Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Thoughts on Words and Pictures by Anne Booth

Tomorrow evening I begin 5 weeks of  teaching a weekly, two hours creative writing class to first year teaching students. The idea for the (voluntary for the students) sessions is that they need to gain confidence in themselves as writers before they can teach writing to children, so I need to give them fun exercises to do. I am looking up books, thinking about courses I have been on etc.. I know for certain that I will be bringing pictures and objects in, and I will spend part of today gathering them up.

I will also bring illustrated books in, including the stunning 'Lost Words' .

I think it is very interesting to read how Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane worked together on this. The initial impetus for the book came from the illustrator, Jackie Morris, although Robert MacFarlane was already thinking along similar lines.

I bought the book for Christmas for our family and for one of my brothers, and then heard that there was going to be an exhibition of the paintings.  t I met up in London with an old friend last week and went together to the Foundling Museum to see it and I would highly recommend going.  It was such a lovely thing to go to see, and it was heartening to see so many children in the gallery on a half term trip.

Whilst we were there we also went to an exhibition of Michael Foreman's illustrations to Michael Morpurgo's  book, inspired by The Foundling Museum, 'Lucky Button'.

This touching book about a modern young carer and his relationship with a ghost was inspired by one of the tokens left with foundlings when their desperate mothers gave them up.

So here we have an example of something visual inspiring the words which follow.

The inspiration for so many books begins with an image rather than a word. A forthcoming picture book I have written started with an image I had of a blue sky, and the illustrator has taken the words I subsequently wrote, and created a wonderful world.  This happens again and again for authors - there is a wonderful excitement in seeing our words translated into images. I am so happy with the illustrations Sophy Williams, Rosalind Beardshaw, Sam Usher and  Amy Proud  have already  produced to go with my words. In June OUP will be publishing a series of highly illustrated books for 7-9 year olds, written by me and gorgeously illustrated, outside and inside, by Rosie Butcher,

and later on, OUP will publish another Lucy book, beautifully illustrated again by Sophy Williams, and I also have a Christmas picture book with Lion coming out, about Jenny, a shy angel, which has enchanting illustrations by Ruth Hearson.

But now I have two new, exciting projects, both writing texts for illustrators to work with. One idea for a project has come from an illustrator, one from a publisher.

 So I have a new approach now to these next picture books. If I think it is a good exercise to give visual stimuli to inspire my creative writing students, then, I realise, I can also apply it to my own creative output.  I am going to look at the illustrators' existing work, and really think about where their strengths lie before I write my story. Illustrators have to adapt their work to writers' words - why shouldn't a writer adapt their words to the illustrators' styles?

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