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Grumpa's New Illustration


It is always exciting when we get the go-ahead for illustrations for a new picture book. This is Gàidhlig Grumpa’s fourth adventure. Staring himself, his grandchild Calum and their football-loving friend Brìde.

The story still needs some work but the concept is there and the picture above is an example of the illustrations that will accompany the story. Once more the very talented Sìne Annia NicGhillebhraithe will be creating the illustrations.

I always find this an exciting part of the whole process. Suddenly, the story takes flight in someone else’s imagination. In a way, it validates what I have written. When an illustrator gets animated about your project it rekindles the belief in the writer that yes actually you have a good tale here.

The illustrator is given an idea of what is wanted but in the end, they are the ones producing it. This will be the fourth children’s book that we will have worked on together. She knows the feel and style of these books. It allows for a lot of trust between the writer and the illustrator. I know what she does will match and enhance my words.

Illustrations are so important, after all, where would a child’s picture book be without them to add to their understanding and enjoyment.

This is especially true where Gaelic-speaking bairns are concerned. For them often it is their second language. They need these prompts and visual aids to add to their grasp of what is going on. A sort of validation for them that they do understand what they are reading.

It is fairly easy to see at a glance the subject of this book. I love the way she has taken Grumpa’s normal attire that of skinny trousers, a jacket, and of course a woolly bonnet, and changed the colours to represent Bodach na Nollaig/Father Christmas.

His bobbled has changed from blue to red and suddenly it transformed Grumpa into our special visitor. His boots have stayed blue however reflecting some of the storyline.

I expect the finished illustrations will be as good as this one. They normally are. Have you noticed his sack? Obviously taken from his famous garden shed. The word buntata can be faintly made out. It is one of his old potatoes sacks.

These may appear little things but are actually one of the reasons that make the illustrations so good. The words in the pictures are in Gaelic. There is no need to translate or replace.

It is also why it is so important that books for children are written in Gàidhlig first and not translations of books from English. There are many lovely English picture books for children. But it is nice for Gàidhlig speaking children to have something that is written for them at outset in Gàidhlig.

I’m not going to apologise for showing you what is a Christmas picture so early in the year. It is so good I know you will forgive me. But if I want this book out and ready for the market this year I need to know that the illustrations will be ready soon.

I’m not always this well in front of myself but having chosen this theme I now need to make sure everything is in place. Nobody will hold Christmas for Grumpa if he is running late!

I don’t expect anyone to start shopping or singing carols right now. It is after all only early spring. However, I hope you will agree that seeing this illustration does bring a smile to your face.

I hope like me it makes you want to see what the rest of the illustrations look like once the book is finished.

Happy reading everyone.


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