Even better, it's another story by my favourite partner-in-crime, the wonderful Julia Jarman. We have a very similar sense of humour and have done lots of books together, including Class Two at the Zoo and Bears on the Stairs.
This new one is quite a challenge. It is a very simple story, but calls for decidedly surreal illustrations. It's called The Jungle Grumble (at the moment anyway) and is about a bunch of discontented animals. They think their bum is too big, pattern too boring, their nose is too long etc. There is much grumbling, until clever old Lion sets up a Swap-Shop changing room. You can guess what happens next.
The major challenge was working out whose unwanted body-parts to give to whom. The text gives me nine named animals to work with (plus Lion, who is far too sensible to do any swapping). I wanted to swap more than one part and ideally not just make it a direct exchange, but have more of a general shuffle around.
I made notes, but this very quickly became way too complicated, because I had to keep track of who was missing which essentials, as much as who had acquired what. I eventually discovered the answer was to cut out bits of paper, label them up with all the swap-able bits and pieces, then move them around, mixing and matching, until I had a full set of interesting combos.
The other tricky bit was making sure there was enough of the original animal's head left to allow them to remain identifiable. Because of my recent op, I have been working from an armchair (rather nice), with my foot up on a cushion on the coffee table, and a makeshift drawing board resting on my knees.
I started by just seeing what on earth my various creations would look like:
The results are bonkers. These are first sketches, so still extremely subject to change and refinement, but I can already see that it's going to look pretty unusual!