Tag Archives: retro illustrations picture book
elements of an A+ picture book: no such thing, a guest post from Bethan Woollvin
In my last post, I broke down why I think Little Red by Bethan Woollvin is A+. And now, she’s stopping by to do the same with a picture book she admires! Hooray!
She’s chosen No Such Thing by Ella Bailey. It may be a Halloween-themed book, but it’s got spring written all over it with that color palette! I love seeing what Bethan’s book and Ella’s book share. Aside from both being A+ and lovely to look upon, they also feature little girl protagonists who aren’t afraid of what might scare someone else.
Over to Bethan!
I first laid eyes on Ella Bailey‘s No Such Thing a few months back and instantly fell in love. It’s a real pleasure to be able to write about why it’s such a beautiful book.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
Something you will notice before you even open the book is Bailey’s brilliant eye for design. The front cover features muddled shelves of toys, trinkets, and Halloween related items. In the foreground stands a slightly concerned young lady under some of the most delightful hand drawn type I’ve seen to date – ‘No Such Thing’…what a clever title, I was instantly curious. No such thing as what?
INTRODUCES THE PROTAGONIST’S MAIN QUALITY RIGHT AWAY
For those who haven’t read No Such Thing, its main character is a young girl named Georgia who is demystifying the strange things occurring around her home in late October and most importantly, isn’t scared one bit!
Georgia is introduced to us on the first spread and by the second we already have a good idea what her personality is like. In these vignettes we see not only a brilliant observation of childlike body language, but a hilarious range of facial expressions that can be seen throughout the book.
As the story continues we begin to realise there is absolutely no fooling Georgia. This is something I really loved about this book: Georgia is smart, brave, and slightly suspicious, character traits you rarely see of a female lead in picture books. Georgia is a great role model for young readers and teaches them that there’s no need to jump to conclusions.
A RETRO SETTING AND RICH VISUAL DETAILS
Something that really catches your eye when reading No Such Thing is the quirky colour palette. Although Bailey mainly works digitally throughout her work, she’s still managed to master a vintage silk screen style (which I applaud because I’m terrible at Photoshop)! The colours are unusual but really complement the charmingly cluttered areas of Georgia’s home that Bailey has worked so hard to create. My favourite example is Georgia in her 1950s-esque salmon pink kitchen, a strong composition giving us a view into her jumbled fridge! There is so much detail hidden in the pages that every time I open this book I see something I didn’t notice before.
LETS READERS DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES
The narrative is told in hilarious rhymes beginning to end which I have a real soft spot for. The text and illustrations work perfectly together, retelling small anecdotes about spooky things happening in Georgia’s home. These are usually done by her cat, dog, or her mischievous little brother – or so we thought! There’s another level to this book that the protagonist isn’t aware of, is there such a thing as ghosts? This gives the reader something to think about. They can decide for themselves whether they think the little ghosts are the ones responsible for all the incidents in Georgia’s home.
HAS AN INTERACTIVE (DID YOU SPOT IT?) ELEMENT
The book ends on lots of small (insanely cute) ghosts having a little party in Georgia’s front room and a note from the author: ‘Did you spot the ghosts? Turn back and see if you can find the ghosts on every page.’ Among the gorgeous artwork and witty story, a fun game begins! I love this idea. It gives the book more mileage and engages readers to pick the book up again and again.
Bailey has created a gorgeous world for Georgia, from the furniture and wallpaper to the food in the fridge. Every bit is pleasing to look at. The text is playful and ever-so-slightly sarcastic, which appeals to all different audiences. Georgia’s character is so important in this book because she is a strong female role model. She doesn’t remotely believe in ghosts, that would be irrational! No Such Thing is definitely an A+ book, one that every young reader should have in their collection.
Big thanks to Bethan for sharing her insights!
And thanks to Flying Eye Books for images as well!