Wednesday 20 October 2021

The Queen in the Cave by Júlia Sardà - Take Over

Last month we invited the wonderfuJúlia Sardà to take over our @BigPictureBooks Instagram to celebrate the publication of The Queen in the Cave!

Júlia Sardà is a Spanish artist who has illustrated many books for children, including Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, The Liszts by Kyo Maclear, and a number of classics such as Alice in WonderlandThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

The Queen in the Cave is Júlia's debut to the Walker list and the first book she has both written and illustrated; she spins an enthralling and evocative tale rich with layers of meaning to be unearthed...

One night, Franca has a dream about a marvellous queen, who lives in a dark cave, deep in the forest. She cannot sit still until she knows if her dream is true! So, together with her younger sisters, Carmela and Tomasina, she ventures into the forest at the end of their garden. As they travel deeper through nettles and thickets, drawing closer and closer to the cave, the world shifts ... everything shrinks and expands at the same time. They are somewhere new now, somewhere different. Here, they meet beasts and creatures that shock and delight them, and escape horrible things that utterly frighten them. They learn how to be brave, to be bold, to face their darkest fears. And what of the queen? Well, what they find in the cave is perhaps the most unexpected thing of all...

You can now follow Julia's takeover here and see a sneak peek below!

 @juliasardaportabella I’ll start by sharing the cover of The Queen in the Cave, my first authored book. It’s the story of three sisters and how one afternoon they decide to run away from home. They follow something they can not name, but somehow it feels more compelling and engrossing than the familiar shelter.

Doing this picture book has been an amazingly long process. It was around 2016 when I got my contract with Walker and started thinking about how I could explain this weird feeling that the memory of childhood gives me. 

The expectations I had, plus the fact that I hadn’t written since long ago and I felt very shy about it, plus the big amount of illustrations that we decided this book would have, made me procrastinate and delay the work that had inevitably to be done. 

In the end, it’s just a matter of doing it but, as we all know, all the demons on our back make it complicated.

Luckily, I had the invaluable help of Maria Tunney and Deirdre McDermott that made everything possible, I felt all the time as if they were teaching me how to walk. Sadia Chowdhury was also a huge help during the painting process, and the most patient.

In this post, you can also see some of the back and forth I did with the cover, some alternative versions of it and a pencil sketch. 

Now I’m very glad the cream option won but, I used to prefer the orange one. I remember I made a try one night at like 12am with my last neuron and sent it to Sadia. Later, I regretted giving them another option because everybody preferred it. 

And even before, I preferred the grey one with the frog that has nothing to do with the story and, as my friend @rosel.david said, looks like a second-hand shop.


Head over to the @BigPictureBooks Instagram to find out more about Julia's childhood, the inspiration, influences and references in her illustrations, and what this book has meant to her.

The Queen in the Cave is now available from all good booksellers.