Random (International) Illustrator Feature:
Nina Rycroft

h1 August 5th, 2010 by jules


“BOOM! BAH! Here we go!”

Here’s another quick international art stop today, featuring two 2010 picture book titles illustrated by Australian artist Nina Rycroft, who has been honored by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. I need this first title to help wake me up, as I haven’t had the sweet brown lifeblood that is coffee. Yet.

That first very joyous picture book comes from Australian author Phil Cummings. First published in ’08 in Australia, Boom Bah! was published here in the U.S. in March of this year. (Click on each image in this post to enlarge the spreads and see in more detail.)

The book opens with one small action:

Soon, the cat joins in, and then even more animals gather around, all joining in the indoor merry-making. Cavorting around the house, the excitement builds, as Cummings in his minimalist, buoyant, rhythmic text, eventually introduces a band, a troupe of snazzily-dressed animals who approach the house, and all the creatures join in the musical parade. It’s a great story-time read (“just be ready to break out the rhythm instruments and kazoos,” writes Booklist).

Rycroft’s illustrations, rendered in watercolor and conté pencil, exude cheer on a sunny, light-infused palette.


“A box, a bowl, A spoon, a stick. Tap! Tap! Clickety-click!”


BOOM BAH! Very loud!”


Tra-la-la! Ring! Ring! Tra-la-la! Sing! Sing!

And, quickly, since I hear the coffee brewing, the second title Rycroft illustrated this year, Ballroom Bonanza: A Hidden Pictures ABC Book, is from another Australian, Stephen Harris, an April picture book release from Abrams. In this title, a group of animals, dressed extravagantly for a dance competition, meet up in this musical-instrument seek-and-find, ABC book.

Graeme Base fans will find much to like (“a style reminiscent of…Base but with less crisp definition,” wrote the Kirkus review), and I marvel at Rycroft’s departure in style for the two titles. These are “lavish” (Publishers Weekly) pencil, watercolor, and gouache illustrations, a far cry from the understated simplicity of her art work for Boom Bah! See for yourself:


“Elephants like belly-dancing, / Entertaining all their friends — /
Watch their bellies wibble-wobble / Even when the music ends.”

(Click to enlarge spread.)


“When the rhinos do the rumba / No one can believe their eyes. /
Hardly anything is broken, Much to everyone’s surprise.”

(Click to enlarge spread.)

Enjoy the art. As for me, the coffee calls. Until next time…

* * * * * * *

Illustrations from BOOM BAH! © First American Edition 2010 by Phil Cummings, illustrations by Nina Rycroft. Used with the permission of Kane Miller.

Illustrations from BALLROOM BONANZA © 2010 by Stephen Harris, illustrations by Nina Rycroft. Used with the permission of Abrams.

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4 comments to “Random (International) Illustrator Feature:
Nina Rycroft”

  1. Okay, I’m in the dark here on something: the subtitle of Ballroom Bonanza is “A Hidden Pictures ABC Book.” And you call it a “seek-and-find, ABC book.” I have a feeling this is one of those “If I really knew kids’ books, I wouldn’t ask this question” questions, but… what is hidden in the pictures? (I’m assuming the E and R examples you gave have something hidden in them.) Is it the shapes of the letters or something? I’ve blown them up full size and stared until my eyes water. 🙂


  2. To ease your frustration, a review on the illustrator’s website says:Mischievous monkeys hide the bands instruments part of the way through the programme and readers must backtrack to find them hidden in the previous pages, before the contest can resume. Altogether, it’s an enjoyable and entertaining romp through the alphabet.


  3. John, sorry for the belated reply: Yes, what JJ said! The instruments are hidden.


  4. […] Nina Rycroft the featured illustrator on the 7Imp blog (7 Impossible […]


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