Guest Blog by author and illustrator David Melling
April 23, 2013

Flying Diggers, illustration, line drawing and wooden carving

When I was first asked to look at the story ‘Flying Diggers’ by Ian Whybrow I was thrilled. I’ve worked with Ian on several picture books before. The first was called ‘Jump In’ and marked a turning point in my career as an illustrator. Up to that point the majority of projects I was being offered to illustrate were generally ‘safe and sensible!’ Of course, as a fledgling illustrator of children’s books (at the time), I was happy to say ‘yes’ to anything! But, as I say, when I read ‘Jump In’ I was very excited. Suddenly, I realized that ‘stories’ could be very silly and extremely fun to draw. The text was an illustrator’s dream; a joyful, bouncy rhyming text with plenty of scope for me to stretch my wings creatively and draw some very silly pictures indeed.

So, as you can imagine, it was even easier for me to say ‘yes’ when, following the success of ‘Jump In’, I was asked to work on a follow up title with Ian called ‘All Change’. It was an equally delightful text.

A few years passed and Ian came back to me with a third book. A younger book with different characters this time, called ‘Gently Bently’. By now I knew that anything with Ian’s name on it was worth a look! However, by 2000 I was writing and illustrating my own texts so it was a good few years before Ian and I had another opportunity. That time came when he contacted me again with the wonderful ‘Flying Diggers’. Another fantastical text, reminding us sensible adults just how easy it is for children to lose themselves in their own worlds of imagination. Oh, happy days!

Granbam's Shed from Flying Diggers, illustration, line drawing & wooden carving

And if the experience of working with Ian for a fourth time wasn’t enough I am absolutely delighted that Living Paintings have chosen this book to be part of their incredible library. This is not the first time Living Paintings have come-a-calling. They did an incredible job with a previous book of mine called ‘Just Like My Mum’. This was very special to me for a number of reasons.

Just Like My Mum, painted feely picture and wooden carving

I’ve always had an infinity with charities relating to blind and partially sighted but in recent years it has touched me personally. My mother, who passed away two years ago, was a life long passionate lover of books. Growing up I remember her always with her nose in a book; more often than not an Agatha Christie. For many years we had a large bookshelf that groaned under the weight in testimony to her devotion to her novels. Well in the last two decades of her life my mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration, which meant that she slowly lost her ability to read books altogether. She found this very hard indeed. Eventually she was registered blind, although she always had some shadowy peripheral vision.

However, we discovered that the RNIB produced audiobooks which were an absolute life line for her remaining years. I cannot emphasise that enough. So when I was made aware of Living Paintings and the incredible work they do the rest is history! Well, thank goodness that such charities exist. I’m thrilled that ‘Flying Diggers’, as well as all the titles Living Paintings produce, can be enjoyed by everyone, be you visually impaired or not.

Thank you Living Paintings!

Flying Diggers illustration, line drawing and wooden carving

Living Paintings is currently creating a Touch to See version of Flying Diggers by Ian Whybrow and David Melling.

Click here to search and borrow David Melling’s books from our free postal library for blind people in the UK.

If you enjoyed reading this click here to read Ian Whybrow’s Guest Blog and click here to read author Chae Strathie’s Guest Blog.

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