Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson July 1, 2021 – Posted in: Book News, Great Picture books – Tags: ,

Illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson by the decorated window of Bags of Books

Writer and Illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson decorated our window, to celebrate the launch of her latest book, Book Hospital.

Leigh spent ages sticking, arranging, and drawing on the windows to wonderful effect to celebrate the launch of her new book Book Hospital – we love it! As she was working, we had a lovely chat about illustration and writing books; about Leigh’s background in animation; needlepunching* (we did digress from books a bit!) and  her Wonkytown lockdown project. During the early part of lockdown last year, Leigh  drew quirky portraits of Lewes houses and shops from google street view photos. (We have a beautiful portrait of Bags of Books by Leigh in the shop.)

Picture of Bags of Books shop by Leigh Hodgkinson, hanging in the shop.

Portrait of Bags of Books shop by Leigh Hodgkinson as part of her Wonkytown project 2020.

I asked Leigh about the books she likes.

She said that as a child, she loved  The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake.

‘ I loved how sneaky the crocodile’s expressions were and how terrifying he was’.

Books that she has enjoyed reading to her own children include: Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb:

‘a beautiful mix of imagination and emotion’

Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu and illustrated by Delphine Durand.

Too Noisy! by Malachy Doyle illustrated by Ed Vere.

I asked Leigh about her artwork process.

Leigh told me that, at the beginning of a project, she likes to create a great deal of collage material. She uses lots of different media to do this, including gelli prints, stamps, textures, and drawn patterns.  She says that this helps her to set a coherent style and colour scheme for book.

Then she creates the artwork components using drawings and the collage materials, and scans them.  She manipulates the images digitally in a page layout, moving pieces around, deepening shadows etc.

She likes to show the texture of different materials (the last page of  Book Hospital has some lovely realistic sticky tape on a nasty tear). Some parts of this book are drawn digitally – I noticed some lovely soft hair textures on the human characters which Leigh told me were made in Procreate. This digital assembly method of working means that there isn’t actually a single piece of paper with everything on it, as it looks in the book. Leigh told me that her illustration working style is a result of her background in animation- Leigh is also an animation director, and co-creator and art director of Olobobtops on Cbeebies.

Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson, paperback edition.

The paperback edition Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson

About Book Hospital

This charming story is about how wonderful books are, and how sometimes, people damage books……eeeek! But don’t worry it is all ok in the end.

The little book character, with his natty bowler hat, skips through the book, first of all telling us how great it is to be a book, then showing us some examples of  all the different types of books there are. Then he describes all the different accidents that can happen to books, and just after the little book says ‘ I’m so lucky that nothing like that has ever happened to me…’ it does happen – the book emergency. The little book goes to the book hospital to be repaired, and in a final scene is reunited with a missing page. The illustrations are full of loads of little details, such as the book titles on the shelves- they are hilarious!

The message of the book

I’m sure every family has some books which have been lovingly held together with tape, perhaps with flaps that don’t flap any more, maybe pop-ups that don’t pop any more. Nevertheless they are cherished  and continue to be read for years.

Leigh says, that even if something is damaged it still has value, even more because it now has a history, and the damage shows the journey it has been on – in the case of a book it shows that it has been read and cherished. The message of the book is that everything has a value and that we shouldn’t  dispose of things too easily.

The last page of the book sums it all up:

the last page of Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson

The last page of Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson, look at the sticky tape!

Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson has been released in hardback and paperback at the same time, with different covers – the hardback looks just like the book character, with particularly impressive battered corners. You can find the books here.

Book Hospital by Leigh Hodgkinson

Book Hospital By Leigh Hodgkinson, hardback version- love the battered corner!

Thanks Leigh for the window, and your lovely books! They are already selling well in the shop, signed copies with extra print and badge are available while stocks last.

*needlepunching – just one of the many creative things Leigh does just for fun, find out more on her website and instagram @leigh_hodgkinson

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