Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for this brilliant new ecological adventure, ‘The International Yeti Collective,’ by Paul Mason, illustrated by Katy Riddell. Ella is tracking through the Himalayas excited at the prospect of uncovering the truth about the existence of yetis, with her explorer uncle. But as they get closer to tracking down these illusive creatures, Ella begins to doubt the ethics of their quest. Despite Tick’s mum being banished for coming into contact with humans, he can’t resist the chance to see what fascinated his mum so much that she gave up everything she loved. Their actions spark off a chain of events that could threaten the entire yeti species. Can they find a way to right their wrongs? I particularly enjoyed the dual narrative aspect of the tale so we see how the humans and yetis both feel about this life changing event for both of them, It enriches the tale giving it a really thoughtful edge. Fast, frenetic and downright thrilling, this book will keep you gripped until the very last page. A heart-warming and clever tale that invites the reader to think about the consequences of our actions and is bound to intrigue any inquisitive child
To celebrate the publication of ‘The International Yeti Collective,’ I have a special Q & A with illustrator Katy Riddell.
Drawing on Yetis: An interview with Katy Riddell
1. The International Yeti Collective is beautifully illustrated. What drew you work on this story?
Thank you! Well, as soon as I read the story I knew it was something I wanted to illustrate and I had so much fun. I’ve always loved drawing make believe creatures and monsters so this suited me quite well.
2. Who were your favourite illustrators when you were growing up?
I read a lot of Jacquline Wilson when I was younger so I loved the illustrations of Nick Sharratt. Also the illustrations of Maurice Sendak and Lisbeth Zwerger were absolutely captivating for me growing up.
3. What are the three main things a reader will find in your illustrations?
Hopefully a sense of character, joy and humour.
4. Did you always want to be a illustrator? Have you had different jobs before you were an illustrator? Do you think a variety of work experiences has helped you to draw?
All I’ve ever done is draw and its one of the things I enjoyed the most! I always knew I wanted to do something creative. At first I thought that it was painting and I wanted to be a fine artist but after my art foundation I realised that putting pictures to words and giving my drawings a context worked better for me. I’ve had various jobs in hospitality whilst growing up just to earn some extra spending money but I am now pleased to say that illustration is my one and only job!
5. Where do start when interpreting a character?
I always start by just sketching what I feel immediately after I get given the brief or I’ve finished reading about the character. This always helps get any first impressions out of my head and into the page.
6. The environment and conservation are main themes in The International Yeti Collective. How hard was translating the highly emotive real-world issues into artwork?
I actually found it really enjoyable rather than hard. Paul has done such an amazing job in incorporating these themes in a really easy to understand way for children. These are issues that I am incredibly passionate about in my personal life so to be able to illustrate this book was such a joy for me!
7. How much of Katy Riddell is reflected in your illustrative style?
I guess it depends on what kind of job I’m doing, but I mostly like to do things that resonate with me. People have said they can see a certain style in the way I draw things but sometimes it hard to see it In your own work.
8. You are in an art class with a 10-year-old who claims that they “can’t draw”… Where do you start with advice to try to change their mind?
This has actually happened to me a few times. I use to volunteer in an after school art club so I got many children coming to me and saying they couldn’t draw. I always found that once I’d sat down with them and we had drawn together it stopped being about what they ‘can’t do’ and just about having fun. its important to give lots of encouragement and to make it as relaxed as possible. Every child can draw and as we get older we get more self conscious about what people will think or if we are doing it right. It’s so hard to hold on to that childlike imagination and very easy to lose it if we aren’t given the space and motivation to let it grow.
9. What’s the best and worst things about being an illustrator?
The best thing about being an illustrator for me is that I am able to do the one thing I have always done and absolutely loved as my career. I get to read and draw everyday…i don’t think many people think I’m even working!
The worst thing would be no one believes I’m working!
10. Do you have any advice for budding artists?
I would say what my dad always said to me as I was growing up and that is to always keep a sketchbook/sketchbooks! And fill them up and draw like nobody is watching or going to judge it. Its just for you and you’ll be surprised at some of the amazing things that come out of that.
1. 3 words that describe you: Sleepy, Hungry and Moody…
2. Favourite time of the day? Dinner time
3. 3 random facts about you: I’ve just climbed Kilimanjaro. I’m learning Italian. I have a fear of holes (trypophobia)
4. Go-to snack? Anything peanut butter related.
5. The best advice you ever got: Always keep a sketchbook
6. “If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head for…” Italy!
7. “If I could time-travel, I’d set the counter for the year …Because… about 100 million years BC because I would like to see dinosaurs.
8. An easy way to be a bit more green: Go Vegan! (or just eat less meat in general)
9. Your dream place to take your sketchbook? Whilst travelling round Europe in a van (i will be doing that next year!)
10. The 3 artists you admire the most: Edward Gory, Posy Simmonds, Qin Leng
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews, exclusive content and special guest posts.
Thank you to Leilah and Stripes for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book. ‘The International Yeti Collective,’ is released on the 17th October and is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.