Mini was born in the front seat of a mini-car in an icy car-park in South Wales. She has two sisters and one brother, and grew up in a village in Buckinghamshire with plenty of places to make camps, climb trees and pretend to be horses.
As a child Mini believed no day should pass without making something and created many bizarre objects from cardboard, clay, papier mâché, dough, plaster, toilet rolls and crisp packets.
After school Mini did a foundation Course in Art, but knew she wasn’t cut out to be a Proper Artist, so she did an English degree at University College London. While she was there she volunteered to build theatre scenery at the Bloomsbury Theatre and eventually was asked to design some shows. After finishing her degree Mini worked making latex puppets in a basement in Covent Garden until she was offered a place on the Motley Theatre Design Course, which was run by Margaret (Percy) Harris. Mini loved theatre designing because she got to make lots of models — and also real props and scenery, and paint backdrops, and create costumes. However, she did not earn much money. She trained to be a primary school teacher and worked for six years in South London. She especially liked running after-school clubs in model-making and pottery.
Mini had always done bits of illustration in her spare time, and had a secret ambition to have a book published some day. She did some evening classes in illustration at the City Lit in London, and wanted to give it a proper try. She did a two-year MA in Sequential Illustration at Brighton University, and made a strange pop-up book about Gulliver’s Travels, and an animation about it. Wondering what to do next (and needing to earn some money) she realised that the world of children’s books was very fertile ground for illustration. She also realised finding someone else to write stories for her was going to be a problem, so she’d better try and write her own. Not feeling too confident about her story-writing skills, she plundered nursery rhymes and fairy tales for starting places. Very luckily for Mini, her Brighton tutor John Vernon Lord helped her to meet the enterprising Jonathan Cape editors at Random House who were prepared to allow her to do a book for them.
Mini’s first picture book for children was Egg Drop, a surreal story about an egg that dreams of being able to fly. Her second book, The Pea and the Princess, was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. Biscuit Bear, her third book, won the Nestle Smarties Gold Prize in 2004. The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon won Nestle Bronze in 2006 and the Greenaway Award in 2007. Mini has made three books featuring Traction Man: Traction Man is Here, which won the Boston Horn Book Award for 2005, and was shortlisted for the Greenaway Award and the Blue Peter Book Award in 2006; Traction Man Meets Turbodog (2008) and the latest adventure: Traction man and the Beach Odyssey (2011). Mini’s version of Hilaire Belloc’s cautionary tale of Jim (who runs away from his nurse and gets eaten by a lion) was shortlisted for the Greenaway Awards 2011. Three By The Sea (2010) was shortlisted in 2012 for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award. Mini was selected as one of Booktrust’s Best New Illustrators in 2008.
Mini’s latest story, Toys In Space, beamed down to bookshops in Autumn 2012. It tells the story of a group of toys left outside at night for the first time.
Mini lives in Oxford (UK) with her partner Tony, son Herbie, and cat Bonzetta. She likes walking along the river and up hills, running down corridors, and playing with her food.