Not long ago my daughter Anna decided she would enter a competition to design and create her own picture book. The competition was being held by the Reading Zone, and entries were to be judged by the amazing author and illustrator, Nick Sharratt.

Anna has always loved drawing cartoons, and a while back she had come up with a clever and heroic character called Bea who was, naturally, a bee. In a little yellow notebook she had drawn thirteen comic book adventures in which Bea had to tackle all sorts of evil foes. The titles included Bea and the Terrible Bee-Eating Toilets, Bea and the Rabid Rollercoaster, and Bea and the Dentist of Death!

Here is the cover of her comic book. You can see the amount of detail Anna always puts into her drawings. I particularly like the bee ferris wheel!

Inside, the comics are all drawn on lined paper, and Anna’s little insect characters are full of expression and doing wild things. Here you can see Bea triumphing over the terrible bee-eating toilets:

One of the original stories in this comic book was called Bea and the Giant Evil Marshmallow. Anna decided that would be the story she would turn into a picture book for the Reading Zone competition, and she set about drawing furiously!

It took a few days for her to draw and colour the 24 pages required for the competition. She changed the title to Bea and the Marshmallow Menace, and you can see the cover at the top of this post. Below is the moment when Bea saves the day, with worrying consequences…

We packaged Anna’s book up carefully and she sent it in through her school. Then there was a very long wait. You can imagine how thrilled she was when the Reading Zone people announced the winners, and she had won first prize in the senior school category!

The prizes are the most exciting thing of all. Anna has received 50 printed copies of her book, her school will receive a collection of picture books for their library, and an author or illustrator will come to the school as a special event!

Anna has been invited to read her story to the nursery and Primary one classes, and in preparation she has made a little Bea toy to take with her. Isn’t she the cutest thing? She is made with a yellow sock, bits of a black sock and braided black wool for her arms and legs. Her antennae are made from a black paperclip, and her eyes and shoes are made with Fimo baking clay. I just hope the children won’t pull her legs off!

Update: Anna had a lovely time with the nursery children at her school, who seemed to really enjoy hearing her read the Bea story. She visited two nursery classes and four P1 classes, and had a great time being a visiting author!

Anna never stops drawing cartoons. Here are two more:

©Anna Rickards 2011

©Anna Rickards 2012

I think she should start a cartoon blog of her own. There are lots of brilliant illustrators’ blogs out there to inspire her. Maybe one day she’ll take the plunge!

Sure enough, Anna has got into cartooning in a big way. You can see her pigeon characters Frank and Howard on her Instagram site HERE.