The Snow Leopard

She’s ten years old this year, The Snow Leopard. First published by Frances Lincoln children’s books. And they sold her to a French publisher, who astonished me with their beautiful edition. You see…

..La Panthere Blanche was bigger, and somehow more beautiful than the UK edition. She sold so well, the French Snow Leopard, and from the first day I saw her I wanted my books to be bigger. But you see, in France they still have the net book agreement. Time after time I was told, no, big books don’t sell, there’s no market, we can’t do it…. and I watched as Animalium took bookshops by storm with its beautiful pictures and large format. And still, no, I was told. You can’t have a big book, because there aren’t enough pages…..but you can have this….

and my publishers made all my books smaller. Well, it kind of breaks your creative heart a little when that happens. BUT, the small editions were kind of cosy, and cheap at £4.99, and though I didn’t like them and didn’t want them they sold a good many copies, were great little stocking fillers and easy to post for presents, so I guess they had something good about them. They were also good as giveaway things, like a business card with a story, something very portable so if people asked what I did I could show them as it fit in a pocket in my bag. But they always seemed rather throw away… and so strange, to make my pictures even smaller. And in France they did their own lunch box sized edition, so you could take your favourite book to school, like a small comfort blanket. Even the small edition was bigger than the UK one.

But then the publisher decided to end the hardback edition, and just publish in paperback. I looked at my royalty statements. The hardback sales were so strong. The paperback, as far as I knew, were not what my market wanted. It’s always good to know your readers. So I said no. And Quarto understood, and gave me back the rights and I can’t thank them enough because now, ten years on, we have The Snow Leopard, deluxe, artist’s edition, with no title on the cover. There’s more about why no title here.

There’s a magic about this book. A deep magic. She’s helped many people get through difficult times. She works like a spell. If  you put her into the window of a bookshop she makes people wander in, and I feel that spell will be stronger, more dynamic, without the spell of words on the cover.

She was reviewed in The New York Times.

There’s a whole family of these books now. You can still pick up some of the old editions second hand, but the new editions are available, signed, from Solva Woollen Mill. There are only 500 of the artist editions, signed, numbered and stamped with a stamp designed exclusively for this book. One of my favourite editions is the Tibetan one. Sending the story home, from Pembrokeshire and into the dreams of Tibetan children.

You can read more about the making of the book in this page from my old and ancient website. 

Meeting snow leopards in real life was an amazing experience.

And if you feel you want a book and a snow leopard I would suggest you contact Jane in Eve’s Toy Shop in Llandeillo.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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6 Responses to The Snow Leopard

  1. Bernie Bell says:

    Do you remember my snow-leopard-dreaming? I met them……….

    “Hello Jackie
    Yesterday, we received a bundle of your cards, which we’d ordered from Graffeg – they are wonder-full! I’m going to set aside the Snow Leopards and Polar Bears, for next Christmas, and the others can go out into the world, to put a smile on people’s faces!
    I’m now going to try to tell you about the dream I had last night, but, as dreams do, it’s flying away, quite quickly. All I can grasp of it, now, is that it was to do with me, wandering about somewhere, somewhere out-doors, sometimes grassy, sometimes rocky, and meeting, Snow Leopards! There were three of them, which I met singly, and then together. One of them had stunning, yellow eyes, and when I first saw him, I was afraid, but then I told myself not to be stupid, turned to meet him and greet him, and he came up to me, and presented his head to be held. “We be of one blood, thee and I”.
    It’s all a jumble, and it’s also obvious where the dream came from – receiving your cards, but I thought I’d try to get the basics of it across to you, as it was great, really great. The big Snow Leopards, all with different personalities – the yellow eyed one, being the most……impressive, and the most loving, at the same time. What a dream!
    The feel of their fur, is something else. Soft, and strong at the same time. And the noise they make, deep, deep in their insides. Not exactly purring, and not exactly growling, but ……..rumbling in a furry, soft sort of way. What a dream.
    Thank you, Jackie. I’m not sure where else the dream can from, but I know your cards, opened the door.
    If you’d rather I don’t send you these musings, do say, and I’ll stop.

  2. Bernie Bell says:

    In praise of ‘white cats’ –

    The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán
    (from the Irish by Robin Flower)

    I and Pangur Ban my cat,
    ‘Tis a like task we are at:
    Hunting mice is his delight,
    Hunting words I sit all night.

    Better far than praise of men
    ‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
    Pangur bears me no ill-will,
    He too plies his simple skill.

    ‘Tis a merry task to see
    At our tasks how glad are we,
    When at home we sit and find
    Entertainment to our mind.

    Oftentimes a mouse will stray
    In the hero Pangur’s way;
    Oftentimes my keen thought set
    Takes a meaning in its net.

    ‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
    Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
    ‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
    All my little wisdom try.

    When a mouse darts from its den,
    O how glad is Pangur then!
    O what gladness do I prove
    When I solve the doubts I love!

    So in peace our task we ply,
    Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
    In our arts we find our bliss,
    I have mine and he has his.

    Practice every day has made
    Pangur perfect in his trade;
    I get wisdom day and night
    Turning darkness into light.

  3. Lizzie Scott says:

    I first found your art through Resurgence magazine when I saw a picture of your snow leopard. Then I bought two large prints and had them framed and they are on my bedroom wall. And, yes, they do help people through difficult times. They comfort me and help me relax for sleep. I am moved that there is a Tibetan edition, that is wonderful to know. The values and beliefs you have as a person that find their way into your art is special.

  4. Bernie Bell says:

    The eyes are like opals – shifting depths.
    I keep looking at these images.
    Growly purrrrrrrrrrrrr

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