EXCITED! I don't get to interview many illustrators for some reason, but today I AM! I bagged one! And I mean, these illustrations are incredible, beautiful, and absolutely perfect!
Emma Reynolds is an illustrator and author based in Manchester, UK. Passionate about storytelling and creating unique characters, Emma is the illustrator of Rescuing Mrs. Birdley written by Aaron Reynolds, released on June 30th 2020 with Simon & Schuster.
Her debut author-illustrator picture book Amara and the Bats about bat conservation is due for release in summer 2021 with Atheneum - Simon & Schuster.
Emma also started the #KidLit4Climate illustrated campaign, bringing together over 3,000 children's illustrators and authors from over 50 countries in solidarity with the youth climate strikes.
She is inspired by nature, animals, adventure, and seeing the magic in the everyday. She loves bats, cats and bears, walking in the wild and exploring the world.
Rescuing Mrs. Birdley
Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Emma Reynolds
Editor: Justin Chanda
Designer: Lizzy Bromley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (June 30, 2020)
Length: 40 pages
Grades: P - 3
Ages: 4 - 8
Who are you?
Hello! My name is Emma and I write and illustrate children's books! My first illustrated book 'Rescuing Mrs. Birdley' is out now (woohoo!) and it was so much fun to work on.
What is the book about?
Meet Miranda Montgomery!
Miranda loves watching the 'Nature Joe Animal Show' every single day. Nature Joe is amazing at returning lost animals to their natural habitat. So when Miranda spots her teacher Mrs. Birdley wandering lost in the supermarket outside of school, she knows exactly what she needs to do! See what she gets up to in this delightfully over the top and hilarious picture book.
The Book Journey
It's been my dream since I was five years old to make illustrated books! After graduating and spending six years working as a character designer in kid's animation, I was working on my portfolio in my spare time and applying to literary agents. Then, two years ago - Thao Le from Sandra Dijkstra sent me a Twitter DM and I signed with her!
Justin Chanda at Simon & Schuster US saw this announcement and asked if I'd like to work on Aaron Reynolds's new book. I read the manuscript about this adventurous hilarious little girl and loved it, so of course I said yes!
How does the process work as an illustrator?
After reading the manuscript, I need to decide how to tell this story in pictures. I have to think about the characters, the settings, the angles, the colours, and what all of this is going to make the reader feel. It's my job to bring this story to life and create memorable characters and visual storytelling illustrations that communicate the story in the best way.
I sent over a mood board and some character sketches to start with, and then started really roughly thumbnailing the book. Each round of feedback the drawings got more detailed, and eventually I had 'final sign off' for art finals and I could begin roughing out the colours and details in prep for the finished artwork.
Colour was really important for us in this book, as there is the 'real world' and then Miranda's imaginary nature world, where we chose a limited palette of greens to show what is going on in her imagination, contrasted with the hilarious reality!
What was your favourite part about making the book?
I love thumbnailing out the roughs and the puzzle solving element of this - and working with my editor Justin Chanda and designer Lizzy Bromley to get the pages just right. I really enjoy coming up with the characters, and portraying the hilarious moments in this book. Plus, I got to draw lots of animals which I love doing! (Ring-tailed lemurs <3!)
I especially enjoyed designing how Miranda would look, she was SO much fun to draw. Here are some early character sketches of her where I was exploring her personality...
I wanted her to have this big wild mane of hair that was very expressive and helped show how she was thinking throughout the book.
This book has been an absolute blast to work on, and I've learnt so much in the process! I hope you enjoy her adventure! (Also, how many cats can you spot snuck into the book?)
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!