Alan MacDonald

Huxley and Flapjack: Trouble at Sea
Alan MacDonald

About Author

Alan MacDonald introduces his brilliant new series for younger readers about best friends Huxley, a koala bear, and Flapjack, a penguin. Before he became a writer, Alan dreamed of being a professional footballer, but when he won a pen in a writing competition, his fate was sealed. Alan has now written over 80 children's books, and also writes for TV.

Francesca Gambatesa has been illustrating books since 2011, working on picture books and middle grade books in the US, UK and Italy, where her family comes from. She has also worked as an animator, designer and art director for animation studios. Francesca currently lives in the UK.



Huxley and Flapjack: Trouble at Sea  (Little Tiger)

July 2024

Huxley is always looking for new adventures, while Flapjack is a little more cautious. Together, they have an incredible time and their latest adventure, Trouble at Sea, sees the diving deep into the ocean on an unexpected treasure hunt!  Author Alan MacDonald and illustrator Francesca Gambatesa tell us more about their new series for younger readers.

Read a Chapter:      Huxley and Flapjack:  Trouble at Sea                                     Huxley and Flapjack:  Race to the Rescue

Q&A with Alan MacDonald, introducing Huxley and Flapjack

"Their adventures can take them anywhere and are usually more dramatic
than they were expecting."

1.    What inspired these two loveable characters, Huxley and Flapjack, and why did you want to explore this friendship between a koala and a penguin?

Alan:   I think Huxley came first and then I realised it would be more fun with a companion. An excitable koala and a worried penguin seemed like the perfect duo.

2.    What makes these two so special, and what keeps their friendship on track?

Alan:   They are total opposites so Huxley wants to dive in headfirst while Flapjack sees trouble ahead. Whatever happens though they always stick together and never give up.

3.    Francesca, why did you decide you wanted to illustrate these stories?

Francesca:   I really loved Huxley and Flapjack for the moment I read their first story on paper. Their unique personalities, looks and nature are so incredibly opposite that any adventure they set on will inevitably take unexpected, hilarious turns. It was too irresistible trying to illustrate their world. I loved the idea of illustrating a whole series of books with these characters


4.    And how did you decide what Huxley and Flapjack would look like?

Francesca:    I created several sketches of how Huxley and Flapjack may look starting from the creative team and art director’s brief. For example, I was told that they should wear clothes and Huxley should have super fluffy ears.. It took me quite a bit of trial and error exploring their looks before getting to their final looks. The creative team was there to encourage me all the way.

5.    What kinds of adventures do Huxley and Flapjack have, and what happens in their latest story, Trouble at Sea?

Alan:   Their adventures can take them anywhere and are usually more dramatic than they were expecting. Trouble at Sea starts with a quiet day at the seaside and ends up with an underwater voyage in a submarine.

6.   These are fast-paced stories; do you feel that's important for younger readers?

Alan:   I think it helps readers to have an exciting, page turning story and it's also the kind of story I like to write.

7.    Which one would you choose as your best mate - Huxley or Flapjack?

Alan:   I'm probably more of a Flapjack myself so it might be fun to have a pal like Huxley. Life would never be dull!

Francesca:  I can relate to Flapjack quite a bit, so I suppose I’d need a Huxley as a best mate!

8.   What's your favourite moment and illustration in Trouble at Sea?

Alan:    There are lots but I especially like the illustration of Flapjack bowling a cannonball at the shark.

Francesca:   Definitely Huxley and Flapjack with Wizz the submarine captain and his pet octopus.  I’ve loved illustrating his sturdy and fun submarine!

9.    Do you have more adventures planned for Huxley and Flapjack?

Alan:    Yes, in the next book Huxley wants to be cowboy and the two set off on a Wild West style adventure.

10.   What do you enjoy doing to relax when you're away from your desk - and would you enjoy going on a real life adventure like Huxley and Flapjack?

When I'm not writing I like to be outdoors, walking in the Peak District or cycling or playing tennis. I would enjoy an adventure somewhere, as long as it didn't involve meeting a shark!

Francesca:   I love going to museum and galleries but also flea markets. I Love drawing and writing on my sketchbooks.   I definitely would enjoy going on a real life adventure like Huxley and Flapjack…but maybe my favourite thing would be sleeping in their tree house! 

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