Thursday, November 21

Hampton Junior School and The Monster Machine

Hello Hampton Junior School!

Myself and the monsters were very excited to be contacted by the lovely teachers and children at Hampton Junior School. Year 3 have been reading my picture book The Monster Machine published by Pavilion Children's Books and have really enjoyed it. Which is absolutely fantastic to hear!

Their teacher Miss Devonport tells me they have been inspired by The Monster Machine for a whole 3 week scheme of marvellously monstrous work, including creative writing and collecting materials to build their own monster machine! Wow! 

Monster Emails

The children contacted myself and the monsters via our special monster machine website, they had enjoyed reading the book and had spent some time in class planning and writing some questions for us to answer to learn more about monsters (and writing and illustrating books too.)

Now, myself and the monsters run the website by ourselves (we can't afford any staff) so we were overwhelmed when we got a huge influx of lovely emails, and had lots of fun replying. Hampton Junior School are an inquisitive bunch and asked some wonderful questions like -

'Do the monster wear Jim Jams? What do the monsters eat? Do I have any pets/children/a horse...' and of course wanted to know all about how I got the idea for the book and why do I like monsters so much...

I was really impressed with the emails, and even more so when I learned that these were the very first emails some of the children had written and sent. So I was honoured!

Building a Monster Machine

Class 3D with their Marvellous Monster Machine!
Some of the children were very excited to tell me about their plans in class to build a monster machine of their own! They had been collecting materials over half term and were getting ready to construct... Working together in small teams they did a wonderful job, and I was very excited to see some photos of the finished machine!

Look how big it is! Wonderful work Class 3D!

The original monster machine itself...
Monster creative writing

Reading The Monster Machine also inspired a lot of thinking, and wondering what happens after the book is finished. Where do the monsters go? how do they feel and more importantly what does the monster's home planet look like? Using their imaginations class 3D produced some wonderful pieces of creative writing describing the monster's arrival on their home planet and what they imagine it to look like... it is clear we are on the same wavelength :)
I was hugely impressed with their work and have been given permission to share a few examples with you here...

Monster Machine creative writing © Belle Roberts 2013
Monster Machine creative writing © Tilly Patterson-Dale 2013
Monster Machine creative writing © Katy Upton 2013

Monster Machine creative writing © Frederick Kelly 2013

I'm so pleased the children at Hampton Junior School enjoyed reading my book and am truly thrilled it has inspired such fantastic writing and monstrously, marvellous creative work.  

A huge thank you to Classes 3D, 3M, 3B and Miss Devonport for getting in touch and sharing it with me,

Keep reading, keep writing and stay creative! Keep up the excellent work! 

Nicola (and the monsters)

Monday, October 14

Monster Mummies review - The Monster Machine!

The monsters from The Monster Machine are getting ready for halloween and are very excited to have been reviewed by Monster Mummies!

Read their review over on the fabulous Monster Mummies website -

Monday, August 12

Making a Beaky Monster - The art of needle felting...

Most of the time I'm an illustrator, but I've always loved making things too. I had a bit of a small toy making business going when I was in school making soft toy replicas of people's pets and other critters, and now though I don't often make anything of the toy variety anymore- I already have too much space being taken up by all my books, I do enjoy sewing and making home furnishings and other crafty past times, and last year I also had a lot of fun making one of my monsters too... you may have seen him in my earlier posts.

Here he is, from The Monster Machine picture book and also my adopted business mascot (very useful for checking over my contracts and deciding when it is lunch time) Beaky Monster.
Beaky Monster stood on my desk looking out of the window...

Beaky Monster in production... no head! but no eyes yet either so it's not too horrific.

I made Beaky Monster using a craft known as 'needle felting'. Beaky Monster is my very first needle felted creation and though it is often painful (I lost count of how many times I stabbed myself in the finger with the little barbed needles) it is strangely addictive and stress relieving too- when it's going the way you want at least, haha.

You basically sculpt tufts of dyed woollen fibres into shape by repeatedly stabbing it with an assortment of vicious little barbed needles which serve to mesh the fibres together and make the woollen lumps increasingly dense and firm. 

I first heard about needle felting a while ago when I spotted a Mollie Makes magazine in the train station advertising some of super awesome felt artist and illustrator Gretel Parker's little felt dogs on the cover and thought I'd have to give it a go too! 

Check out Gretel Parker's website -
to see some superb needle felting, and the little felt dogs! she also run's needle felting classes too...

Wednesday, July 31

Nicola's new shop - Teeth and Claws

One of Nicola's Dinosaur cards available in the Teeth and Claws Shop! - Triceratops...
Hello there monster friends! just a quick blog post to let you know about Nicola's new shop - Teeth and Claws, selling illustrated prints, cards and gifts with bite... we (the monsters) are sure you'll enjoy having a little look around, particularly if you like dinosaurs! RAWR

Monday, July 22

Creepy House, Summer Reading Challenge...

Beaky Monster checking out the Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge material!

Summer is here and school is out (if not quite yet then very soon, I promise!) and what better time is there to get reading? ... This Summer, Beaky Monster wants you to sign up for the Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge! and it doesn't cost you a penny. (The Monster Machine is honoured to be part of the challenge)

The theme this year is 'Creepy House' with stunning artwork created and brought to life by award winning illustrator and author Chris Riddell.

Beaky Monster getting ready to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge

So, how does it work?

1- It's really easy, your child can sign up at your local library, you'll get an incredible Creepy House poster illustrated by Chris Riddell to get things started! 

2- Read six library books of their choice during the summer, collecting stickers along the way (all FREE)

3- Children who complete the challenge get a certificate and/or shiny medal.

and will hopefully inspire a lifetime love of reading for pleasure too :)

Beaky Monster overwhelmed by the stunning Chris Riddell Creepy House artwork...
So what are you waiting for? get yourself and your family down to the library today and get reading!

Visit where children can follow their progress online, find new books to read and gain exclusive access to authors.

Follow The Reading Agency on Twitter @readingagency

Some of the beautiful artwork with a couple of the Creepy House characters all by Chris Riddell.