#FlorisDesign meets Sandra Klaassen

A leopard may never change his spots, but a cover can change many times in the lifetime of a book. At Kelpies HQ our Kelpies Classics collection have undergone more than one cover transformation as we reach new readers and a new generation with these timeless tales of adventure, courage and bravery. In today’s #FlorisDesign interview we’re shining the spotlight on children’s book illustrator Sandra Klaassen, the artist behind the cover artwork for the new editions of Kathleen Fidler’s Flash the Sheep Dog and Haki the Shetland Pony. Read on to find out her top tips for budding illustrators and why felt tips are an artist’s best friend.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far?

I was born in The Netherlands. As a graduate of the Royal Academy of Art and Design I’ve been working for over 25 years as a professional children’s book illustrator. As a freelancer I’ve worked for many publishers.

Sandra Klaassen #FlorisDesign interview

Left – the old cover (artwork by Mabel Forsyth). Right – the new cover edition of Haki the Shetland Pony (artwork by Sandra Klaassen).

What made you decide to become an illustrator?

Since my childhood I’ve loved to make drawings of books I have read and stories I have written. My ‘first’ (stapled) book (when I was 11 years old) was a comic book about the adventures of Tarzan and a cat. I remember at secondary school I always illustrated the reports we had to write hoping that it would give me a better mark. After secondary school I went to Art school, happy to be immersed in art every day!

Is working as a picture book illustrator what you expected?

Working as an illustrator hasn’t always been easy because sometimes you have to make drawings with a difficult subject and you always have to deal with deadlines. But I’m still fascinated by illustrating. It’s still fantastic to be inspired by a story and to make the illustrations as beautiful as possible. I always look forward to a new book project knowing that I will be absorbed by it.

Can you tell us a bit about your illustration process and methods?

My illustration process is long and intense. I always start with researching the subject or characters and writing down my ideas. The first stages of the process begin with sketching and developing the main characters. I always make my initial sketches in felt tip; because you can’t rub them out these sketches are more spontaneous. For a picture book I make a dummy without any colours. When I feel happy with the result I begin creating the original artwork (no felt tips though). I mostly use ink and watercolour.

Were you familiar with Kathleen Fidler’s books before you were commissioned to illustrate the cover artwork?

I was not previously familiar with Kathleen Fidler’s books. Fortunately the internet has helped me to find out information about her; I find it very important to know someone’s background as I feel it helps me convey the right atmosphere in my illustrations.

Sandra Klaassen interview #FlorisDesign

Sandra with ‘the real’ Peg

Your pets Peg and Uan feature in some of our other books. How does your relationship with animals influence your work?

Animals do influence my work. I love animals and feel very connected to them. We always had pets when I grew up and I cannot imagine living without pets or animals around me. During my family life we had lizards, dogs, cats, rats and ferrets. I’ve looked after stray or injured birds as well, such as a jay, a crow and a jackdaw.

Do you feel that your artwork is influenced by the landscape and natural world?

The landscape and natural world are a big source of inspiration for me; I cannot draw without it.

In your opinion, what makes a good illustration?

For me a good illustration inspires emotion and it should complement the story, creating balance with the text.

 

Sandra Klaassen #FlorisDesign interview

The old cover and the new cover edition of Flash the Sheep Dog (from left to right). All artwork by Sandra Klaassen.

This is not the first time you have illustrated a cover for Flash the Sheep Dog – how did you approach the same book this time?

I didn’t want to recreate the same sort of cover again so this time I focused just on the character of Flash.

What did you most enjoy about working on this project?

I adore Collie dogs and I cannot remember having drawn a Shetland pony before so that was quite a nice challenge too.

Do you have any top tips for budding illustrators?

Stay true to yourself in the style you want to illustrate. And always ask yourself, ‘What do I want to express”?

 

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Sandra Klaassen #FlorisDesign interview

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Flash the Sheep Dog

As London orphan Tom struggles to adjust to his new life in the Scottish Borders he finds an unexpected ally in Flash the sheep dog puppy. Their friendship blossoms and Tom’s determined to make Flash a sheep dog champion! Will they succeed?

Adapted for the big screen in 1966, Flash the Sheep Dog remains an unrivalled portrait of rural Scotland and is perfect for fans of Lassie and Babe the Sheep-pig.

Haki the Shetland Pony

When Adam and Haki are forced to leave their home on Shetland and find work on the mainland, they become the lead acts of a travelling circus. Yet Adam and Haki’s future is in jeopardy as jealous feelings arise amongst the circus folk. Will the stars of the circus somersault to success or stumble and fall?

An exciting adventure, this heartwarming story is perfect for pony lovers everywhere.

Flash the Sheep Dog and Haki the Shetland Pony are out now.

Kathleen Fidler – Author Perspectives

Author of over 80 books, Kathleen Fidler remains a titan of children’s literature. Whilst she was born and raised in England and Wales, she spent the majority of her life living in Scotland, a country that held a special place in her heart. The Scottish landscape and people feature heavily in many of her books and at Kelpies HQ we continue to publish her work as part of the Kelpies Classics collection. The latest novels to get a fresh makeover are Flash the Sheep Dog and Haki the Shetland Pony, two classic Scottish stories; one set in Shetland, the other in the Scottish Borders. First published in the ‘60s and ‘80s, they’ve continued to capture the hearts and minds of young readers and their parents for decades. Now a new generation can discover and enjoy these timeless tales of bravery and friendship between humans and animals.

In today’s blog post some of our Kelpies authors offer their perspective on the work of Kathleen Fidler. Read on to find out who she helped inspire to read and write!

 

Kathleen Fidler

Alex Nye loves Kathleen Fidler’s ability to bring Scottish history to life

ALEX NYE

Kathleen Fidler’s books have inspired me since I read them to my children when I first moved to Scotland more than 20 years ago. Often read in cottages by the sea when on holiday, I loved the themes she writes about, bringing Scottish history to life – the Highland Clearances, for example. She inspires me as both a reader and a writer. Her books are classics for children, which deserve to be remembered and cherished.

Books by Alex Nye: Chill, Shiver.

 

Kathleen Fidler

Lindsay Littleson is a big fan of ‘The Desperate Journey’

LINDSAY LITTLESON

Kathleen Fidler’s novel The Desperate Journey was published in 1964 and is still a popular read in Scottish primary schools. I find that incredibly inspirational and would love to write a historical novel with that kind of lasting impact.

Books by Lindsay Littleson: The Mixed-up Summer of Lily McLean, The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean.

Kathleen Fidler

Alan Dapré has a soft spot for ‘Haki the Shetland Pony’

ALAN DAPRÉ

Kathleen Fidler was my first introduction to Shetland ponies! I first came across Haki the Shetland Pony years ago when I was a kid and I remember liking the idea of ‘running off and joining the circus’. I was in a children’s home at the time! This book – with a talented travelling animal character – reminded me of Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat and had a great warmth to it. Classic stories stay in print and Kathleen Fidler’s books will be enjoyed by future generations of readers who want thoughtful narratives about resolute characters. I also came across some of her books while teaching. Indeed, I gather that Kathleen was a teacher too. Clearly a person of many talents. It would have been lovely to meet her.

Books by Alan Dapré: Alan is the author of the Porridge the Tartan Cat series.

Kathleen Fidler

Theresa Breslin’s first book won the Fidler Award

THERESA BRESLIN

Kathleen Fidler was an accessible writer who legitimised and vivified Scottish stories. Her work in this area was groundbreaking; covering various genres and appealing to a wide range of interests and ages. I probably owe a large part of my life-long love of history to Kathleen Fidler. However, her major influence on me was when my very first book won the Fidler Award. Life-changing, encouraging, enabling – this prize set me on course to fulfil my dreams to be a writer. Thank you, Kathleen Fidler.

Books by Theresa Breslin: An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures, An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales.

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ABOUT THE BOOKS

Flash the Sheep Dog

As London orphan Tom struggles to adjust to his new life in the Scottish Borders he finds an unexpected ally in Flash the sheep dog puppy. Their friendship blossoms and Tom’s determined to make Flash a sheep dog champion! Will they succeed?

Adapted for the big screen in 1966, Flash the Sheep Dog remains an unrivalled portrait of rural Scotland and is perfect for fans of Lassie and Babe the Sheep-pig.

Haki the Shetland Pony

When Adam and Haki are forced to leave their home on Shetland and find work on the mainland, they become the lead acts of a travelling circus. Yet Adam and Haki’s future is in jeopardy as jealous feelings arise amongst the circus folk. Will the stars of the circus somersault to success or stumble and fall?

An exciting adventure, this heartwarming story is perfect for pony lovers everywhere.

Flash the Sheep Dog and Haki the Shetland Pony are out now.

New Kelpies galore join us in 2018!

2018 will be the 15th birthday of the Floris Books Kelpies list. So, we thought it was only fitting to celebrate in style! We’ve got ALL these new Kelpies joining us in the new year.

We’ll be starting the year off on a high, by marking another important date. Judith Kerr’s classic Tiger Who Came to Tea has certainly earned his stripes – he’s reached his 50th birthday. The Teeger That Cam For His Tea translates everyone’s favourite muckle, strippit guest into Scots for the first time. Keep an eye on our social media for our teeger tea pairty plans!

On to another classic creature… The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster is the latest edition to our Traditional Scottish Tales series. In true Lari Don style, she’s created the first ever Nessie story based on REAL Loch Ness folklore. And we’ve already fallen tail over humps for Natasa Ilincic’s illustrations.

New Kelpies - The Teeger that Cam for his Tea  New Kelpies - The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle  New Kelpies - The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster  New Kelpies - A Super Scotland Activity Book

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle races on to the scene in April. Inspired by Victoria Williamson’s experience working with young asylum seekers, Reema and Caylin’s story is one of displacement and discovery. This powerful debut novel will speak to anyone who has ever asked ‘where do I belong?’

We launched some spectacular new Kelpies series in 2017, and we’re on tenterhooks to find out where the stories lead. Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Pet Show Show-Off is the grand finale to the terrific, tongue-twisting, tartan series. Colin the Hamster and co. try to solve a remarkable Roman Riddle in the latest Museum Mystery Squad adventure. And Artie Conan Doyle has his own mystery to solve in the vexing case of the Vanishing Dragon.

New Kelpies - Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Pet Show Show-Off New Kelpies - Museum Mystery Squad and the Case of the Roman Riddle New Kelpies - Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon 

From new additions to Kelpies Classics, we hope Kathleen Fiddler’s Haki the Shetland Pony and Flash the Sheep Dog will be loved by a whole new generation of readers. Our gorgeous new editions will be available from April.

Not forgetting the wee ones… In February, you’ll be able to get your hands on our first EVER moving parts book! Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny lets you do just that, as you sing along to the cheeky Scottish rhyme… PUSH PUSH!

New Kelpies - Rowan the Red Squirrel New Kelpies - Skye the Puffling New Kelpies - Wee Granny's Magic Bag and the Pirates  

Scotland’s own Mary Poppins sets (or should that be ‘sails’) off on another adventure in May. What will Wee Granny find in her Magic Bag when she meets the Pirates?

There’s nothing we love more than adorable Scottish animals. Created by the team behind Skye the Puffling, Rowan the Red Squirrel (and his sister Hazel) more than fit the bill. Plus, Skye will appear in her very own Wee Puffin Board Book in April – perfect for your own wee pufflings!

Last, but definitely not least, is our stupendous, sensational Super Scotland Activity Book. Inspired by all the things that make Scotland special (from Nessie to the North Coast 500), it’s bursting with colouring, mazes, dot-to-dots, stickers and more. Take a look inside here!

…and that’s only the first half of the year. Phew! 2018 is going to be a busy one!


How to get your hands on our new Kelpies

The Teeger That Cam For His Tea, Rowan the Red Squirrel, Skye the Puffling: A Wee Puffin Board Book and Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off A Bus are all available to preorder now.

Have any of our other new Kelpies caught your eye? Remember you can click the ‘Add to wishlist’ button to save them for later!

You can keep up with the news of new Kelpies, and our latest events and competitions on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!