Family Illustration Workshop: The Girl with the Parrot on her Head

A guest post from author-illustrator Daisy Hirst on her brilliant family illustration workshop.


  • Daisy Hirst
  • Learning

I've based quite a few illustration workshops on my first picturebook, The Girl with the Parrot on her Head, but at House of Illustration I had a whole afternoon to fill, access to the education department's brilliant facilities AND a volunteer to help!

It was exciting to be able to be a bit ambitious in planning the activities – not necessarily more ambitious in scale than this mad den-making workshop at Wayword festival, but maybe more thoughtful in the way we engaged with the book. It's important to me that my workshops be interesting and fun in themselves, regardless of what (if anything) those taking part think of the book – but ideally I hope to pass on some of the fun I had making it, and thinking about these characters and ideas.

The first thing we did was a giant collaborative mural. In the book, Isabel, the girl with the parrot on her head, has a system:

I wanted to see if children would be interested in reimagining this system: what would they decide to sort out? So I made a lot of empty box-shapes, and we stuck them to the handy magnetic wall – it was soon clear there was no shortage of ideas (and brilliant drawings) of things to put in them:

The new system (click to see it bigger) has a box for everything from 'ANTIQUES' to 'SNAILS + Slugs' and 'bunnies and lipstick': I think it's probably foolproof?

We also made some incredible cardboard animals (as Isabel does in the book) and friends to live on our heads:

Thanks so much to House of Illustration for having me – and to everyone who came and made these amazing things!

Daisy Hirst is back at House of Illustration on Wednesday 5 August, to run the first of our special summer Ladybird illustration workshops for families - click here to find out more!