The Pirate Tree written by Brigita Orel and illustrated by Jennie Poh is a tale of imagination and friendship, published by Lantana Publishing. It’s a beautiful picture book about Sam, who plays in a gnarled old tree which sometimes turns into a pirate ship! Sam is its fearless captain who one day sees another sailor, Agu from Nigeria, approach and must decide whether to let this stranger join the game.
A simple narrative combines with distinctive illustrations depicting the bond of friendship that forms, as Sam discovers Agu knows some very interesting things about treasure and boats. Suddenly their differences fade, and their joy in playing pirates takes over. A great story to share, The Pirate Tree is a celebration of freindship and the joy of imaginative play.
I’m very pleased to welcome illustrator Jennie Poh to the blog today with a quick bookchat about her work. Jennie was born in England and grew up in Malaysia. She studied Fine Art at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design as well as Fashion Illustration at Central St. Martins.
How do you start illustrating once you have the narrative of the story in front of you? After a couple of reads through the manuscript I’m given a brief description of the characters by the publisher and author. I then play around with a lot of sketches, with this it was the ‘pirate tree’ different shapes and textures as this was going to heavily feature in the story. Once I was happy with this I did some development work with Agu and Sam.
What media have you used to create the pictures for The Pirate Tree? I mainly work digitally, ‘Photoshop’ but scan in textures myslef and I make my own digital brushes to create a less digital feel to my colour work. Welcome to the blog Jennie!
The illustrations are gorgeous – I particularly love the expressions on the characters faces – including the fish. How do you go about capturing expression? Thank you! I really loved illustrating these little fish. I think I try and pull these faces/expressions myself and do my best to put that down on paper.
What stories do you recall from childhood that perhaps influence your work today? I read a lot of Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton and always adored The Chronicles of Narnia. I think any illustrations that were enchanting, or heavily featured nature influened me as a child which has spilled through to my work.
Can you tell us about any new picture book projects you are working on? I’m currently working on a story about a biracial girl who is dealing with many questions about her heritage. I think this is a wonderful concept to work with.
With thanks to Jennie Poh for participating in this Q & A and Lantana Publishing for sending me this book to review.