Posts tagged ‘tessa strickland’

Debbie Harter Barefoot Books

Debbie Harter, illustrator of Barefoot Books classics such as The Animal Boogie and the Bear series, talks about her art, her family and her love of storytelling! Debbie is a much-loved Barefoot artist who lives in Falmouth, England.

Jackie drawing Barefoot Books blog beach farm house

Illustration by Jackie Morris

Everyone knows that the best ideas happen in the kitchen. The kitchen at Beach Farm House saw lots of action. It was a cosy, narrow room with a small, electric cooker, a stainless steel sink and  a fridge running along one side. Above these ran a long, narrow storage shelf.  On the opposite wall was an electric storage heater, around which Francis, Rollo and Zoë would jostle for heat between meals. Unless the wood-burning stove in the sitting room was alight, the kitchen was the warmest room in the house, so this is where my meetings with interesting artists and writers took place. Here you can see the kitchen rendered in blue ink by Jackie Morris, the fantastic illustrator of The Greatest Gift,  Classic Poems and Starlight Sailor.

‘It’s easy to master the body; it’s far more difficult to master the mind.’

These words from one of my yoga teachers still live with me, thirty years on. I started practising yoga as a teenager, following a long-term illness which excluded me from team sports at school. I didn’t really study it properly until I was an undergraduate, and then I was hooked.


marty house barefoot booksIn the beginning, there was a farmhouse. Here you see it beautifully rendered in coloured crayon by Nancy’s husband, Marty (as you can see, Marty is a skillful draughtsman, though he is less well known for this gift than for his superlative cooking skills). This is Beach Farm House, home for nine years to the Barefoot Books editorial, production and foreign rights departments.

The mission statement that runs in all of our books says, “At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life.” Our content team is passionately committed to creating books that are inclusive for children of all races, genders, abilities and backgrounds. So when we saw a call for papers about diversity, inclusion and equality in children’s literature, we were all over it!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have watched more television than I have in the past year. I am not a sports enthusiast, but I love London and I admire the kind of dedication, drive and talent that wins gold medals. So I have found it impossible not to delight in the phenomenal successes of Team GB. I have been swept up in a sense of Olympic pride that is steeped in an appreciation of cultural diversity: Jessica Ennis and her Jamaican Dad;  Mo Farah  with his Somalian roots; Laura Bechtolsheimer, German-born but British now. This fusion of national, cultural and ethnic origins has reminded me of the power of place: the extent to which identity is forged by where you are now as much as by where you come from.

… where the sun shone and the blossom blossomed and we had five days in which to turn twelve square metres into a Barefoot showcase, swap ideas, show new projects to our fellow publishers from the four corners of the world and hear their news too. Meetings, meetings, meetings!