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Penny Dale

As a child

Penny Dale was born in Abbey Road near The Beatles' Studio, but grew up in Ottery St Mary. Her first school was so small that all the children were in one classroom, and even that wasn't full. She drew and made things all the time and her dad showed her how to use a hammer properly, something she's still proud of. She made plasticine models of everything she could think of. When Penny was very small, she found her parents' folios from a time when they both went to life drawing classes in London. She remembers being immensely impressed by their drawing, and even though she was very young, she knew she wanted to draw like that one day. At her junior school she was encouraged to draw pictures to complement written work, and this she loved, though this was not encouraged later on at secondary school, which she found disappointing. However, she still managed to illustrate work in some subjects, like Science (lively diagrams), Geography (coloured-in maps) and even made a lift-the-flap Norman Castle in History.

As an adult

Penny took a Foundation Course at Bristol, then took a gap year to work with the Arts Workshop in Bath, making props and costumes, acting, and counting the takings on foreign tours. Later she did a Fine Art Degree at Exeter, where she met her husband Bryan. After college she began working for a time at the Northcott Theatre, designing and making costumes and props again, before she and her husband moved to Northumberland to work on renewable energy projects and graphic design. Their daughter Sarah was born in Hexham, and a friendship developed with an artist she met at childbirth classes, which led to shared daughter-minding, making time for painting, drawing and print making. A year later Penny moved down to South Wales, where Bryan took up a lecturing post in design. It was there that she started to write and illustrate children's books.

As an artist

Penny is one of the UK's leading illustrators of children's books. Her books have met with great success: Bet You Can't and Once There Were Giants were included in the UK SATS booklist for many years. Wake Up Mr B! was commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal 1988. Rosie's Babies (written by Martin Waddell) won the Best Book for Babies award and was also shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1990. Night Night Cuddly Bear (also written by Martin Waddell) and Ten in the Bed both won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Jamie and Angus (written by Anne Fine) won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award 2003. Penny has sold over three million books worldwide and has been published in over twenty languages. Her most recent work includes The Boy on the Bus, Princess, Fair, as well as and Jamie and Angus Forever. Find out more about Penny by visiting her wesbite,

Things you didn't know about Penny Dale

  1. Penny grew up in the country and all her neighbours were boys, so she grew up playing football (always in goal and hopeless), cricket, climbing and soldiers.
  2. When growing up, she loved making things and drawing, especially dancers, castles and princesses as a refreshing change from all that time playing with boys.
  3. She loves swimming, although she can't do proper underwater breathing, and she likes to secretly race other swimmers.
  4. Her happiest day was when her beautiful daughter was born.
  5. She loves growing vegetables in the garden, particularly that time of the year in midsummer when they seem to double in size overnight.
  6. She is addicted to making soup. Her dad showed her when she was little. She makes some most days, often with whatever has grown in the night.
  7. She finds getting started, especially on writing, very difficult, and she's easily distracted - particularly by the two previous points!
  8. Quite a few of Penny's family call her Peapod (again in reference to her love of growing vegetables).
  9. She enjoys mimicking animal and bird sounds, also musical instruments, especially high bugles and jazz trumpets.
  10. Her favourite illustrator is E. H. Shepherd, especially his drawings for Winnie the Pooh.

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