As a child
Mini was born in the front seat of a mini-car in an icy car-park in South Wales. She has two sisters and one brother, and grew up in a village in Buckinghamshire with plenty of places to make camps, climb trees and pretend to be horses. As a child Mini believed no day should pass without making something and created many bizarre objects from cardboard, clay, papier mache, dough, plaster, toilet rolls and crisp packets.
As an adult
After school Mini did a foundation Course in Art, but knew she wasn't cut out to be a Proper Artist, so she did an English degree at University College, London. While she was there she volunteered to build theatre scenery at the Bloomsbury Theatre and eventually was asked to design some shows. After finishing her degree Mini worked making latex puppets in a basement in Covent Garden until she was offered a place on a theatre design course. Mini loved theatre designing because she got to make lots of models - and also real things, and paint backdrops, and create costumes. However, she did not earn much money. She trained to be a teacher and worked for six years at a school in South London. She especially liked running after-school clubs in model-making and pottery.
Mini had always done bits of illustration in her spare time, and had a secret ambition to have a book published some day. She did a two-year MA in illustration at Brighton University, and made a strange pop-up book about Gulliver's Travels, and an animation about it.
As an artist
Mini works at home in Oxford. Her first picture book for children was Egg Drop, a surreal story about an egg that dreams of being able to fly. Her second book, The Pea and the Princess, was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway award. Mini's book Biscuit Bear won the Nestle Smarties Gold Prize in 2004, and Traction Man is Here won the Boston Horn Book Award for 2005, and was shortlisted for the Greenaway in 2006. The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon won Nestle Bronze in 2006 and the Greenaway Award in 2007.
Books Mini has illustrated for other people include The Crocodile is Coming by June Crebbin, Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner, and The Twin Giants by Dick King-Smith.
Things you didn't know about Mini Grey
- My first ever pet was a tortoise called Egbert (I don't think they're allowed nowadays). He hibernated under the compost heap.
- I love jumping off things into water.
- I am very good at getting lost and very bad at remembering how to get anywhere.
- I have a baby son called Herbie who was born in August 2006.
- My cat is called Bonzetta and is a stripeless tabby.
- I am the inventor of the Hula Hoop Salad.
- I love making any sort of models from kits.
- I collect plastic insects.
- I know lots of poems off by heart and this is sometimes very useful if you want to keep your spirits up on long lonely journeys.
- I LOVE chocolate yoghurt! It is very hard to find.