Picture Books – Behind the Scenes
In June 2017, Penguin Random House UK and Ministry of Stories launched seventeen unique new picture books, all written by children between the ages of 8 and 12 and brought to life by volunteer illustrators. This unique publishing project is part of a partnership between Penguin Random House UK and Ministry of Stories, which is now in its second year.
Click here to find out more about our picture book project and read the picture books in full.
Maisie Noble, one of the illustrators involved in our picture book project with Ministry of Stories, shared her thoughts.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background as an illustrator?
I was trained in figurative and fashion illustration at University of the Arts London. After graduating I worked for a few years at a motion graphics studio in east London called Made Visual, where I storyboarded and illustrated for animation. Alongside that work I continued to freelance, working on commissions for companies like H&M and Harvey Nichols. I began teaching illustration and life drawing as an associate lecturer at London Collage of Fashion in 2015 and then decided to take my career in a slightly different direction and embarked on a masters degree in visual communication last September. I am currently focusing on narrative illustration and researching the potential for illustration in future platforms such as virtual and augmented reality.
How did you hear about the project and what appealed to you about getting involved?
The project came to me through my course leader at Kingston University. I have been working on my own books in my spare time and thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the process of producing a children’s book. I have also illustrated and printed books written by children of my friends in the past, so I was familiar with this way of working and find it hugely rewarding. Children have the best imaginations!
Work in progress
The finished book
How did you work with your child to bring their story to life? What happened when you first met?
Selin has such a big personality; she is bubbly, excitable and extremely polite! She already had lots of ideas about how she would like the story to look and I was very impressed with her motives for the story! Selin wanted to create a story that was unique, inspiring and that supported unusual people. When we first met we chatted about Montgomery and what he should be like, we talked about what sorts of food he likes and what emotions he was feeling at different stages of the story.
What did you find rewarding about this project?
Because we were working to such a tight schedule I found it hugely rewarding to produce a complete book so quickly. It was an intense and involved process which allowed me to be very focused on Montgomery and the story that Selin was trying to tell. I enjoyed the playfulness of Montgomery’s character the most. He became very real to me through Selin’s descriptions; I imagined his mum sewing him tiny clothes that were still too big, and him sneaking past his dad in the garden to steal the string to build and invent things with. He’s such a rich character!
What was the most unexpected thing about this project?
I think how much Selin and I were on the same wavelength with Montgomery and his journey. I think the story is so relatable, everyone sees something of their own upbringing in it. There’s also the slightly strange and subtle humour and sub-texts that occur throughout the story. In some ways it’s a little dark but in others it’s very gentle.
What would you say to other people thinking about getting involved with Ministry of Stories?
Definitely do, it’s a brilliant way to (re)open your mind to what it’s like to be a kid, be able to play and imagine, and have no rules about story construction. We’ve all been there and the playfulness that I experienced when working with Selin is something that I miss from my own childhood and would like to rediscover! The other hugely rewarding element was seeing Selin understand that writing stories and drawing pictures can be a real job!
THE MOON AND MONTGOMERY
Written by Selin, aged 12
What’s the story about?
Every child wants to go to the Moon. Montgomery is too small to go, but he is determined. What does he do to reach the Moon?
Illustrated by Maisie Noble
Maisie Noble is a Welsh, London-based illustrator who is currently studying for her Masters in Communication Design, Illustration from Kingston University after spending several years working in industry. In addition to illustration, Maisie works as an Associate Lecturer at University of the Arts London and runs creative workshops around London.