Picture Book Creation – An Illustrator’s Perspective by Sharon Davey

Sharon Davey

Creating  I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. with Sharon Davey has been the hugest privilege. It really has.

I’m so chuffed that Sharon has popped over to MyBookCorner today to give a really intriguing insight into picture book creation, from an illustrator’s perspective. And for picture books addicts, she gives you some great things to spot on the pages of I Don’t Like Books – insider secrets!!

When you illustrate a picture book you get the information on the main characters, the overall themes or specific action to illustrate but beyond those things it’s all yours… all you.

When I got the text and layouts for Emma Perry’s I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. I knew what was expected from my excellent art director and design visionary Ness Wood but also what I was trying to achieve.

Picture book creation is often overwhelming, sometimes just by how long the process takes or how specific the suggestion of emotion needs to be on each page.

It’s probably a reaction to those constraints or a little bit of me tiptoeing on to the pages but I tend to add little details that make me laugh to keep me on task and excited to finish every page.

Monkey2
That is how blue monkey came about. I was working on a soft toy to sit on a pile of books on page one. In my original sketches he had a hat and a bow tie for a while before settling on some lovely large red glasses. (Ness wears brilliant glasses and this monkey is a little nod to her) He’s pretty sweet with his grumpy expression and vivid turquoise fur. I totally fell in love with him. We all did. You know your character is appealing when they ask for him on the cover!

Monkey1

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There are also some other items placed in the book that are not suggested in the text, but I’ve added as secret winks to my own life and the people who helped make the book.

See if you can spot them…

• The astronaut has the same haircut at our lovely Editor, Alice Corrie.
• An oak leaf like the ones I see every day out of my studio window.
• Stegosaurs – my favourite dinosaur – Yes, I do have my own shelf of plastic dinosaurs.
• Three birds, not unlike the three pottery ducks every grandma used to have on their wall for a while in the 70’s
• Watermelon Pyjamas, my favourite summer food.
• A happy plant, which is the closest I’ll ever come to a house plant. I am rubbish at keeping them alive.
• A big ginger cat, called Paddington, my first cat.
• The flux capacitator, from Back to the Future. Man, I love that film!
• A fishy book for my Dad – who loves fish.
• The initials of my brilliant publisher David Fickling


There are a few more that I choose to keep close to my heart for now. When I read the book, and remember all the time it took to draw ALL the books, those little details still make me chuckle.

Emma gave me the most wonderful words to work with. She added charm and humour to Mabel’s character and places she visits. I took every starting point she gave me and arranged the world Mabel would live in, then sprinkled a little bit of Sharon to finish.

Emma & Sharon

I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. is on tour. Catch up with all the posts here…

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