This is my first book as both writer and illustrator and was published by Raw Mixture Publishing in 2014. Written in a tongue twisting rhyme, the book developed from the name I gave to a range of bright, whimsical greetings cards I had drawn of a series of funny little bird characters. I called the birds 'The Squawks' which led to a hilarious evening with my family as we came up with ever more words that rhymed. To my surprise, it wasn't long until I had drafted a whole story and so spent the next 8 months lovingly illustrating, writing and designing 'The Squawks'.
www.thesquawks.co.uk // ISBN: 978-0992864705 // Paperback // 36 pages // First published in 2014
'The Squawks is a joyful picture book; gorgeous to look at and pure fun to read.' My Book Corner
The Squawks never fail to make me laugh and the invention of new characters and their silly situations keeps me constantly entertained.
Text design // Consideration of the layout of the text and choice of fonts was particularly important for The Squawks due to the emphasis on alliteration, rhyme and rhythm within the text. I wanted to create a real sense of movement and energy across the pages and also chose the style, size and weight of font according to the sounds and volume of the words. 'Squawk' holds particular importance in the book which I emphasised by increasing the vertical scale of the 'squawk' words. The sharpness of ‘Prestige Elite Std’ font, in particular the 'A' also helps to demonstrate the high pitch sound of the birds.
Colour // As in all of my work, I created a clearly defined colour palette for The Squawks. Blue was always going to have the most emphasis based on my original little blue bird characters and the black outlines were particularly important for the graphic style of the illustrations. As the writing developed, a clear primary colour palette was set as the story describes the birds:
’they can be yellow, though most are blue, and some Squawks have red feathers too.’
The addition of a light grey and darker blue-grey, along with the bright white of the paper enabled me to diversify each page spread depending on the mood and feel of the story, creating interesting contrast whilst ensuring as a whole family, the spreads sat together as a unified and coherent design.
Humour // Getting the humour of The Squawks across in the illustrations was really important to me. This was achieved in part by the look of The Squawks: the combination of body shapes, positions and facial expressions. One of the most important aspects however, was giving the birds human characteristics so that the reader felt a connection with the little characters. It was also important to me that the book would appeal to adults as well as children so I added a number of references that adults would relate to at a different level to the child reader. I love watching people reading The Squawks for the first time - seeing them turn a page and giggle is a real delight.
'With a limited colour palette and a plethora of tongue tingling words, Ruth Thorp has created a playful picture book that demonstrates to young listeners that words are fun – fun to hear, fun to mess about with, fun to write and fun to invent. I love the way the print twirls and swirls across some of the pages in harmony with the Squawks. Just the thing to help foster a love of language for its own sake.' Red Reading Hub
'The older children have been so taken by the illustrations of the birds that they have drawn their own version. Another good sign! Ruth is clearly very talented and has produced a book which engaged my children and inspired an afternoon of activity. Thanks Ruth!'