Thursday 8 August 2019

Behind the Scenes with Jarvis!

Count from one to ten in This Little Piggy, or spot eight bright colours in Mary Had a Little Lamb! Two goofy board book twists on classic nursery rhymes from award-winning bookmaker, Jarvis! 

From award-winning bookmaker Jarvis, the creator of Alan’s Big, Scary TeethMrs Mole, I’m Home! and Tropical Terry, comes these fresh, very funny first number and colours books – perfect for sharing whilst wriggling tiny toes! 

Today we have a very special Q&A with the author-illustrator himself:

Where did the ideas for these books come from?

When I started visiting schools and book festivals, I quickly realised I would have to do more than read my latest book. So I started to write poems (sometimes they go down better than the big stories!). Tanya at Walker Books came to an event I did at the Tate Modern and she saw my poem This Little Piggy (a topsy turvy version of the traditional ditty) and she thought it could be a book. So I went away and very quickly wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb to accompany it. The poems very naturally lend themselves to some early learning concepts, so This Little Piggy has a counting theme and Mary Had A Little Lamb has a colours theme. And that's the story behind them: sometimes school visits, bookshops and festivals can be a great testing ground for new bits and bobs. 

Jarvis on a school visit in China.

How did you come up with the style for the illustrations?

When I start a book I generally have no idea what it should look like. I'm not the type of illustrator who creates magic from thin air; I have to try things out. I ummm and arrr (and a bit of AARGH) before I settle on a look. Often the story tells me what it should be like; it just takes me time to get there. I love using traditional media and mixing it with digital. I can never seem to get life into solely digital images, so by mixing charcoal and flat fluorescent colours the style came together and felt lively, natural and fun. 

How I tell stories...

Often when I create books I think of how I will tell it. Telling stories is perhaps my favourite part of being a children's book maker. I like to try and make storytelling interactive and immersive. These board books are so fun to read aloud, full of silly scenarios, sounds and actions, and I look forward to taking Mary had a Little Lamb and This Little Piggy to schools, festivals and libraries. 

You can pick up copies of both of these hilarious books from your local bookshop.

This Little Piggy being enjoyed by Ada, our very own editor Maria's daughter!