Every year, here in Children’s Books Ireland HQ we get our collective heads together to come up with a theme for the upcoming Children’s Books Ireland Recommended Reads guide and related printwork. We start in March every year, and once we have decided that, we try to match an Irish illustrator to that theme. This year, we chose the fantastic Peter Donnelly. For the past twenty years Peter has been working as an award-winning freelance illustrator. Over this time, he has developed a very recognisable style influenced by a love for mid-century design, folk art and vintage print. Peter’s work is used extensively throughout advertising and branding as well as being a successful children’s book author and illustrator. He is regularly invited to speak at book festivals and was the closing speaker at OFFSET 2018. Peter’s first self-penned picturebook The President’s Glasses was a number one best seller and shortlisted for a 2017 Irish Book Award. His follow up book The President’s Cat won at the 2018 An Post Irish Book Awards. The Presidents Surprise, the final instalment in this series, is out now. You can read more about Peter and his work here.
When commissioned, Peters overall concept was, ‘Growth through knowledge through reading’, which led him to the final image. Peter said, ‘I love the fact that the tree supplies the paper that becomes the book. I see the book as the fruit of the tree. As the children devour the books they grow in knowledge and learn about the beauty of the world around them. These are the children that will respect and protect our planet.’
Children’s Books Ireland, CEO Elaina Ryan said, ‘We love the vibrancy and bold colour of Peter’s work, and this image speaks perfectly to Children’s Books Ireland’s mission to make books central to every child’s life. With a diverse cast of children absorbed in reading, surrounded by nature and with no devices in sight, this may be some parents’ visions of utopia. Our slogan, ‘Plant a Seed, Grow a Reader’/ ‘Cothaigh an bhachlóg agus tiocfaidh an bláth’, encourages families to start reading to their little ones early and watch as their young readers blossom.’