only after illustrating a picture book by Ted Hughes that he began writing picture book texts of his own, and David’s first book as author and illustrator, Halibut Jackson, was published in 2003. David has published 15 books, with 3 on the way. In 2008 he won an award as one of the UK’s Best New Illustrators.
David’s School Visits
David has over 15 years experience as a visiting author in primary schools and is able to teach big groups – 60, 90 or 120 children at a time, if required.
David can offer up to 4 hours of workshop time per school plus an assembly.
Sessions with Reception are usually 30mins
KS1 classes are between 45mins and 1 hour
KS2 classes are 1 hour
What David offers in his own words:
Focus on The Robot and the Bluebird (a CLPE Power of Pictures text)
As children enter the hall, I draw my Robot character on a flipchart. I introduce myself and briefly explain what an author illustrator does. I show my original dummy book of the Robot and the Bluebird -with visible corrections as story developed.
I explain how I use words and pictures together to tell stories, and I talk about the history of the alphabet: how all our writing comes from heiroglyphs, so writing once was drawing: picture-writing.
We play an alphabet guessing game – can the children guess what each letter was originally a picture of? (e.g. A = cow, B = house, M = water)
I also show how Chinese characters are picture-writing too.
I read The Robot and the Bluebird and we discuss the story. What was the Robot’s problem? How was the problem solved? Was it a happy ending or a sad ending? Or both?
End with Q&A about what an author does.
RECEPTION Draw a Storybook Character 30mins
I read Grendel (a CLPE Power of Pictures text) involving the children at each stage, asking them to predict what will happen and leading fun discussions of the ideas raised in the story.
Me: “What would you do if you turned your dog to chocolate?”
5yr old: “Put it in the fridge!”
Me: “What would you do if you turned your mum to chocolate?”
5yr old: “I’d eat her!!”
I describe my drawing style as ‘picture-writing’ and my characters are made of simple shapes – like letter-shapes. I lead a drawing exercise, showing how to draw my storybook character. Following my lead, each child produces a careful drawing of their own – in their very best ‘handwriting’.
KS1 – Create a Storybook Character. Start a story. 45mins to 60mins
I read Grendel, and show how to draw Grendel, step-by-step. Following my lead, each child produces a drawing of their own. Each child thinks of a wish (Grendel hinges on 3 wishes) and we discuss how wishes-gone-wrong make great stories. I write word lists to spark ideas for the children’s own original storybook characters. I always ask the children to invent a character no one has ever thought of in the whole history of the world! Each child makes a series of word combinations e.g. Paper Mermaid Princess, Broken Electric Genie, Ghostly Butterfly Baby. They choose their favourite combination, draw their character, and give it a name.
Every story needs a problem. What problem might their character have? Is the character lost, stuck, lonely, etc? Could they use their wish idea in their story? The children begin writing a story about their unique, original character.
KS2 – Create a Picture Book 60 mins
This class begins in the same way as the KS1 workshop, but as I read Grendel, I explain how the story fits the classic 12 page-spread picture book storyboard, and we see how Grendel’s problem (greed) worsens as the story progresses to crisis point, before the neat twist leads to a satisfying resolution. As in the KS1 workshop, the children create original characters, making careful drawings and giving their characters names. They can also add other characters, and scene-setting detail. We then look at how each character could star in a complete, resolved picture book story.
The children begin making storyboards of their own, plotting their story across 12 page-spreads. The disciplined form of the picture book acts as a microscope to look in detail at narrative structure, and each child has a clear, challenging, but achievable goal: to tell the most exciting, original story they can in 12 short paragraphs. The text can then be transferred to a handmade book.
I end by showing the children how to turn their story into an illustrated book of their own, with front and back covers, reviews, blurb, and a decorative title page with dedication and copyright info – so their book feels as much as possible like the real thing. The book itself can be made as either a holiday project or later in class. Each child is then an author illustrator.
HALIBUT JACKSON Andersen Press
A story of a shy little man, who makes suits that match the background wherever he is. He gets an invitation to the Queen’s birthday party, at the Palace and decides to go in disguise – making a suit of silver and gold and jewels that matches the Palace. But it is a garden party. Everyone notices him – and everyone wants a suit like his. He becomes a famous fashion designer.
THE ROBOT AND THE BLUEBIRD Andersen Press
The Robot has a broken heart, and he is sent to the scrapheap. One snowy day a Bluebird stops on the Robot’s shoulder – she is exhausted and half-frozen. He shelters her in the space where his heart used to be – and begins to feel alive – as if he really does have a fluttering, beating heart. She is too weak to make the journey to the warm south, so he uses the last of his energy to save her, carrying her over the mountains in his heart. As she flies free, he dies: he has given his life to save her.
THE LYING CARPET Andersen Press
Faith is a statue, trapped in a room, in a grand country house, with only a tiger-skin rug (the Carpet) for company. She wants to be free, to live, but all she knows of the world is what she learns from the Carpet. He tells her contradictory stories of who he is, who she is, etc. He says the master of the house, His Grace, is dying. He had always loved the statue, and wished she could live. The Carpet claims he is a flying carpet and can travel through time. Then he announces that His Grace has died, and that the old man’s ghost is sitting in the chair. Then the Carpet says that everything he’s ever said is a lie. Nothing is real – not even Faith. She is so angry she springs to life. The spell is broken. The Carpet’s most fantastical claims are true: he can fly – and they fly away together.
GRENDEL Walker Books
Grendel is a little monster. He loves chocolate more than anything, even more than his Mum or his dog. When his Mum offers him chocolate egg he snatches it and runs away, gobbling it down. Inside the egg is a note: he has 3 wishes. He doesn’t believe in magic, so he just wishes for more chocolate. When the wish comes true he wishes that everything he touches turns to chocolate. He has fun until the dog comes to meet him. His dog leaps up, and turns to chocolate. Then his Mum touches him, and she turns to chocolate. She is melting in the sun – and at last he sees how selfish he has been. He has one last wish, and wishes it was yesterday. This time he shares the chocolate, and the wishes with his Mum. He has learned his lesson.
David’s next book, “I WAS MADE FOR YOU” (Andersen Press), will be published in Oct 2018.
WONDERBIRD, already described as a ‘classic’ by the publishers at the acquisition stage, is due to be published in 2019.
Reviews of David’s Books
HALIBUT JACKSON (Andersen Press 2003)
‘Instant classic’ Financial Times
‘The search for Halibut Jackson in David Lucas’s witty and original illustrations is delightfully satisfying, while the message about being confident in yourself is lightly worn.’ Julia Eccleshare, Guardian
‘an impressive debut. His tale has classic narrative elements that support a firm visual authority. The lyrical ease of Lucas’s line recalls the aesthetics of an earlier era and greats like Ludwig Bemelmans and Jean de Brunhoff.’ New York Times
Chosen as Amazon.com’s ‘favourite children’s book of 2004’
A Best Children’s Book of 2004 in both Publisher’s Weekly and Child magazine NUTMEG (Andersen Press 2005)
‘a dizzying adventure’ Publishers Weekly
‘A lovely, sparky story’ Observer
‘An offbeat winner’ Junior Magazine
WHALE (Andersen Press 2006)
‘This is a book which should be part of every child’s curriculum: a delight; an entitlement; a little masterpiece…’ Carousel
‘catastrophe and celebration are both writ large in this attractive picture book. Spectacular… David Lucas makes brilliant use of changing perspectives.’ Julia Eccleshare, Guardian
‘Another brilliant picture book from David Lucas… a charming story that feels like an old favourite from the very first read.’ The Bookseller
SOMETHING TO DO (Gullane 2007)
‘stands out as a unique work because of its emotionally simple charm’ Kirkus Reviews
‘In earlier books like Cake Girl and Nutmeg, Lucas demonstrated a love for ornament and pattern: here, text and pictures are stripped down to essentials. But his observations are just as potent, and his depiction of boredom is every bit as entertaining as his vision of imaginative play.’ Publishers Weekly
‘Both elegant and pleasing, this picture book is a standout’ School Library Journal.
Winner of an AOI bronze award
THE ROBOT AND THE BLUEBIRD (Andersen Press 2007)
‘tears at the heartstrings…’ Independent on Sunday
‘A profound variation on The Happy Prince’ Geraldine Brennan, T.E.S.
‘David Lucas’s poetic voice makes The Robot and the Bluebird sing. Lilting cadences give this tale a lightness and a fairytale touch reminiscent of Oscar Wilde, but with a Burtonesque twist.’ Irish Times
‘tender, touching and hopeful… this modern fable about the power of love to regenerate unfolds at a gentle pace and to great effect.’ Julia Eccleshare, Guardian
‘A poignant book… its simple pictures steer the story away from sentimentality, and its readers will take a while to grow out of it.’ Daily Telegraph
THE LYING CARPET (Andersen Press 2008)
‘Reading The Lying Carpet is a dreamy experience – the language is lovely; the free verse has an offbeat rhythm; the illustrations are breathtaking… older readers may think of Kierkegaard’s ‘Fear and Trembling’ and ‘The Present Age’ – the poetry, the paradoxes, the musings on leaps of faith, the need for passion and the awareness of self. I can see high school and college philosophy students finding endless discussion fodder in ‘The Lying Carpet’; it would be a great graduation gift for black clad poetesses.’ New York Times
‘Lucas’s first book for older readers reveals that he’s as remarkable a writer as he is an illustrator.’ Publisher’s Weekly
‘an exquisite and provoking contemplation of truth, hope, dreams and the power of stories.’ The Daily Telegraph
‘beautiful and mysterious… this will tug relentlessly on the mind and heart of any child ready to read it.’ Kirkus Reviews
‘The Lying Carpet by virtuoso storyteller and illustrator David Lucas… is an enduring allegorical story about the virtue of truth and standing up for what you believe in.’ The Bookseller
PEANUT (Walker Books 2008)
‘A treasure of a book.’ Carousel
‘What an utterly sweet book. Every page is a delight to pore over.’ theBookbag.co.uk
CAKE GIRL (Andersen Press 2009)
‘Cake Girl is a thing of beauty… which couldn’t fail to charm anyone under six.’ Independent on Sunday
‘Watching Cake Girl teach the witch new social skills is a treat.’ Publishers Weekly
‘Sweetly surreal.’ Kirkus Reviews
‘One of the best picture books of the season.’ The Bookseller
LOST IN THE TOY MUSEUM (Walker Books 2011)
‘Lucas’s stylised illustrations and unusual use of perspectives cleverly convey the magic of this engaging story.’ Julia Eccleshare, Guardian
‘It is the glorious attention to detail that I love… by searching through the museum you are taken on quite a magical journey.’ The Bookseller
THIS IS MY ROCK
Featured in the Bookseller as ‘One to watch’ but the review was in print rather than online.
BOOK TRUST – http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/view/34242
“This is My Rock is a beautiful picture book with lovely illustrations. Little Goat’s story is an endearing one about the importance of sharing. Little Goat learns that things can actually be much more fun when they are shared with your friends. The hardcover edition is an eye-catching picture book that makes a great gift as well.”
“With simple wit and beautifully detailed illustrations, David Lucas weaves a tale about sharing and friendship.”
“As with most of David Lucas’ stories, there’s a rather lovely little twist that comes in at the end of this book when the goat realises that you can defend your lofty habitat with all the will in the world but sometimes it takes someone smaller and cleverer than you to humble you into submission!
“It’s a lovely book, with a real feeling of movement and joy through it, and I like that at the end there is a sweet drawing with space to write your name (well, your child’s name!) underneath the sign This is actually my book! Fun stories about sharing are always nice to read with young children, as any new way to instill the message is a good thing! This is enjoyable to read as a grown up too, so definitely worth a look.”
“This unvarnished morality tale’s strength lies in its simplicity. On one level it speaks to its listeners and readers directly, openly, transparently. On the other hand it can also work as high satire. I’ve been reading This is My Rock against a backdrop of daily discussions in the media about immigration in the UK, and at some level I think all the hot air surrounding this topic could be healthily dissipated if only people were to read something as straightforward and honest as Lucas’ new book.”
Kingston Blog Recommended Read – https://blogs.kingston.ac.uk/education/2015/04/14/david-lucas-this-is-my-rock/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
The Book Worm Baby – http://thebookwormbaby.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/this-is-my-rock.html
“THIS IS MY ROCK has a simple moral of sharing which would make a great gift for any young book lover but also for siblings! Things can be much more fun when they are shared with your friends.”
Red Reading Hub – https://jillrbennett.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/this-is-my-rock/
“Having read the dedication inside the front cover, one could read all sorts of things into Lucas’ short story but that’s the thing about a good book – it leaves plenty of space for readers to make their own interpretations. Readers who could well be in the early stages of their reading journey are just one of the possible audiences: everything about it makes the book perfect for beginners (reading scheme books just don’t stand up against the likes of this), but it’s much too good to be confined to beginners alone.”
“A rocky climb to wisdom.”
“What really makes this book stand out from the rest is the amazing illustrations which are really stunning.”
“This book is great fun for young children, as the refrain is repetitive, allowing pre-readers to quickly join in with the words. The colourful images are detailed and offer plenty of potential prompts for young children to retell the story for themselves. It’s also a powerful and timeless story about the power of sharing and the meaning of friendship.”
Feedback for David’s visits
I just wanted to write and thank you so much for gifting me the most wonderfully inspiring, creative and engaging hour I have spent in a long time!
Feedback from workshops at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
A very talented, warm inspirational down to earth individual! My daughter was in awe of him, as we all were – so engaging, confidence boosting as well as informative & fun!
Feedback from workshops at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
I wanted to say a huge HUGE thank you for the fantastic course we attended at the Bethnal Green V & A museum. You were a great inspiration to both my kids, especially my 11 year old son.
Feedback from workshops at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
Thank you very much for the workshop you ran at the Museum of Childhood. My son’s Elliott (Age 6) and Isaac (Age 9) absolutely loved it!
They came home full of stories on how the day had gone and how much they had enjoyed the workshop. Isaac said it was “The best English lesson he had ever had!” Thanks again, for giving them what was clearly a truly inspirational time!
Feedback from workshops at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
Just wanted to say that it was an absolute pleasure today. The children all loved the workshops so much. We can not wait to start our competition. Hopefully we will be sending you some finished picture books after Easter.
Staff member at the Oratory School, in Birmingham.
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about David Lucas, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org