Tag Archives: Review

BLOG TOUR: The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann, illustrated by Padmacandra

It’s DAY THREE of the blog tour for The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann and Padmacandra. I’m so pleased to share a guest post from illustrator Padmacandra with insight into the artwork from the story, as well as my thoughts on the book.

The Tale of the Whale is undoubtedly a stunning debut from both author and illustrator, telling the story of a child and whale journeying through the oceans. Their beautiful friendship captures the symbiotic relationship between humans, the sea and the creatures who live in it, and their discoveries show the extreme harm plastic is causing. A lyrical narrative combines with beautifully drawn scenes from under the waves and brings to life the reality of pollution. A brilliant book to support children’s understanding of environmental issues and show just why we need to act now to save our seas. Not only this, it’s a really beautiful book to read and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on award shortlists in months to come.

Welcome to the blog Padmacandra!

“Hello! I am Padmacandra, the illustrator of the Tale of the Whale. I am an ordained Buddhist which is why I have a funny name! Many people think this means the I should be wearing robes or have a bald head, but within my Order it means that I have made a commitment (with quite a long training process) to do everything in my life in the light of kindness and awareness, with the aim of waking up more and more to the truth of the interconnectedness of all life. I was delighted to be asked to illustrate The Tale of the Whale which speaks to this interconnectedness so lyrically and beautifully. Karen and I talked about the importance of the connection between the child and the whale and their friendship throughout the book, as well as connecting with the awesome beauty, joyfulness and depth of the ocean. It was so inspiring to research and make the images of all the ocean creatures, and their home, trying to communicate this beauty and connectedness.

One other detail about me is that I also work part time as a carer for the elderly, mostly living in for a week at a time. I enjoy the simplicity and practicality of the work: it can be such a straightforward way to be of service to others.  I have the privilege of often being alongside people when they are facing the challenges of old age – when they have stopped feeling the need to “put on a face”- which feels like a real meeting.  Perhaps also this flavour of joy in meeting comes across in the tale of the whale!

My Art Processes

I remember trying to learn Salsa some years ago and finding myself challenged by following step by step instructions. However, when the music started and I was in a group with other people dancing I found myself picking up some of the steps and moves by simply feeling my way. Likewise, with art I’ve found I seem to learn best by playing around and making mistakes. I also find it invaluable to look at the work of others that I admire. Not to copy, but to educate my eye. I find Instagram a good place for this.

I love to experiment with mark making.  This was very much encouraged on the Cambridge Art School MA, and I continue to do so.  I seem to have settled with oil pastels and wax crayons as a main medium, sometimes (as in The Tale of the Whale) combining these with monoprint textures (the monoprints are created by rolling ink and paint onto paper).  I usually create images by laying down lots of lovely colours in layers first. Then I will either create images by scratching away layers to reveal what is underneath, or I add lines and shades on top with more crayon, coloured pencil, and occasionally acrylic pens. Usually, it’s a combination of these!

The Tale of the Whale was a lovely text to illustrate, and particularly as it was my first book as illustrator – I felt in good hands with the designer Ness Wood, and editor Janice Thomson. It was obvious that Karen had really thought about the illustrations in a very skilled way when writing her text. One challenge was to render the underwater scenes as well as the scenes above water. In the end, the method of layering waxy crayons with soft oil pastels on top worked very well, and I combined monoprints with these digitally.

Bringing texture to images is important to me – especially for this older age group of 4 to 8-year-olds who are starting to have a subtler appreciation of it. I hope texture brings more psychological depth, interest and sensitivity to my images. It reflects the way that nature is.  Of course, it’s important to get the balance right between simplicity and complexity in an image – an area I find interesting to explore.”

The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann, illustrated by Padmacandra, out now in hardback (£12.99, Scallywag Press. Find out more at scallywagpress.com. With thanks to Scallywag Press for inviting me to host a stop on the blog tour. Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour:

BLOG TOUR: Sofa Surfer by Malcolm Duffy

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the new book by Malcolm Duffy, Sofa Surfer. A story of one boy and his friendship with a girl called Spider; about family and belonging and what it means to be homeless.  I am totally delighted to be hosting such a brilliant book on my first blog tour of the year. Malcolm Duffy is the author of the award winning Me Mam, Me Dad, Me, which was inspired by his work as Creative Director with Comic Relief.

SOFA SURFER Cover

When 15-year-old Tyler meets Spider at the pool, he is led into a dark and dangerous world he never knew existed….

Sofa Surfer by Malcolm Duffy is fantastic, the perfect balance of a heartfelt story and gritty plot. The story tells of 15-year-old Tyler, who is furious when his parents decide to move from the only home he has ever known in London, to a small Yorkshire village.  Upheaval beckons and no amount of encouragement from his parents will persuade Tyler to embrace the change – even the new family dog can’t remove his loneliness. Enter a strange and skinny girl called Spider, who Tyler meets at the local lido and through whom he learns what having a home really means.

Totally absorbing, Tyler’s voice echoes throughout the engaging narrative, drawing you in to his world of frustration and ever increasing desire to help Spider, no matter what the cost.  Sofa Surfer shines a light on the reality of homelessness, family ties and what empathy in action really looks like. You cannot fail to be moved by Spider’s situation and Tyler’s response, nor the prejudice shown by so many that readers will all recognise. I loved the added plot twist showing Spider getting the help she needs from someone who themselves had been given a second chance. Sofa Surfer is a simply a really great read – one I’d highly recommend for all young people aged 12+ (and older people too!).

 

With thanks to Zephyr for sending me a proof copy for review.9781786697660

Find out more at www.malcolmduffy.com and follow the author on Twitter @malcolmduffyUK. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

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