How To Live Forever by Colin Thompson

How To Live Forever by Colin Thompson

Paperback:           32 pages

Age Range:           5 – 7 years

Publisher:              Red Fox

Colin Thompson’s books are mystical and complex, they will appeal to children and adults alike and demand to be returned to as there is always a new image to see . . . something more to catch the eye. Peter and his family live among the Quinces in the cookery section of a mystical library, and at night, when the library comes to life, Peter ventures out of his home to find a missing volume: How To Live Forever


“The story of a missing book, a child who holds the secret of everlasting life and a library that comes to life at night . . . Children and adults will relish it” (Financial Times)


Colin Edward Thompson (born 18 October 1942) is an English-Australian, UK writer and illustrator of children’s books. Active 1990–present. He has had over 70 works published and also draws pictures for jigsaw puzzles. In 2004, Thompson was awarded the Aurealis Award in the children’s long fiction category for his novel How to Live Forever.

Colin Edward Willment was born on 18 October 1942 in Ealing, then in Middlesex and now in the west London, England. His mother changed his surname to Thompson when she remarried in 1953. Thompson states that he only met his father once when he was nineteen. Thompson attended boarding school in Yorkshire and later a grammar school in West London.

Thompson studied art for two years at college in Ealing and Hammersmith, where he met his first wife. He worked as a silk-screen printer and a graphic designer for a while, before attending London Film School and working on documentaries for the BBC. After a divorce, he married a second time and after living briefly in Majorca in 1968 moved to the Outer Hebrides. He and his wife set up a business as ceramicists, continuing the profession after moving to Cumbria in 1975. Thompson has one daughter from his first marriage and two from his second. He moved to Australia in 1995 and gained Australian citizenship. In 1999 he married Anne, an Australian librarian who had arranged for him to visit a Sydney school.

Thompson’s career as a writer and illustrator began quite late in his life. He first took black-and-white illustrations to a publisher in 1990, assuming a story would be written by someone else to go with his images. He was, however, instructed to write the story himself and re-do his illustrations in colour. His first picture book was published in 1991. As of 2015, he has had over 70 books published. Many of them are books for children and are self-illustrated. He has also published a few series of novels for pre-teens and young adults.

Thompson’s detailed, whimsical, colourful illustrations are popular as jigsaw puzzles and cross stitch kits with many of his works featured in jigsaws by Ravensburger and cross stitch kits by GeckoRouge.


Thompson’s first literary recognition came in 1995 when Ruby was awarded the English 4–11 Picture Book Award by the English Association.

In 1999 Staircase Cat was shortlisted in the picture book category for the Children’s Book of the Year Award by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. In the following years, Thompson had success in this category four more times, winning the award for best picture book in 2006 with The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley. His titles that were finalists in other years are The Violin Man, Dust, and The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness, in 2004, 2008, and 2009 respectively.

In 2004, Thompson’s novel How to Live Forever was awarded the Aurealis Award in the children’s long fiction category. The Floods Family Files was a finalist in the best graphic novel category in 2008. Thompson was added to the International Board on Books for Young People honour list in 2002 for his illustrations in Falling Angels.

Castles was awarded the Hampshire Illustrated Book Award in 2007