Welcome to the Magic Ideas Gallery

Here's where you can find all kinds of magical inspiration from authors and illustrators during Cressida's Creativity Summer Camp - whether it's drawing tips, creative prompts or the joy of a brand new notebook. Click through the gallery to get inspired and then have a go at making something from your own magical ideas!

Sita Brahmachari, author

"I think of them as scrap-books because I'm always sticking things into them, collage-like.. as well as writing. Some of the objects, like post cards or stamps, I have collected long ago, even as a child... not knowing really why... but then they find a place in the right story.

I usually begin stories with some kind of family tree or river.

I pick my notebooks to suit what I think captures something of the mood of the story I'm setting sail on.

I personalise my notebooks - the holey stone on the string reminds me that this story crosses oceans and the characters have to untie knots in history on their story quest. It reminds me that a stone with a hole in it must have travelled far, and have a story of its own.

The young characters in When Secrets Set Sail have sari and shell covered notebooks!"

Sita Brahmachari's scrapbook

 

Juno Dawson, author

"Before I write anything on my laptop, I make some initial notes in a notebook. I create some character names, what they want out of life, and what happens in the first few chapters. It’s a bit like setting out with a roadmap.

Here are the notes I made for Margot & Me (2017). Initially the main character was going to be called Natalie although the name felt too “hard” for the fluffy character and she became Fliss which reminded me of candy floss.  

There’s also a floor plan of her school and snatches of dialogue that came to me in the night. For that reason I always keep a notebook next to my bed."

Juno Dawson's notebook

 

Yasmeen Ismail, author and illustrator

"I tear a lot of sheets out of my sketchbooks (usually the best bits that I need to refer to and stick on the wall), so I have just stuck them together in photoshop (pity you don’t get the sketchbook feel). These sketches came along whilst I was working on my book, Would You Like a Banana?."

Yasmeen Ismail's sketchbook

 

David Almond, writer

These are pages from a very old notebook. They’re notes and scribbles towards a story which ended up being called The Subtle Body in the collection, Counting Stars. Maybe it all looks pretty messy, but isn’t that how our minds are? As I scribbled these notes, lots of ideas, images, characters, memories flooded in. I didn’t know what the story’s final shape would be. I didn’t work out its plot. I allowed it to grow like an organic thing. The finished story, of course, looks so perfect – straight lines of print, neat paragraphs and pages, no mistakes. And of course, when I was composing the story on my computer, I took great care with it. I wrote and rewrote until I had a version that I was totally satisfied with. But this is how it started. When I look at these pages now, I see many elements that did go into the final story, but there are lots that didn’t. And there are elements that I would use in other tales. I scribbled these pages a couple of years before the story of Skellig came to me, but in the top corner, there’s a guy with wings. How did he get there?   

David Almond's notebook

Scroll through our gallery to see Magic Ideas from more authors and illustrators

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Alex T Smith's sketchbook
Anne Fine's notebook for Flour Babies
Candy Gourlay's sketchbook
Chris Riddell's introduction to his notebooks
A page from Chris Riddell's sketchbook
Pages from Chris Riddell's notebook
Early sketches of Hello Friend by Rebecca Cobb
Yasmeen Ismail's sketchbook
David Almond's notebook for Counting Stars
Emily Gravett's sketchbook
Sketches from Jackie Morris' The Unwinding
James Mayhew's sketchbook of collages
Notes from Juno Dawson's Margot and Me
Pages from Michael Morpurgo's notebook for Kensuke's Kingdom. Image courtesy of Seven Stories.
Pages from Michael Morpurgo's notebook for Kensuke's Kingdom. Image courtesy of Seven Stories.
Kiran Milwood Hargrave's landscape for The Girl of Ink and Stars
Sketches from Lauren Child's The Goody
Sketches from Lauren Child's The Goody
Nick Sharratt's notebook for Octopus Socktopus
Nick Sharratt's notebook for Octopus Socktopus
Rough pages from Jim Field's Oi Dog!
A sketch from Patrice Lawrence's Diver's Daughter
Notebooks from Sita Brahmachari's 'River Runs Gold'
Stoick the Vast sketch by Dapo Adeola
Notebooks from Sita Brahmachari's 'When Secrets Set Sail'
Alex T Smith's sketchbook

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Anne Fine's notebook for Flour Babies

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Candy Gourlay's sketchbook

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Chris Riddell's introduction to his notebooks

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A page from Chris Riddell's sketchbook

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Pages from Chris Riddell's notebook

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Early sketches of Hello Friend by Rebecca Cobb

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Yasmeen Ismail's sketchbook

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David Almond's notebook for Counting Stars

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Emily Gravett's sketchbook

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Sketches from Jackie Morris' The Unwinding

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James Mayhew's sketchbook of collages

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Notes from Juno Dawson's Margot and Me

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Pages from Michael Morpurgo's notebook for Kensuke's Kingdom. Image courtesy of Seven Stories.

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Pages from Michael Morpurgo's notebook for Kensuke's Kingdom. Image courtesy of Seven Stories.

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Kiran Milwood Hargrave's landscape for The Girl of Ink and Stars

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Sketches from Lauren Child's The Goody

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Sketches from Lauren Child's The Goody

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Nick Sharratt's notebook for Octopus Socktopus

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Nick Sharratt's notebook for Octopus Socktopus

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Rough pages from Jim Field's Oi Dog!

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A sketch from Patrice Lawrence's Diver's Daughter

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Notebooks from Sita Brahmachari's 'River Runs Gold'

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Stoick the Vast sketch by Dapo Adeola

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Notebooks from Sita Brahmachari's 'When Secrets Set Sail'

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Feeling inspired?

Why not have a go at sharing your own magical ideas and send them to us on Twitter for us to add to our lovely gallery?

Share your magical ideas!

Play
Arjun, 10, shares his sketchbook
By Bethany, age 7
Bonnie the Crystal Fly
By Emily age 8
By Emily age 8
By Harrison age 9
The Barberpillar by Nevaeh
By a pupil at Pensby Primary School
By a pupil at Pensby Primary School
By a pupil at Pensby Primary School
By a pupil at Pensby Primary School
A Day at a Beach, by Sarim
by Sarim, age 6
By Willow, age 8
Arjun, 10, shares his sketchbook

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By Bethany, age 7

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Bonnie the Crystal Fly

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By Emily age 8

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By Emily age 8

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By Harrison age 9

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The Barberpillar by Nevaeh

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By a pupil at Pensby Primary School

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By a pupil at Pensby Primary School

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By a pupil at Pensby Primary School

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By a pupil at Pensby Primary School

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A Day at a Beach, by Sarim

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by Sarim, age 6

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By Willow, age 8

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Waterstones Children's Laureate: Cressida Cowell

Author-illustrator Cressida Cowell is the Waterstones Children's Laureate for 2019-22. 

The role of Children's Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children's books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. Find out what Cressida's been up to.

Find out more