Penny Dale is an internationally known, best-selling children's book artist and author and has sold more than 4 million books, with editions in over 20 languages. Her much-loved picture book Ten in the Bed sold over a million copies worldwide. Her other titles have also met with great success : Bet You Can't and Once There Were Giants were included in the UK SATS booklist for many years, and Once There Were Giants was chosen as one of the Guardian's Best Children's Books Ever last year. Rosie's Babies (also written by Martin Waddell) won the Best Book for Babies award and was also shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1990. Penny is married, has one grown up daughter and a grandson and lives in South Wales.
FAQ's (Taken from questions answered by Penny Dale for Walker Books Australia)
1. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your books?
I hope children who read my books find them fun and entertaining. If a book isnt enjoyable to read, no-one will want to turn the pages. I like to try to make the pictures do the work of description in books for older people, so they create atmosphere and sense of place. I often base characters on people I know, so theres something real behind the gestures and expressions.
2. What is your favourite aspect of being a Childrens book author/illustrator?
I love it when I can create a place that is a mixture of reality and fantasy blending real places and situations with imaginary ones. Its like creating another reality, which is great fun. I still enjoy the process of drawing surprisingly it doesnt get any easier. Often I get really stuck trying to get just one bit right. Strangely enough, when an image has been a struggle, and I think it hasnt worked, thats often the picture other people really like.
3. Why did you become a Childrens book author/illustrator?
When my daughter was very young, I read lots of books to her, and gradually began to think I would like to draw pictures for children, I could do that. All the time at art college making sculpture! . . I never thought about illustration but when I think about what I most enjoyed doing as a child, it was drawing things from real and storybook life. I spent hours trying to draw dancers and farms and castles and stuff like that. So it all made sense in the end.
4. What/Who are your influences/where do you get your ideas from?
Thats the big question If I knew where ideas come from, Id be there digging loads of them out all the time. They sometimes just come from things I see and hear, then work on and develop thats if Im writing. With illustration its more a case of drawing and looking and developing ideas as I go. I draw something, then stick another layer on top. I look at lots photos and videos (sometimes), art and costume books, and books about buildings, and selecting elements that work together. At the moment, Im working on a version of Sleeping Beauty, and Im looking at pictures of Welsh and French castles, my mothers book on historic costume, family weddings, and baby pictures, horse and mule and goat pictures, garden books and photos. If you could see how much stuff is piled all around at the start of a book, youd probably be surprised.
5. Were you influenced by any particular books that you remember from your childhood?
Some books influenced me as a child I loved What Katy did, The Borrowers, Oliver Twist and the Mary Poppins books, and read them many times, but that was when I was nine or ten. There werent so many picture books around in the 60s for younger children, none that stand out as remarkable to me at least. Visual influences came from comics, like the Beano a real favourite. And I loved cartoons like Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and some early Disney.
6. Where did you study/train?
I studied Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design, after a Foundation (General) year at Bristol. But much of my Art education came from my parents. We didnt have television until I was eight or nine (imagine?), and if it was raining and we were bored, one of them would start us off with paper and paints or crayons. Both my parents would have loved to go to Art College, but the 2nd World War prevented it. They went to art classes when they could, and really enjoyed getting us to make and do, and draw things ourselves. So, in large part, I have them to thank for my early art education.
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