How to make the perfect children’s book

Artwork credit: Maddie Frost



Check out Robyn’s rundown of the key ingredients for illustration success in this field:

Consider your audience and your buyer

As well as being perfect for the target market in both style and substance, the look and feel of the book must be appealing to the adult that is most likely to be purchasing the book. Think about the tastes and current trends that are likely to grab the attention of book buyers.

Accept constructive criticism from those in the know

The editorial and design team will have bags of experience and be directly in touch with sales people so have faith that their feedback will always be based on really valid market information. Even if changes can seem random at times, trust that the outcome will only improve sales of your book. For example, covers that are green sell less well than red covers! It’s a thing - I promise!

Be aware of global tastes with regard to facial features

It is worth having a selection of different eyes and noses up your sleeve (so to speak), and in your portfolio. Features can often be a sticking point as some looks work better in some markets than others. Design teams will often ask for options so it is worth being flexible.

Artwork credit (left to right): Top row: Dan Widdowson; Hannah Peck; bottom row: Benji Davies; Nan Lawson.

Diversity

Be mindful that your book might be sold across the globe and should appeal to all children and their families, whomever they are and wherever they are in the world.

Artwork credit (left to right): Top: Rosie Butcher; Aura Lewis; Alea Marley; Sophie Beer.

Characters

For younger children, it’s great to be obvious, but for older audiences, don’t over-egg it! When we are surprised, we don’t always throw our hands up to our faces, or gasp when we are shocked, for example, so think about more natural reactions and gestures when creating character poses. Use friends as models to get expressions and limb positions just right.

Humour

Wherever there are characters, a children’s publisher is looking for a little bit of humour, so don’t be afraid to add extra detail or funny elements. Humour appeals to all children (while subtle comedy can lend a book all-important appeal for adults, too), and can really help make your artwork stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t have to include reference to bodily functions, although – to paraphrase the great Ade Edmondson of Bottom fame – a fart is always funny…

Ben Mantle, from Giant Jelly Paws and the Pirates, written by Helen Baugh and published by HarperCollins, 2015.

Novelties

This is the terminology for any extra elements on books that add play value, so that’s anything from flaps and sliders to pull-tabs and pop-ups! Good design teams should always provide clear die-lines and briefing notes if these elements are part of the book you are working on, but it is worth becoming familiar with how these work. Spend an hour in a local bookshop in the board book section to familiarise yourself with moving parts, or buy a few novelty books from charity shops and take them apart!

Demonstrating just a handful of different activity elements that might be used to enhance 'play value' in a novelty publication (featuring interiors from the Bizzy Bear series, illustrated by Benji Davies and published by Nosy Crow).

Always ask the question

Don’t feel silly for asking your assigned designer lots of questions: they will be happy to answer anything and will be super-relieved that you asked instead of getting confused by something.

Make the best out of briefs

In my experience, a designer will always prefer to brief you in the way that best suits you. From the outset, do say if there is a particular way you like to work – or, if you are mid-project and struggling with the way it is being briefed, don’t feel afraid to ask for an alternative approach.

And finally…

…Ask your agent

We are here for you: to support, advise, and help to develop your work – and to be your champion. If you need any assistance, would like some insider advice, or simply want us to ask a publisher something on your behalf, just let us know: that’s what we’re here for!

Read more about Robyn on her Agent profile page at The Bright Agency website

Miguel Ordonez’s latest book Going to the Volcano

Just published this long awaited wonderful picture book created by the very talented illustrator Miguel Ordonez (having previously worked on the Jimmy Fallon best selling titles - Dada and Mama) and written by the fabulous and award winning author Andy Stanton (Mr Gum and many other wonderful books ) the book entitled: Going to The Volcano is published by Hodder Children's Books. This very talented duo have produced a fabulously funny, colourful and quirky picture book.

For more of Miguel's imaginative characters and creative work please go to the website : http://www.artistpartners.com/portfolios/miguel-ordonez/

Laura Hughes wins Oscar’s Book Prize 2018

Laura Hughes wins the highly esteemed children’s book award with author John Dougherty for their laugh-out-loud picture book ‘There’s A Pig Up My Nose!’.

We are delighted and immensely proud that Bright artist Laura Hughes has won the Oscar’s Book Prize 2018 alongside author John Dougherty with their original and witty picture book ‘There’s A Pig Up My Nose!’, published by Egmont.

John’s loveable tale of a little girl, Natalie, and a nose-dwelling pig, Ernest, is full of hilarity and surprise, beautifully married with Laura’s playful artwork. It’s a joy to read as you follow Natalie’s increasingly absurd attempts to get a pig out of her nose — even hanging upside down whilst being walloped with a blow-up rhino doesn’t seem to do the trick. It’s silly, utterly heart-warming, and with plenty of laughs — and OINKS — along the way.


The Oscar’s Book Prize is an annual award celebrating the best books for under-fives from the year. Previous winners have included Bright artist Benji Davies who won in 2014 with ‘The Storm Whale’. You can read more on the award here.

HRH Princess Eugenie awarded the Oscar’s Book Prize at St James’s Palace on Monday 14th May. From left to right: Vicki Willden-Lebrecht (MD, The Bright Agency), author John Dougherty, artist Laura Hughes, Emma Dods (Senior Commissioning Editor, Egmont), Laura Hughes, Rebecca Essilifie (Art Director, Egmont).


Laura Hughes:

“I am absolutely honoured that ‘Theres’ a Pig Up My Nose’ has won the Oscar’s Book Prize! The award was set up in memory of 3-year -old Oscar Ashton who died of an undetected heart condition, and as well as being a wonderful and touching way to pay tribute to a young reader, the prize also aims to highlight the importance of reading together with young children. Low literacy levels among children starting school is an increasing problem, and the organisers of the award are doing great work in bringing awareness to this issue. It’s a privilege to have been involved in this very special award.

“The first time I read John’s story I absolutely loved it and knew right away that I had to illustrate it! ‘There’s a Pig Up My Nose’ is a warm and quirky tale about a girl who gets a pig stuck up her nose, so I knew that I had to keep the illustrations bright and light-hearted. I used a slightly different process in creating the artwork than I usually do, with some parts coloured directly from my roughs (something I generally avoid) to keep the illustrations loose and energetic.

“For the characters in the book I took inspiration from the diversity of the people I see every day in London, so for example, the doctor is based very loosely on one of my own GP’s. I live in Walthamstow and will often sit and draw in local cafés. I think it’s really important to get out of the studio and draw from life whenever possible to keep your work fresh and relevant.”

You can also watch Laura’s interview with the Evening Standard here.


“I am absolutely thrilled that Laura has won the Oscar’s Book Prize and it’s wonderful to see her grow from Kingston University graduate and Bright intern to an award-winning illustrator. Laura brings such exuberance and flair to her artwork — she is a true talent and I’m so proud of all that she has achieved.” Vicki Willden-Lebrecht

Laura Hughes’ past titles include ‘The Birthday Invitation’ (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), ‘The Chocolate Monster’ (Faber & Faber), and ‘We’re Going on an Egg Hunt’ (Bloomsbury Children’s Books). Her next picture book, ‘Quick, Barney, RUN!’ (Faber & Faber) is publishing this summer on the 5th July. You can see more of Laura’s artwork here.

Rachael Saunders’ wonderful new Illustrated book ‘Go Wild on the River’ is out now!

Rachael Saunders' wonderful new book ‘Go Wild on the River’ published by the lovely team at Nosy Crow is out now. ‘Go Wild on the River’ is the second in the series of adventure handbooks for young explorers.

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Levi Pinfold Illustrates New Hogwarts House Editions of the Chamber of Secrets

We celebrate the launch of the new covers of the 20th Anniversary editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, produced in the vibrant house colours and illustrated by Levi Pinfold. Bloomsbury will release the new house editions this summer in both hardback and softcover versions with the choice of Gryffindor red, Slytherin green, Ravenclaw blue, and Hufflepuff yellow.

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The Boy Fitz Hammond – Book series


The first in a hilarious 6 book series about a highly unusual pet hamster. Nine year old Ben Jinks wants a pet, but a talking hamster wasn’t on his wish list. Meet Jasper Stinkybottom. Benjamin is a very normal boy who hates maths. Stinky is a brilliant hamster, who likes carrots. Together they are an unstoppable team!

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