French and Dutch author / illustrator Catharina Valckx started her working life in fine arts, principally as a painter, but has now published over 40 children’s books internationally. It was reading library books with her son that sparked the beginning of her long and successful career as a writer and illustrator.
I discovered children’s literature in the form of picture books in the local library when my son was young. I knew a few good books from my childhood, but I didn’t imagine they would be just the tip of the iceberg. Some books were revelations!
What I discovered most, during those days, was the great joy of reading together with your child. When we came across a book that we both liked, it was miraculous. Laughing together, admiring, being moved. I fell in love with children’s literature.
These books were my first steps on the road to becoming a children’s writer and illustrator.
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, with its tender and true dialogue.
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, illustrated by the brilliant Ernest Shepard. I love his joyful, absurd humour and his ability to create emotion out of small everyday events.
Arnold Lobel: Frog and Toad, Mouse Tales, Owl at Home… masterpieces of poetry and humour, with a little background of sadness that makes these books so complete. The drawings are also magnificent.
These are all authors with a great sense of humour. (I’m certain it’s much harder to be funny than to make people cry or be scared.)
One day I discovered the drawings of William Steig. He had a way of drawing and choosing his colours that spoke to me.
Steig was a virtuoso draughtsman and fundamentally modern.
He did not seek the illusion of volume; he assumed two dimensions.
The charm of his drawings is in the line, a little shaky, interrupted. And the patterns! Patterns everywhere. On walls, clothes, carpets…
I hadn’t drawn for a long time, or at least not illustrated, as I was busy painting. William Steig opened up a way for me, a way of expressing myself that seemed exciting. And so, I made my first book…
Want to hear more from Gecko Press? Every month we send out a newsletter with all of our latest blog articles, activity sheets, and sometimes a competition too! Sign up to our mailing list here.