Sharing some art work from Charlotte Voake’s new picture book ’cause I can’t wait ’til a Sunday . . .

h1 February 20th, 2008 by jules

I love love LOVE Charlotte Voake’s picture books. I believe her last one was published in ’06, so it’s exciting to see that she has a brand-spankin’-new one, to be published this Spring. I’m quite fond of the uncluttered design and the open spaces in her art work, the singular, airy world she creates in her mind’s eye. There is an immediate accessibility and free-spirited sense to her finespun watercolor-and-ink work as an artist, and she never pulls the sash on the window to her child readers; her books are terrifically child-centered. I love her “freewheeling calligraphy” and how what she calls her doodling goes “all higgledy-piggledy over the page” (those last two quotes come from here). And who wouldn’t immediately fall in love with Ginger (1997), which won the 1997 Kate Greenaway Medal, and Ginger Finds a Home (2003)? These books are funny, affectionate-without-being-cloying, and captivating in every way.

In their review for Ginger Finds a Home, Booklist put it well when they wrote, “{n}eophyte picture-book artists who cram the pages with saturated colors and busy details have a lot to learn from Voake’s economical approach, which makes it easy for young children to sense the characters’ emotions and to care about the story’s outcome.” I put that in a larger font, ’cause I’m thinking, word to that. For their review of Ginger, they praised the “unstudied look” of her illustrations “that heightens the comedy of the situation.” Voake also really knows how to appeal to a child’s sensibilities, and for all these reasons she’s always been one of my very favorite picture book artists.

We feature the art work of illustrators / artists every Sunday here at 7-Imp. And I was nerdily excited to see that Voake had a new book and immediately looked into featuring an illustration or two from it. I managed to snag a spread to show you — with permission from the publisher, Candlewick, whom I heartily thank for this beautiful image. I just can’t wait until a Sunday in April to show you this (since we have illustrators lined up on Sundays all the way until then), so here is a picture book treat for you on a random week day — a spread from Voake’s new picture book Tweedle Dee Dee, to be released this April from Candlewick.


{TWEEDLE DEE DEE. Copyright © 2008 Charlotte Voake. Reproduced by permission of Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA, on behalf of Walker Books Ltd., London}

I’m lucky enough to have a copy of this book now. The rhyming text is based on the traditional song, “The Green Grass Grew All Around.”

Once in a wood
there was
a tree,

the finest tree
you ever did
see.

And the green
leaves grew
around, around,
around,

and the green leaves
grew around.

And on that tree there was a branch (“the branch was on the tree, the tree was in the wood, and the green leaves grew around” — you get the idea). We eventually see the nest, the eggs in it, and three baby birds hatching from them. And in between each discovery, Voake pans back out with a wider view of the gorgeous, stately tree. She alternately takes the child reader out and then zooms back in.

And all the qualities of her art work that I mentioned above that make me love her so? Well, they’re all here. Two children under a huge tree, prepping for a picnic on a gorgeous spring day? It’s the perfect setting for Voake, and she’s at her airy-est in this one.

A lovely, lovely book. Don’t miss it, come April.





8 comments to “Sharing some art work from Charlotte Voake’s new picture book ’cause I can’t wait ’til a Sunday . . .”

  1. My favorite drawing in Ginger is of the title character and the new kitty sitting in one little box. I will definitely be looking out for Tweedle Dee Dee (and just placed a hold on the Ginger prequel). By the way, this song was pretty popular with my daughter at one point: she’d put all sorts of objects in the tree, and sing, “And the piano on the dolly and the dolly in the nest…”


  2. Alkelda, this book is just perfect for you all.


  3. I so love “And the Green Grass Grows All Around” (and, by the way, “Over in the Meadow” and “Green Grow the Rushes” and, what the heck, “Greensleeves”, but now I’m quite far afield).

    I will keep an eye out for this one. The illos look amazing and the text looks lovely.


  4. How come I didn’t know about her? Man, I’ve been missing something big all this time. Thanks so much for featuring her today. I can see why her stories and illos appeal to you :) .


  5. There are some things that British illustrators just seem to be born knowing how to do and this kind of wonderful, loose, limited-palette watercolor is one of them.

    Look at the variety of greens in that spread. Even in a reduced JPEG, it totally rocks out.

    This is the first time I’ve seen this artist’s work. Thanks for the introduction!


  6. We love Charlotte Voake’s work too. Mrs Goose’s Baby and Mr Davies and the Baby were two of our favourite books when my two were small – our copies have all the tears and spills to prove it. As well as her perfectly tuned watercolours, she is so good at saying exactly what is needed with the minimum of words so that you can pause for small people to whisper/yell what comes next.


  7. Yes, Marjorie. Perfect way to put another of Voake’s charms. I think she’s one of the best. Glad to know I have fellow fans!


  8. [...] I posted in ‘08 about an earlier Charlotte-Voake title, and—obnoxiously enough—I put this below review excerpt back then in a large-sized font, because I think Booklist really nailed Charlotte’s appeal as a picture book artist. I’ll share again here what I wrote before, though I won’t scream it this time: In their review for Ginger Finds a Home, Booklist put it well when they wrote, “{n}eophyte picture-book artists who cram the pages with saturated colors and busy details have a lot to learn from Voake’s economical approach, which makes it easy for young children to sense the characters’ emotions and to care about the story’s outcome.” … For their review of Ginger, they praised the “unstudied look” of her illustrations “that heightens the comedy of the situation.” Voake also really knows how to appeal to a child’s sensibilities, and for all these reasons she’s always been one of my very favorite picture book artists. [...]


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