Rory, Daisy, Stanley and Joe

This is mainly a request for opinions and it’s aimed principally at those who’ve read my stories about Stanley, the miserable, misanthropic fairy who lives under a dripping tap in the bedroom of a man called Jack in Aberdeen. But before we get to Stanley, a wee introduction to the reason for this request.

Front cover

Regular(ish) visitors will be familiar with my brother Ron but now a new family member creeps in – Ron’s son, Joe. I’ve been collaborating with Joe on another children’s book – the words are by me, the illustrations by him. The book’s called Rory the Dragon and Princess Daisy and, for a very special reason, all proceeds from sales will be going to The Daisy Chain Fund. The reason is that one of my nieces had a daughter called Daisy Elizabeth Warn, who was diagnosed with a rare and most severe (Type 1) Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It’s a horrible, incurable neuromuscular condition causing weakness of the muscles. She lived for only 16 weeks and, although I never saw her myself, the photos and videos show a lovely, smiling baby with bags of personality. You can imagine how distressing it must have been for her family to live with the knowledge that she wouldn’t be with them for long and they were full of praise for the help and support they got from the Children’s Hospice South West. It’s a very special place – the only organisation in the South West of England which offers help and support to children and their families who are living with life-limiting conditions. And Daisy’s family set up The Daisy Chain Fund in her memory to raise money for it.

This is Daisy:005_Daisy

And here’s Rory:001_Rory_2I’d written the story about them a couple of years before she was born but I wanted somehow to associate it with the real Daisy, so I suggested to my sister Gill (Daisy’s grandmother) that we publish it ourselves and sell it for The Daisy Chain. My 3 sisters’ organisational and fund-raising skills are astonishing so they were enthusiastic about it. All I needed was a willing illustrator.

Enter Joe, who proceeded to produce characters and sketches which didn’t really resemble what I had in mind but, the moment I saw them, I knew they were perfect for the story. The book’s nearly ready for publication and I’ll write some more about it when it actually appears.

Meanwhile, Joe knew of my Stanley stories and was quite happy to have a go at illustrating them, too, and here’s where we get to the request. As you can see from the freedom of his Daisy and Rory drawings, he has a distinct style and he’s sent me some draft sketches for a potential Stanley. I’ve shown them to a couple of people and opinions have varied so this is me trying to cast the net a little wider and fix on Stanley’s new image. If you know of him, or even if you don’t, I’d appreciate your reactions to Joe’s first two ideas on how he might look.

Stanley 1x

stanley test002xSo really, this blog is little more than a begging letter. Which Stanley do you prefer?.


  1. I like the first one but it is rather unfairy-like misanthropic or not – the second therefore gets the vote!

  2. Thanks, everyone. The answers are reflecting my own ambivalence about the sketches. It was unfair not to put up a coloured version of #2 but I have to confess that, although my own first impressions of #1 weren’t very positive, the more I look at it, the more I like it. I think it’s a bonus that it’s so far from my own internal image of the character. Joe’s perceptions are probably much closer to today’s norms than mine. I’ll let you know the final choice and post ant variations that come along.

  3. What a lovely idea for the book about Daisy. Funnily enough, I’ve just submitted a short story about a princess and a dragon, though fortunately not with the same names!

    Must admit I’m having problems keeping the original illustration of Stanley out of my head. On balance, I think No 1 maybe sums him up better than 2.

    1. I know what you mean, Rosemary but, actually, no 1 does grow on you and I can see how smaller kids might like him. Luckily it’s not decision time yet.

  4. Coming to this a little late but hopefully not *too* late to be useful. 😉 I’ve never read your Stanley books, but I absolutely love the first drawing. It’s more of a caricature and slightly more endearing than the second. Even grumpy characters can be endearing. 😉

    1. Thanks, Fiona. You’re confirming what I’m beginning to feel ever more strongly (and what Joe said about his version of Stanley from the start). The other interesting thing is that, seeing a version of a character that’s different from the one who was in your head when you were writing the story introduces more possibilities. Joe, for instance, likes the idea of him wearing football boots. And now, so do I. So I’ll have to write extra bits of story to explain why he wears them. It’s an example of how useful collaboration can be.

  5. I favour Stanley number one and think the football boots are right. Footwear seems important to Joe -notice Rory’s crocs- so I would go for that too. I think the second Stanley drawing has character but is visually too close to humans I’ve met and not liked.

    1. My feelings entirely, Ron. Joe’s done a great job on Rory/Daisy and now Stanley looks as if it’ll be fun, too.

  6. First Stanley – reflects Rory’s style and I look forward to reading the book to my grandchildren soon! Good cause too. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Alison. As soon as I know about the book’s availability, I’ll be putting out the word. It’s different from plugging a ‘normal’ book.

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