This is part of the book blog tour for The Snatchabook by Helen & Thomas Docherty,
organized by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.
Author: Helen Docherty
Illustrator: Thomas Docherty
Published October 1st, 2013 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Goodreads Summary: Where have all the bedtime stories gone?
One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down…when a Snatchabook flew into town.
It’s bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.
My Review: This book has two very magical elements: the rhyming story and the fun illustrations. The story is one I cannot wait to read to my children. As Brian Selznick says, ” So wonderful it demands to be read out loud.” However, I feel that it is the illustrations that make this book really come to life. It is because of how much I loved the illustrations that when I was asked if I wanted to be part of The Snatchabook blog tour with a guest post, I knew I wanted to hear from Thomas. I am so happy to have his post here sharing what it was like to illustrate The Snatchabook:
The Snatchabook was a real pleasure to illustrate, as well as a lot of work. In fact, at the time of illustrating, it was probably the most complicated book I had done, because of having to create Burrow Down as well as all the woodland creatures that lived there.
I always start with a lot of pencil sketches, and although The Snatchabook came quite quickly, Eliza took a lot longer to develop as a character. At one point, I thought she was going to be a badger!
Once I was happy with the characters and where they lived, I started to plan out the story page by page. I talked through the roughs a lot with Helen and the publishers until everyone was happy and then I started on the final artwork.
I still work in quite a traditional way. I love the physicality of the tubes of paint, bottles of coloured ink, and thick watercolour paper. First I trace my rough drawings onto watercolour paper with acrylic ink and a dip pen using a light box. Then I stretch the paper and when it is dry, I begin to paint washes of colour using watercolour.
It was a lot of fun getting the feeling of suspense into the pictures, trying to make them edgy but not scary. I also love dramatic lighting, so I made sure I had plenty of cold moonlight outside the burrows and warm, cozy lamps inside. The windswept clouds and twisty trees were painted with a lot of dry brushwork and the cold blues in the book are some of my favourite colours.
The Snatchabook is a very rich story, full of drama, emotion and warmth and I hope that I manage to get all of those across to the reader in my illustrations.
I truly believe that he has met his goal! I love seeing how an artist gets from the ideas in his/her head to the amazing artwork that is shared with us!
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is a great read aloud. It has a lot of opportunities for predictions during the mystery part of the story. It also is a great book to use if discussing rhyming. And of course it can start a conversation about how we would feel if our books started disappearing!
Discussion Questions: How would you feel if your books started disappearing?; On pg. 6-7 it shares some of Burrow Downs’s books. What books to you think they are alluding to?; Write a story of your own using the same rhyme scheme as The Snatchabook.
The little owls, on Mommy’s lap
were quite surprised to hear a tap
against their bedroom window glass.
Tap, tap! The noise came really fast.
Before they’d even looked around,
the book was gone—without a sound. (p. 8-9)
Read This If You Loved: We are in a Book by Mo Willems, Library Lion by Michelle Knudson