Thursday, 5 July 2018


πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ UK Edition - Oxford University Press

 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ US Edition - Kane Miller

"In the ruins of a temple, down a dark and winding stair,
explorer Cleopatra Bones is creeping with great care.
Springing nimbly sideways to avoid a deadly trap,
she squeezes through a secret door and finds a TREASURE MAP!"

Cleopatra Bones and the Golden Chimpanzee, my new picture book with illustrator Ed Eaves, is published today by Oxford University Press in the UK and Kane Miller in the US!

The book is a sequel to the 2015 race-themed picture book The Silver Serpent Cup. I think the preference many young children have for TV, film and video games over picture books has more to do with content than medium; a lot of the content that young children find extremely appealing in electronic media is relatively difficult to find in picture books. In The Silver Serpent Cup, Ed and I had drawn on the content of race-themed video games like Mario Kart and TV shows like Wacky Races for inspiration. For Cleopatra Bones and the Golden Chimpanzee, we drew on treasure-seeking video games like Tomb Raider and Temple Run and films like Indiana Jones.

The book draws on video games like Tomb Raider and Temple Run and films like the Indiana Jones series for inspiration.

While the race-winning hero of The Silver Serpent Cup is not mentioned in the book’s title (so as not to spoil the surprise for first time readers), it’s obvious from the start of this second book that Cleopatra Bones is the heroine and OUP felt that her name should be in the sequel’s title. Cleopatra’s character was originally called Oklahoma Bones but OUP Sales Manager Matt Ager suggested the name Cleopatra, which felt like a perfect for an adventurous archaeologist.

Heroic hound Cleopatra has a sure nose for ancient treasure.

Although this sequel has a new heroine, alligator Al McNasty returns as the dastardly villain …

Awful Al McNasty is determined to take the treasure for himself.

… and eagle-eyed readers should be able to spot six more characters from The Silver Serpent Cup among the eighteen animals racing to find the lost treasure of the Golden Chimpanzee.

Five of the racers from The Silver Serpent Cup return in new vehicles for this book.

One of the most appealing things about The Silver Serpent Cup were the extraordinary vehicle designs Ed created for each of the characters and Ed has come up with a similarly impressive array of aircraft, boats and land vehicles for this follow-up. As with the first book, Ed designed each vehicle to mimic its owner. So orang-utan Diego Del Grippo’s OranguTank is fitted with two giant gripping hands that can be fired into the treetops, allowing him to swing his way through the jungle, while chameleon Pablo Prisma’s nippy little jungle buggy can change colour as quickly as he can.

Diego De Grippo and Pablo Prisma's vehicle designs mimic the creatures driving them.

To add an element of interactivity, Ed's illustrations are peppered with coded messages for readers to decipher. At the beginning of the book Cleopatra Bones discovers the location of the Golden Chimpanzee using a treasure map covered in hieroglyphic symbols. The same symbols can also be seen carved into other stone objects throughout the book. A key for decoding the symbols can be found on the book’s title page, but readers may find it easier to print out the activity sheet at the bottom of this post and use the symbol key on that instead.

The hieroglyphic symbols on the illustrations can be decoded using the symbol key on the book's title page
or the separate activity sheet.

This book was just as much fun to work on as the first one, so I’m hoping that Ed and I will be able to bring some of our intrepid animal adventurers back for a third outing before long!

Here's a trailer I made for the book.

You can download and print Cleopatra's Code Cracker activity sheet and colouring sheets of all 18 of the book's characters with their vehicles by clicking on the images below.

Cleopatra's Code Cracker

Colouring sheets

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