French female children’s writers starting to make themselves known in Britain
The Book Office will now spotlight a few French women who write and/or draw stories for children, and who have recently been published in English.
Aurélie Guillerey has enjoyed drawing ever since she was a little girl. She describes herself a solitary girl who would spend her days with her pencils and crayons. Her studies first took her to the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, where her passion for drawing blossomed. It is the the opportunity to create stories, settings, and characters that drew her to children’s books.
Guillerey’s drawings are quite striking at first sight, because of the deep saturated colours she favours. At the same time, she prefers to be thrifty and smart when using space, avoiding overcrowded pages. Combined with her signature grainy black shading, all of these traits give her books a clear and fluid quality, as colours and characters are skillfully contrasted and complemented. Despite not being particularly technophile, Aurélie Guillerey distinguishes herself by using graphics tablets rather than the traditional pencils and crayons to produce her drawings. However, she still keeps a booklet with her at all times to put down any ideas and sketches that come to her.
Working as an illustrator for children's writers, Aurélie Guillerey has been translated in English by several different publishers:
Children are Naughty (Flying Eye Books)
Worms (Kids Can Press)
Dorothée de Monfreid
Dorothée de Monfreid studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs before starting out as a graphic designer, and focusing more on drawing and writing. Grégoire Solotareff, a renowned French children’s writer and illustrator, was the man who convinced her to embrace the career path that is hers today. De Monfreid admired Solotareff as an artist, and he in return helped her making her first steps by bringing her into the children’s publishing giant L’Ecole des Loisirs. Since then, she has written and illustrated (she insists on doing everything herself) dozens of books. This year, she will be participating in a series of workshops for the South Ken Kids Festival.
De Monfreid says she dislikes being labeled as a “children’s writer”, and is critical in general of those who insist too strongly on distinguishing her work and that of other “grown-up” artists. She confesses that she would have liked working as a filmmaker, or in radio; and her work is very much inspired by other forms of art like cinema or comics (she contributed to a now-defunct comics magazine with illustrators like Riad Sattouf). Her books in general feature very expressive animal characters and close friendships. De Monfreid also admits that she has a fondness for characters who defy authority, especially when they do it in tightly-knit groups.
Dorothée de Monfreid is published in English, by Random House and more recently by Gecko Press.
I Really Want To Eat A Child (Random House Kids)
A Day With Dogs (Gecko Press)
Delphine Perret also initially studied to become a graphic designer. But when she started studying at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, she discovered the art of narrative technique, to which she took a real liking. In 2008, she co-founded Le Bocal gallery, a studio where ten different artists work on illustrations, graphic design, and comics. As well as being the author-illustrator of more than a dozen books (translated in several languages), she has illustrated many other stories by different writers.