We are delighted to welcome talented author – illustrator, Chloe Jasmine Harris, to our blog! I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of her latest release, Henry Turnip, and instantly fell in love with her vibrant, sweet and playful illustration style, and a story that is so relatable – it truly speaks volumes to the lives of those quieter personalities. Thank you for your story, and for joining us here today, Chloe! 🙂
About Chloe Jasmine: Author – Illustrator
She is a represented artist of the Illustration Room and her debut picture book with Walker Books Australia Titled ‘Maple the Brave’ was published May 2019. Chloe Jasmine has recently completed her second picture book with Walker Books which was released recently in June 2020.
Please follow Chloe Jasmine Harris at:
Chloe, congratulations on your latest release, Henry Turnip! It’s such a relatable, inclusive and amiable tale. How did this story come to you?
This story came to me because I felt like there are a lot of books centred around adventurous children, so I wanted to write a story focused on a character that’s instead more introverted and shy.
It was also important to me that this wasn’t a story that starts with an introverted main character and by the end of the book they are loud, confident and magically extroverted!
So, while the story of Henry follows his journey of becoming less fearful, it also highlights that his unique qualities, such as his quiet, sensitive nature aren’t things that need to be changed.
Introverts often have a harder time in our very outgoing society, so I wanted to show that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a quieter kid!
Do you have a personal connection with the themes in the story, and who do you relate more with – Henry or Reuben?
As a kid I really appreciated having a good friend that would always help me feel more comfortable participating, since I just didn’t have the confidence to start joining in on my own.
As for who I relate to more, if it’s not already obvious I am definitely more of a Henry! Though many of my closest friends as a kid had much more ‘Reuben like’ personalities.
What I’ve learnt and what I experienced, is the more you challenge your worry/anxiety, the less power it has and the more you feel in control.
Which are your favourite parts from the story? What scene makes you the happiest? Why?
Henry is able to bring Reuben into his magical world of ocean exploring, through sharing with him his favourite books. While Reuben is able to show Henry how to use his imagination in a new way and discovers for the first time just how fun make-believe play can be.
This is one of my favourite parts of the story because, to me, it shows the importance of having some friends that aren’t always the same as you. Since Henry and Reuben play in such different ways, they are able to open up new worlds to each other, which is one of the things that I feel makes their friendship so special!
The pages are just brimming with energy, warmth and adventure! You’ve incorporated themes of overcoming shyness, making friends in uncomfortable situations and embracing differences. How do you hope Henry Turnip will reach children, particularly at a time when school is returning after a long break?
I hope the story of Henry will help to encourage kids as they come back to school or preschool, to be more inclusive and kind. I’d love for it to inspire ‘Reuben Moon’ like kids to reach out to others, that might be finding the transition back to school a little bit harder. Sometimes, although it may not look like it, those who are a quieter really just want someone to ask if they’d like to join in too!
You also created the adorable illustrations for your story, as likened to the characters from The Sylvanian Family toys. How would you describe your style of art? How did you decide on the particular technique and medium for Henry Turnip?
Thank you! I’d describe my art style as a little retro inspired, bright and quite colourful. I love vintage colour palettes, decor and styling and I think a bit of that comes through in my illustrations. For painting Henry Turnip I used watercolours. The thing I love the most about watercolour is that even when you use very bright colours, the translucency of the paint gives the illustrations a soft and gentle feel.
As an author – illustrator, what does the process look like whilst creating your books? Do you have tips for emerging creators on honing your craft and getting published that you could offer?
For the writing process, there’s typically a lot of back and forth between myself and the publisher, tweaking the story until we’re both happy with the way it’s reading. The story is then revisited after the illustrations are painted and often, we’ll make small changes to the story again. It’s great putting the text away during the illustration process and coming back to it a few months later to reread with fresh eyes!
For the illustrations I like to start with a lot of researching and scrolling through Pinterest! I love creating inspiration boards to help me get a feel of how I want the illustrations to look. I then create a storyboard with thumbnail sketches, here I figure out composition and make sure that the book feels balanced before I dive into the rough sketches.
Once roughs are approved, I start work on final sketches. I also like to create quick digital colour paintings for all the spreads, so I have a colour reference to refer to when painting the final art. I love doing this because it allows me to get a good feel of how the final illustrations are going to look before I actually get started on them. By doing this I’m able to play around and change colours that aren’t working with the flow of the whole book. It’s a huge safeguard for me and I’d really recommend doing this If you’re considering illustrating a picture book!
Next, I print out the final pencil sketch onto the watercolour paper with my studio printer. If you have a good quality printer, I’d definitely suggest this method! It completely eliminates the need for a light-box and really speeds up the whole sketching process! After this I finally get to my favourite part, which is the painting. I usually work on quite a few spreads at one time, to make sure that colours stay consistent throughout the book.
My tips for emerging creators would probably be just to keep on practicing and experimenting with all sorts of ways of illustrating, until you find a style and medium that really feels right to you.
Sharing your work on social media is a great way to put yourself out there and potentially get noticed too. My incredibly wonderful editor, Nancy Conescu discovered me through social media and I couldn’t be more thankful that she did!!
Finally, don’t be scared to ask for advice. It’s so helpful having a network of other artists around you that can offer support and guidance when you need it and vice versa. If you don’t know any other illustrators/authors, a good place to make connections with others in the kids lit world is on Instagram and Facebook support groups!
Any news or upcoming projects you could share with us?
Right now, I’m working on some new children’s book pitches, so lots of writing, thumbnail sketching and character developing is happening at the moment!
Thank you kindly, Chloe! It’s been a pleasure! x
Thank you so much, Romi.
You can read my review of Henry Turnip in the Books + Publishing newsletter.
**HENRY TURNIP COLOURING COMPETITION!**