The Art of the Picture Book

“You’re too old for a picture book.” Is something I hear parents saying to their children from time to time. A common mistake. Nobody is too old for a picture book.

endpaper 2Last week I had an email from Sarah Balint, who is a librarian at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library in Canada. Sarah is running a six week project every year, introducing  children and adults to the art of picture books. Together they look and read picture books and discuss the artwork. They make art.Collection of Three, Winter 2020

I am honoured to be one of the authors Sarah chose. She sent me a couple of pictures that the children made. The email made my day. Not just to see the lovely pictures inspired by my books, but also knowing that people like Sarah, librarians and teachers, are making an effort to introduce people to the art of picture books.Amy and Andy's Ducks, Winter 2020

A good picture book doesn’t teach children only to be interested about reading. It is developing a child’s  imagination, encouraging their creativity, teaching them to be observant and investigative too and it makes them interested in visual art.Spring 2019, Mallory's Rainbow with BookSlide1

A good picture book slows time. It makes you think.

Spring 2019, Rabbit with book

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We are spending more time at home with children at this time of “corona”, so here are a couple of pictures illustrating how to paint a mouse. Why don’t you have a go?

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1. Little Mouse2. Little Mouse3. Little Mouse 4. Little Mouse6. Little Mouse7. Little Mouse8. Little Mouse9. Little Mouse10. Little Mouse11. Little Mouse12. Little Mouse13. Little Mouse14. Little Mouse15. Little Mouse16. Little Mouse17. Little Mouse18. Little Mouse

The Best Place in the World

COVER - text

My latest book The Best Place in the World was published  on this year’s World Book Day: 5th March. I was so pleased to see the printed copy, since Walker Books once again did a great job. The book smells good, it is a nice format, the paper is thick and feels good and the colours came out very well too.  Thank you Walker Books!

The Best Place in the World is a book about belonging and friendship, and it is also a book about home. It is definitely not the first time this theme has appeared in my book.

I travel back to the Czech Republic every autumn to write some ideas for my books. I always stay in a cottage which belongs to my friends. They don’t live there. It is their summer cottage and I am allowed to stay as long as I wish.  IMG_6071To me this place is one of the nicest places in the world. I have woods and meadows all around me and from the small apple orchard I can see the whole country.

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I was born in Czechoslovakia and I have now spent almost half my life living in England. My wife is English and my children were born in England. I have family and friends in both of these countries.

Being in this place on my own for some time brings to me lots of different thoughts. The question of where is home and where I belong is one of them. We all know the feeling when we are coming home after being away for some time. We know the feeling very well from our childhood. The strange feeling in the stomach when we appear in our street and then in front of our house. All the details we know so well, the colour of the door, the door handle, even the nice, familiar smell of our home.

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The Best Place in the World is also very much a book about pictures.  As I was writing it I was already looking forward to getting out my paint and getting on with the art work.

IMG_2062I could see right in front of my eyes the hare running through the meadow

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and walking through the orchard I know so well.

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I wanted the book to be as visual as possible.

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Working on the illustrations was great fun and I enjoyed it very much,  although I was quite surprised at how many times I wasn’t happy with a certain picture and ended up doing it again and again until I was happy and could show it to my editors.

The book is published now and I hope that those, who read it, will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed working on it.

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