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James de la Rue

As a child

I was born on the island of Guernsey to a Guernsey mother and a Guernsey father. It seemed like quite a big place until I first circled it in the air during a school trip on a Dakota DC-3 aeroplane, when it looked so small I thought I could stretch my arms from one end to the other. In truth this would only have been possible if my arms were each five miles long. At primary school I was completely captivated when my teacher read ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ to the class, whilst drawing was what I loved best of all. I wished we could draw all day. Later I was a bit of a swot and would ask for extra maths homework. Unfortunately my development in maths froze at the age of 11 and never progressed from there. My family had two cats who I loved even though they were terrified of everything.

As an adult

I took a degree in illustration at UWE (Bristol), from which I graduated in 2000. As a student I lived with three good friends, Bobo, Bonobo and Coco (actual names are concealed for their own security) and we remain good friends, even though we don’t live anywhere near each other. I loved the idea of being an illustrator from the off but I never thought I would actually do it. One day at university when I was feeling very low on confidence my tutor said to me “You can do this”. It serves as a very valuable memory and helps me still if I need a kick up the bottom.

As an artist

These days I live just outside Nottingham with my wife and our daughter Amy, who, like Charlie’s sister Lola, is very funny. I work at home in an upstairs room containing desks and things instead of a bed and things. I have my drawing desk on one side by a north facing window (very important to draw next to a north facing window, don’t you know) and my computer desk on the other side. Around me is my growing collection of children’s books from my own childhood, those I’ve bought as an adult, and those that belong to Amy. Books I’ve worked on include the series Gladiator Boy and Spy Pups.

Things you didn't know about James de la Rue

  1. I like dogs, I don’t love them.
  2. When I was young I would watch Watership Down and Back to the Future over and over again on videotape.
  3. I’m convinced that McVitie’s plain chocolate digestives are one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
  4. I love Formula One, but I don’t really know why.
  5. I once scored all six goals in the game for the B team against the C team at school, but no one seemed to notice at the time or remember afterwards
  6. I sing like a butterfly and dance like a plum.
  7. I find it physically impossible to drink hot chocolate slowly.
  8. I support Southampton FC.
  9. I loved the animals at Berlin Zoo, because they didn’t mind that I couldn’t speak German.
  10. The hair on my head won’t stop growing and every now and then I have to get someone to cut it shorter.

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