Today’s my turn to tip, shake and turn on the Save the Day for Ada May! blog tour. Not only am I sharing my and Book Boy Junior’s review of the book, I also have an exclusive Q&A with the story’s illustrator, Patrick Corrigan. I’m very pleased to be highlighting the book’s illustrator as so often they don’t get due credit for their work, which is obviously fundamental to picture books!
Max was taking his little sister, Ada May, out for a walk in her buggy. What could possible go wrong? Well it was all going very well until Max got distracted when feeding the ducks and knocked Ada May’s pushchair towards the river!
From then on, this charming title puts the reader right at the heart of the action. Little ones will be in charge of tipping, tilting and blowing Ada May to safety as she bounces from one perilous situation to another whilst her big brother remains oblivious.
Tonnes of fun to read aloud with a willing accomplice to performing the daring rescue deeds. Book Boy Junior thoroughly enjoyed shaking and puffing in attempts to save Ada May from bulls, trees and flocks of escaping sheep. Brilliant entertainment for anyone aged 2+
Now let’s hear from the book’s illustrator about how he created the movement and joy encapsulated in the images for this book.
Q&A with Patrick Corrigan – Save the Day for Ada May
1. What is the inspiration behind your illustration style?
Before going freelance I worked in a busy studio where I had to work in a different style every day, I picked up different things from every job, so my style grew out of that. As a kid I loved Tintin books, E. H. Shepard and Edward Ardizzone. My favourite illustrators as an adult are Ravillious and Bawden – and I love mid-century style illustration and lots of lino cuts. I think all of those things have influenced my work in some way, some more obviously than others.
2. Save the Day for Ada May is out now! What was it like working on this book?
I really enjoyed working on this book but it was a challenge. Each spread has a slightly different look and feel; some are quite flat and some are very textured. It relies very heavily on design and typography to create the look of each page and the interactive element was very important, so I was working very closely with the team at Willow Tree. We did two spreads at a time and there was a lot of back and forth to get each one right. Each pair took about a week before we were happy! It was very different from any other project I’ve worked on before. In the past I’ve been given a whole brief to sketch then colour, so working this way was fun and felt more like I was part of a team again (I miss that sometimes since turning freelance).
3. Getting the look of key characters right is an important part of the picture book process. How do you go about developing the look of your main characters?
This is similar to how the whole book was created, I did some initial sketches, Willow Tree gave me some feedback and then I did a bunch more sketches. The original characters looked very different and there were a lot of decisions to make – and every single bit was thought through with Willow Tree. Ada May went through a lot of different hairstyles, outfits and eyes until we were happy!
4. Was it difficult capturing the movements demanded by the text in the illustrations? How did you create such a feeling of action?
Capturing the movements was a challenge. Ada May never stays still, so I had to draw a lot of different poses! Much of the feeling of movement comes from the interesting compositions I think, like in the spread with the path that curves across the page, I also tried to use the texture to suggest movement there. Comic book–style motion lines help too!
5. The theme of the book calls upon children to ‘be a hero!’ and perform a series of actions to save the day. Who is your greatest hero?
That’s a really hard question. It’s probably a toss up between Eric Cantona and David Bowie. I’ve always thought they were both cool, creative and did their own thing. But I think my dad has probably been one of the biggest influences in my life, so maybe I should choose him!
6. Which spread is your favourite and why?
Probably the spread which shows Ada flying into the air holding her bunny on the left and up in a tree on the right. I like the sense of movement on the left and I was pleased with how the tree, leaves and animals turned out on the right, I really enjoyed working on this one too.
7. What is your earliest memory of drawing as a child?
I have a vague memory of drawing big treasure maps on the back of wallpaper when I was about 4. I’ve always liked drawing imaginary maps!
8. What made you want to become a children’s illustrator?
Drawing, art and craft were always what I was best at and enjoyed the most when I was a child. I used to make my own comics when I was 7 and knew I wanted to do something like that when I grew up. I got a degree in ceramics when I left school. All my work there was figurative and illustrative, so I’ve always been naturally drawn to illustration. My mum is also an illustrator, so that probably made a difference.
9. Where is your favourite place to sit and draw?
I do all my finished work at my desk in front of my Mac. I don’t really have a favourite place, but I really like getting to move away from my desk to sketch and work out ideas. I have an iPad to sketch on now. I like to go to cafés, museums, or even just on the sofa.
10. If you could only choose three items to have beside you as you work, what would they be?
A massive mug of green tea (I drink about 15 a day), my speaker so I can listen to music and podcasts, and my little dog Stanley who gets in the way really but he is cute.
Thank you Patrick for giving us some fascinating insights into your working process and for helping to create a book that’s so much fun to read!
To buy a copy of your own, visit the Willow Tree Books website HERE.
*Huge thanks to Willow Tree for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. Remember to take a look at the other stops too*