Monday, 15 May 2017

Friends – three illustrated stories for children with Neurofibromatosis

Friends by Amanda Lillywhite
I loved working on this book.

The charity I created it for, The Neuro Foundation, was supportive and positive all the way through. They help to improve the lives of those affected by Neurofibromatosis and helped me understand the condition by introducing me to a specialist and to children with Neurofibromatosis. The children and their families spoke to me about their lives and experiences, I am grateful to them for their time and honesty - they were inspirational. 

I was commissioned to write and illustrate three life affirming stories that featured main characters with Neurofibromatosis. The Neuro Foundation wanted the stories to be fun, fully illustrated and easily accessible.

In the first story, The Windiest Playground in the World, Isaac wonders if he'll be able to make friends after moving to a new area.

Part of an illustration for The Windiest Playground in the World by Amanda Lillywhite.
The second story is Rovertown Dynamos vs. Mogford Juniors. Goalkeeper Bernie needs help from her team when an opponent says something mean about her.
Part of an illustration for Rovertown Dynamos vs. Mogford Juniors by Amanda Lillywhite.
The final story is The Missing FishChandra is worried about a fish that seems to be missing from the waiting room tank when she goes for her regular check up at a clinic.

An illustration for The Missing Fish by Amanda Lillywhite.
Friends is available on The Neuro Foundation website, along with information about Neurofibromatosis and support for those with the condition.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Association of Illustrators

My old Association of Illustrators membership cards 1997-2004
As you can see in the photo above I was a member of the Association of Illustrators (AOI) for seven years. The contract and business information I received from the AOI during my early years as a freelance illustrator was a great help and I made good use of the hotline for advice. Later on I benefited from the social side of the AOI when I moved to Cambridge for a couple of years and got to know illustrators at the local branch meetings.

Up until myself and my partner adopted our daughter I was working full-time or more as an illustrator and managing to earn a reasonable living. While my daughter was young my work hours dropped off and though I never gave up illustration I became cautious about how much I would take on so as to ensure I could hit my deadlines. It became hard to justify paying the yearly fee so, although I missed the AOI, I stopped renewing my membership.

In recent years my commissioned illustration work has built up to the extent that rejoining the AOI seemed a necessity and was also affordable. I've just received logos and other new member materials and was touched by the wording on the image below. It's true, the AOI really are like that - they've been looking after illustrators for a long time and protecting our interests. I am very glad to be back.

Note: I should mention that during the gap in my AOI membership I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I received a different kind of support from them, made some amazing friends and started writing. Though I've allowed my SCBWI membership to lapse I will rejoin as soon as I can.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

One Hundred Thousand Jumpers - illustrations for a children's book about adoption

A book about an adopted girl written by Rachel Braverman, illustrated by Amanda Lillywhite and designed by Erik Christopher
One Hundred Thousand Jumpers: written by Rachel Braverman and designed by Erik Christopher. Front cover typography, and all illustrations by Amanda Lillywhite. A book for children about an adopted girl.
When Rachel Braverman told me that she was looking for an illustrator for her story about an adopted girl I was immediately interested, especially when she said it was based on the real experience of adoption. I have an adopted daughter who came to live with us at 27 months old (she is now 14) so I am aware of the unique challenges that many adopted children face and I know that it is hard to find books that show the difficulties and joys of their experiences in an easy to read format*.

When I read the story I was impressed, Rachel has explored the fears of a newly adopted child but it is an uplifting read. Becca (that's her on the cover) has just arrived at her adoptive home. She immediately builds a rapport with her ready-made older sister, Fallon, and the family cat, Oscar. However her relationship with her new mother, Mummy Mo, is more difficult. The story is about how Becca learns to trust that this will be her forever family. It's also about knitted jumpers, Mummy Mo is a keen knitter, hence the title.

One Hundred Thousand Jumpers was designed by Erik Christopher. It is available in Kindle and print versions on Amazon.

If you have any comments or questions about the book please feel free to contact me via this blog, Facebook or Twitter.

*I am aware of the Tracey Beaker stories of course and I think they are brilliant but they are a bit too long and complex for some readers. This book has twenty four story pages split into five chapters and each chapter has an illustration.