Monday, 21 July 2014

Jean Francois Dumont joins The Children's Bookshow

We are so glad to be able to share the work of Jean François Dumont with children and teachers in the UK this autumn. 

This talented French author and illustrator is the creator of a wealth of wonderful picture books, many of which feature a brilliant cast of animal characters in a familiar farmyard setting. While kids can instantly relate to these creatures and their environment, Jean Francois also tackles some challenging ideas including discrimination, racism, ecology and strikes.

Enriched with his vibrant illustrations, Jean-Francois handles these tricky subjects with humour and a light touch.

Jean Francois has kindly answered some questions about his work and insprations and has sent us some photos of his studio and work in progress to give us an insight to his creative environment. To begin with, here is the entrance to his studio.

The stairs to Jean
Francois' studio
Q: What books or authors did you enjoy as a child?
A: When I was a child, children's literature had not developed so much as it has today, there were many fewer books. I still have memories of two outstanding books: "Mishka" by Marie Colmont, a history of Père Castor that made me cry, and a book translated from the U.S - "The journey of Lily and Lulu" written and illustrated by Robert J. Lee. I loved the drawings. Later I loved R.L Stevenson and Jack London (and I still do.)

Q:  How did you become an artist?
Jean-Francois' studio.
A: Simply, by loving drawing, I therefore had a desire to draw and do this as a job. But on the advice of my father's art teacher, I initially studied architecture before I started in illustration.

Q: What materials do you paint with?
A: I usually paint on paper but right now I'm trying canvas. I paint with an acrylic resin or oil pigments. 

Q:  How do you find your ideas and inspiration?
A: I do not have a recipe, but I'd love to have one! I rewrite a large amount of my stories, I do a lot of sketches. "So much sweat and tears," as Winston Churchill said.

Q:  If there was one book you wish you had written, what would it be?
A: Treasure Island Stevenson, THE Adventure Book!

Q: You feature many brilliant animal characters in your stories  What is your favourite animal and why?
A: Edgar the rat is my favourite character, I do not know exactly why. He is the first character in the series of the farm that I created, and he has a bad temper but he is nice to draw.

One of Jean-Francois' picture books, 'A Blue So Blue' published by Sterling, won the 2004 Prix Saint-Exupéry, an award given annually to the best illustrated picture book in France. The American Library Association said: “In language that is rhythmic and lyrical, the book introduces a boy who loves to paint the colour blue, but can’t seem to recover the hue he sees in his dreams.”

In April 2013, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers published Jean François’ picture book The Chickens Build a Wall. A starred review subsequently appeared in Publishers’ Weekly which wrote: “A clever barnyard commentary on protectionism, xenophobia and over-reaction”. For adult readers it’s not hard to spot parallels with today’s discussions around immigration, but children will only see a funny story about how to welcome strangers and how not to be afraid of people who are different or experiences that are unfamiliar. The book has been selected for the 2014 Notable Books for a Global Society Award List .

Eerdmans has just brought out The Geese March in Step, this April, which will be followed by The Sheep Go On Strike in October 2014 in time for Jean François’ performance in the Children’s Bookshow tour.

We can't wait to share Jean-Francois' amazing stories and pictures with you in the autumn. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Special FREE Poster Offer

The Children's Bookshow has some remaining tickets available for a couple of events, and for schools that book tickets between now and the end of term, every attending child will receive a beautiful A2 poster to take home as a souvenir. 

 You can still book tickets to see Satoshi Kitamura at the Oxford Playhouse on Friday 14th November and Valerie Bloom Theatre Royal, Plymouth on 15th October.

These are brilliantly talented individuals with the power to inspire and entertain, and to connect children with a love of literature and illustration.  

Follow the links above for details of how to book.