One of the best parts about working in a book shop is that I have the chance to sort out, and display, the picture books. Obviously that means I need to have a peek through them all - my method of arranging involves displaying the books which have awesome illustrations, in addition to a selection of classic picture books I remember from my childhood, and any others I'm not so keen on are put back in the picture book pile. This has caused me to discover a number of children's illustrators whom I wasn't previously aware of. On my very first day at work last autumn, I fell in love with a couple of children's picture books - both of which were illustrated by Anna Walker. A little bit of research when I got home taught me that Anna is an australian illustrator, with a BA in Graphic Design, who has illustrated many books for children. Despite the fact that the books were very reasonably priced, I somehow managed to talk myself out of buying them week after week - I don't really need them etc - but then they were added to our January sale and, at only £1 each, it really would have been silly not to buy them!
The books I bought are entitled Yummy Ice-Cream and Let's Play House; both are from a series of books which feature three main characters - a panda, a sheep and an owl.
I was immediately drawn to these books due to the collaged aspects on the front cover - textures always seem to capture my eye, as they stand out against flat backgrounds. I had a quick peek inside the books, and totally fell in love with illustrations - a juxtaposition between the simplistic - and incredibly cute! - style of the characters and the collaged aspects, made up of a range of different fabrics. My work tends to be very intricately collaged, to the point where if you glance at a print of the original illustration, the textures and colours of the different papers used to create it are not always noticeable. In contrast, the illustrations in these book incorporate bold cut-out shapes of patterned fabric, and they stand out strongly against the subdued neutral colours of the ink characters and pale pastel-coloured backgrounds. Have a peek at some of the beautiful images for yourself;
I love how beautifully the textures of the fabrics are captured - the delicate weave of certain materials, and the individual frayed threads along the edges of the collaged shapes, are clearly visible - to the point that you want to reach out and brush away a stray thread, or feel the texture of the fabric beneath your fingertips. It gives the illustrations a certain depth and tactility that wouldn't exist in the otherwise flat, inked images.
The storylines of the books are simple, yet they both follow a narrative which sees the three characters playing together, sharing and having fun. Personally, I think the text inside the books would fit better with the style of the illustrations if it ... more hand-drawn style - perhaps similar to the style of text used on the first page of each book - but that might just be me and my love of hand-created lettering!
I'd actually quite like to buy myself a couple of the other books in the series, although I think I'm going to have to give one of these two books to my best friends' little girl. Pandas are her current favourite, so she will adore these books - I saw her yesterday, and she fell in love with my Topshop panda-face socks, so this seems like too much of an opportunity to miss! She can just about say panda-bear, and it's the cutest thing ever. ♥