The Silver Serpent Cup

illustrated by Ed Eaves

Today the town of Furryville’s a very noisy place,
crammed with crowds of creatures getting ready for a race.
The air is filled with honking horns and engines revving up,
as racers take their places for

A high-speed, all-action, rhyming romp of a picture book!

“Utterly brilliant! … A must have!”

“A fast-paced joy from start to exciting finish”

“Superbly detailed and colourful illustrations … clever, addictive rhymes … a book to read aloud and return to time and time again!”

Read more of these and other reviews

In the same series
Omnibus Edition
UK Print-On-Demand Small Paperback: 
ISBN-13: 9781739660611
(Originally published in the UK by Oxford University Press)


See Inside

Author's Note

The initial inspiration for The Silver Serpent Cup came from Ed Eaves, the book’s illustrator. Ed and I had previously done a couple of pop-up books together. We’d got on well and were hoping to work together again some time. About a year after we’d finished the second pop-up book, Ed sent me some photos of a set of cardboard models that he’d made for his illustration degree over a decade earlier. The models were of animals driving outrageously souped-up cars and planes, many of which were armed with enormous weapons. Ed had thought about doing a picture book along similar lines, but hadn’t been able to come up with a suitable story, so he’d sent them to me to see if they would “spark an idea.”

Some of the vehicle models that Ed Eaves made for his illustration degree show.

I found the models very appealing and an idea for a no-holds-barred race story, featuring a motley assortment of creatures and vehicles immediately sprang into my mind. However, I couldn’t get the story to work straight away and was tinkering with it off and on for more than a year before I went back to Ed with a draft. Most of Ed’s models were of aeroplanes and having already written a picture book about an air race, Pigs Might Fly, I decided that the race in this story needed to be distinctly different. So I extended the range of vehicles to include cars, boats, submarines, a steam train and a tunnelling machine. I’ve long felt that we need more picture books that can match the appeal of children’s TV, films and video games and one of the biggest inspirations for this book was the Wacky Races cartoon series which was a childhood favourite of mine. Another more contemporary influence was the Mario Kart video games. My kids love playing these and I wanted to see if we could create a similar sense of action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled excitement in a picture book. In Mario Kart, racers fire a variety of bullets, bombs and shells to sabotage other vehicles. I borrowed this idea for a scene towards the end of the book where villainous alligator Al McNasty tries to win the race by firing rockets at the other racers.

Luckliy Ed liked the draft I sent him, so we sent it out to publishers, along with the photos of Ed’s models and were delighted when Peter Marley at Oxford University Press accepted it.

Only seven of the racers are directly referred to in the text, but the text makes it clear that a lot more are taking part in the race. Ed decided that there would be twenty four vehicles in all and designed all of them before he began work on the illustrations. I was blown away by these design sketches when I first saw them. Each of the vehicles looks distinctly different, partly because Ed made many of them look like the animals that drove them. You can see that Ed’s given a lot of thought to the design of each and every one of them.

Ed designed many of the vehicles to look like their drivers.

Ed’s illustrations also draw on Wacky Races and Mario Kart for inspiration and this really comes across in his action-packed, dynamic final artwork. The submarine spread (shown above), where octopus Ollie Octilinni takes the lead among the underwater racers, is one of my favourites.

As you can probably tell, this book has been a pleasure to work on. I only hope children will enjoy reading it as much as Ed and I enjoyed making it!


Jonathan Emmett returns to enchant his young readers with a charismatic cast of speed-loving creatures. The master of rhyme will have his pre-school fans chanting along merrily to an exciting, high-energy story which features a wild and wacky air, sea and land race to be the proud winner of The Silver Serpent Cup … Ed Eaves’ superbly detailed and colourful illustrations will capture the imaginations of racers young and old and maybe provide some off-the-wall inspiration to come up with their own bizarre mega-machines! With its clever, addictive rhymes and vibrant illustrations, this is a book to read aloud… and return to time and time again!

From the first page with sketches of all the drivers, including giraffe Heidi Highhorn and octopus Ollie Octolinni, it’s clear a huge amount of care and attention to detail have gone into creating this delightful tale … A fast-paced joy from start to exciting finish.

Even before the race begins, there is pace and fervour in the illustrations creating a sense of nervous anticipation and fury to reach a goal, never mind how! It is utterly brilliant! … all the commentary rhymes which adds to the pace and thrill. … This book should be purchased if only for the ingenuity of the illustrations. They are a huge part of the success of the book and are utterly mind blowing … A must have!

Boys and girls will love this equally, any mini-fans of games like Mario Kart are going to be in their element in this pacey and fresh feeling race story. Brilliant illustrations and non stop action make this a race you won’t want to miss!

Playing fair is at the heart of this riotous romp of a ride (or should it be race) that takes place over land, under sea and in the air. Packed full of alliteration and other tongue-teasing phrases to test the reader-aloud, this story unfolds at breakneck speed. … Ed Eaves’ exuberant illustrations really do give the impression of tremendous speed and those vehicles are just the thing to excite and enthrall young listeners.