Author: Suse Coon

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Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 4:34 pm
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Arts

From Dogs to Drawings

Whenever you meet a talented individual, there’s a tendency to want to know how that talent was nurtured, what inspired it and encouraged it to grow. In the case of illustrator Jo Allan, she says unhesitatingly that it was her father who, although not an artist per se, was a most creative person.

“He was always making things out of wood or doing some kind of DIY. He was one of those people who can do anything.”

From a young age, Jo loved drawing and knew she wanted to be involved with storytelling and children’s illustrations. After leaving North Berwick High School, she moved to Edinburgh to study illustration at Telford College.

From there she worked as a freelance and has produced illustrations for the Botanic Gardens, a medical book (“very grown up, no fun”) An Aibidil Annasach (The Quirky Alphabet), a beautifully illustrated Gaelic alphabet that won the Young Children’s Book prize at the 2004 Royal National Mod(“All the gaelic I know is what I did for the book!”) and painted a Range Rover with a huge Roger Rabbit.

Now she has added another string to this talent, combining storytelling with illustration. Hungry Hettie is the story of a highland cow who can’t resist the goodies offered by well meaning children. As you can imagine, she eventually becomes ill and is happy to return to an appropriate bovine diet. So it’s a moralistic tale in a sense, but one which is fun to read and look at  and not at all preachy.

Jo herself loves animals and earns her main living by running a dog walking business. With her partner, they also care for dogs in their home,with permission from the resident trio of two lurchers and a whippet. They have just moved to a big house on the edge of the countryside in Loanhead, where she practically lives in wellies.

She draws inspiration from the wild animals she sees on her daily walks and plans more children’s books about animals. This one was written by Polly Lawson but Jo would like to write more herself. She is thinking about one which will show children how to behave around dogs, clearly drawn from some less than perfect experiences.

Meanwhile, Hungry Hettie, which is part of the Picture Kelpies series, is a charming read for little ones. You can buy Hungry Hettie (Picture Kelpies)
here from Amazon.

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