I studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art, before moving to London in 1994. I had my first picture book published in 1998 and have written and illustrated lots of books for babies, toddlers
and older children, my latest being 'How to Hide a Lion', which has been longlisted for The Kate Greenaway Medal. I have also illustrated for other authors including Roger McGough, Sophie Hannah, Michael Morpurgo and Holly Web. In 2009 my family and I left London to live on the beautiful, windswept Northumberland coast. I have a passion for drawing from life, anything and everything, you can see some sketchbook drawings here. These drawings often lead to new picture book ideas. I also love to print, you can see some screenprints here. My partner, Gerry Turley is an illustrator too, take a look at his website.
How to Hide a Lion is longlisted for The Kate Greenaway Medal 2013.
The Big Adventure of the Smalls was shortlisted for the Junior Design Award 2012.
The Night Iceberg was selected for The White Ravens International Library, shortlisted for Booktrust Early Years Award and shortlisted for The Dundee Picture Book Award 2012.
Fleabag won The Dundee Picture Book Award 2009, was commended at The Sheffield Picture Book Award 2009, and won Silver at the Norfolk Libraries Children's Book Award 2009.
Blue Horse and Tilly won Best World Theme Story 2000.
The Guardian's Easter Reads, reviewing 'The Big Adventure of the Smalls'
'Helen Stephens works within a tradition – their are traces of Edward Ardizonne and Ludwig Bemelmans in her lovely, confident illustration.
The Library Mice, reviewing 'The Big Adventure of the Smalls'
'In the best tradition of many classic stories where children take the lead in all the action and are barely, if at all, supervised, The Big Adventure of The Smalls is a delightful tale of two siblings who are not quite ready to go to sleep when expected to. Helen Stephens' style itself is reminiscent of times long past: one can spot of a little bit of Ardizzone, a little bit of Sempé (even though he worked mainly in black and white, there is just a little je ne sais quoi which reminds me of his work), with a touch of the cheekiness of Bemelmans' Madeline in her drawings. But I also love her very own way of drawing soft yet very expressive features on her characters, as well as the way she uses space in her spreads. Her artwork is lavishly coloured, with a very clever some colours, such the wonderful use of yellow that help convey light so effectively. All together, they help express the overall atmosphere of the evening party in the grand house, and how attractive this might be to the children.'
Bookbag, reviewing 'How to Hide a Lion'
I loved How to Hide a Lion. It was beautifully silly in a way that will particularly amuse young book fans. They'll love seeing a child getting one over on her parents, albeit in a gentle and ridiculous manner. The writing style is excellent, with accessible vocabulary, and a good flow to the plot. Helen Stephens' illustrations are fantastic: they have a timeless style that is reminiscent of classic picture books, yet are fresh enough to never feel stuffy. There is an obvious nod to The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, as well as hints of other picture books, including Mog the Forgetful Cat, also by Judith Kerr. The gentle nonsense reminded me, in part, of Hilaire Belloc and Edward Lear - fine company indeed! It's smart, it's funny, it's charming. The illustrations and writing are great. Children and adults alike will enjoy reading How to Hide a Lion time and again. Highly recommended.