Guy Parker-Rees is part of the illustrator panel on Sunday morning at our Conference later this month. He was born in Zimbabwe and moved to England when he was three. He spent much of his time at school doodling and painting, and continued doing so into adulthood: Guy worked as a as a mural painter, an arts and crafts teacher and as an art therapist, among other things, before finding out that he really wanted to illustrate children’s books.
‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ has been Guy’s biggest selling book, though ‘Spookyrumpu’s and ‘Bumpus-Jumpus Dinosaurumpu’s have also been highly acclaimed. Guy’s latest books are about Tom and Millie, a pair of kitten twins.
In the run up to our conference, child members of Ipswich Children’s Book Group go to put some questions to Guy. Here’s what they asked along with Guy’s answers:
Joshua (Ipswich CBG): Did you draw your illustrations before or after the author wrote his story? (Giraffes Can’t Dance )
Guy Parker-Rees: The story always comes first. I am sent it, I read through it and see what pictures pop into my head- then I just have to copy them out onto the page. Or I fiddle and doodle until the pictures look right.
Sonia and Sophie (Ipswich CBG): How did you get the animals’ expressions so good and clear in the story ? Were they sneakily based on someone you know? (Giraffes Can’t Dance )
Guy Parker-Rees: Not on someone I know but I do have to act out all the expressions in front of the mirror. Have a look at your best ‘Gerald simple froze up” expression in the mirror. Have a go at drawing what you see! I also had to do all the dance moves in front of the mirror-it can look a bit odd.
Kiyan (Ipswich CBG): How many hours, minutes, seconds or days did it take to draw all the illustrations for one book?
Guy Parker-Rees: I like to have nine months to make a picture book. I like to think of them as my babies.
Tatenda (Ipswich CBG): Are your illustrations hand drawn or do you use a computer?
Guy Parker-Rees: They are hand drawn. I may jiggle around with where the drawings go on the page with my computer. Then I use a dip pen to draw the black line then watercolours and acrylic inks to paint the colours. What sort of paints do you like to use?
Emma (Ipswich CBG): How many very funny books have you illustrated?
Guy Parker-Rees: Go to my website and count them! I think they are all Very VERY funny.
Matthew (Ipswich CBG): Did you have any help (even a little bit) illustrating the story Giraffes Can’t Dance? Asked by Matthew
Guy Parker-Rees: Well, I did have a dream just before I started to illustrate Giraffes Can’t Dance in which lots of African animals were walking towards a big bonfire in the jungle. It helped me use the right colours- does that count?
Mrs Pattinson (Ipswich CBG): Have you ever written your own story to illustrate?
Guy Parker-Rees: If you look at my website you will see that I have written some of the books, the first book I ever illustrated was one I wrote and my latest “Tom and Millie” books. Here’s a picture of my desk when I was working on ‘Tom and Millie’s Whizzy Busy People’ can your class see which page of the book I am working on?
Thanks to everyone at Giraffe Class, Year 2, St. Helen’s Primary school for jointly interviewing Guy!