A young illustrator who has been practising her craft since the age of three is celebrating the launch of her first children’s book.
Georgina Reynolds, 22, who graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2022, is the illustrator of Fishing For Rainbows, a tale about a young girl’s fight for equality.
Georgina, who describes herself as ‘a massive bookworm’, won the commission to illustrate the picture book while she was still a student at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Pitching her ideas against 12 other students from her Illustration and Animation degree course, Georgina’s work impressed the judges, who included the book’s award-winning author Oliver Sykes, senior lecturer Ian Whadcock and Kaye Tew, director of Manchester Children’s Book Festival.
Her colourful illustrations, which appear on every page of the book, are created using a mix of gouache paint, coloured pencils and watercolour marker pens. Georgina spent around six months creating 40 images that appear in the book – plus a further 20 that didn’t make it.
For Georgina, who says she grew up in a Norwich household that always had ‘poster paints, crayons and glitter out all over the table’, the publication of the book is a dream come true and she hopes it will be the first of many.
Suitable for children aged 7-12, Fishing For Rainbows features a young heroine called Kezia, who is not afraid to stand up for what she wants. Whilst her brothers regularly go out to fish with their dad, 12-year-old Kezia stays at home, cooking and cleaning, until one day she is called upon to show what she is truly made of.
Fishing For Rainbows is published by Manchester Metropolitan University and writing/outreach organisation Stories of Care. Five hundred copies will be gifted to children from low income, single-parent and care-experienced backgrounds.
Author Oliver, whose first book Alfie’s First Fight has just taken home a prize at the Children’s Literature Festivals Book Awards 2003, said: “It has been a really wonderful experience working with Georgina, to bring my hero Kezia and her family to life.
“Georgina has a real knack for pinpointing the perfect moments to illustrate, and I couldn’t be happier with how the book has turned out.”
Georgina said: “Seeing my name on the front cover of Fishing For Rainbows was such a surreal experience.
“Illustrating a children’s book is something that I’ve always thought about, but never really believed it would come to fruition, so it is amazing to see.
“When I was a child I was constantly ‘making’ books and graphic novels for my parents to read. I produced a book called ‘Wally the Worm’ when I was three. It’s just incredible to be able to see my name in print for the first time.”
Georgina, who says her work is influenced by the Impressionist art movement, feels the book’s hero Kezia is something of a kindred spirit.
She said: “I identify with Kezia in so many ways, and that’s something that really drew me to the project.
“When I was younger I often felt stuck and unsure of myself, but unlike Kezia, I didn’t really speak up.
“Like Kezia, my mother also passed away, albeit when I was a few years older than Kezia is in the story, and so I really resonated with Kezia’s loneliness and grief.
“Grief, and the constant wishing for someone you loved to be around, is something that is so difficult to deal with at any age, and so being able to spend hours with Kezia made me feel as if I was spending it with someone who also understood that.”
So what’s next for Georgina? It seems a book of her own may be on the cards.
“As I undertook this project straight after finishing university, I still felt very uncertain of who I was creatively, so throughout this process I have been able to develop a better sense of my creative self,” she said.
“Having worked closely with Oliver, I learnt so much about what makes a meaningful and impactful story and how I can hopefully apply this to my own work in the future.
“I am now working on my own stories and whilst these are still in the development stage, it’s really exciting and something I am highly passionate about. I’ve been trying to write for the first time to accompany my illustrations, and am really looking forward to seeing where this avenue takes me.”
Oliver Sykes will be touring Greater Manchester libraries 7-9 June 2023, as part of the Festival of Libraries, with a free children’s show based on Fishing For Rainbows.