Neal Layton's News



With the first Tony Spears Book being published today, I thought I’d write a blog post giving a bit more background to the story…

I’ve been working on this new series for about 3 years now but I guess it’s actually the culmination of my life long interest in space exploration, and science fiction, and the games I used to play when I was young, so you could say I’ve been working on it for much longer than that.

Children, I hope you enjoy it!

Grown ups- if you’re reading it with your families I thought you might like to look out for these hidden references…

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol– my favourite book when I was a boy. I had the version illustrated by Tenniel.

Star Trek. A part of the plot references the 60’s TV series, and one of the problems ‘Scotty’ was always up against. If you’re familiar with that show you might recognise the design on the back of The Invincible’s chair.

There’s also an album title by Radiohead hidden in there, and if you are a musician you might also recognise some of the dials on the Invincible as the type used on Marshall Amps, cranked to 11 or course.

Finally Mr Simpson if you are reading this, yes Tony’s teacher is slightly based upon you as you were my favourite teacher when I was at primary school. I hope you don’t mind, it is meant to be a complement!

Book Two is already written, watch this ‘space’ for more details. The universe is a very big place, who knows what else is out there?



Photo 05-07-2016, 06 39 21

Emergency take off!


Photo 05-07-2016, 06 37 39

Gatorilla attack!


Photo 05-07-2016, 06 36 27

More Gatorillas!


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Plumpy chats to Tony.


The Invincible Tony Spears
ISBN: 9781444919523
Publication date: 14 Jul 2016
Page count: 225
Imprint: Hodder Children’s Books



04 The Tree


The Guardian Childrens Book Site have just published a piece showing how I made my latest picture storybook ‘The Tree’ in pictures.

‘The Tree’ is published by Walker Chidren’s Books.


Island City Stories

May 10th, 2016


A 1 minute film of me at work made for the IslandCityStories project by students at Portsmouth Uni…



Island City Stories is a collaborative project between students and staff in The Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI), University of Portsmouth and local independent businesses and community groups in Portsmouth.
Students from BA Film Production are paired up with local businesses and each of their stories are told through film.
Students from BA Illustration have designed the logo/branding for ‘Island City Stories’.
The theme for 2016 is Portsmouth’s creative industries sector.


The Tree publishes today

May 5th, 2016


It’s publication day for ‘The Tree’ my new picture storybook with Walker Books…!


cover square 40cm buttercups

rabbit square 40cm

owls square 40cm

squirrels square 40cm

Trailer for ‘The Tree’

April 26th, 2016


A short trailer I made for my forthcoming picture story book ‘The Tree’

(It’s actually meant to loop which is why it’s so short…!)TS_anime1

‘The Tree’ will be published in May by Walker Children’s Books.





A short trailer I made for my forthcoming book ‘The Invincible Tony Spears.’

(It’s actually meant to loop which is why it’s so short…!)TS_anime1

‘The Invincible Tony Spears’ will be published in July by Hodder Children’s Books.





The trip started bright and early on Tuesday morning with the 6.50 Easyjet to Bologna. I nearly missed the flight ending up with only 9 minutes to get from security to my gate. Note to self: don’t wear a metal buttoned shirt when flying!




After meeting Adam Stower and my agent Alison Eldred we hopped in a taxi and it was straight to the ‘Fiere’.





With over 1200 stands there was lots to see in the halls…




…and in the bookshop!






Anne and Neal Layton

A meeting with Anne McNeil of Hachette Publishing to talk about two of my titles showcasing at the fair, ‘The Invincible Tony Spears’ and ‘Danny McGee Drinks the Sea’ which is written by Andy Stanton.




Alongside the publishers stands there were several exhibitions of artwork.



This piece from Emanuale Luzzati was included in the 50 years of childrens books exhibiton.



An exhibition of German books shows creative use of art tubes…




…and finally back the following morning on the 11am flight– before heading back to the studio with a head buzzing with ideas!


Bologna 2016!

March 31st, 2016


Each spring, the children’s publishing world converges on the historic Italian city of Bologna for a huge trade fair. It’s been running for over 50 years now and is unique because it is the only book fair exclusively for children’s books.

I’ll be visiting the show again this year soaking up the atmosphere and meeting my agents and publishers from the UK and their partners abroad. It’s amazing to see the different approaches to children’s narrative, and I generally find the experience exhilarating, overwhelming and humbling in equal measure. You can’t help but be lifted by the energy of all the activity. With over 1200 publishers and 100,000’s of books on show, I feel extremely privileged to have my work represented on the world stage.

This year three of my new books will be on show. Walker Books will be presenting  ‘The Tree’ and Hodder Children’s Books will present ‘The Invincible Tony Spears’ and ‘Danny McGee Drinks the Sea’ which is written by Andy Stanton.

I’ll try and post a few photos during my visit and look forward to meeting some of the other authors, illustrators and publishers!


‘The Tree’ by Neal Layton, Walker Books, May 2016.

‘The Invincible Tony Spears’ by Neal Layton, Hodder Childrens Books, July 2016.

Danyy Mcgee Drinks the Sea2
‘Danny McGee Drinks the Sea’ by Andy Stanton Illustrated by Neal Layton, Hodder Books, publishing date tbc.


Untitled 2

The Institute of Early Childhood have published a new article using Emily Brown’s CITV appearance as a case study. Densely written (!) but interesting to see how academics analyse things… A Link to the article here…


More Mammoths in Japanese

March 23rd, 2016

Just arrived in the post- a Japanese edition of ‘Mammoth Academy in Trouble!’


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