I Can Do It too!

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Astro Girl is in bookshops and making its way to libraries across the UK as part of the Summer Reading Challenge, so I thought it might be an idea to remind you about the other books with strong female characters I have worked on over the years.

First up, I Can Do It Too, written with much fun and energy by Karen Baicker. I remember how much I enjoyed painting the text! It was easy to bring her to life. It’s still available on Amazon and other good bookstores in the US. Perhaps we need an official UK version? Ahyway, here’s the review from Kirkus:

KIRKUS REVIEW

“Is there anything so heady or contagious as the shiny, new confidence of a child who has freshly mastered the everyday, but oh-so-difficult? No matter that a few drops of juice miss the glass, or that her buttons are a bit askew, the lively little heroine of this satisfying story absolutely exudes positivity and innocent pride in newly-acquired skills. With bright, broad, touch-me artwork and easy-on-the-ears rhyming text, Wilson-Max and Baicker conspire to communicate, most successfully, the infectious exuberance of their cake-baking (okay, batter-testing), trike-riding young subject. (P.S. Thanks for the helmet.)

This sturdy cardstock offering has plenty of finger-paint child appeal: each carefully composed page depicts the earnest little girl’s effort to replicate the activity of a nearby friend or family member, and artfully integrated, actively designed type swings and sings and whooshes across paintings that pronounce her hard-won self-assurance with a boldly saturated palette. Physical skills are not the only kind in focus here, for a happy contagion of kindness is also afoot. The support of her family and congenial companions has the very finest of effects, and best of all, at the end of it all, is our little heroine’s unspoiled and generous display of encouragement for one even smaller than she.” (Picture book. 1½-4)

From Idea to Book 2

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I first wrote a post with this title about a year ago. I was intending to take you through the lifetime of a book project ‘in real time.’ Each project is different though, and the project I chose is still in its early stages so there isn’t much to report.

So while that’s taking shape, here are a handful of tips and suggestions for anyone thinking of creating a children’s book.

#1 Listen first, draw or write later!

Working on a childrens book? You can learn from listening to young children at their pace. These intelligent, brave people are happy to express their opinions and ideas. Learn to listen first, draw or write later.

This really means know your audience as well as you can. Take them seriously, as seriously as if they were CEOs or leaders. Remember that one day they might be! Find out all you can about child development, for instance. Observe young people and how they interact with others. These insights will inform your ideas.

Find out about how bookstores and publishers sell books for children. Do they aim at the children or the parents? Challenge your own opinions, and others’ about what works and what doesn’t. Most of all remember the books you loved as a child, and more importantly why you loved them.

The language of West African Icons

african, design, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max

Here’s a free download for you to enjoy!

Sometimes you can come up with an idea that doesn’t quite fit its intended audience. What to do? This idea isn’t necessarily new to the world but it might be timely, with Valentine’s Day coming…

Adinkra symbols are used in fabrics and pottery by the peoples of Ashanti Kingdom and Baoulés of Cote d’Ivoire. They are also often seen on walls and doors. Fabric patterns are made by woodcut sign writing and screen printing. Adinkra symbols appear on some traditional Akan goldweights. The symbols are also carved on stools for domestic and ritual use. 

There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs. They often conveying a complex body of practice and belief.

If you like this book, let me know by leaving a comment, or sharing it with friends.

From idea to book

african, character, children's books, design, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, publishing, stories

Everyone has a story…

Everyone has a story inside them. Some of us tell it in a book or a play or on the stage, football pitch or boardroom. But most of us live our story, telling it to our loved ones, every day, year by year… the point is each story gets told and appreciated.

I have heard many wonderful stories and have learned to use the book as my medium. Let me share that way with you in a series of real-time posts, starting with an idea and ending (hopefully) with a beautiful book.

If you have thought of writing or illustrating your own book, or if you are just curious, then this real-time project will be of use before you get in touch.

All you have to do is follow the blog for regular monthly updates on the project. Please comment, spread the word and get involved!

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Recent work: Chicken Newspaper’s Food issue

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