Thursday 16 November 2017

Behind the scenes with the illustrator of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree

From the Kate-Greenaway shortlisted illustrator of Oliver and Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, and highly acclaimed author, Hiawyn Oram, comes a poignant eco-conscious story, and a vivid portrayal of a child's imaginative play. 

Yesterday we invited author Hiawyn Oram to the Picture Book Party to tell us all about her inspiration behind the story of Snowboy and the Last Standing Tree. To read that article and to see how you could win a copy of the book, click here.

Today we've invited the illustrator, Birgitta Sif, to tell us all about this fantastic picture book from her side.

Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing has a lot of powerful feelings mixed into it! It opens up for discussions about wealth/greed and how to take care of our planet. And also that strong feeling of wanting to believe in someone but also knowing deep down in your heart what is right and wrong and standing up for what you yourself believe is the right thing! A message that is really important not only for children but for adults too. This is a great book to read with a child and talk together about as I have many times with my own two little girls.

When I first read the story by Hiawyn Oram, I immediately thought of the deep blues and greens of my home country, Iceland.  I absolutely loved drawing the images for the book and making them come alive with those rich toned colours that reminded me of home.

The character of Snowboy wears a pointy bonnet and it is the same one my little girls have worn since they were babies. I've always felt there was a bit of magic in the pointy elf bonnet and felt Snowboy needed to have it, too. Greenbackboy also has a bonnet, but his is with two pointy red ears.  I wanted it to symbolize a somewhat evil or devilish force that is inside him. So contrasting the magical and childlike of the elf hat with the more devilish one I felt that it added just a hint at what their characters are like.

I chose to illustrate the Ice Troopers as pigs as they often symbolize abundance, wealth, strength and never wanting for mundane needs. It felt that these two pigs looked over and strengthened Snowboy on his quest. And I really think they add a lot of character to the whole story. 

The way I created the artwork for Snowboy and The Last Tree Standing was by drawing with a pencil my line work and then colouring it with lots of different layers in photoshop till I had the depth of colour that I wanted.

Birgitta Sif was born in Iceland and lived in and around Scandinavia and America while growing up. She is the illustrator of Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats, written by Alicia Potter, as well as the author and illustrator of the Kate Greenaway shortlisted picture book, Oliver, and Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance and Dance, both of which were endorsed by Amnesty International. Birgitta lives with her family in Cambridge. Find her online at and on Twitter and Instagram as @birgittasif.