Oliver Jeffers, Rachel Bright and Chris Haughton at Hay Festival 2014 by Eleanor

“All good illustrators give layers of a story,” said Rachel Bright. She, Oliver Jeffers, and Chris Haughton all write picture books, and all have their own stories to tell.

If you haven’t studied art at college, or you just have completely different interests, do not think that it is too late to get started with picture books? was one question posed to the panel. Oliver Jeffers had never intended to be an author, and Rachel Bright had numerous other jobs before writing. She was an air steward and even claims to have been taken hostage by Daleks – as an extra on ‘Doctor Who’. It was solar etching that she used to make her first book, ‘Love Monster’. She just loved the idea of “a book made of sunshine”. Now, as well as her books, she has her own range of witty greeting cards and gifts called The Bright Side.

Chris Haughton talked about the process of writing his three books – ‘A Bit Lost’, ‘Oh No George!’ and ‘Shh! We Have a Plan’. He says that one of the key aspects of creating a good story is to have a character with whom readers can identify. Chris was also greatly influenced by Fair Trade work he did with the ethical fashion business People Tree. He’s currently working on Monkey – an interactive app for toddlers. Fingers crossed, it will be coming out soon! Oliver Jeffers discussed his different experiences in illustrating. He was originally inspired to write when it occurred to him that his sketches told stories – stories that couldn’t be expressed in just a series of images. They needed to become books. And so he created his first book, ‘How to Catch a Star’.

A member of the audience observed that there was not enough illustration in adult literature; the art of ‘picture reading’ is becoming scarce. We need to learn to appreciate the beauty of picture books as well as novels.

By Eleanor.
Eleanor, 14, loves cats and reading fantasy epics (preferably about dragons).

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