NNFN: The delights and perils of writing and illustrating Non Fiction – a guest post by Yuval Zommer

thebigbookofbugsThe Big Book Of Bugs by Yuval Zommer (@yuvalzommer) and Barbara Taylor is an incredibly beautiful example of engaging non-fiction. Yuval Zommer studied at the Royal College of Art, London and today we have a guest post by Yuval on the delights and perils of writing and illustration non-fiction.

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“I have always loved non-fiction books, as a child they tapped into my curiosity about the big wide world and inspired me to learn all about subjects such as biology, geography, history and much more. So of course I was more than delighted to finally get to write and illustrate my own debut non-fiction book. I’d like to briefly share with you some of the insights, delights and perils from my own experience:

* You learn some amazing facts as an author while researching your subject! I learned about the four very brave ladybirds who were trained by NASA, sent on a space mission, and came back to earth alive to tell the tale.

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* You get to release your inner nerd…
Non-fiction allows you to be as enthusiastic as you’d like to be about your subject. In fact the more enthusiastic you are the better, as your love for your subject will translate across language and cultural barriers. The book is already translated into 14 languages and so I was pleasantly reassured to find out that kids are still fascinated by bugs and creepy crawlies wherever they live in the world.

* You need to be very accurate and have everything checked by experts.
I was lucky enough to have Barbara Taylor who is an academic and biologist as my ‘bug expert’. She would scrutinize my artwork and always spot if an insect had the wrong number of legs! Thanks to her, every bug in the book is now anatomically correct.

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* You can be inventive with combining text and images.
There is one school of thought that says pictures should be on one side of the double page, and text on the other. Or pictures should go on top and text goes below. But I like to combine them: so it’s ‘text in the pictures’ or ‘pictures in the text’ for me. This means that if I draw a night time scene the text would be reversed to white out of black, and many other challenges…

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* You can have fun encouraging readers to discover and explore.
 I managed to hide a small bluebottle fly (now known as Superfly Freddie) in 15 of the book’s pages. There is even a ‘Did you find…’ page where if you haven’t managed to spot Freddie, his whereabouts throughout the book are shown, as well as the answers to the other spotting challenges.

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* Finally, one of the main reasons why I love NF so much is that it allows you to combine art with science.
I believe that the two not only go well together but actually belong together. My books are all about the natural world, and for me, Mother Nature is the ultimate artist and ultimate scientist. It is nature’s beauty and inventiveness that really inspired my book, and is currently inspiring my next one!”

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Our thanks to Yuval for his piece today. You can follow Yuval on Twitter @yuvalzommer.

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