Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 Eustace Tilley

Here's my pic for this year's Eustace Tilley contest for the New Yorker.

I figure Tilley was the original disinterested hipster type... so he can't even be bothered to look at the butterfly. And he's a little rude.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I hate flying, but love it when I'm in the sky. Here's the view from the flight out of Phoenix (location for Neil Flambe #6)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Merry" Christmas...

The great folks at Simon and Schuster asked me to do a festive neil pic for the holiday e-card. 

The words "merry", "jolly" and "happy" rarely find their way into descriptions of Neil, so even a red nose can't cheer him up too much... he's probably wondering if Rudolph would go better with a wine sauce or an elderberry reduction...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tilley Endures

The New Yorker has launched its Eustace Tilley contest for another year.

Here's my 2012 submission (which was also the very first winner!)

What shall I do this year.......?

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Tomie dePaola is one of my all-time faves, as both a writher and illustrator.

So imagine my joy when I saw that his annual Illustrator Award for the SCBWI members was looking for black and white work.

The challenge is to pick a bit from one of three classic books. I choose Tom Sawyer, a great book... full of kids behaving badly, or perhaps just naturally.

This is Tom during his prolonged absence from ordinary life. I kind of see him as (a) confused by the words on the facing page - he plays hooky a lot (b) perplexed by the mystery sound in the text and (c) beginning to feel the metaphorical deepness of life, which Twain represents as the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Carol Tickets NOW ON SALE

As you may know, I'm part of a reading of Dickens' A Christmas Carol again this year.

A great CBC-founded tradition.

Sunday, December 9th at 2pm. St. Peter's Church Toronto (Bloor&Bathurst)

This year's reading has an amazing cast.

Michael Enright. 

Garvia Bailey. 

Fiona Highet.
Tickets are available HERE.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Behind the Scenes!

You've seen the mural I painted for the Cookbook Store.

A crazed Neil Flambe cooking a fiery feast.

I took pics during the whole process and the great folks at Simon and Schuster have assembled them into a great video!

And make sure you take a picture in front of the mural, maybe with your hair "on fire" like mine above.... and send them to us at

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Carol

Every year I am honoured when invited to be part of reading A Christmas Carol... a great event that used to be supported by the CBC.

This year I'm helping to organize one at my parish. St. Peter's at Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto.

The money goes to support our Winter Welcome Table program, serving hot meals to the poor every Monday.

It's a great event for a great cause... and we would love to pack the church.

The line-up (as you can see from the poster) is great! (Despite my presence.)

If you are around on Sunday, December 9th at 2pm - we'd love to entertain you.

Only $10!

You can order tickets here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I was visiting a couple of great schools in St. Catharines today (St. Ann and St. Alfred... I think they might be married).

A young girl came up and gave me this photo of her fish... named Kevin Sylvester.

The weird bit is that the fish isn't named after me or the "other" Kevin Sylvester (Sabres broadcaster).

Her father wanted to name the fish Sylvester. She wanted a fish named Kevin. They compromised.

I assume they have a cat named Rick Riordan and a dog named John Irving.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Opened my morning paper yesterday.

A flyer inside for

Skimming through, came upon this!

Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure - recommended!

On the same page as books by some nobodies named Rick Riordan, Stephen Hawking (!), Lemony Snicket....

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Launch!

If you are in TO tonight, we are having a launch for the sports poetry book And the Crowd Goes Wild!

The launch is at 5:30 at the Northern District Branch of the Toronto Library (40 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto - right near Yonge and Eg).

Carol-Ann Hoyte has assembled an all-star cast of poets from around the world. I am humbled that she asked me to provide the illustrations. 

Here are a few examples.

I tried to capture the energy of the athlete with quick darting lines and (mostly) bold solid colours.

The book has already won a big award too! The Moonbeam Award bronze medal for poetry! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Window arf!

My friend Jim Curran (you CBC fans may have heard the name) was passing the Ella Minnow Bookstore in the Beach today. He sent me some great shots of the Neil Flambe window they have on display (for which I am honoured)

I like this one in particular because Heather's puppy is standing next to the pic I did of Finnegan when I dropped by the store. This pic also led (via various twitter back and forths) to the Neil mural that adorns the Cookbook Store. There's so much story hidden in every picture...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

manga mania

Getting tonnes of hits from Japan on the blog. Maybe it's because Neil Flambe #4 is set in Tokyo and opens with THE CHEF - Larry's on-line manga? Let me know.... 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

First Book Canada

I was honoured to take part in a giveaway from First Book Canada.

I read from my Neil books and Splinters to the kids at Eastbourne Drive PS. Not a school with a lot of resources. Each kid got 3 books, hand delivered by police officers!

Susan Hay from Global TV came to film the day. You can see the video here.

To wet your whistle, here's a pic of me giving the kids my patented 5-second cartooning class!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

BC book tour

Having an amazing time touring Neil Flambe's haunts in BC.

A great whirlwind tour of Vancouver, Parksville and Courtenay. Just arrived in Victoria and am ready for a day off and then some school visits.

This morning I was in Parksville at the lovely Mulberry Bush bookstore. Matthew and Trevor showed up to help me draw some cartoons. Matthew helpfully suggested the goalie in the pic (me) should be getting hit in the jock with a puck. Trevor suggested I be slashed.

There's a good photo on my facebook page

can't seem to get my stupid app to load it here on the road. argh.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Porch 2012

Every year we do a theme porch for Halloween. This year it was the Scaremount movie Theatre. Despite the rain, we had lots of kids and even ran out of candy!

Here are some pics....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Neil, Larry and cats (and fish)

If you read the Neil Flambe books you'll know that Neil has an army of cats who camp underneath his kitchen window waiting for scraps of food that don't meet Neil's HIGH standards. (This happens a lot and the cats are quite chubby).

Larry's job is to make sure the kitchen window stays in good repair. But he gets distracted so easily by coffee....


This original is available as a raffle prize at the Giller Light Bash in Toronto, which I will emcee tomorrow (October 30th). Get your info and tickets here!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Help an independent book seller TODAY!

I love all book stores, but the independents are the heart and soul of the publishing world.

Books of Wonder is a great one in New York that just got handed a raw deal from a tenant.

They need some cash to help cover the bills, fast. They are auctioning off some AMAZING artwork, including signed Sendak prints, Alan Lee, Lane Smith.... Kate Camillo... so many!

You can find out more about the campaign here. (I've got my dibs on the Alan Lee postcards, so hands off!)

Peter Glassman, the proprieter, has kindly accepted my offer of some signed Neil Flambé stuff (books, etc) and an original print.

Here's the print.

Do your best to help Peter, if you can, and keep supporting great kids books stores in Canada... such as (but definitely NOT limited to)....

Mabel's Fables

Blue Heron Books


Mulberry Bush Bookstore

Laughing Oyster

The Tanner's Children's Bookshop

The Cookbook Store (of course!)

Ella Minnow

Type Books 

Book City 

The Canadian Booksellers Association

And please, if you are an indie bookseller, add a comment below with a link to your store.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The great crew at the Cookbook Store made a video of the installation and reveal of the Neil Flambe mural.

Just in case you don't think we kids authors do heavy lifting!

The "oops" halfway through is me screwing up my own signature... argh.

Thanks to Alison and John and everyone at the store, Mateo with his drill, Michelle from SandS and my brother Doug and brother-in-law Al for all the help.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Outdoor artwork revealed!

 The big Neil Flambe #4 launch art reveal took place today at the Cookbook Store in Toronto.

Alison Fryer and the gang invited me to paint a mural on the outside wall. Voila, here is the final product!

If you missed today's big event (and the free pocky and sushi) you can drop by the store anytime, or just stroll by and check it out in person!

Maybe even take a picture of yourself with my crazed Neil! I'd love to see some pics, even post them here on the blog or (Use the @NeilFlambe handle in your tweets.)

Just for a sense of scale, here's a pic of me standing next to the wall.

I took a gazillion pics of the process, so stay tuned for a behind-the-scenes movie sometime soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This is an open invitation for everyone and anyone. It's in Toronto and there will be snacks! And free chefs hats! And a big surprise art reveal.... what could it be?

Come to the Cookbook Store in Toronto this Saturday at 1 to find out.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wow.. what a day!

Readers of my books, and blog, will know that I love the OLA's Forest of Reading program. It's amazes me every year how much students love to read and vote for their favourite books.

I've been honoured and lucky enough to be nominated again this year... TWICE!

It's my first time being nominated for the Blue Spruce. Splinters, my first picture book, is nominated. In honour of that, here's the sketch of Cindy, the hero of the book, that I kept over my desk during the writing and illustrating of Splinters.

And Neil Flambe and the Crusader's Curse is nominated for the Silver Birch. That's three Neil books out and three nominations! I am gobsmacked! Here's a bonus pic that got cut from the final version.

AND Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure is released this week.... and there's a special "secret" release party this coming Saturday at 1pm in Toronto. Shhhh.... details later.

(I will say that free stuff, and good eats, will be part of the event....)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

St. Peter's Fall Fair

We have a great event coming up in Toronto with some amazing opportunities.

Photographer Michael Helmer is going to take portraits for only $10 (print will be available the following week)

And we have just been given box seats for the November Neil Young and Bob Dylan concerts in Toronto as well as a box seat for a Raptor game (date to be worked out).

Come visit the Church across from the Bathurst station October 13th and 14th for your chance to get those tix....

And there's also great food from our various communities (Italian, Portuguese, Filipino for example) and games for kids.

We're also showing a family movie Saturday night around 7.... possibly outdoors if the weather is nice, or in our big auditorium if it's too cool.

Too cool!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mark October 29th

Top secret now... but some Neil stuff... October 20th... sometime in the afternoon, somewhere in Toronto... that's all I'm saying...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tapestry this week

On CBC Radio's Tapestry, which I'm guest-hosting for a couple more weeks, we are looking at how we humans cope with life's speed bumps.

The very funny Robyn Michele Levy - author of Most of Me - is going to talk about coping through humour. Buy the book!

Then Rabbi Harold S. Kushner on the incredibly complex and moving biblical Book of Job. While interviewing Rabbi Kushner I doodled God appearing in a whirlwind (He's so dramatic). Here's the doodle.

You can listen online or tune into CBC Radio One on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I had a great weekend in Kingston for the WritersFest. There's something cool about a room full of kids with Neil Flambe chef hats on! (Picture to come).

I did visits with Frontenac and St. Peter school yesterday and there was a lot of buzz about the "how to draw Neil" video.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Heading off to Kingston WritersFest.

An amazing roundup of writers and presenters. Click here for the schedule.

I'm doing a presentation Sunday (11am to noon). It's free and the first 50 kids who show up get a free signed chef's hat. These went like hotcakes at Word on the Street... so make sure you get there early!

And apparently wearing one makes you look like a crazed maniac.

I'll be giving some cartooning lessons and talking about great food, so don't miss it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love getting mail!

Lookee what came in the mail today! Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure in all it's wasabi green glory.

It opens with a manga sequence... AND advanced warning, there are funerals. And possibly kissing.

Find out more info here.

Monday, September 24, 2012


What an amazing day at Word on the Street. 

We gave away 100 free chef's hats... and they were gobbled up in minutes.

Hundreds of people dropped by booth KS-19 to say hi, grab some free stuff... take a picture as Neil.

...and to enter the draw for this one-of-a-kind Neil Flambe original.

You had to dress up like Neil. Check out this costume!

Thanks to everyone at Simon and Schuster for making everything such fun! Next stop... Kingston WritersFest!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So, I'm at KS-19 (Kids Street booth 19) at this year's Word on the Street Toronto. This is our 10th year with a booth at WOTS and we are going all out to celebrate.

There will be 100 free, signed and cartooned chef's hats available for FREE! The first 100 visitors to the booth get one (and please wear them proudly at WOTS!)
There are free Neil Flambe posters... a reveal of the manga sequence that opens Neil #4... and (If you are brave enough to dress up like Neil) a chance to win a signed and framed Neil Flambe original!

What does a Neil costume look like?

This young man visited my house last year for Hallowe'en. So cool!

And as usual there will be original signed bookmarks for sale cheap!

 See you all this Sunday. Kids Street Booth 19, just across from the ROM in Toronto!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Joan of Art

I'm guest-hosting Tapestry on CBC Radio for a few weeks.

This past week we profiled the continuing allure of Joan of Arc.... even among non-religious types. (I've always loved Vita Sackville-West's biography of Joan).

In case you missed the show, you can get it on the Tapestry website by clicking here.

The good folks on the shows, Elizabeth Bowie and Carma Jolly, are also posting the doodles that I do while sitting in the studio.

Not all of them are strictly apropos to the show, but this week's were. Joan in two different ways.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Summit Series got underway forty years ago this month. There are plenty of hagiographic articles about the "greatest moment in sports history" out there.

I've always taken a slightly different tack. Canada learned that brutality could defeat talent (see Clarke on Kharlamov's ankle or the games against Sweden as Canada made it's way to Moscow). The game post-1972 took a nosedive and it took the Habs (and my Sabres) to save it.

Back on the 25th anniversary I wrote a CBC radio play with the Russians winning.  Then we turned it into a little book... nominated for the Leacock medal.

Then the publisher went bankrupt. There's only one place to find the book now, which is to order from me. The email is over there to the right. 10 bucks via the mail.

But why don't I give away 5 free copies.. email me first and you could get a freebie!

Or I always have some copies on hand at Word on the Street Toronto. September 23rd. 5 bucks in person.

Shadrin, by the way, was #19 for the Soviets and a great player.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Word on the Street is coming up in a few weeks. Sunday, September 23rd, 2012.

 I will have lots of free stuff to giveaway. The first 100 kids who show up at my booth on KidStreet  Toronto get a free autographed Neil Flambe chef's hat!

I'll also be presenting at the Children's Reading Tent!

And there'll be KS original postcards for sale (cheap) and more!

KS19 is my booth #. See you there and more details to come...

Friday, August 24, 2012

The blown covers blog is reverting to a once-a-month call for submissions. Last month's theme was global warming. This is my struggling Atlas pic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I often get asked about how I research the Neil Flambe books. Book #2 - Neil Flambe and the Aztec Abduction - takes place in Mexico City and I visited there in 2007 with the Southam Fellows (while at the idyllic Massey College). The restaurant that sits next to garbage dump in the book is based on a real place we visited. It's a restaurant that helps young poor families cook healthy meals for their kids, and it's also joined to a school that teaches life skills, computer skills and English. It was a thriving source of community amid a not-so-great part of the city... and was partially paid for through CIDA (yay Canada!)

My friend Rob Warner took this pic during our trip. It's one of the moms at the restaurant and her daughter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I was extremely honoured and moved recently to receive an honourary degree from my alma mater, The University of St. Michael's College at UofT.

I'm not sure how I rated being honoured alongside Anthony Lacavera and Rod McEwan, but here's my degree nonetheless.

And, it's in LATIN!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another week of fun doodling for the great Blown Covers blog. The theme was Cats and Dogs and here are my silly submissions.


Thursday, July 19, 2012


Just got back from a great trip to New York City. I took my little Flat Neil Flambe along for the ride. Here's Neil with the Statue of Liberty.

You can also print and take Neil along on your next trip and I'd LOVE to see where he ends up.

Get the printable Neil here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I've always thought the Neil Flambe´ books would make a nice read on an airplane (and like many authors, I secretly look through the stacks for my book at the airport). Well, lo and behold, here are the first three Neil Flambe´ books all lined up and ready to travel at Toronto's Pearson Airport! (Spotted by my goddaughter).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Taiko Drum roll please........
Presenting the cover for Neil Flambe #4 - Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure.
Due out in October!