Amanda has worked in close collaboration with five uniquely talented children’s authors over recent years: Michelle Markel, Dawn Casey, Jamila Gavin, Fiona Waters and Jennifer Berne. These creative collaborations have evolved out of a sympathy between their writing and Amanda’s images and have resulted in a growing collection of international publications.
The offer to illustrate Michelle’s wonderful text for The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau came from Eerdmans in the US. Michelle’s spare, affecting writing and the subject matter were a complete gift.
The experience of working together had been really creative – our book was selected by The Society of Illustrators for The Original Art 2012 and 2013 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner – so we began to collaborate.
We met up in Cambridge to discuss the first germ of an idea, before Michelle headed back to the US to develop her story about the life and work of Leonora Carrington. This spark became our new picture book biography Out of this World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington for Balzer & Bray.
I met Dawn a number of years ago. Both of us had worked separately on publications for Barefoot Books that had complementary themes, set in far-off lands.
Together, we showed our ideas for the Russian classic Babushka to my publisher Lion Hudson. Dawn was new to Lion Hudson, but they loved her writing, as did I – it is so full of warmth, tenderness and poignancy.
We have now completed our second book together, this time for Wisdom Tales in the US. Little Bear, An Inuit Folktale is published in January 2022 and will touch the hearts of readers.
Jamila is especially famous for her Whitbread Prize winning novel – and stage play – Coram Boy.
I had the honour of collaborating with Jamila in 2010 and had previously illustrated her book Children Just Like Me: Our Favourite Stories for DK in 1997.
In 2010 we initially submitted an idea for a single story about Hanuman to publishers. This idea was picked up by Templar Publishing, who asked us to create the book as a larger project. This became a beautifully designed and produced collection of Hindu stories called Tales from India.
Tales from India is also now available in paperback in the UK and a US hardback from Candlewick Press.
I illustrated Fiona’s Giant Tales for Chrysalis Books back in 2002. I love the wit and lightness of touch in her writing.
Fiona’s diverse career has a passion for literature at its core. Her books – 100 and counting – are published in many different languages across the world. Her poetry anthology I am the Seed that Grew the Tree won the Waterstones Children’s Gift Book of the Year in 2018.
Fiona and I are now exploring possible creative collaborations for future publications.
I had the great good fortune from 2020 – 22 to illustrate Jennifer’s powerful, panoramic, rhythmic text for our picture book How the Sea Came to Be: And All the Creatures In It. The themes, which have long fascinated me, reflect Jennifer’s lifelong passion for biology, zoology, geology, cosmology and evolution. I have benefited hugely from Jennifer’s deep knowledge of her subject.
This book will be a wonderful introduction to the subject, as it courses through the billions of years it took life to evolve in the oceans, emphasising its extraordinary diversity, and the amazing creativity of nature.