I love this image of Molly and the white stag, drawn by Kirsty Boar. If I hadn't moved to Maastricht in 2021, I wouldn't have met Kirsty at all. She's a Maastricht-based author, illustrator and fellow member of the Maastricht Writers Workshop. She has a background in librarianship and when we first met, she was working in the English Bookstore Maastricht.
By this time, I'd already written Footprints in the Snow and Save the White Stag, which are parts 1 and 2 of a Forest of Dean series for children. Over endless cups of coffee, we formulated an illustration plan for these books, and for lots of future projects besides.
Kirsty felt that a simple black and white line drawing style was best suited to the story context and the forest location. Both stories, although they're stand-alone, do take place in the same locations. Below are the drawings of Grancher Pete's house, the children's secret den and the traveller camp where Caro, Finn and Molly live.
Similarly, the line drawing style is perfectly suited to the visualisation of the main characters. Here are Caro, Finn and Molly on their bikes, Jamie with Grancher Pete and Caro's grandmother Dora:
Both Footprints in the Snow and Save the White Stag involve the children in adventures with animals, but deeper than that, they have a special connection with the animal kingdom. Dora teaches Caro the 'old ways' of the forest, which includes talking to animals and understanding the mysterious 'other world' that exists in it, and the children are aware that they must have a deep respect for the animals around them. In both stories, the animals also have an understanding of this special connection too.
The illustrations also serve to add to the emotion of particular moments in the story. For example, in Footprints in the Snow, when there's a heavy snowfall during the night, Jamie is excited and has a lot of fun making a snowman. Grancher Pete tells Jamie not to leave the garden, but he decides to go into the forest to find his friends. In doing so, he becomes lost in the snow-covered landscape and puts himself in danger. The closer-up drawing of Jamie making his snowman, and the distant drawing of him walking through the forest, help to show the change of mood and emotional tone.
In Save the White Stag, Caro defies her Mum when she tells her she can't stay with the stag in its hiding place. She waits until everyone's asleep and climbs out of her bedroom window. The illustration adds to the emotion of the moment, showing Caro feels strongly enough about her care of the stag to ignore her Mum's instructions.
Now that we're happy with this collaboration, Kirsty and I have plans to work together on parts 3 and 4 of this series. Footprints in the Snow is a winter story, of course, and Save the White Stag is set in the spring. Parts 3 and 4 will be set in summer and autumn respectively, making a full circle of seasonal Forest of Dean adventures!
Watch out for the release of colouring books which will accompany the series.
Thanks for reading.
Footprints in the Snow and Save the White Stag are both available at Amazon, as paperbacks and ebooks, and are included in Kindle Unlimited.
Find out more about both books at this link:
and read extracts for free here:
Associated classroom resources are available at the TpT and TES websites.
Find more about Kirsty & her art work at: