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Harris Finds His Feet

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Read a Q&A with the winner of the 2009 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, Catherine Rayner, and use her award-winning book, Harris Finds His Feet to inspire creativity in your classroom

Catherine Rayner

Award-winning children’s illustrator, Catherine Rayner, takes inspiration from the animals around her

Introduce children to the winner of the 2009 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, Catherine Rayner. Catherine’s latest award-winning book, Harris Finds His Feet, is a beautifully illustrated story with a heart-warming message about growing up and celebrating uniqueness—two apt back-to-school messages.

Exploring an author with your class is an ideal way to share and discuss where the inspiration for stories can come from – and you never know, it might inspire future award-winning authors and illustrators!

Below are some questions we asked Catherine about where the idea for Harris Finds His Feet came from and how she goes about creating her expressive artwork…

Where did the inspiration for Harris Finds his Feet come from?

Well, I love hares! They are wonderful animals to draw – long whiskers, big ears and best of all big feet! I knew I wanted to write a story about a hare, his feet and how useful they are! I also wanted to write about relationships and discovery!

Harris from _Harris Finds His Feet_

How long did the book take to make from start to finish?

From the early sketches of hares to the finished book took around twelve months.

Why did you decide to become an illustrator?

I love books and I love children but most of all I love drawing! The job suits me perfectly! When I was at art school I started making books and I have carried on – I feel very lucky to do something I enjoy so much for a job.

What methods do you use to illustrate your books?

I use a mixture of paints, pencil crayons and inks. I often use silk screen printing for the backgrounds.

How does it feel to win the Kate Greenaway Medal?

It is very, very exciting! I still can’t quite believe it! It’s so lovely to know that people are enjoying my stories and my artwork. I feel honoured.

You seem to draw a lot of animals. Do you prefer to illustrate animal srather than humans?

I like drawing animals because you can really explore texture and shape. Animals come in so many wonderful shapes and sizes – from prickly, to scaly, to the softest fur and feathers. They can have beaks or shiny noses and huge ears. I do also like drawing people but I personally find animals are more fun to draw because you can explore all of these elements!

What tips do you have for budding illustrators?

Draw whenever you can and draw everything! The more you draw the better you get, focus not only on the shapes of the things you are drawing but the objects around them.

Are you working on a book at the moment?

Yes, I am actually working on two books at the same at the moment. One is about a crocodile called Solomon (he is a bit naughty) and the other is about a pair of Polar Bears called Iris and Isaac. I thought working on them both at the same time would be difficult but it is actually rather nice!

Who is your favourite illustrator, and why?

This is a difficult question as I love so many ilustrators! I think I would have to say Quentin Blake – his drawings are so lively and fun to look at! But I also love Brian Wildsmith his creatures are full of texture – they really jump off the page!

What is your favourite piece of art?

Tiger in a Tropical Storm by Henri Rousseau. It makes you feel as though you are in the storm with the tiger. The shapes of the leaves and the colours are so vivid – it is such a beautiful painting. It inspires me.

What was your favourite book when you were growing up?

When I was growing up I love the The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem. I loved the detail and I used to imagine that little mice were living in the trees in our garden! I think I looked at that book every night for years! My copy is very tatty now!

Activities

Harris Finds His Feet

Further information

Other books by Catherine Rayner include:

Augustus and His Smile (Little Tiger Press)

Posy (text by Linda Newbery) (Orchard Press)

Sylvia & Bird (Little Tiger Press)

Plus, look out for:

Ernest (Macmillan – due 4 Sept 2009)

Norris, the Bear Who Shared (Orchard – due 2010)h2. Further information

Other books by Catherine Rayner include:

Augustus and His Smile (Little Tiger Press)

Posy (text by Linda Newbery) (Orchard Press)

Sylvia & Bird (Little Tiger Press)

Plus, look out for:

Ernest (Macmillan – due 4 Sept 2009)

Norris, the Bear Who Shared (Orchard – due 2010)

There are lots of ways to use Harris Finds His Feet in the classroom:

  • SEAL: Talk about physical features and the way that everybody is different. In pairs, ask children to comment on one nice thing about the way their partner looks. Ideas could be written down afterwards on bright speech bubbled-shaped card and added to children’s photos for a classroom display.
  • PE: As a PE or drama warm-up activity, invite the children to take on the role of Harris. Tell them to hop about: across fields, through meadows and as high as mountains.
  • Art: Explore the way Catherine Rayner uses shadow in her illustrations. If possible, on a sunny day, take the children outside on to the playground and use digital cameras to photograph them with their shadows. Back in the classroom, ask what the children notice about their shadows (long, thin)? Using their photos as reference, invite children to create self portraits, including their shadow, using watercolour paints.

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