Every festival has its highlight, and this time it was getting to meet 7-year-old Sara Constantin, who had drawn a half-size facsimile version of You Can't Eat a Princess... just just scenes from, but THE ENTIRE BOOK!
There's something about copying work I admire that makes me really, really see it and understand what the artist was trying to do. I do that a lot when I go to art galleries, with great masterpieces. It's not about trying to 'rip off' Rembrandt or Hergé, or whoever it is - I'm not going to go away and sell my image and pretend its my own - it's about learning and exploring the way the artwork has been created, in utter detail, making my hand do the same lines and work out the same compositions. And when I'm doing it, I feel a sort of companionship with the artist, going over the same lines and shadows that they did, and thinking, Ah, now I see why you did that. So I got almost teary to see someone do the same, so extensively, with my own work. That Sara will know my book better than anyone! And it feels rather companionable.
Okay, humour me here, I'm going to show you the WHOLE BOOK because it's so amazing. Sara even drew the endpapers, which are four pages a lot of people would just skip over.
I was very impressed by seeing her work out the text placement on the page, and she spread the compositions fairly evenly over the pages, right to the edges, which takes some skill. (A lot of kids will draw everything very small in one section of the paper.)
If you're familiar with You Can't Eat a Princess!, written by Gillian Rogerson and illustrated by me, I think you'll get a kick from Sara's reinterpretation of it. Her characters look slightly different, but they also have their own graphic boldness and liveliness. I love them!
Ha ha! Here are the cowardly knights. Well done, placing all that text!
I love the swoosh up to the Royal Rocket. I based its launch pad structure on Tatlin's Monument to the Third International and I like this more abstract version.
You totally rock, Sara! Remember this kid. If she decides she wants to make books, I think you'll be seeing quite a lot of her. I'm just as impressed with her persistence as her drawing skills. Any kid (or adult) can turn out a few decent images, but being able to stick with the project and FINISH the book is what it really takes. Wow, this kid totally blew me away. Thank you for showing your book to me, Sara!
Ha ha, this year's Stratford Lit Fest featured lots of small kids, but lots of VERY TALL PRESENTERS.
You can't tell from the photo, but this is writer Philip Ardagh and he is 6'7" tall (that is TWO METRES, as he had the audience repeat several times). Yesterday was the first time I got to see one of his events, and it had me grinning like a loony all the way through. I bought a copy of his The Eddie Dickens Trilogy, illustrated by David Roberts and now bound together in one lovely red volume.
And here's fabulous Mei Matsuoka! She led her group in making these pom-pom sheep to go along with her picture book The Great Sheep Shenanigans. (You can see more of them here on her blog.) Mei was an early visitor to our Fleece Station studio, and you can read about her visit here!
Oh, wow! Check out this DRESS!! This is storyteller Nikky Smedley, who had the audience captivated with her funny, quirky and lyrical tales, as well as her frock. I loved how the dress doubled up as a stage, what a cool idea, even if it does make pacing about a bit difficult. (She's very good with the arm gestures.)
I wasn't lucky enough to meet Robert Crowther, but I could see some great results from his pop-up books workshop.
And our group made pirates! I read You Can't Scare a Princess! and there was a lot of good boisterous ARRRRRs in the house.
Thanks so much to Stuart and the hard-working people who made it happen: Annie Ashworth, Natasha Roderick-Jones and the rest of the team!