Story Quest with the National Literacy Trust

I was asked earlier this year to work on a new project from the National Literacy Trust called Story Quest.

Burslem Park in Stoke - one of the six trail maps to get for free this summer!

Burslem Park in Stoke - one of the six trail maps to get for free this summer!

Story Quest is a series of FREE story trails set in the Burslem and Tunstall areas of Stoke-on-Trent,. There are six different stories and maps to discover, packed full of summer holiday activity ideas, with each one exploring a different local area.

The stories are written by children’s author Joanne Owen, and I was asked to illustrate the adventures of Josh, football mad Yasmin, Grandpa Matt and Valient the dog, as they lead Story Questers around their local neighbourhoods.

Josh, Grandpa Matt and Yasmin

Josh, Grandpa Matt and Yasmin

The project launched earlier this month with an event in Burslem Park, and there are further Story Quest events throughout the summer in Stoke:

  • Friday 26 July: Tunstall Park

  • Saturday 3 August: Westport Lake

  • Saturday 10 August: Burslem Park

  • Saturday 17 August: Market Place, Burslem

  • Saturday 24 August: Ford Green Hall

  • Saturday 7 September: Tower Square, Tunstall

Football mad Yasmin and her team mates

Football mad Yasmin and her team mates

You can download the stories and trailmaps and find lots more information on the project at

We also had a lovely write-up here:

And you can see more images in my portfolio here.

Go and check out the project if you’re anywhere near Stoke this summer!

Valient the dog, waiting for some mammoth action…  Image from The Mammoth Mystery, the first of the stories, which you can download here:

Valient the dog, waiting for some mammoth action…
Image from The Mammoth Mystery, the first of the stories, which you can download here:

Well, hello 2019!


You may have noticed there has been a bit of a lull over here, as last year was mostly taken up with something rather different than my normal deadlines…

Everyone, meet a delightful little sleep thief called Felix!


Aside from the literature festivals, I took some serious time off in 2018 to spend with this little guy.

Now we’ve landed in the new year and I am getting back into the world of pencils, alongside the world of nappies. I’ve got some lovely new projects on the horizon, including a book with an Australian publisher, a baby related set of illustrations (I’m not short on inspiration there!) and developing some new authored work.

I’ll be out and about visiting various schools around World Book Day in March, chatting all things Horace & Harriet and Flying Fergus.

On that note, last November saw the release of the FOURTH Horace & Harriet book, called Friends, Romans, Statues! In this one, Harriet jets off on a family mini-break to Italy. On arriving in Rome, she discovers that Horace has coincidentally rocked up in one of the city's squares, and true to form, he's making quite an exhibition of himself! 

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I loved working on this one, which is full of Roman ridiculousness, travelling chaos and oodles of gelato, as well as a few new characters. I really enjoyed researching and sketching out scenes in Rome and adding Horace & Harriet and the gang to the familiar landmarks.

Horace, Harriet, Grandad and Barry outside the Roman Colosseum

Horace, Harriet, Grandad and Barry outside the Roman Colosseum

Horace gets gladitorial!

Horace gets gladitorial!

It’s also been an exciting time for team Flying Fergus. Book 9, The Secret Cycle Scoop came out last November, and we have Book 10, The Photo Finish coming out next month. Chris, Joanna and I visited Edinburgh, Bath, Cheltenham and Bradford for various literature events last year, and most excitingly appeared on CBBC book club and Blue Peter!! You can see a hilarious (and exhausting!) online game we filmed for Blue Peter here

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Now the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge!

Now the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge!

I’ve also taken the time throughout last year, whenever possible (aka, baby naptime!!) to enjoy sketching some bits and pieces for fun. It’s not something I often get time for when I have lots of books to get finished. Here is one of my favourite illustrations I’ve done recently, inspired by a ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ class I take Felix to:

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Right, over and out for now. Roll on World Book Day!

Clare x

Roundup and rabbits

Hello! Here's a little roundup of what's been happening lately at Elsom HQ...

I was involved in another super exhibition with Exeter Illustrators in May. This was the piece I created for the show, which was displayed in a local venue here in Devon called the Welcome Cafe:

Yoga Girl, 2018

Yoga Girl, 2018

I've just updated my portfolio with a lovely job I did for another local client, House of Marbles. House of Marbles are a brilliant games, marbles and glasswear brand who have a museum based in a historic pottery factory. I created two characters for them called Henry and Maggie, who help visitors explore a brass rubbing trail on the site:

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...and you can see more of them here

July saw the release of the third Horace & Harriet title, called Horace & Harriet The Sports Spectacular. It's packed with sports, shenanigans, shotputs and silliness! But you might want to watch out for that crafty Coach Whipston... 

In Horace & Harriet book three it's the day of the Sports Spectacular and once Harriet manages to convince Horace that his park isn't being invaded, he soon gets into the spirit of the games. But will his winning streak land him in trouble when crafty Coach Whipston wants a share of his success?  

In Horace & Harriet book three it's the day of the Sports Spectacular and once Harriet manages to convince Horace that his park isn't being invaded, he soon gets into the spirit of the games. But will his winning streak land him in trouble when crafty Coach Whipston wants a share of his success?  

You can see more images from the book in my Horace & Harriet portfolio section, and can purchase a copy online here or here.

In other news, I'm going to be at Edinburgh Book Festival in August! Chatting & drawing all things Horace & Harriet on Saturday 18th August and with the Flying Fergus dream team on Sunday 19th.

Tickets are still available for Horace & Harriet here.

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If you can't make it to Edinburgh, I'll be at various other festivals and events later this year:

Broughton Hall, Yorkshire on 27th September 

Bath Children's Literature Festival on October 3rd

Cheltenham Literature Festival in October (date TBC)

Loogabarooga Festival, Leicester on 21st October

Exeter Literature Festival on 17th November (details TBC)

I hope to see you at one of the events!

And finally - I promised you some rabbits. Here they are:


Until next time!
Clare x


Horace & Harriet hit the shelves!

"Clare Elsom has created lovable, unforgettable characters who jump off the page, grab us by the hand and pull us into their uproarious and delightful tale." TES website: Anna Tomlinson, Valley Park Primary School

'Every children's book needs a little something to lift it above the ordinary, and this one certainly has it.' Amazon: A. I. McCulloch

Image from Horace & Harriet: Every Dog Has its Day

Image from Horace & Harriet: Every Dog Has its Day

So, Horace & Harriet Take on the Town and Horace & Harriet Every Dog Has its Day have now been out for 6 weeks! The books have had a fantastic reception, and I've become a tad obsessed with reading the reviews coming out on Amazon. They have also been reviewed by lovely people at TESThe Book Bag and Toppsta, as well as a great article from Devon Live

Every nice review is really, REALLY appreciated and makes a huge different - thank you very much if you've taken the time to do so.

I also received an amazing message from a rescheduled World Book Day (that snow eh?!) where a girl had enjoyed the books so much that she chose to dress up as Harriet!

A definite highlight was the very fun launch event at Waterstones in Exeter. I did a book signing, story time, gave lots of inside information about the books and led a live drawing session where everybody got to draw their own Barry the pigeon:

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The launch was reviewed really nicely by Stephanie Walker in a local blog, Exploring Exeter.

Finally, I've created some Horace & Harriet activity sheets (and a whole one dedicated to Barry, of course.) You can download them for free from OUP's website here.

That's about it for now! Phew. Can't wait to see what's in store for Horace & Harriet next. And there's only a couple of months until Book 3 comes out, hurrah! 

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Clare x

Horace & Harriet... the countdown!

It's now only one month until you all get to meet Horace & Harriet! The first two books Take on the Town and Every Dog Has its Day will be hitting the shelves on March 1st. 

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Keep an eye on my twitter, facebook and instagram where I will be announcing details and posting some sneak peeks from the books on the countdown to publication day. And you can see more images and info about Horace and Harriet on my portfolio pages here.

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The countdown is on!!

Clare x

World Book Day 2018

Pleased to say I have a super way to kick off 2018... I'm delighted to reveal that the team behind Flying Fergus has partnered with the 2018 World Book Day Award! 

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In total, £20,000 of books are up for grabs, as well as a visit to the winning school from me, Joanna Nadin and Sir Chris Hoy. 


All details for entering the competition are on the World Book Day website. Closing date for entries is Monday 12th Feb 2018, with winners announced on World Book Day which is Thursday 1st March. 

Good luck to everyone entering!!

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Inktober 2017

For those who don't know, Inktober is a drawing challenge that takes place every October, where you create one ink drawing everyday for the entire month.

I've been keeping a teeny Inktober sketch book for the last month but completely failing to upload anything... so here is the whole lot, starring the only and only... BARRY THE PIGEON!

The whole 31 days

The whole 31 days

A few favourites

A few favourites

The Inktober sketchbook

The Inktober sketchbook


Earlier this year I worked with the very talented designer Helen Davies from Langarth on a fantastic new product for Gibsons Games. They needed illustrations for their new card game, Chicken out!

I knew the brief would be a lot of fun as I'd previously worked with the same team on a Woodland Companions snakes & ladders/ludo set. I snapped up the chance to work with them again!

Chicken Out! involved me working closely with Helen on the game images and the packaging design, which needed to be bright and engaging, while also keeping a nice traditional farmhouse feel. I drew a lot of chickens...

Some early sketches

Some early sketches

Final character artwork

Final character artwork

...and the occasional crafty fox!

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The images appear both on the cards themselves, the box (which is awesome) and the point of sale unit. Here are the finished products:



While I adore all my publishing work, it's really nice to have a one-off project like this to shake things up. Hoping there might be more collaborations in the future!

Anyone fancy a game??

The BIG news: Introducing Horace and Harriet!!

Everyone, please meet Horace and Harriet!!

I'm so happy to finally reveal that throughout 2018 four books written AND illustrated by me will be hitting the shelves! 

Aimed at ages 5 and up, and published by Oxford University Press, the series star Horace and Harriet (and Barry the pigeon, of course). 

Here's some more about them: 

Lord Commander Horatio Frederick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third (or Horace, for short) has been a statue in Princes Park for hundreds of years. But after suffering endless pranks, graffiti and mountains of pigeon poo, Horace has had JUST ABOUT ENOUGH.

He decides it's time to get off his pedestal . . . and he walks away. Surely he can find a better home? One suitable for such a fine commander? Assisted by his new friend Harriet (she's seven and a quarter years old and definitely NOT a statue) Horace tackles modern life in his quest to find the perfect place to live. 

Prepare for a lot of statue puns and even more hilarious slapstick adventures. The first two books Take on the Town and Every Dog Has its Day will be released in March 2018. Here are the covers (thank you to the mega talented Holly!):

Oxford University Press say: 'Horace and Harriet are Captain Pugwash and Tom the Cabin Boy for today's generation! In her author/illustrator debut, Clare Elsom has created highly designed layouts and a stylish limited-colour palette. There is humour and heart in the relationship between the pompous Horace and the resourceful Harriet that children will love.'

I can't wait to share them with you! I'll be updating lots more information about Horace and Harriet over the coming months, including some of the initial sketches, introductions to more characters and possibly a sneaky preview of some finished inside artwork... In the meantime, I'll leave you with an excited Barry:

Thanks for reading!

Clare x

Exhibition time

I'm involved in a group called Exeter Illustrators (based here in Exeter, surprisingly enough!) and we currently have our first group exhibition at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

I was heavily involved in organising the show, alongside fellow illustrator Paul Cherrill. Here we are promoting the exhibition on local radio station Phonic FM, and a snap of my artwork in Manor Magazine:

After a lot of hard work, we were thrilled to celebrate the opening of the exhibition last month. The artwork looks truly stunning on the walls, and the private view was a great success! Here are some pictures of the private view:

Speech time, guests enjoying the show, me grinning like a loon in front of my artwork, and music from local singer songwriter Sadie Horler. Photographs by Simon Hammet.

Speech time, guests enjoying the show, me grinning like a loon in front of my artwork, and music from local singer songwriter Sadie Horler. Photographs by Simon Hammet.

You can see the artwork that I exhibited in my portfolio here.

Exeter Illustrators is a fantastic group that continues to grow. We'll soon be launching a website and shop, and have plans for more collaberation in the future. In the meantime the current exhibition runs until July 2nd 2017 at RAMM.  You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates. Watch this space! 

Group shot of Exeter Illustrator members at the Private View. Photo by Simon Hammett.

Group shot of Exeter Illustrator members at the Private View. Photo by Simon Hammett.

2017 so far...

My first post this year!! It has been a VERY busy couple of months over here. Where to start??

I'll start with guinea pigs. The second book in Holly Webb's gorgeous Furry Friends series was published in January. This one is called Marshmallow Magic and introduces Josephine's sister, Angelique. Whereas Josephine is a lovely, sweet, happy little guinea pig, Angelique seems to be rather more unfriendly... and Sophie will have to try and win her over! 

The front cover and some inside artwork. Angelique is looking quite sweet here!

The front cover and some inside artwork. Angelique is looking quite sweet here!

In February the fifth book in Sir Chris Hoy's Flying Fergus series was published, co-written with Joanna Nadin. As well as Fergus, Daisy and the usual gang, this book features a superstar all girl cycling team called The Velociraptors - I absolutely loved illustrating them! They look like a no-nonsense feisty bunch...

Front cover of Book 5 and an inside artwork of the awesome Velociraptors...

Front cover of Book 5 and an inside artwork of the awesome Velociraptors...

I can't believe we're on Book 5 of Flying Fergus already! But don't worry, we had the fantastic news late last year that there will be another 5 on the way!! I've already started with the sketches for Book 6, and while it's all a bit *top secret* at the moment, I can reveal that the gang go on some adventures away from home... 

We also all got a bit Flying Fergus crazy around World Book Day this year. There were so many fantastic Fergus (and Daisy!) costumes appearing, it was absolutely brilliant to see them. Chris, Joanna and I also did a few events throughout February, including the Imagine Children's Festival, Wee Write in Glasgow and the BIGGEST BOOK SHOW ON EARTH. We were on stage with some fantastic other authors and illustrators, the whole thing was very inspiring! Here are some photos:

And finally, with Bologna just around the corner, I hope to be able to soon reveal the thing that has been keeping me busiest of all!! I have a very, very, VERY exciting but at the moment *top secret* project being developed with Oxford University Press.

I'm desperate to tell you all and hope to very soon :)

That's all for now, 

Clare xx

More marvellous magazines

Throughout 2016 I've continued to work with the brilliant team at Araştırmacı Çocuk magazine in Turkey. I really enjoy working on the magazine, I always have to research interesting topics.

This year I've learnt: how to test watermelons for freshness, the origins of the Aztec calendar, internet safety for children, the workings of mechanical clocks, the movements of the sun, what a projectionist does and how to draw Einstein! 

Here are some recent illustrations I've done for them:

And there is more on the portfolio page here .

Furry Friends!

Earlier this year, Scholastic asked me to illustrate the new series from children's bestselling superstar, Holly Webb. The series is called Furry Friends, and the first title Sophie's Squeaky Surprise, is hot off the press this week!! 

The first cover. Check out that macaroon tower!

The first cover. Check out that macaroon tower!

The series follows Sophie, a little girl who has moved from London to Paris. Sophie is a bit unhappy in her new school, and finds adapting to a new country rather difficult... until she befriends Josephine, a macaroon-eating, tutu-wearing guinea pig, and things become a lot more interesting!!

I have thoroughly enjoyed illustrating this series so far. The character design for the guinea pigs was great fun - we had to think about how far we wanted to anthropomorphise Josephine and her friends, and also tackle the scale difference for a guinea-pig and human friendship.

Guinea pig studies

Guinea pig studies

Development of Sophie and the scale between her and Josephine

Development of Sophie and the scale between her and Josephine

It's also been very interesting working on a series with a real life location - lots of Parisian locations are central to the books storyline. I've had pictures of Paris surrounding my desk, and particularly enjoyed this detailed scene of Josephine pirouetting down a guinea pig sized Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versaille!

Have a look at a couple more images from the book over on my portfolio page here.

I'm already looking forward to illustrating the next one!

Clare x


A bit busy...

It's been a whirlwind over here lately, especially as I took a few weeks off for a rather exciting event... 

...but I promise I'll be back soon with some new exciting project updates!

Clare x

Fergus takes off

It's all about Flying Fergus at the moment! The first 2 books came out just before World Book Day. I went to the (truly fantastic) Discover Center in London to talk about Fergus, Chimp, bikes and teamwork with Chris and Joanna. Here we are chatting to 350 excited kids:

The books have also been featured on BBC's The One Show, ITV's Lorraine and Chris Evan's Radio 2 show. Fergus is certainly making waves!

There is also a fantastic website to learn more about the books and the team behind them. Check it out here

Until next time!

C x

Let 2016 commence!

Happy New Year everyone! I'm launching the year with some very exciting news: I've spend the last few months illustrating a great new project with non other than Olympian cyclist Sir Chris Hoy!

Chris has written the books alongside award-winning author Joanna Nadin and they are published by Piccadilly Press. The books focus on Fergus, an ordinary 9-year-old boy who is desperate for a top-of-the-range bike for his birthday. His family are unable to afford such an extravagant gift, so Fergus inherits his dad’s old rusty bike instead. But when Fergus tests it at the park, he discovers there might be more to the bike than meets the eye...

I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate the series, and my desk has been peppered with pictures of bikes and cyclists ever since. There are five books in the series, and each one features about 50 of my illustrations. The first two books will be released at the end of February, so keep your eyes peeled!

Getting festive!

Bells are jingling at Elsom Illustration HQ!!

Here's a wintery illustration I created earlier this year for Scholastic's First Grade Friends Forever series, written by Judy Katschke. This is from The Snowman Showdown and shows the gang celebrating after some competitive snowman building: 

More books in that lovely series happening in 2016, hurrah!

Also, you might have noticed - Christmas cards are back in the shop! There are still packs remaining, and you can buy them here:
Which is your favourite?

Anyway, hope you're all feeling festive :)
More soon!

Clare x


The nice people over at Workspiration interviewed me talking about drawing, biscuits and The House of Illustration.. You can read about it here.

New work!

Tons of new work in the portfolio section!

There are updates on the new titles from the Spies in Disguise and Sparky series. There are new additions from ongoing work with Scholastic USA, such as First Grade Friends Forever and Puppy Pals.  You can see the work from the very recently published Charlie and the Aztecsand also some development work from my own books. 

Safe to say it's been a busy year so far!! Enjoy have a look though. Here's one of my recent favourites to get you started: