For years I have asked my publishers to produce my books without a title or my name on the cover. Just the picture.
Graffeg, in a couple of months time, are re-issuing The Ice Bear and The Snow Leopard. These will be large format luxury editions (26.7 x 2 x 36.8 cm) on beautiful paper. And, because they are willing to try different and unusual things they have agreed to make an ‘artists version’, kind of like the directors cut of a film. These will be available through selected bookshops and will be signed, possibly also numbered.
My feeling is that it doesn’t really matter who the author/illustrator is, people pick up a picture book because they like the look of it. If there’s no name on the cover they might open it to see who did it, and once inside you hope that you have them. People who already know and like my work will recognise it. And, with these books, which are as much art books as children’s books, instead of putting them on a shelf you can prop them up like a picture.
How to get one of these? Well, obviously they will be for sale through Solva Woollen Mill, but there are many other lovely indie shops who have supported me over the years, so hopefully they too will come on board. Places like Number Seven, Dulverton, Blue Ginger and The Golden Sheaf Gallery, Kennilworth Books, Rossiters and The Yellow Lighted Bookshop. I’m hoping the original artwork for the covers might do a bit of a tour, starting at Mr B’s in Bath.
The Snow Leopard was published in 2007. Since then it has sold over 50 000 copies, 40 000 of these in hardback. This new edition will be more in keeping with what I had hoped for when it was first published. Ice Bear was first published in 2010, and here’s a thing. I’ve done many a talk at schools, in bookshops, at festivals about The Ice Bear, beginning with a short tour in USA at the Winter ALA. And I had always said, whenever the child is out alone on the ice look for The White Fox. Although she isn’t in the text, she is in the images, because she is his mother, or perhaps his mother’s totem animal. I was never sure. But she crept into each painting. At least I thought she did, but when the book was published, she wasn’t always there.
Today, working through the pdf’s prior to republication, I see that she is back. And it would seem that she had been cropped out of the original publication. Not sure how that happened. It was at a time when I was still learning and didn’t pay so much attention to details.
I’m especially glad to have her back on the page below.
Is she the same White Fox as the one in The White Fox published by Barrington Stoke? Well, yes. Centuries divide the two stories, but they are family.
For years I was told that the books couldn’t be produced in the large format because bookshops wouldn’t take them. Quiet Music proved this wrong, and in hand selling of that book it’s wonderful to see how people hug it to themselves.
For years I was told that you can’t have books with no title, that my name needed to be bigger on the book. I still maintain that people don’t buy the book because a certain author did it. This isn’t always true. I have all of Mohsin Hamed’s books, and Alan Garner’s. But picture books, well, they are different. And I will buy books because certain authors have written them. I love Nicola Davies’s texts, The Pond, Perfect, King of the Sky, The Promise. But when browsing in bookshops it’s the paintings that catch my eye. So, maybe I am wrong, but we will see.
And I am also working on a Book of Days with Graffeg, a lavishly illustrated notebook come diary come art book with a ribbon, small, for all those who wish to write. It’s like a colouring in book, but for writers. If you know what I mean.
So, if you are a bookshop and you want to order the Artist’s edition for your customers then contact Graffeg. Minimum order is 10 copies.