Monday, 11 February 2013

#ReadItMD13 - Our interview with Jane Hissey, author and illustrator of "Old Bear" and "Ruby, Blue and Blanket"

Jane Hissey, Author and Illustrator of "Old Bear" and "Ruby, Blue and Blanket".
Wow, that's a lot of pencil sharpening!
For our first article taking a closer look at Illustration in children's picture books for the #readitmummiesanddaddies2013 campaign we have been very fortunate to be able to interview a true legend.

Jane Hissey, author and extremely talented illustrator behind the much-loved "Old Bear" series of books, and a new title for 2013 - "Ruby, Blue and Blanket" has kindly agreed to an interview. We thought long and hard what we'd love to ask, so here's a fascinating insight into writing and illustration from Jane herself.

ReadItDaddy (Daddy):
'Old Bear' is now deservedly deemed a true classic (and is a book I read to my brother and sister when they were tiddlers). How does it make you feel to know that whole new generations (including my daughter, of course!) still enjoy it today?

Jane Hissey: 

It is a wonderful feeling to see a whole new generation of children discovering Old Bear and all his friends. We have recently redesigned the books to allow more space for the illustrations. This has given them a fresh, modern look so they stand comfortably alongside all the wonderful children's books available today. I love it when I visit schools and introduce the characters only to find that children already regard them as part of the family!

ReadItDaddy (Daddy): 
Out of all the wonderful characters you've created for children's books, who is your particular favourite? (other than old bear himself, of course! Charlotte absolutely loves Rabbit and I've always liked Ruff the Dog)

I have different favourites depending on what I am doing! Little Bear is my favourite to write about because he is adventurous and fun. Duck is my favourite to draw because he is a lovely shape and, with his orange beak and legs, he is bright and colourful. Bramwell Brown has always been a favourite because he was made for my son Owen, when he was born) by a lovely, kind friend, but Old Bear was my teddy bear when I was a baby so he is a very special bear.

ReadItDaddy (Daddy): 
Ruby, Blue and Blanket  continues the brilliant theme of toys playing together and having adventures. What was the inspiration for the book? (we love it and truly believe that children are becoming less and less enamoured with technology and more and more into 'lo fi' toys so your timing is spot on!)

I have always wanted to do a book about dressing up because I knew it would be great fun to illustrate. I wanted the dressing up costumes to be fun and home-made because I have noticed a tendency for children to just step into a Disney costume or mass produced one and have no imput creatively when asked to dress up for a party or school event. At the last World Book Day event I attended, there must have been at least 20 identical Snow Whites and Supermen!
I made the characters for the book so they would look just how I wanted them and I wrote in verse so I could have a lot of fun with silly rhyming words!

ReadItDaddy (Daddy): 
We're running a campaign to get more parents reading to their children in 2013 and have been amazed by the positive response and support. What do you feel that parents get from reading to their children?

I am a grandmother now and have rediscovered the joys of bedtime reading with my little Granddaughter, Isabelle. My son says he loves reading to her as she so obviously sees books as a source of fun and pleasure. Her favourite birthday and Christmas presents were definitely the books she was given! 

I think most parents find it a calming, peaceful time to be close to their children, to see their day to day development as they get involved in the books; first looking at the pictures, then understanding the story and then sharing the reading. I think parents should go on reading to their children until those children are fluent readers themselves. It gives parents a chance to fill in gaps in their own childhood reading, experience new books for themselves and rediscover that wonderful feeling of 'living a story' and not being able to wait to see what happens next!

ReadItDaddy (Charlotte):
What's your favourite cuddly toy that lives at your house?

My new little mouse, Ruby, is my favourite cuddly toy at the moment. She has a pink nose and a long curly tail. I made her myself but a friend of mine knitted her little red jumper.

ReaditDaddy (Charlotte): 
What's your favourite colour? (Mine's pink!)

I think green is my favourite colour. When I look out of my studio window everything I can see is green; trees, grass, fields and pond. Only the rabbits are not green and there are plenty of those bouncing around eating all my plants!

"Ruby, Blue and Blanket" by Jane Hissey is published by Scribblers Books, officially available from 27th February 2013. 

Look out for our review of "Ruby, Blue and Blanket" later today!