Have you heard about Horrid Henry? He's so horrid and disgusting. So much so, in fact, that he leaves a lasting impression on children and adults around the world. But it is the illustrations for the hilarious series of Horrid Henry books that make them even funnier and, yes, more disgusting. The person responsible for tickling our funny bones is popular children's book illustrator Tony Ross, who collaborated with the author Francesca Simon to come up with this winning combination. And winning it is. Since 1993 when the first Horrid Henry book was written and published, the talented pair have created 16 titles, joke books and activity books, with the combined sales of all the Horrid Henry books and audiobooks now at 10 million copies. Besides drawing the pictures for the Horrid Henry story books, Ross has illustrated more than 800 books for many other writers including Roald Dahl, Paula Danziger and Michael Palin. Ross also finds time to write and illustrate his own books, most famously the best-selling Little Princess series. The Little Princess stories are about a young princess going through various phases of life from accepting a new sibling in her life, to learning to use the potty, to realising that she can't always get her own way. Ross provides clever, colourful illustrations that make the stories edgy and fun, and his text is lighthearted and humorous. The hilarious adventures have titles such as 'Say Please!' and 'Wash your hands!' and 'I don't want to go to bed' - all handy topics which parents can use to introduce their children to the joys of reading through humour and teach them valuable life lessons. The Little Princess has enjoyed such success it has recently been turned into a children's television series. Born in London in 1938, Ross trained at the Liverpool School of Art and Design and worked as a cartoonist, a graphic designer, an art director for an advertising agency, and a lecturer at Manchester Polytechnic. While teaching there, he began drawing cartoons for various magazines. In 1976 he published his first book, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. He then produced the Dr Xargle's series of books with Jeanne Willis (about an extra-terrestrial teacher), and the Towser series (about a pesky dog named Towser). Since his first book, Ross has also created a series of reworked and updated fairy tales, offering his wacky interpretation of these traditional folktales. His own creations of original and traditional picture books and works have been sold around the world. Ross said he was not compelled to write. 'Everyone has a first book and, in my case, I simply thought it would be fun to try. I did a children's book because that area was where my story lay, and I did illustration at art school. Therefore I wanted to draw, and adult books are not illustrated.' He recommends that young writers should study their market and intended age groups, and look at the climates of acceptance. 'It is not necessary to comply with these things, but knowledge is a better starting point than ignorance. It is important to be new, and not try to imitate favourite or successful books. And, probably of most importance, do it, don't just talk about it.' The story concept comes first for Ross, then the illustrations and lastly the final draft of the text. His inspiration is usually sparked off by something he sees, or hears. 'I rarely make things up,' he said. Ross sees books as primarily for enjoyment. 'My main interest is to entertain. But I do like a philosophical side, in a small way, because children's books can help with the tricky business of growing up that all children are involved with, and it is good to help rather than hinder. 'Everything will be OK' is my favourite message for children. His advice: 'If you want to write, then write. It is simple. And if you are rejected, think why, and write again, and so on ... ' Ross will talk about his favourite characters and demonstrate illustration techniques in Kids' Gallery Presents Tony Ross on Sunday, March 15 at 10.30am in The Fringe Studio (HK$75 per person, children must be accompanied by an adult).