Friday, 6 November 2009

an ocean and a rock away...

"What you at my gentle spoken friend
I lack a frame to put you in
when you're an ocean and a rock away.

I feel you in the pocket of my overcoat
my fingers wrap around your words
they take the shape of the games we play.

I feel your words through my buttonholes
pin them to my fingerless gloves,
green and prone to fraying.

I keep you in the pockets of my dresses
and the bristles of my brushes
spin you into my curls today.

I spoon you into my coffee cup,
spin you through a delicate wash.
I wear you all day.

Thoughts of you warm my bones
I'm on the way, I'm on the phone.
Let's get lost, me and you,
an ocean and a rock is nothing to me..."

Lisa Hannigan

Friday, 30 October 2009

Olivia and Olivia at

Check it out, we are live at notonthehighstreet!

This is my Olivia and Olivia from around the corner, her mum very kindly lent her to us and as you can see she was born to be in front of a camera. What a pair of beauties, they remind me of Lotta and Lola and they sound just like them too.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Happy Competition Winners

How great is this photo! Carly in Devon won one of the Little Bird tee shirts in the Green Parent competition, she sent this fab photo of her boy and a lovely email to say;
"Many thanks Joanna...we received the t-shirt today, it is lovely! My son had to put it on straight away...I've attached a picture of my happy boy! Thanks for the extra goodies too, much appreciated :)"

Michelle in Edinburgh chose a 'Carmen Miranda' tee and wrote to say;
"I received the top very promptly a few days ago - its beautiful, many thanks again."

I've just posted off a 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' tee shirt to Jane in Stoke-On-Trent and she's sent an email to say "I've just received it! Thank you very much, I love the design and it feels really soft. My older daughter will be delighted with the balloons and stickers too!."

I've a huge smile on my face from this photo, it's lovely to share with you x

Friday, 4 September 2009

Starting School

My girl put on her first school uniform today and headed out in the big wide world with eager anticipation, I came home and had a little cry. She came home at 3 o' clock and had a very big cry and announced that she didn't like reception and would not be going again. I wanted to tell her that we would home-school her forevermore but I suspect that by next Friday she might be enjoying it.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Time Flies...

I am back to work next week, after six months of maternity leave. So much has happened in what seems like a flash. On Valentines day we were married, Alfie arrived in March, April saw his first smiles, we enjoyed hot sunshine in June, in July Olivia left nursery and by August Alfie cut his first tooth and Olivia has begun to learn to read. It has been a wonderful time and I can't pretend that I'm all that overjoyed at the prospect of returning to work but then again I've been vomited on three times today and however bad it is teaching teenagers in the last eleven years none of them have ever been sick on me...

Here's to the next part of the adventure x

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Visiting 'the black smoke'...

'Cold Corners' Eva Rothschild. Tate Britain

'Horizontal Stripe Painting' Patrick Heron. Tate Britain

We've had a wonderful holiday lolling around at the grandparent's house, the service was better than a five star hotel and the 24 hour childcare is now sorely missed. During our stay we took Olivia to London for a few days and had a magical long weekend with her. She went on a train for the first time, saw her first dinosaur bones at the Natural History Museum, we visited Hope and Greenwood sweet shop, rode the Underground, saw teenagers with green hair and best of all visited Tate Britain. She got tooled up at the art trolley and proceeded to spend six hours skipping from gallery to gallery drawing from paintings and sculptures having the happiest day. It was so cool to share our passion with her and have her enjoy it as much as we do.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Area Thrifty One (gorgeous things of wonder from around the web no. 2)

Jersey is such a tiny island that we are usually either related to each other, went to school together or at some point snogged at the Splash. And as I teach at the School of Art I kind of presumed that I had either taught or taught with most of the other artists over here, imagine my surprise then to chance upon Nanette of Area Thrifty One at one of the St Aubin's Craft Markets and see her incredibly beautiful handmade toys.

It felt a little bizarre to find her here, usually at local craft markets I expect to see badly knitted teddy bears and pots of homemade jam (I'm aware of how snobby that sounds) but here was the wonderful world of Area Thrifty One looking like it came straight out of Etsy. When I'd finished mentally buying everything on her stall I was quizzing her, are you on Flickr? Are you on Etsy? Do you have a Big Cartel shop? Do you blog? Are these Moo cards? Because it was a bit of an Anne of Green Gables moment and I felt like I'd met a kindred spirit. When I log on to Flickr and Etsy my little laptop allows me to become part of a much wider world of artists than I can ever be part of here in Jersey and so I have a separate online life and now here was someone else, living just up the road that is part of that too, how cool is that!

So, no wappy legged, boss-eyed knitted teddies here, all of the Area Thrifty One toys and gifts are beautifully sewn from these great fabrics that Nanette designs and has printed. They are deliciously reminiscent of the seventies and I think that also made her work feel familiar to me, the Babushka Bunny reminded me of an orange babushka doll printed on a coaster that my dad kept on his bedside table and the linen rabbit reminded me of a toy rabbit in a dressed in bonkers seventies fabric that my aunt made for me. But best of all we found this wonderful elephant pencil case who looks so much like my daughter's beloved 'Phunt' that we just had to have it. Phunt was Olivia's constant companion but he has become so worn that he is now see-through in places so he just rests on her bed and she carries a little photo of him to school in her coat pocket so that when she feels she needs a bit of Phunt reassurance he's there for her - now she will be able to take her Phunt pencil case to school and have him on her desk all the time, she's delighted and I have a feeling that this elephant may last a lot longer...

Meanwhile, Alfie goes to bed lovingly clutching at a square of dribbly muslin and is in desperate need of a special companion and I have my eye on that linen rabbit, or perhaps that linen cat... either way we have the perfect excuse to do some more shopping at Area Thrifty One! Go on, have a look yourselves...

Joanna x

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

"Sophie opened the door and there was a big, furry, stripy tiger.
The tiger said, "Excuse me, but I'm very hungry. Do you think I could have tea with you?"

If I was forced to choose my favourite children's book, it would have to be "The Tiger Who Came To Tea" by Judith Kerr. The wonderful idea of a tiger popping round for tea still captures my imagination and makes me smile. (I also love the seventies tea service in the illustrations!)

For our friend's third birthday treat we went to see The Tiger Who Came To Tea at the Opera House. If this show comes to a theatre near you make sure you see it, it's fab! I just HAD to buy the girls tigers on sticks to wave, how cool are they? They have inspired Olivia and I to spend the weekend making Tiger Who Came To Tea puppets so that we can put on our own version of this wonderful story.

View the Tiger Who Came To Tea Live trailer here...


My boy spent all of last weekend painting the dining room sunshine yellow and after all the hard work was over I spent a happy week between the baby's naps titivating.

The previous week I had watched 'House Doctor' hoping that it would be like 'Life Laundry' do you remember that great show? Alas no, the House Doctor (a dreadful woman) visits some wonderfully bonkers homes and paints them all beige and sticks a vase of curly bamboo on top of the tv.

However, something started to rub off on me as I was putting the books back on the shelves and I didn't cram them all in. Then I got cross, after all we'd just painted over the magnolia, so as a nod to all the eccentrics that the house doctor has beiged I stuck a few vintage doll's heads in there instead.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Perfect, perfect words from Sonya


I hadn't met his kind before.
His misericord face - really
like a joke on his father - blurred
as if from years of polish;
his hands like curled dry leaves;

the prolifigate heat he gave
out, gave out, his shallow,
careful breaths: I thought
his filaments would blow,
I thought he was an emporer,

dying on silk cushions.
I didn't know how to keep
him wrapped, I didn't know
how to give him suck, I had
no idea about him. At night

I tried to remember the feel
of his head on my neck, the skull
small as a cats, the soft spot
hot as a smelted coin,
and the hair, the down, fine

as the innermost, vellum layer
of some rare snow creature's
aureole of fur, if you could meet
such a beast, if you could
get so near. I started there.

Kate Clanchy

(Sonya, you have inspired me with these lovely words to take out a new poetry book every time we visit the library, I have been leaving them in the loo because that's the only time I have to myself - poo and culture, ah a mother's life! Love you x)

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

giveaway...big all about it!

Those wonderful folks at The Green Parent are holding a Little Bird giveaway, all you need to do is send them an email with your name and address to the email address below to win yourself a gorgeous (if I do say so myself!) Little Bird tee shirt...

Let's Go Fly

"Little Bird is a small, family run business that creates beautiful organic cotton tees for nature loving children. Joanna Howell, founder explains, "We have designed a range of tee shirts for playing not posing, to respect the fact that children need to hide in dens and climb trees. By choosing 100% organic, fair trade cotton our customers can help ensure the social and physical well-being of the cotton farmers and their families. The inks used to print our designs are water-based and organic." See
for info. We have five of these gorgeous tees to give away. For your chance to win, email us your name and address to"

Best of luck x

(September) Competition Update...
We have five lucky, lucky winners, Margaret Rae, Carly Green, Gary Hargreaves, Michelle Bruce and Louise Maryon-Inwood, your Little Bird tees are in the way!

Friday, 19 June 2009

great reads... The Rain Puddle

The Rain Puddle, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin (Bodley Head 1965)

Where do I begin to tell you about this gorgeous book? The Rain Puddle has everything that the very best picture books should have...

Roger Duvoisin's illustrations are fabulous. I've looked at other books illustrated by him but they don't have that same mid-century style of line and flowing form and the stunning simplicity of composition. The middle picture (above) with the hen sitting in a sea of flat, mossy green is so beautiful I come back to it again and again, the depth of colour and that slight overlap in the printing are just wonderful. Every so often I'm tempted to take it out of the book and frame it for the children's bedroom wall but I can't bring myself to because the rest of the book is so good. It is well written and has a great little story, where typically for children's stories of that era, very little happens. The animals belive that a farmyard full of animals have fallen into a rain puddle but the illustrations show that really the animals are only seeing their own reflections.

The best picture books for pre-schoolers have this double ownership, the reader tells one story but the child can read more into the tale through the illustrations. There is also the pleasure of interesting words and sounds when you are reading out loud, The Rain Puddle is full of great animal sounds to make, "Awk, awk!" "Cut-a-cut!" "Gobble-obble-obble!"

The Rain Puddle is out of print now but if you can get hold of a second-hand copy then snap it up, I promise that you won't be disappointed. You can see more illustrations from The Rain Puddle at the Little Bird Flickrstream here...


Monday, 15 June 2009

ooo yes please mr... gorgeous things of wonder from around the web no.1

I've decided to start a new section to the blog called "ooo yes please mr..." featuring things of wonder from around the internet.

So now I am duty bound to spend hours hopping around etsy, flickr and the bloglines in the name of research for Little Bird Twitterings. (And maybe Mr Howell will be inspired too! It's my birthday soon Mr, remember postage can take a little while)

Today from Etsy, I give you...

Bubbly Gum Poster by Anti Graphic

Liquorice Allsorts & Dolly Mixtures by British Cream Tea

and from Arthur's Circus... this dog night light


Wednesday, 10 June 2009

and the shortlisted winners are...

Maria Nillson

The wait is over, Waterstones have finally announced their shortlist for the Picture This competition to illustrate Julia Donaldson's new book "Freddie and the Fairy". My personal favourite is Maria Nillson's, I love the seventies look of the characters and the odd otherworldliness of the setting, my fingers are crossed for you Maria!


Friday, 22 May 2009

FREE p&p on your tee

little bird by post, from the red sketchbook

I said I'd post some more seaside prints but then I remembered that I had to tell you this...

Bag yourself a bargain, there's free p&p on all our beautiful Little Bird tees at the moment. And if you get the Green Parent magazine you'll find an extra 10% discount offer, go on you know you want to!


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

the great british summertime

"Mermaid", limited edition print
"Lickety Split", limited edition print

"Miss Yum Yum", limited edition print

The sun was shining hot enough today for my thoughts to turn to summer. And I thought it was about time to get these prints up on Etsy. More seaside prints tomorrow!

Monday, 18 May 2009


Freddie and the Fairy, double page spread idea, gouache and ink

Bessie Belle, character sketch, gouache and ink

My friend Jay was over last week, we were sharing Battenburg and listening to Womans Hour when Jenni Murray announced that her mother used to refer to spring cleaning as "bottoming". Jay has a wry sense of humour and had a few words to say in response which (sadly) I can't repeat here. Anyway, it struck me as such a wonderful description that I have been going about the housework today smiling to myself! Our house is such a state that even my boy noticed that the dining room carpet looked bad, that is to say you could identify what meals we have had over the last week just by looking at the floor. I'm not usually so slovenly, in fact I am boderline OCD, but I've had a busy week working on these illustrations.

Waterstones have held a competition to find a new, unpublished illustrator for Julia Donaldson's new book.

The book is all about a boy (Freddie) who rescues a fairy (Bessie Belle) who grants his wishes to have some pets... Unfortunately Bessie Belle is a little hard of hearing and Freddie doesn't quite always get what he wishes for.

The winner of this competition will have their illustrations used in the new book to be published next Christmas - how amazing would that be? It's being judged by an illustrious panel including Julia Donaldson, Lauren Childs and the editor of children's books at Macmillans publishers, just to have the opportunity to have some illustrations seen by these people was enough to get me working all night for a week, I'm so shattered now though!

The competition is fierce, view the pool on Flickr here. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


I have this great friend Sarah Benton, we met at art college. I have to tell you she has impeccable taste, her house is a treasure trove of gorgeous paintings, beautiful pieces of ceramics and shelves full of interesting books and curious objects. She has a great eye for the unusual and the beautiful, you can see it in her photography and all around her home. At birthdays and christmases Sarah's parcels are the ones we have to open first because they are always so special, but the really great thing about my friend is that every so often for no special reason she sends us a parcel of goodies in the post.

We had one today, a pink cashmere scarf for me and the book pictured above for Olivia. "Here Comes Frankie" by Tim Hopgood. It's a story about a quiet little boy, living in a quiet street with his quiet parents and quiet cat and dog... one day he has enough and brings home a trumpet, the sounds translate into colours and smells. The illustrations are gorgeous full of rich colours and patterns with spot varnishes used on all the loud music pages. Frankie turns out to be a synesthete - as does his mum and dad and the rest of the street apparantly!

By some psychic connection we also had our latest issue of Okido magazine through the post and it was all about the senses. Okido is an art and science magazine for children between 2 and 7 years old. It is fantastic, I urge you to check out their website and subscribe immediately. We go through our fair share of magazines, Peppa Pig, CBeebies, Spongebob Squarepants and every so often a picture gets coloured in. But our Okido magazines are another matter all together, every page is devoured over and over, there are games to play, pictures to draw and things to make. The stories are well written and beautifully illustrated. We have made the crafts from each and every issue, Olivia's favourite was the home-made playdough poos from the issue about digestion, ok it was also my favourite. We have played all the games and we come back to our old issues regularly to play and read over. And there is loads to learn and chat to each other about.


PS: Check out Sarah's photography on Flickr, here, and see what I mean about her amazing home...

Also we share a blog, here, where we post about lovely and exciting things we have discovered, it's a cheaper way of sharing loveliness than buying it and posting it to each other!

PPS: Alfie did his first smiles this week, he has one dimple!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Alfie Jim

Eleven days late, but worth waiting for... Alfie Jim arrived on 19 March at quarter past nine, weighing in at 8lbs. He is utterly gorgeous and as you can see even his big sister has fallen for his charms.

Here's hoping for a good sleep tonight x

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

another happy customer!

You look gorgeous, thanks for the photo x

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Our bags are packed, our friends are on standby, the cot is ready, the house is sparklingly clean, every time I call someone I get an excited "Yeeees?", every morning at school I'm greeted with "still here then?".

But I know that as soon as he/she does arrive I'll probably be wishing them back inside again for a bit of peace and quiet and easy transportation!


Monday, 2 March 2009

Little Bird at Etsy!

So, the Little Bird Empire expands. As my dear friend and fellow blogette Sarah commented, "some people nest, you obviously build empires!" Well, this maternity leave would be ever so dull if I were just lounging around in front of trash tv all day long!

So, I have opened up a little Etsy shop where I shall be selling limited edition runs of prints, some from the tee shirt designs, some from other bodies of work. I hope to see you there x

PS: Next up is Facebook...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

magic glasses

We had a for real Charlie and Lola moment this morning before breakfast when my girl was jumping in the kitchen doorway with her finger and thumbs circling her eyes saying "mummy I must make some magic glasses now". What could we do but be a little late for school - I'm sure you'll agree they're worth it!
Joanna x

Thursday, 12 February 2009

To and From THE ZOO

I am now 3 weeks away from baby's due date - eeek! And am spending my days alternating between extreme nesting, eating too much camembert and drawing.
I am considering some zoo animals for the summer tee shirts. Any comments - good or bad (don't worry my hormones can take it) are much appreciated, I shall keep posting sketches here and on Flickr as I make them.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Importance of a Cup of Tea

I've just finished this wonderful book... Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. And wanted to share this little extract...

" Perhaps there can be too much making cups of tea, I thought, as I watched Miss Statham filling the heavy teapot. We had all had our supper, or were supposed to have had it, and were met together to discuss the arrangements for the Christmas bazaar. Did we really need a cup of tea? I even said as much to Miss Statham and she looked at me with a hurt, almost angry look, 'Do we need tea?' she echoed. 'But Miss Lathbury...' She sounded puzzled and distressed and I began to realise that my question had struck at something deep and fundamental. It was the kind of question that starts a landslide in the mind.
I mumbled something about making a joke and that of course one needed tea always, at every hour of the day or night."

My next book Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winfred Watson

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

giveaway...big all about it!

I met this lovely lady Molly through Flickr who has a great blog called MommyCoddle, it's full of interesting snippets of her life with her three young daughters in Maryland, they home school, do wonderful creative things together, other times she shares interesting things and interesting people and every so often she posts a "Show & Tell" to share good finds with other mums. Well, I'm lucky enough to be part of her blog this week and she's doing a Little Bird tee shirt giveaway, so if you fancy a big goody bag of free tees then go and check it out...

Joanna x

Competition Update...
We have a winner, Christy received her parcel of tees and sent me this lovely email...

"Happy mail day to us! The tshirts came today and they are wonderful! So soft! My oldest has proclaimed them her new "cozy" shirts. Believe me, cozy is important around here. =) Thank you again for your generosity! The girls were also excited to see the balloons and stickers. I already have several people in mind to give the catalogs to! We'll be looking forward to the new designs. Thanks again!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Green Parent Ethical Fashion Special

Oh my goodness, more press news... here we are in the fashion pages of The Green Parent magazine, Ethical Fashion Special, February/March issue.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Olivia and I are in the local paper, thanks Carly for the lovely article

Little Bird says something about respect
by Carly Lockhart

"A local artist has opened a children's clothing business that sells 100 percent organic, fair traded cotton T-shirts for children aged six months to six years.
Jerseyborn Joanna Craven (34) launched virtual shop Little Bird at the end of last year with her first collection of long sleeved T-shirts for autumn and winter.
The T-shirt designs by Miss Craven feature Carmen Miranda of the Allotment and the Acorn Boys, who look like two boy scouts.
But the Little Bird best seller is an owl design which was inspired by Miss Craven's daughter; Olivia Howell (4), and her favourite toy, Phunt the elephant.
'Her friends think she is called Olivia Owl' said Miss Craven, 'and the pattern of the owl on the T-shirt is modelled on her favourite toy.'
Miss Craven started thinking about Little Bird about two years ago when she discovered what little choice there was for children's clothes.
'A lot of T-shirts that you can buy have slogans across them and are not very respectful for children' she said.


'I thought about how I could use my art work to make something myself. I wanted the illustrations on the T-shirts to reflect a child's world and lifestyle. Then I started thinking about how they would be made and what they would be made from. I realised that they should be made from organic cotton, and fairly traded, to make a product that was respectful throughout.'
The T-shirts cost £18 and are available to buy at They are made in a Fair Trade factory in Turkey and printed using organic ink.
'Sometimes prints on T-shirts can feel plastic, but these are really soft,' said Miss Craven, who added that the T-shirts are also durable.
'I knew they had to withstand washing and ironing, and often people pass on children's clothes to siblings and friends so they had to last.'
After the success of her Little Bird autumn/winter range, Miss Craven will launch her spring/summer collection featuring short-sleeced T-shirts with seaside designs.
She plans to change the T-shirt designs every six months to fit in with the seasons and ensure that there is sufficient choice."

Joanna x

Monday, 5 January 2009

on carry calm keep... Olivia H.

Olivia has a new passion for letters, she traces them in the air and then just has to have a pen and paper and copy them down. She works Chinese style from bottom to top, hence the rewording of this old classic. It's back to school tomorrow and she can't wait to tell her teachers that she has mastered the most tricky letter of all... "e"

Joanna x