HarperCollins Big Cat publishes my new non-fiction book for children and young people on July 11, 2022. It’s available for pre-order now.
I recently unearthed a sketchbook that I hadn’t looked at in quite a while. The first page contained handwritten notes I took during author David Almond‘s keynote speech at the 2016 SCBWI-BI annual conference. As I read the first quote, I knew I wanted to share it because David Almond’s words beautifully sum up how I feel about my forthcoming non-fiction book, Our Colourful World.
‘Writing is an act of growth.’
When I began Our Colourful World, I knew I wanted to tell the fascinating stories of colours and pigments around the world and through history but I’d never written a non-fiction book before. There was a thread of inspiration from my second book in the Blackhope Enigma trilogy, The Crimson Shard. Although it’s a fantasy story, The Crimson Shard required a lot of research on Georgian London, tromp l’oeil paintings and even alchemy to imbue the book with authentic information and detail. While learning about the history of paint pigments, I read amazing stories of how people discovered and made colours to use in their paintings. And since colour plays such an important part in my artwork, I have a personal interest in the story of artists’ paints and materials.
Though Our Colourful World is the first non-fiction children’s book I’ve written, I’ve done in-depth research on every book illustration project since I began illustrating many years ago. Doing visual research is key to creating accuracy in my picture books and educational books. I’ve always considered it very important to show respect to my readers and to the authors and subjects of my books by doing the best job I can at getting my depictions right. And I enjoy the process, too! I’ve learned incredible things throughout my career as an author and illustrator. My new book is no different. Our Colourful World took me all over the world, into ancient history, into the science of lightwaves and rainbows. I enjoyed digging into such interesting stories to share with young readers.
And, yes, I was reminded that ‘writing is an act of growth’. I learned a huge amount about writing non-fiction for children and communicating information succinctly and clearly for young readers. My terrific agent, Kathryn Ross, was a great support throughout the process, as always. I enjoyed collaborating with editors on all aspects of the book from researching the photo illustrations to the activities and glossary. Our Colourful World is aimed at Key Stage 2 readers and is book banded at Copper/Band 12 for guided and independent reading. To learn more about Harper Collins Big Cat books, click here.