Vashti Hardy: The Griffin Gate (Barrington Stoke 2020)
L. D. Lapinski: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Orion Children’s Books 2020)
Annaliese Avery: The Nightsilver Promise (Scholastic 2021)
Natalie Smillie didn’t always want to be a children’s book illustrator. As a child, she preferred to work in the police. She later studied at the Plymouth Collage of Art and Design and then served in the Royal Air Force. Eventually, though, she returned to drawing and currently lives in Devon and spends every minute illustrating. She’s already worked with Hachette, Oxford University Press and Penguin, but it would be her big dream to illustrate Philip Pullman’s works or The Secret Garden one day.
Natalie comes from a creative family and makes her drawings on her iPad instead of paper. Eyvind Earle and Mary Blair’s illustrations inspire her as well as Monet’s use of light and want to make drawings most for stories that are magical, humorous, mythological, or a little scary.
In the following books you can find her wonderful illustrations:
In Vashti Hardy’s steampunk book, we can follow Grace Griffin, a member of a special family: ever since her great-grandmother invented a map with portals on it, they have become the ears and eyes of the entire Moreland. If someone needs help, just calls them, and they will be there immediately through the portal. The red booths they travel through used to be the place for people to make phone calls, now providing an even faster connection between different places.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is in Little Wyverns, a small town in England and it is no ordinary travel agency. There is no computer in it, but there are plenty of different battered and worn suitcases with which we can travel not only to other countries but also to other worlds. Felicity Hudson also goes into this office and not only will she be part of a magical adventure, she will also make friends for life.
In Annaliese Avery’s novel, a very special world comes to life before us. We are in London, in the realm of Albion. Above the city, special buildings and neighborhoods float, such as the new Greenwich Observatory or Kensington Park. Engineers watch the Celestial Mechanism – the gears that move the celestial bodies – and tell the stars which Track lies in the stars that the Chief Designer had planned for them.
You can find out more about the works of Natalie Smillie on her website, twitter or Instagram.