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Belle and Sebastien

I recently illustrated this beautiful text for Alma Publishing. It was such a treat. I illustrate a lot of picture books, which I love doing, but it was good to get my teeth into something a little older, with more thorny subjects: it starts with a woman giving birth and dying during a snow storm on the alps.

 The final cover

The final cover

Belle at Sebastien was first published in 1965 to coincide with the French television series of the same name. Do you remember it? I don't, I think it was slightly before my time. So, while I waited for the manuscript to arrive, I bought the DVD and spent a whole day, sat with cups of tea and a sketchbook, soaking it all in. One of the best bits of the series is the intro at the start of each episode. Cecile Aubry, the author gives a little round up of the story so far. She is so french and glamorous, wearing a turtle neck and smoking a cigarette! On a children's TV series, different times!
Those people who did see it as a child always remember the beautiful, haunting theme music. I played it over and over on my headphones while I worked, I find it really helps to emerge myself like this.

 I started by marking the scenes I'd like to illustrate.

I started by marking the scenes I'd like to illustrate.

 These are rough sketches of the cover that I showed to Alma, the publisher.

These are rough sketches of the cover that I showed to Alma, the publisher.

 Some of the final artwork...

Some of the final artwork...

 And then the best bit, the books are printed.

And then the best bit, the books are printed.

Synopsis: The son of a Gypsy woman, Sébastien is found as a newborn baby in the Alps and brought up by Guillaume and his grandchildren Angélina and Jean. Born on the same day, Belle is a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain Dog who has been neglected and passed on from owner to owner, until one day she escapes from a kennel. When Sébastien rescues the runaway Belle from the wrath of the villagers, the boy and the dog form a lifelong friendship and embark on exciting adventures in the mountains.

You can buy it at Alma Publishing, or Amazon, or any good bookshop.