Hamish Hamilton, 1987
Gilbert buys a gobstopper then loses it down a drain. The gobstopper heads off on a very long adventure, eventually returning to Gilbert by accident when he is an old man.
I wrote the book before I had learnt to draw properly. What I notice now is the wonky faces and my dogged refusal to tackle any scene with challenging perspective. The illustrations were done in Windsor and Newton inks, partly because I wanted to use a deliberately untraditional medium, partly because the colours are so vivid. However they contain shellac and dry, with breathtaking speed, to a consistency not far from steel plate. For that reason large areas (skies, grass, trees...) had to be done rapidly, in one wash, without stopping. In certain areas you can see where I lingered a little too long and the ink hardened to an evil black shine.
I was reminded of the book recently when I stumbled across a news story about the family of Gilbert Bell who regularly visit Lincoln Cathedral to check on the tennis ball he threw high into the archway in 1914.