From idea to book

african, character, children's books, design, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, publishing, stories

Everyone has a story…

Everyone has a story inside them. Some of us tell it in a book or a play or on the stage, football pitch or boardroom. But most of us live our story, telling it to our loved ones, every day, year by year… the point is each story gets told and appreciated.

I have heard many wonderful stories and have learned to use the book as my medium. Let me share that way with you in a series of real-time posts, starting with an idea and ending (hopefully) with a beautiful book.

If you have thought of writing or illustrating your own book, or if you are just curious, then this real-time project will be of use before you get in touch.

All you have to do is follow the blog for regular monthly updates on the project. Please comment, spread the word and get involved!

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First reviews for Lenny books



There’s more to Ken Wilson-Max’s Lenny Goes to Nursery School (Frances Lincoln, £9.99), with its jolly little hero successfully making it through his first full day away from home. A multi-coloured cast of characters have an equally good time in this picture book, also sturdily produced.

– Nicholas Tucker, The independent on Sunday


IT’S never too early to read to a little one, so why not encourage a love of literature with a selection of baby books? Where’s Lenny? by Ken Wilson-Max or So Much from Trish Cooke are just a couple of suggestions of books that offer imaginative stories for young minds.

– Davina Hamilton, The Voice


Summer Events. One Down…

Activities & Play, african, design, Events, From the sketchbooks, idea, publishing



The Carnegie Greenaway award winners were announced on the same morning I was doing a workshop in front of around 100 children, where they showed what their picks were for the Winner. This took place at Platform in North London which is quite near where I live. The event was well organised by Islington Library Services.
A full list of winners, including this year’s can be seen here.  The Greenaway winner can be seen here, along with a list of previous winners. Teams of children stepped up and made presentations about their favourite books in what was a very enjoyable morning. Before we started, Sylvia Cohen warmed the children up with a few exercises to sharpen the mind and build confidence. She’s good at that.

I had to comment on each team’s work, and then run a workshop on creativity.  During the workshop we discussed where ideas come from and how to hold onto and then make something of them before setting them free. I read an unfinished text for a book idea as an example (the Bear above is part of that).

At the end we handed out One page books on the creativity workshop which the children could take away. That part of the event was made possible by the sponsoring of the print run, something I hadn’t considered doing until recently. It worked fantastically well; the children went away with something they could use later, the sponsors, Singer Financial Trust and Spot On Print were able to play their parts in giving schools a little more than usual and of course for us, it marks the beginning of a collaboration that will bring literature and drama in new and enjoyable ways. 

I am working on a digital version of the one page book which can be downloaded from this site

I’m still waiting for some images of the event that I can post.






We like cowboys- sketches

children's books, design, From the sketchbooks, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, publishing

I worked up some sketches and colour test pictures and am quite happy with the results. I normally do things in waves  (if I have the time), preferring to let things sit for a few days before deciding if they work or not. Here are the two main characters from the story. It was a surprise that the text came together so quickly and so well.

A note about colour tests. While I paint with acrylics, my graphic design background  means that Photoshop skills are included.  The software is used to work out colours before painting. It would be interesting to do a book this way; painted line and digital colour- and that might happen one day. Enjoy!

Splash Joshua Splash

Activities & Play, character, children's books, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, publishing, stories

Splash Joshua Splash by Malachy Doyle and Ken Wilson-Max

Joshua and his grandmother spend a day experiencing H2O in its many forms. The delighted boy feeds ducks on the river, runs through puddles, plays at a drinking fountain, swims in a pool, and snuggles up for a rainy “cosy, dozy” bus ride home. The child speaks only three words but his favorite is “splash,” which appears hand-lettered in block form. The lines of type are set at slight angles to one another to mimic flowing water. Though not a rhyming story, the words flow with easy-on-the-tongue phrases such as “Deep down, under the water,/under the water, deep down./Into the froth and the foam,/and the bubbles,/splashing and crashing,/fizzing and sparkling.” The bright, saturated illustrations are eye-catching in their colorful simplicity. One slight discrepancy: Joshua appears to change sizes, sometimes only coming up to Granny’s waist while at other times almost to her shoulders. Very young children who are fascinated with water will enjoy hearing about Joshua’s day.

-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI