Jill & Dragon

jill&dragon

by Lesley Barnes (Tate, 2015)

You’ve got to see this book. And you’ve got to stick around for some extras from Lesley Barnes, its author and illustrator.

It begins on the endpapers.

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Once upon a time there lived a terrible dragon.

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And then on the title page, we can guess that we’ve just seen a snippet of this girl’s book. You can tell she’s a book lover by that throne of books she’s sitting atop. (Keep an eye on Dog throughout the pages. He’s not too sure about all of this.)

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By the time the story starts, we’re already in the middle of it.

We’re already sympathetic to this big, pink, dragon who’s dripping with knights and the letters from his story. But Jill, sweet Jill, with patterned pants equally as eye-catching as Dragon’s, ropes him up and invites him out of his story and into hers.

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It’s the tea party that changes everything.

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It’s that tea party that makes room for an exquisite gatefold and a happy ending.

It’s a meta tale that’s dazzling and dreamy and unexpected and just plain wonderful. What Lesley Barnes accomplishes with this color palette and style is nothing short of design time travel.

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(The previous three pictures provided by Lesley. Many thanks!)

I asked Lesley about her inspirations for this story, and she’s graciously given us this sneak peek behind the scenes.

As for what inspired her style for this book? These.

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Even better, these guys.

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That’s Frank and Pumpkin, Lesley’s dogs. On the left is Frank, who inspired Dragon’s look, and Pumpkin, who inspired Dog’s. Jill & Dragon is even dedicated to this duo!

One of my favorite things about books is when other art is inspired by its own. Like this fabulous Dog brooch, exquisitely crafted by Lesley’s friend, Jennifer Loiselle. 

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And how about this creation by the Felt Mistress herself, Louise Evans? Incredible.

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Untame your inspiration along with this trio. Use your talents wisely.

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7 Comments

  • Posted May 17, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    This looks amazing! Looking forward to reading it.

  • Posted May 17, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Ooh, I really want this one. Those illustrations are amazing! And so is that felt dragon. Incredible!

  • Heather J.
    Posted May 17, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Such a gorgeous book! And a great story about creative problem-solving and helping others.

  • Jilanne Hoffmann
    Posted May 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Wowie! Zowie! It makes sense that Tate published this one, considering the extraordinary artwork. And I love the concept. I’m bowled over.

  • Posted May 17, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Fanciful and fantastic and eye-catching. What a handsome, fierce, and goofy pink dragon! I love her use of pattern (especially dog’s curly fur and the dragon’s scales) and the way she fills space with curves. So many curves here, like on the toast page–the curves of the dragon’s open mouth and long tongue, the girl’s braid and leg position, and horse’s back and lead rope. Oh, and the fire! I love to see fire, water, and smoke artistically represented. The stylized fire in this book is stunning.

  • Posted May 17, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Love it! I can hardly wait to get my hands on it…

  • Posted May 18, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Marvelous!