Wednesday, 15 January 2014

My Two Blankets

Due out in February this year (2014) is a book by Irena Kobald called My Two Blankets. An advance copy arrived late last year, amidst the flurry of end of year deadlines and activities. But today, just as I was considering posting something about the book, a whole box of them arrived!


My Two Blankets is the story of a young girl called Cartwheel who leaves her own war torn country for somewhere safe. But the new place is so foreign to her she no longer feels like herself. Cartwheel seeks comfort in a metaphorical blanket of her own words and sounds. When a young girl shows her friendship and begins to teach her new words, Cartwheel begins to create a new blanket from these words and sounds she learns.

The metaphorical blanket was a difficult concept to illustrate and took me a long time to solve. But I was really attracted to the idea of a visual interpretation of feelings, sounds and words. As with any concept requiring interpretation, there are endless different visual solutions and everyone has a different idea of what works the best. This would have been a great book to give to several illustrators to see what each came up with. I'd love to see other peoples' takes on the concept.

Eventually Cartwheel's old blanket became a simple design that Cartwheel was an integral part of. It contains symbols based on African weavings, fabrics and sculptures.


I often use colour to help convey a concept and with this book I used colour as well as the medium to differentiate between Cartwheel and this new country. The new place is pale and cool and painted in watercolour, whereas Cartwheel and her old home are warm and saturated and painted in oil paints.


The story discusses the sensation Cartwheel feels when surrounded by the unusual sounds of this new country. She describes it as a cold waterfall of strange sounds. Initially I intended this 'waterfall' to be thick with symbols that represented words. Like this:



In the roughs, I just showed this as a messy scrawl because I couldn't be bothered drawing these precise little symbols over and over, and the scrawl seemed to work better than lots of symbols. So this is how it ended up:




Here is the beginning of Cartwheel's new blanket, built on a diagonal spiral form:


Published by Little Hare Books, My Two Blankets is out in February 2014.

39 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Mary! Love to you and Frank and Faith.

      Delete
  2. Beautiful as always! Any uk release expected?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi John!

      I haven't heard about a UK release yet. The book is published here by Little Hare Books, an imprint of Hardie Grant Egmont. They're connected, somehow, to Egmont UK, and I was lead to believe that Egmont UK does at times take on books from the Australian imprint. We'll wait and see!

      Delete
  3. This looks amazing! I can't wait to add this book to our collection!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment Kendall! I do hope you enjoy it. Freya

      Delete
  4. I purchased this book yesterday and I LOVE it! Can't wait to read it to my stduents.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This so beautiful. I stumbled across it looking for books for my kids at the library, but as a developing ESL teacher, it really struck a chord with me too. Your work is consistently stunning and moving, and this book is magnificent. I will be looking for ways to incorporate it into teaching!
    Zoe Smith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Zoe. It's been very encouraging hearing from people like yourself, who have a background in teaching ESL, and who see a place for this book. Thank you for your very kind works! And I hope you can find a way to use the book in your classroom.
      Freya

      Delete
  6. Hello Freya, just letting you know we put a review of My Two Blankets on our site today. I hope you like it :) We certainly love your work! We couldn't find a contact for Irena, would you mind letting her know? We always try to give authors and illustrators a heads-up when we review their books. Here's the link http://www.wherethebooksare.com/ Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely to hear from you Joan and Kim! Thank you for reviewing My Two Blankets on your site. I'll pass the link onto Irena - she'll be thrilled. We've had some really lovely feedback on the book and it's relieving that people are understanding what we were both trying to accomplish with the text and images. It's always enlightening to read someone's interpretation of your own book, and hear someone articulate what you were trying to achieve and to sometimes see other elements that you weren't aware of. Thank you!

      Delete
  7. I am a PhD student studying Australian multicultural picturebooks. When, one of my friends, a teacher librarian, brought me this book recently, I was delighted reading it. Beautifully synthesized story with thoughtfully drawn illustrations. Both the story and illustrations tell a profound story about migration and multicultural harmony. Great work Freya and Irena. I am using this book for my research as a very new publication. Thank you again. Expecting to see more from you in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry - I've only just found this message! Just wanted to let you know I'm very grateful for your message and your response to the book. So reassuring to hear these sorts of comments. I always knew the story was very important and special, but it's reassuring to know that people understand and respond positively to the combination of story and illustrations. Thank you. Freya

      Delete
  8. Hello Freya,
    As I sit here at 1130pm, in front of my computer, I have stumbled across your wonderful blog. I would just like to say that I really have enjoyed this book and have recently used it for a University assignment on the connection of Language and Culture. Thank you once again for your wonderful books ... and by the way I am using Amy & Louis for the next assignment. Great books with lovely hidden messages :)
    Kindest Regards,
    Alex

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My goodness - I've only just noticed I haven't replied to your message from a year ago. I'm terribly sorry! Just wanted to let you know that I'm very pleased to hear you've been able to make use of My Two Blankets for your assignment (and I hope you did well!) and I hope you also enjoyed Amy & Louis (a personal favourite of mine). Thanks.
      Freya

      Delete
  9. This looks amazing! Thanks for share !!
    For more about blanket

    ReplyDelete
  10. We featured this book as our "Book of the Month" for our primary & elementary schools this month (3 year olds up to grade 5) at an international school in Germany. I read this with my grade 4 class and the metaphors and imagery led to powerful discussions about connections, inferences and reflections. Beautiful work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My apologies for not getting back to you until now! I seem to have missed many of these messages. Thank you so much for being in contact regarding My Two Blankets. It is a very special story and I'm still learning things from it as I look at it and as I hear from schools. I'm thrilled to hear your students responded so strongly to the book. Did you meet Irena Kobald by any chance? She as over in Germany this year, and did many school visits while there. Thank you for your message and your positivity.
      Thank you and my best wishes,
      Freya

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful story and images. Good luck in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey thanks Australian Picture Books! I've managed to miss all these messages. I don't know what happened... Thanks for the feedback!
      Freya

      Delete
  12. Hi Freya,

    I am a teacher looking after a year 6 class in Sydney. We are looking at My Two Blankets for book week and as a class we are making our own blanket! I really loved how you used colours to convey different feelings. This is something that I think we subconsciously can identify with as we read the book. I really appreciated how you illustrated the last page, using both warm and cool colours to show that she was now comfortable in her new home, I could really identify with that. I'm introducing the book to the class on Monday and I'm really hoping they get just as much out if it as I did!

    Thankyou for such a beautiful and heart-warming book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bronte,
      Thank you for much for your message. I'm so pleased to hear you identified so strongly with the book and I hope your students do also. Glad to hear the colour schemes made sense to you - great feedback, thank you!
      Best wishes,
      Freya

      Delete
  13. I have just purchased your book. congratulations on winning the award.
    it is a beuatiful story and I will be using this book as my book of the week at my school next week. i just love it. thank you for writing something so beautiful. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there Joanne,

      Thank you so much for this message. I'm delighted to hear you have enjoyed this book, and I do hope your students had a positive response as well. Thank you. Freya

      Delete
  14. Hi Freya, just asking for some tips on writing. I have to enter in a competition a narrative but i have no ideas for it. It would be great if you could help me. !)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dear Freya,
    I really liked your book Two Blankets because I liked the pictures and we made a class blanket by doing our own quilt pictures and joining it altogether.
    From Lilly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lilly,

      Thank you so much for your message. How fantastic to hear that you and your class made your own blanket! I hope you enjoyed the experience. Sorry it's taken me a while to reply!

      Best wishes,
      Freya

      Delete
  16. hi freya how old are you

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear the one and only Freya Blackwood,
    I am SUPER inspired by your blog - especially your unique style in illustrating. I have read your biography over and over again and I’m inspired by your life story so far; studying at the University of Technology and then working in the film industry in Sydney and Wellington..

    My name is Sienna and ‘m 12 years old, finishing my last year at primary school this year. I’m not much of a illustrator or author myself, however I love reading and being creative. I read the book you illustrated, ‘My Two Blankets’ written by Irena Kobald. Your illustrations are so meaningful with every speck of detail. The waterfall of words over Cartwheel and her Aunt was perfectly illustrated in a way that really made you feel touched for them. I read ‘My Two Blankets’ with my fellow classmates and we were deeply connecting with the book and the illustrations especially.

    I’ve got soooo many questions to ask, but i’ll only ask a few…
    1. When you are illustrating, especially characters, do you feel their emotions and feelings?
    2. I know I get very frustrated and stressed when I am drawing people and animals and they don’t turn out the way I wanted them too… do you ever feel that too?
    1. Your drawing style is so different and unique to other illustrators… What inspired you to illustrate in the way you do?

    Thank-you very much Freya Blackwood for your time and I would be over the moon if you had the time to reply… I reckon my WHOLE CLASS would be over the moon too!!!

    Yours sincerely,
    Sienna :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Sienna,

      What a wonderful message to receive! Thank you SO much. Goodness, you're only in year 6, but so thoughtful and articulate. It's great to hear you have enjoyed reading my blog - I wish I had time to update it - and I'm very touched to hear how you have responded to My Two Blankets. The concept of the blankets and the waterfall really make the story extra special, I think.

      So, in response to your questions:
      1. I most definitely do feel a character's emotion while drawing them. Often the most successful drawings have had my intense concentration and deep thought to make the character look just like I imagine they must be feeling.
      2. It is very frustrating when you work hard on a drawing and it doesn't turn out the way you had hoped. I find this happens often. I have a big collection of drawings that never made the cut. Over the years I have worked out that if I'm struggling to get a drawing looking right, it's best to put it aside and come back to it when I feel fresh and not grumpy! Often the harder I try the worse the drawing gets!
      3. I'm excited to hear you think my drawing style is different. When I started I often referred to other illustrators' work, to see how they drew and how they solved problems. But the more I have worked, the more I have developed my own way of drawing. I also didn't study art or illustration, so I really knew very little about picture book illustration when I started and just learnt as I went.

      I hope that these answers satisfy your fabulous questions. It's lovely to hear from you, and I wish you and your class (and your teacher!) all the best for the rest of the year. School holidays start at the end of this week! Phew! Term three has been SO incredibly busy.

      My best wishes,
      Freya

      Delete
  18. Dear Freya,I loved your amazing book,My Two Blankets.
    The pictures were so great!
    Were they water colour? Because we use water colour for our art activitys.
    From Laura. : P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there!

      Thank you! It's a wonderful story, isn't it! I was very lucky to get the chance to illustrate it. I actually used watercolours and oil paints. The oil paints were used for Cartwheel and her aunt and their old country, and her old blanket. And watercolours were used for the new country and her new friend and her new blanket. Both paints are great to use, and so different with different results. Thanks for your email, Laura. Try some oil paints - they're brilliant, but take a while to dry...

      Best wishes,
      Freya

      Delete
  19. Hello Freya - I met Irena this morning (19/10/15) when I gave her a lift to my local library. It was pure co-incidence that we met & Irena mentioned her book. I have just looked it up an LOVE this. I am going to buy a copy for my friend who is due to give birth at the end of this year. Please let Irena know that I feel blessed to have crossed paths with her this morning and also can't wait to receive my copy of My Two Blankets, read & enjoy the pictures, & pass on to my friend. All the best Ladies. Kerri, Brisbane QLD Australia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Kerri!

      Aren't those coincidental meetings wonderful! Do you know, I still haven't met Irena, but next time we chat I will let her know how thrilled you were to meet her. The story that Irena has written is very special, so I know you will enjoy the book.

      Thank you so much for writing.

      Best wishes,
      Freya

      Delete
  20. I want to buy "the impressionists!" But I no where!please do you have one?

    ReplyDelete
  21. I want to buy "the impressionists!" But I no where!please do you have one?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I bought your book to give to my 4 year old Granddaughter living in Sweden. Her Dad has been teaching new emigrants Swedish and how to assimilate into their new culture.Your book has spoken volumes to himself,other teachers and those assisting the new members of Sweden.
    Those adults who have been exposed to your book have been challenged and understand a little bit more of what having to change ones life to begin again is like. My son would love to see your book published in Swedish.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dear Freya Blackwood,
    I am from Germany and I have "read" your book "My two blankets". I really liked it!
    You said, that you choose watercolour and oilpaint for your character and I really like it!
    It fits so well and at the same time it shows the differences.
    My quetion is, did you do the lining with a pencial or with coal?
    Thank you!
    I enjoyed your work! :)
    All the best
    Steffi

    ReplyDelete