Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Illustrator Alert - Heath McKenzie

I have just found a scrumptious new illustrator, and wanted to share the excitement. The lovely thing about books is, you never know when a really enticing one is going to jump up and grab your nose, or rather catch your eye.

When you're in a bookshop you're fairly well guaranteed that a book will pop out at you, but you just don't know what.

This one popped out of a shelf in an excellent book store in St Ives, Cornwall. It was all fresh and beautiful and could not be ignored. I didn't know the book, or the people who had created it; written by Alison Reynolds and illustrated by Heath McKenzie. I bought it all up with my pocket money and thoroughly enjoyed gazing at the lovely pictures inside. It is a very sweet story of a girl who reluctantly agrees to look after a friend's cat. I love the simple bright colours that tell us the seasons, and the gorgeous black flowing lines that make up the shapes of the trees and surrounding objects. 


Then the other day in the library when I was hunting through the shelves for a shy copy of 
Pippi Longstocking, out pops this little stunner. 

It is a perfect little package of brilliance. The design is delicious, the illustrations are inspired and the writing is wonderful. Simple but expressive, succinct yet quirky. I love the way it teaches a valuable lesson about life in the form of a fun story.  The chapters are bite-size, so perfect for building confidence in newly independent readers.

A prim little girl named Lily is in obvious need of letting her hair down. Literally as well as figuratively. 

When Pop Hooper's absurdly long truck and trailers pull up in Lily's town, full of all sorts of animals, Lily can't help but be drawn in by the hope it might contain an elusive 'perfect kitten'. 

Where did this mysterious Pop Hooper come from and where is he going next? Nobody knows, but he does promise to provide the perfect pet for everyone. However, what he has in mind for Lily certainly doesn't match her expectation. But the scruffy little moglet he asks her to babysit while he sources her perfect, pristine kitty is more suited to her than she could imagine. With her strict tidiness and ballet attitude she's in need of a bit of a mess-up. 

Clearly, this magical Pop Hooper knows best and has a perfect plan to help every child he meets to find a lovely animal companion, whilst also sorting out their life for them. Cunning and creative, he meets the needs of these little people with big problems. 

The other books in the series are: 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susie,
    I did an interview with Heath McKenzie about his illustrations for 'A Year with marmalade' on my blog. I thought you might be interested. He's Australian and lives in Melbourne, as does Alison Reynolds, who is a friend of mine.
    Here's the link: http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/a-year-with-marmalade-blog-tour.html
    cheers Angela