Singing to the Sun, by Vivien French
published in UK by Egmont in USA by Kane Miller
This is a love story about a boy and a jester, a tabby cat, three princesses, a task and some wolves. The story is written beautifully by Vivian French, seemingly traditional but with elegant surprises.
The cat was modeled by Max, my tabby cat who lives in sufferance with "far too many ginger cats" as he would put it.
I first heard the story at Swansea Book Festival, one of the best festivals that celebrated children's books and literature that ever was. Sadly the festival is no more, and many miss it greatly. It was a wonderful place to meet the audience for the books we work so hard to make, and also a place where collaborations were often born. I met many friends in Swansea and enjoyed seeing the children grow up and delight in meeting their real heroes in children's writing.
Working on the book was not always easy. One spread in particular gave me a great deal of trouble but after five attempts I managed to get something that looked more like the original sketch.
Singing to the Sun: A Fairy Tale by Vivian French
The Sunday Times review by Nicolette Jones
French’s delightful and moving fairy tale is about a neglected boy whose aristocratic parents don’t believe in love, only in wealth and power. His sole companions are the jester and the cat. When he is sent, with these two friends, to choose a bride from three princesses who will offer, respectively, riches, might or happiness, his choice is perhaps predictable, but the outcome is not. Jackie Morris’s watercolours on cream paper show the influence of Italian Renaissance landscapes and medieval illumination. The faces are pale, haunting and sombre, the pictures have a unique and fantastical quality and her great strength is the well-observed depiction of animals — cats, dogs, donkeys and birds. Some of the story is told in the pictures, notably on the endpapers, which show what became of the minor characters. This picturebook is a beautiful, resonant, lyrically told lesson in values, including the importance of social justice and wisdom, while reminding us of the power of music
Singing to the Sun by Vivian French, illustrated by Jackie Morris Egmont £10.99
The Sunday Telegraph
“Vivian French is a sublime storyteller and you can guarantee that any fairy tale written by her will not resort to stereotype. In Singing to the Sun Thorfinn, son of a lord who loves only power, and a lady who loves only gold, is sent to win the hand of one of three princesses, who will bring him either power, wealth or love. I don’t know which is more satisfying the glorious illustrations by Jackie Morris or the totally unexpected ending”.
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