Ged Adamson is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Bird Hugs. His other books include A Fox Found a Box and Douglas, You Need Glasses!. He lives in London.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Bird Hugs, and for your character Bernard?
A: The idea for Bernard and Bird Hugs came from me doodling and sketching things in my notebook. I had this idea about someone having a collection of strange animals.
Bernard was one of these creatures and I’d drawn him looking sad on his perch with his big long wings. There was also a tortoise who told bad jokes.
I didn’t do anything else with the odd animal collection idea but I kept thinking about the bird with long wings.
Eventually I came up with a story for him—though one with a different ending. Originally, I had Bernard get so strong from his hugs that he finally gets to fly. But then I realised this wasn’t the best message that the story could give.
Q: How did you create the illustrations?
A: Most of the time I use a Faber-Castell “B” pencil for the basic drawings. Then I’ll do colour with either Caran d’Ache pencils or watercolour—or both. But for large areas of colour I’ll pretty much always use watercolour.
When I started doing picture books I used ink but I found it slightly limiting—though the truth is probably that I’m not that skilled with the pen!
I then transfer all the art I’ve done onto the computer and fix mistakes and play around with arrangement and background.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I hope kids take away the idea that, even though you may not be suited to doing a particular thing, there might be another equally valuable and wonderful thing you are totally made for. Life is about finding out what that thing is—or maybe it’s more than one thing.
And being kind and good and helpful are the best skills of all!
Sometimes, like Bernard, we can’t do the things we’d really like to do, no matter how hard we try and this is a difficult topic, certainly if you’re a parent or a teacher.
The “trying” part is the valuable learning experience—even if the outcome is different to what you first wanted. Getting involved in life can lead to lots of unexpected nice things.
I think a much better saying than “You can do whatever you set your mind to” is “You will find you can do things you didn’t know you could do. All you have to do is try!”
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a new story about an elephant and I’m also doing the final artwork for a picture book for HarperCollins called Scribbly.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’ve illustrated a lovely funny picture book story by Simon Philip for Simon & Schuster UK. It’s called I Have To Start At School Today and it’s out late summer.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Ged Adamson.