Meet the author: Rob Biddulph - Sunk!

Book cover for Sunk!

We'd like to introduce you to children's author Rob Biddulph. Find out more about him and his new picture book Sunk! below.

About the book (for ages 3+)

Penguin Blue, star of the bestselling picture book, Blown Away, is back with his friends in a new adventure, and this time they're pirates – ARRRRR! Sailing the seven seas in search of treasure, they are unexpectedly SUNK! But with a shipwreck to explore and a mysterious stranger on a desert island to meet, they might still find some treasure after all.

A pirate hat.
A sunny day.
For Penguin Blue
A game to play.

Sunk! is Rob Biddulph's fourth picture book and it sees the return of Penguin Blue, who made his debut in Rob's award-winning picture book, Blown Away. In his latest outing, Penguin Blue has swapped the perils of kite-flying for sunken wrecks and brave buccaneers! So hoist the colours! Set the sail! It's time to hit the treasure trail!

Praise for Rob Biddulph's picture books

Blown Away:

“Best children's book of the year.” – The Observer

“[A] gem of a book … Beautifully illustrated and wittily written.” – The Evening Standard

Odd Dog Out:

“Every page is a treat to behold and the message is as important today as it has ever been.” – Lovereading4kids

About the author

Rob Biddulph

Rob Biddulph is a bestselling and award-winning author/illustrator whose first picture book, Blown Away, won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. His second, GRRRRR!, was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal and his third, Odd Dog Out, won the BSC Festival of Literature Picture Book Award. As well as working on his own books he also illustrates for other authors including Piers Torday, David Solomons and Christian O'Connell. Before he became a full-time author/illustrator he was the art director of the Observer Magazine, NME, Uncut, SKY and Just Seventeen. He lives in London with his wife and three daughters.

He also has another full-time job of sorts, his Packed Lunch Post-Its. When his youngest daughter Poppy started school, staying for lunch was a big deals so her childminder suggested the idea of hiding an illustrated post-it note in her lunchbox to cheer her up at lunchtime. Three years (and over 600 post-its) later they are still going strong. Here are a couple of examples:

Lunch post-its by Rob Biddulph

Meet Rob Biddulph

Can you tell us about your book?

Well, my very first book, Blown Away, told the story of Penguin Blue who goes kite-flying on a windy day and ends up being carried away on an adventure by the wind. I'm obviously very fond of that story so was delighted when HarperCollins asked me to write a sequel. It's called Sunk! and this time Blue and his pals are playing at being pirates. They decide to set sail across the seven seas in search of treasure but unfortunately get into a spot of bother with a swordfish. They end up sunk and marooned on a tiny desert island. Happily, Penguin Blue is full of good ideas and the plan he comes up with to get him and his friends back home is particularly ingenious. This book was a lot of fun to write and draw, although the underwater scenes required a lot of detail. I will quite happily never draw another bubble or bit of seaweed again for as long as I live!

Sunk! was a lot of fun to do, although the underwater scenes required a lot of detail. I will quite happily never draw another bubble or bit of seaweed again for as long as I live!

Do you have any writing rituals or habits?

Creating a picture book is a game of two halves. Once I have worked out my story arc and got a rough look and feel I spend about six months writing the story and perfecting the rhyme. I prefer to do this in cafes and coffee shops as I'm less likely to be distracted if other people are around. Plus I can have really nice lunches. Does that count as a ritual? When it comes to the artworking part of the process I'm back in my studio and I love listening to podcasts as I draw. Recent favourites include You Must Remember This, Athletico Mince and The Adam Buxton Podcast.

Could you describe the room that you write in?

As I mentioned earlier, most of my actual writing is done out and about, but we have a lovely little studio at the end of our garden which is where the drawing happens. The kids aren't allowed in there so a) it’s an oasis of calm, and b) all of my stuff stays exactly where I leave it, so it's actually quite tidy.

Rob Biddulph backlist

What are you reading now?

Slightly late to the party, but I've just finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. It tells the story of a young girl whose not very nice father has brought her up to believe that she killed her mother when she was very young, albeit accidentally. She eventually runs away and is taken in by three beekeeping sisters who help her to get a better understand of the world around her and, eventually, unravel the mystery surrounding her mother's death. In many ways this book reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird, an absolute favourite of mine, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the depictions of racism in the American South of the sixties are genuinely shocking but, ultimately, it's a hugely uplifting read.

What is your favourite children's book?

It would have to be How The Grinch Stole Christmas by the great Dr Seuss. In my opinion, it's the perfect children's text. The rhyme is sublime (sorry!) and the pacing just perfect. Plus it's really, really funny. The ultimate read-aloud bedtime story.

What is the last book you bought someone as a gift?

I bought my wife Alan Bennett's Keeping On Keeping On for Christmas. It a fairly hefty tome and she is still ploughing through it, but judging by the regular guffaws and occasional nose-snorts I'd say it was a successful present.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers/ illustrators?

Just do it. Lots of people spend years thinking about writing something but never actually get round to doing anything about it. Often, the hardest part of the journey is that first step but you'll never get anywhere unless you take it.

Book giveaway

We ask all winners to share their child's thoughts on the book. Everyone who posts their detailed feedback on Sunk! by 1 May will be entered into a draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher.

This giveaway is sponsored by Harper Collins Kids