The Last Viking Returns

1 Comment

Last Viking Returns voted number one by WA kids

Norm and I have some good news: The Last Viking Returns has won the Hoffman Award!

It’s one of the WA Young Readers’ Book Awards and it’s given to the highest-ranked book by a WA creator. The Last Viking won the same award back in 2012.

Huge thanks to all the WA kids who voted for our book; it means a lot.

You can read more about the win on the Fremantle Press website.

Leave a comment

The Last Viking Returns, September/October school holiday events

We’ve got two more Viking events happening during the school holidays:

  • the State Library exhibition continues until the end of the September
  • we’ve got a Boffins bookshop event in Perth on Wednesday 1st October.

Hit the link for the details.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Tonya ‘Valkyrie’ McCusker launches The Last Viking Returns

TLVR launch 7

James and Norman with Malcolm, Tonya and Mary McCusker at the official launch


We had two launches for The Last Viking Returns this past week: a mini-launch at the fantastic Beaufort Street Books in Mount Lawley, then a big mammoth launch at the State Library. Tonya McCusker generously dressed up to launch our book with her daughter Mary ably assisting. Hit the jump for more photos.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

The Last Viking Returns exhibition


The State Library of Western Australia is exhibiting the artwork of The Last Viking Returns from today until September 30.

Head up to The Place on the mezzanine floor to see original sketches, storyboards and character designs as well as prints of the final artwork. You can also see research materials and Norm’s original manuscripts.

Read on for photos of the printing and hanging process …

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Reviews for The Last Viking Returns

We’ve had a few more reviews filter through – one for The Last Viking Returns and a belated but very welcome one for The Last Viking.

The Last Viking coverTHE LAST VIKING

This is an intricately crafted picture book of the highest quality. A CBCA Notable Book in 2012, it manages to both entertain and inspire, while touching on issues ranging from childhood fears and bullying to the power of myth and storytelling. Josh’s creativity as he builds a Viking longship is a joy to behold. His bravery in the face of terror as he marches out to confront a pack of bullying children is formidable. And the way in which his problems are resolved is delightful.

There’s a lovely wry humour running throughout this book that will give parents a great deal of enjoyment too. And I absolutely loved the way the illustrations are allowed to tell entire chunks of the story. In fact, I pretty much loved everything about this book, which is why I can’t wait for the sequel due to be released this September.” –Anouska Jones, Kids’ Book Review


The Last Viking Returns - front coverTHE LAST VIKING RETURNS

A very humorous account of two worlds colliding: the mortal and the Viking Asgard.  Young Josh, alias Knut, must look after his younger twin siblings at the Viking theme park but Odin and the other Viking gods get caught up in the problem that occurs when the twins go berserk …

Not only is the simple story full of action but the full colour animated spreads further make this book an exciting adventure for the reader.  The front end paper brings the theme park alive with its keyed map while the back end paper offers a runic alphabet and code for the more advanced reader.  This landscape production will be a sure winner with young readers up to middle primary and perhaps beyond.” – John Cohen, the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Reading Time blog

The Last Viking Returns is out now!

Find it at your local bookshop or order it online.

Leave a comment

The Last Viking Returns today!

The Last Viking Returns is officially in bookshops from today!

To celebrate, we’re having two launches in Perth over the next week.

We’re also having an exhibition of the book’s artwork.

The Last Viking Returns - front coverThe big launch has reached capacity, but there’s still some space left at the second launch.

Here’s the details:

The Last Viking Returns second launch!
Saturday 6 September
11am to 12pm
Beaufort Street Books
567 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley, WA

  • Meet Wolverine the dog and his new friend on the day!
  • There will be a special reading of The Last Viking Returns and activities.
  • Kids tickets cost $5 but can be redeemed off book purchases.
  • FREE entry for adults.

Reservations and ticket purchases: (08) 6142 7996 or


If you can’t make it to either of the launches, you might like to see an exhibition of the artwork from the book.

The Last Viking Returns exhibition
Sept 5 – 30
The Place, State Library of WA
25 Francis St, Perth


On behalf of Norm, thanks again for your support of our books!



Leave a comment

Our second book gets a second book launch

By the time this blog post goes live, we’re likely to have reached capacity for the launch of The Last Viking Returns.

If you couldn’t RSVP in time, don’t despair.

We’ve got a second launch organised!

Keep Saturday 6 September free from 11am to 12pm for a Viking event at Beaufort Street Books, 567 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley, WA.

  • Meet Wolverine the dog and his new friend on the day!
  • There will be a special reading of The Last Viking Returns and activities.
  • Kids tickets cost $5 but can be redeemed off book purchases.
  • FREE entry for adults.

Reservations and ticket purchases: (08) 6142 7996 or

Leave a comment

Designing Viking World – the entrance gate


There’s only a fortnight until the release of The Last Viking Returns  on Sept 1st! This is my last behind-the-scenes post before then.

I’ve been focusing on one of the main settings in the book – a theme park called Viking World. There’s a moment early in the book where the family arrives at the park for the first time, and I wanted Josh to have a sense of awe. The text only says “Wow”, so I was free to fill in the rest.

My first sketch looked like this. Not terribly impressive, not awe-inspiring at all, but it helped me to figure out what goes where.



Continue reading

Leave a comment

Designing Viking World – the visitor map


There’s only 3 (!) weeks until the release of The Last Viking Returns on September 1, and I’ve got a couple more behind-the-scenes things to show.

I’ve been focusing on one of the main settings in the book – a theme park called Viking World. I had to figure out the rough layout of the park early on so that I could map the journey made by Pop, Josh and the family. I also wanted to make the backgrounds of each illustration consistent with the map so that the reader could really believe in the fictional setting.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Toys for the Book Launch

The Last Viking Returns is being launched at the State Library of WA on September 10th, and you are invited to dress up, bring along your little Viklings  and help us celebrate.

We are delighted that Mrs Tonya McCusker,  wife of the recently retired State governor, has agreed to be the official launcher. Since we’ll be indoors surrounded by books and computers rather than at the edge of a Norwegian fiord, she won’t actually be smashing a bottle of champagne (or mead)  across its bow as if it were a longship but it will still be a very exciting event.

In TLV II, as we’ve been calling it, Knut tries a Test Your Strength machine at Viking World, setting off a catastrophic event that is revealed at the end, resulting in him being hailed as a hero, again.  What a surprise I hear you cry.

Jan, my beloved, thought it could be a great idea if we had such a machine at the launch, so I tried Google to locate one. The only one I did find to hire was 6 metres tall, far higher then the library ceiling, but not one to give in too easily, I decided to try and make one.

Back to Google to find some plans, but would you believe that the only descent description I could find was in a 1933 copy of Popular Mechanics magazine. I had to smile as we had old copies of this magazine around the house when I was a kid in the 1960s. I wasted hours trawling through these pages. Fascinating stuff and a real insight into the thinking and advertising of Great Depression USA.xlg_high_striker













Next it was off to Bunnings Hardware for sheets of MDF chipboard, paint, screws, glue and other stuff I didn’t really need but couldn’t resist.  That took a very long time because the place is such a distraction, and I had to check out every aisle, of course.

IMG_8267I just noticed the coffee cup in centre-stage is a promo for AJ Bett’s  fabulous, award-winning book, Zac and Mia.








Every blog  needs a picture of packets of screws, and my long-serving electric drill.









Could the photos get any more exciting if I tried?




















Houston, we have Lift Off, as you might say if you are my age and grew up with the Space Race, Astronauts and Thunderbirds Are Go! All these years later and I still talk like Virgil Tracey.




















And doesn’t this look like a demented, mad scientist up to his sinister, fiendish schemes, if ever you’ve seen one.  “Igor, it’s alive! It’s alive!”

I’ll keep posting the photos of the construction until the striker is finished, or until the damn thing ends up in a rubbish skip because it won’t actually strike, or falls apart, both not unlikely events. 🙂