Petr Horacek

Grumpy Duck


Nothing is going right for Duck. With a dry pond and no one to play with, she is feeling grumpy and a little grey cloud appears above her head. From then on, no matter who she meets, everything just makes her more grumpy and the grey cloud get bigger until it is a ginormous black cloud hanging over everyone.

Suddenly, the cloud bursts with millions of shiny, wet raindrops and all of sudden, things don't seem so bad any more. Everyone is having fun, splashing and playing in puddles. The cloud has disappeared and in its place is a beautiful rainbow.


Everyone has days where nothing seems to be going right and this lovely story sees all Duck's friends trying to cheer her up. The story also acknowledges how one person feeling gloomy can affect others as Duck's grey cloud spreads over everyone, making them all sad. But as soon as the cloud bursts and Duck's mood changes, everyone's mood lifts and they all join in the fun!


The illustrations are joyful- Petr Horacek's distinctive style and bold use of colour are so appealing and his characters are always so full of life. The rainbow at the end of the story is lovely - perfect for inspiring practice with watercolours, colour mixing and just having fun with colour.

'Grumpy Duck' is a delightful story, which will bring a splash of colour to the dullest day!


Grumpy Duck    Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Petr Horacek

Walker Books    ISBN: 978-1406378245

Grumpy Duck will be published on the 4th October 2018

Cardiff Literature Festival


Today, I went to Cardiff Castle for two Cardiff Children's Literature Festival events which were held in the Castle Undercroft. It was a beautiful venue.


The first event I went to was James Mayhew and Zeb Soanes talking about Gaspard. I enjoyed this so much at the FCBG Conference last weekend that I was keen to hear them again. James demonstrated how to draw Gaspard and the audience joined in, producing some wonderful foxes!


Next was the lovely Yuval Zommer whose new book, 'The Big Book of Blue', is every bit as gorgeous as his two previous titles, 'The Big Book of Bugs' (shortlisted for last year's awards) and 'The Big Book of Beasts'.  Yuval started by sharing these lovely books and 'The Street Beneath My Feet' with everyone. Petr Horacek was in the audience and Yuval showed us all that his book was even taller than Petr! Even I was dragged into the act as Yuval made me come to the front and tell everyone that his titles are all alliterative! 


Everyone enjoyed looking at and talking about the pictures in 'The Big Book of Blue' as Yuval set the children the challenge of drawing a sea monster or sea creature. They set to with great enthusiasm and Yuval circulated, talking to and encouraging each and every one of them. At the end, he called each child out and praised their picture before choosing some winners. 


It was a lovely session, full of fun and drawing! I'm looking forward to next weekend's events. 

The Big Book of Blue   Yuval Zommer with Barbara Taylor

Thames and Hudson   ISBN: 978-0500651193

Guest Post from Petr Horacek : The Picture is First


To celebrate this special day, we have a lovely post from Petr Horacek, author and illustrator of 'Blue Penguin', one of my favourite picture books. His bold, colourful illustrations really appeal to us and in this fascinating post, Petr tells us a little about where his ideas come from and how they develop.

My latest published book is 'The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared'. It is the fourth book with the character of Little Mouse.


I wasn't planning to write a series of books. It somehow happened. I suppose I just fell in love with the mouse who is childlike, nosey, always jolly and who makes me smile. 

I like walking and drawing in the woods. The idea for 'The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared' came to me after going though some of my sketches. I like the contrast of the grey colours of the tree trunks and the colours of the outside world. 


I'm often asked what comes first, the story or the pictures. With me it's always a picture.

I studied fine art and I think ‘in pictures’.

In all my books I can point out the exact image that started the book.  I don't mean just the story, but also the exact way I wanted to illustrate the book.

For 'The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared' it was the mouse jumping from the toadstool.

I like the contrast of the grey tree trunks, the colour of the mushrooms and mouse's socks. I like the idea of Little Mouse having fun and playing games in the woods.

The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared.jpg

Here is another example. This is a picture from one of my favourite books, Elephant. I did a drawing of a boy, whose best friend is an elephant. 


'What can happen when you invite elephant home?' The story started here.

The idea to write the book ‘Silly Suzy Goose’ came from this sketch

s s goose.jpg

and it was followed by this picture. There was something funny about a goose trying hard to look different.

Silly Suzy Goose.jpg

Suzy Goose appears in two other books: ‘Look out Suzy Goose’ and “Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star’.  ‘Look out Suzy Goose” – I really enjoyed illustrating the wolf and once again, painting the interior of the woods.

Look Out Suzy Goose.jpg

‘Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star’ – started with the goose flying towards the star. I think this picture makes the book.

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The Fly.jpg

This illustration is from the book 'The Fly'. It is a story of an ordinary day of a fly, told by the fly itself. Once you know that, the picture makes perfect sense.

Those who know my book 'The Greedy Goat' won't be surprised if I say, that the 'starting' picture was the goat eating the farmer’s pants.


'Puffin Peter' is about friendship and the story starts with Peter getting lost in the storm. It was the first image which came into my head.


The illustration may seem a bit gloomy, but the other pictures in the book are jollier.


With 'Blue Penguin' it was a bit more complicated. The book took me a long time to write and we were editing the story even as I was illustrating it.

Blue Penguin.jpg

This picture was the picture I like the best, but in the end it never made it into the book. This can also happen sometimes.

I don't think my way of making up stories is in anyway unique. Somebody starts their book with a text, somebody with a picture, but I'm sure that every illustrator would have their favourite page in their book.

When I look at another illustrator’s work I often wonder what was their favourite picture?

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Thank you so much to Petr for this post. 

The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared 

Walker Books     ISBN: 978-1406374575

You can read our post about 'Blue Penguin' here.