Birt and Etho are best friends. Together they play on Sudden Hill, making marvellous contraptions out of cardboard boxes. But then a new boy, Shu, wants to join in too. Etho is happy to welcome him. Birt isn't so sure. Eaten up with jealousy, he goes home and refuses to come out to play. Until Etho and Shu come to his house with the most marvellous cardboard contraption so far...
On Sudden Hill is a fantastic new picture book published this week by Simon and Schuster Children's, and this actually marks my first ever picture book blog tour! I love hearing about inspirations behind books, and this post from Linda and Benji is great (isn't Linda's poem brilliant?!). I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did and, if you have little ones, put On Sudden Hill on your reading list!
Key Inspirations Behind On Sudden Hill
The natural world is a huge inspiration to me and one that I push into my work wherever I can. It’s very sad that humans are so hell bent on wrecking it when we should be doing our best to preserve it.
When imagining the places in Sudden Hill, the countryside surrounding the hill and the houses within it, I mainly went into my own memories of childhood.
My auntie had a small farm in Essex, with chickens, ducks and sheep - and for a few years they had pigs. She still lives there although no animals anymore. The ducks had little wooden house and a metal bath to swim in - like the one on the title page of the book. It’s called Pondok and its surrounded by fields and woodland and we would visit a couple of times a year. She also ran her local village art club and sometimes they would have a visiting artist come to teach painting - landscapes, watercolours. When I was bit older I used to spend a week there in the summer holidays and join in with the art club. It taught me a lot about painting and using colour.
So I’ve dedicated the illustrations to her and to Pondok, because it has been such a huge influence on my illustration in general and now more specifically in that a lot of the imagery in this book is directly influenced by my time spent there when I was younger.
In the book it’s not specifically Pondok, it’s more like a blend of places from my memory and from some photographic references that I made. I think it is quite a flexible setting in that it doesn’t feel too English, the buildings are not chocolate box-y, thatched and quaint, you can hopefully imagine that it is many different places. The buildings are based more on wooden outhouses, barns and sheds. It probably gives a slightly American or Australian feel to some of the scenes I think, with the wooden veranda for instance, but I hope it also has something that anyone who has spent any time in the countryside can relate to.
Early concept image for On Sudden Hill:
[Click to enlarge.]Linda:
Ohh! So many...and ever-growing!
Firstly, young people everywhere. My brilliant son and many, many others...
If this was to be a chronological list-poem, it would go, maybe, something like this:
Dr Seuss and Richard Scarry - yay!
More Moomins, more music
and cartoons - each and every.
My Nana Rifka's chicken soup
and her arguments with the telly.
Little Miss Pepperpot,
Oh! I wish I could shrink tiny like that!
Birds, in the sky,
in books, films, everywhere.
Oh! I wish I could fly like that!
- it's okay and even good
to not follow rules.
with all its amazing bits:
stars, moon, clouds, ever-changing.
And growing alongside my son
which widened my tastes/influences/inspirations
in many, many directions
and has thrown marvels
into the mix that I wouldn't
have otherwise found...
...like action movies, Die Hard,
Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman,
Sonic and Knuckles,
gaming, tasteful music
(unlike my own) etc.
Shaun Tan - wow!
Linda Medley - ditto.
And very recently,
a newfound inspiration
is the adorable Richard P. Feynman.
He was a physicist,
but also, just one of those incredible,
inspiring beings that makes any life he touches,
fuller and more creativity-bursting.
Buzz and Woody
Films, from ones that make you cry a lot
to ones that make you laugh a lot
and everything in between
(but not horror - never. Shudder).
David Foster Wallace.
And most of all,
people, young and old.
kind and warm bits,
secrets and surprises
and sudden grins.
Oh and the seasons.
Dreams of Norway
(which I've never visited,
but somehow know I'll
end up living there
and that it will be
everything and more
than I've dreamed about).
Oh...(shuffling a bit awkwardly)
- I have a plastic figure
of Gandalf The Grey
near my bed
which inspires me lots.
I hope this
And this is my answer for a similar question that I illustrated (which is a lot easier than finding word-answers I think :-): http://travelandsing.com/2014/08/21/my-favourite-books/