Thursday, 21 July 2016

Prince Ribbit • Asfordby Captain's Close Edition

Prince Ribbit illustrated by Captain’s Close School and Poly Bernatene Illustrated edition.

Regular readers of this blog may remember the post I wrote last year about a special edition of The Silver Serpent Cup illustrated by the children of Round Hill Primary School in Nottingham. Last month I ran a similar week-long project with my Patron of Reading school, Asfordby Captain’s Close Primary in Leicestershire.

At the beginning of the week, the children were given the text of Prince Ribbit, a picture book that will be published my Macmillan at the end of next week. The Macmillan edition is illustrated by Poly Bernatene, but the purpose of the project was to encourage the children to interpret the text for themselves and come up with their own illustration ideas, so the children were not shown any of Poly’s artwork until they had finished their own.

After introducing the story to the whole school and giving them a few top tips for illustration and page design, I spent a little time with each class to get them started. One of the main characters in the story is a frog, so I did some “How to draw a frog” sessions with Years 1, 2 and 3.

Then I spent some time thinking about characters and settings with Years 4, 5, & 6. I explained that there is no right way to illustrate a scene, but some ways might be better than others, so it’s always a good idea to consider alternative approaches before you start. As an example, we took one of Poly Bernatene’s illustrations for The Princess and the Pig and the children came up with lots of alternative "thumbnail" ideas to present the same scene to the reader.

Some of the children's alternative ideas for one of Poly's spreads from The Princess and the Pig

Each class then set about creating their own edition of the book, with each spread being illustrated by a different pupil. When they had finished, each teacher selected a complete set of illustrations from their class to make up six separate class editions of the book.

The covers designs for the six class editions.

There was some wonderful artwork in every edition. I could see that a lot of thought and imagination had gone into the character and spread designs and there was some imaginative use of typesetting from the older classes.

The Robins Class edition

I chose two or three pages from each of the class editions which I bound together to make an overall school edition of the book. I had a very hard time choosing just seventeen spreads for this and there were lots of excellent illustrations that I had to leave out.

Here are some of the spreads that I chose.

This front cover by Alex is very eye-catching and Ribbit has a slightly cunning look to him which is perfect for the story.
The back cover by Grace has some very engaging blurb and the Royal Library card is a great idea.

Prince Ribbit is a story about books and I really liked the way that George gives the reader a good look at the book Martha is reading on this spread.

This spread by Ona-Mae is very professional-looking, with some great character designs and expressive faces.

We finished off the week with a special assembly on Friday afternoon. After revealing the illustrations I’d chosen for the school edition, I showed the children the published edition so that they could see how Poly Bernatene had tackled each of the spreads they'd been working on.

Me showing the children Poly's illustrations for the book

I’d explained at the beginning of the week that we would choose one favourite spread from the school edition, the illustrator of which would receive a signed copy of the Poly Bernatene illustrated edition. As the illustrator, Poly was much better qualified to make this decision than I was, so I emailed him a pdf version of the school edition and he sent back a video in which he announced the winning illustrator …

Illustrator Poly Bernatene sent us a video to announce his favourite illustration from the school edition.

… which was Scarlett from Robins Class who produced this wonderful illustration showing Princess Martha in the Royal Library.

Poly chose this spread by Scarlett as his favourite 

The project was a very effective way for the children to learn a little about the ins and outs of book design and illustration and gave them a new appreciation of all the thought and hard work that goes into turning a text into a finished book.

I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all the young illustrators, their teachers and TAs and Literacy Co-ordinator Miss G, who did such a brilliant job of co-ordinating the project in the school.

Me with the 17 illustrators of the school edition

Prince Ribbit is published on Thursday 28 July 2016 by Macmillan Children's Books.

Click here to find out more about the book

Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US Buy at amazon US

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