Cover art for Fish Boy, by Richard Jones
If you scan through the reviews of Fish Boy, you will see, over and over, these words: “reminds me of David Almond — think Skellig”
And that is more than enough for me. It also came as no surprise that it was nominated for a Carnegie Medal*
Not only is this debut novel by Chloe Daykin akin to the style of David Almond — a great and true compliment there from reviewers and critics — but the artwork, by Richard Jones is equal in both atmosphere and feel.
RJ: “. . . it was clear I hadn’t quite lost my love of the fine arts and after I graduated I somehow, and to the complete surprise of anyone who knew me, found myself staying on and reading for a PhD. My subject was the application of the fine arts in illustration and it took me four years to finish. It was a great experience and I learned an awful lot, however, my mum is the only person who calls me Dr now and I don’t use it on my passport just in case I’m asked to deliver a baby or perform an emergency tracheostomy on a plane.”
— From A Journey into Picture Books: The Art of Richard Jones (continue reading here)
Interior artwork for Fish Boy, by Chloe Daykin, published by Faber and Faber
For me, personally, the cover of a book is just as important as it’s contents. Yes — I must admit I do judge a book by it’s cover, and there are some covers that really stand the test of time. In fact the cover work is the very thing that can make an author stand out on the book shelf — and if author and illustrator stick together, both can become recognisable together. Take Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake for example, or C.S Lewis and Pauline Baynes. Although Quentin Blake has books of his own, (and Roald Dahl has worked with other illustrators) we will always recognise the books of Roald Dahl, for example, by the cover illustrations of Quentin Blake. There’s certainly something to be said for continuity in design.
Richard’s most recent picture book collaboration with author Jim Helmore is testament to a great union of words and pictures. The Snow Lion, published by Simon and Schuster in September 2017 has been translated into 14 different languages.
Richard has also illustrated picture books with author Libby Walden, and conservationist, Martin Jenkins who has written an educational series with Walker Books on animals at risk.
Winter Dance, with Marion Dane Bauer — originally a US title with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has been coeditioned and translated into four different languages since being published in December 2017.
So what next for Richard? Well he’s one to watch, we can be sure of that. He is an absolute pleasure to work with, and his style has that sense of something we are going to see on bookshelves for a very long time. LM
If you’d like to work with Richard, you can get in touch via his agent, Arabella Stein here.
*The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. It was established by in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Previous winners include Arthur Ransome, C.S. Lewis, Margaret Mahy, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman and Patrick Ness.