Wednesday, 13 May 2015

THE SILVER SERPENT CUP Top Trumps card game and colouring sheets


To mark the publication of Fast and Furry Racers: The Silver Serpent Cup, I’ve created a Top Trumps style card game featuring all twenty-four of the vehicles from the book.

You can download the full set of cards along with a rules envelope to store them in HERE.

In the last post I mentioned how impressed I was with Ed Eave’s vehicle design sketches when I first saw them. Ed has kindly agreed to make these available as a set of colouring sheets which you can download HERE.

Find out more about The Silver Serpent Cup on my web site

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Silver Serpent Cup • New Paperback

I have a new paperback picture book coming out today! Fast and Furry Racers: The Silver Serpent Cup is illustrated by Ed Eaves and published by Oxford University Press. It's a high-speed, adrenaline-fuelled rhyming romp of a story that we hope will be the first of a series of Fast and Furry Racers books.

Today the town of Furryville’s a very noisy place,
Crammed with crowds of creatures getting ready for a race.
The air is filled with honking horns and engines revving up,
As racers take their places for THE SILVER SERPENT CUP!

The initial inspiration for book came from illustrator Ed Eaves. Ed and I had previously done a couple of pop-up books together. We’d got on well and were hoping to work together again some time. About a year after we’d finished the second pop-up book, Ed sent me some photos of a set of cardboard models that he’d made for his illustration degree over a decade earlier. The models were of animals driving outrageously souped-up cars and planes, many of which were armed with enormous weapons. Ed had thought about doing a picture book along similar lines, but hadn’t been able to come up with a suitable story, so he’d sent them to me to see if they would “spark an idea.”

Some of the vehicle models that Ed Eaves made for his illustration degree show.

I found the models very appealing and an idea for a no-holds-barred race story, featuring a motley assortment of creatures and vehicles immediately sprang into my mind. However, I couldn’t get the story to work straight away and was tinkering with it, off and on, for more than a year before I went back to Ed with a draft. Most of Ed’s models were of aeroplanes and having already written a picture book about an air race, Pigs Might Fly, I decided that the race in this story needed to be distinctly different. So I extended the range of vehicles to include cars, boats, submarines, a steam train and a tunnelling machine. I’m always arguing that we need more picture books that can match the appeal of children’s TV, film and video games and one of the biggest inspirations for the story was the Wacky Races cartoon series which was a childhood favourite of mine. Another more contemporary influence was the Mario Kart video games. My kids love playing these and I wanted to see if we could create a similar sense of action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled excitement in a picture book. In Mario Kart, racers fire a variety of bullets, bombs and shells to sabotage other vehicles. I borrowed this idea for a scene towards the end of the book where villainous alligator Al McNasty tries to win the race by firing rockets at the other racers’ vehicles.

Ed and I wanted the book to have a similar appeal to TV show Wacky Races (left) and video game Mario Kart (right).

Luckily Ed liked the draft I sent him, so we sent it out to publishers, along with the photos of Ed’s models. We were delighted when Peter Marley at Oxford University Press accepted it!

Only seven of the racers are directly referred to in the story, but the text makes it clear that a lot more are taking part in the race. Ed decided that there would be twenty four vehicles in all and designed all of them before he began work on the illustrations. I was blown away by these design sketches when I first saw them. Each of the vehicles looks distinctly different, partly because Ed made many of them look like the animals that drove them. You can see that Ed’s given a lot of thought to the design of each and every one of them.

Ed designed many of the vehicles to look like their drivers.

All twenty four vehicles lined up on the starting grid. 

Ed illustrations also draw on Wacky Races and Mario Kart for inspiration and this really comes across in his action-packed, dynamic final artwork. This submarine spread where octopus Ollie Octllini takes the lead among the underwater racers, is one of my favourites.

Here's a trailer I made for the book.

As you can probably tell, this book has been a pleasure to work on. I only hope children will enjoy reading it as much as Ed and I enjoyed making it!

Visit The Silver Serpent Cup's page on my web site

find your local bookshopBuy this book at amazon UKBuy at amazon US