A richly illustrated children’s book

2013-05-08 00:00

CHILDREN should read, and read books with a local flavour. How many times have we all heard that said, by parents, teachers and publishers? But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of getting good books out there and into children’s hands, problems begin to arise.

“You would think it was vital for local kids to be reading local books,” says author and illustrator Jeremy Grimsdell, who has self-published his latest book, The Rhino at Rhino Rock. “But it’s always a struggle to get published. It’s a small market and publishers are wary of taking on new books.”

Grimsdell is not new to the business: he has both written and illustrated four children’s books — all for mainstream publishers — as well as regularly illustrating work for other authors. And he knows only too well that success depends on the effort the publishers put into sales and promotion.

The Rhino at Rhino Rock is a charming tale of a little boy and his game ranger father, who set off one afternoon to look for a rhino. On their way to a good lookout spot, they see other creatures, and some they don’t notice see them. And they do get to see their rhino.

Richly illustrated with Grimsdell’s delightful and detailed watercolours, the story offers a bush experience to children who might not otherwise get one, as well as appealing to those who have visited game reserves.

British-born Grimsdell trained as a biologist and originally came to Africa to do research, and although it was not the plan, he has been here ever since.

“I’ve tended to concentrate on African animals for my work, and there’s not much on them for children. There’s quite a bit of cartoony stuff, but not much that’s naturalistic.”

Grimsdell reckons the book should have a market overseas as well, and with rhinos so much in the news, he is probably right. The book has been produced by local printers, The Picture Box, and is available in both hard and soft cover versions.

But right now, Grimsdell faces the task that daunts self-publishing authors: getting his book out there. While technology has advanced and made it much easier to produce a book, selling it is another matter, and Grimsdell admits it is the part of the process that he finds the most daunting.

As he says: “I like doing the thing, but wish someone else would take over the other side and sell it.”

Ideally, he would like to find a publisher who would take over the distribution of The Rhino at Rhino Rock, but for now, he will do the rounds of local bookshops, and maybe do school visits. For those, he takes along a board, and draws for the children, something that always goes down well.

• Copies of The Rhino at Rhino Rock are available from Bookworld at the Cascades Centre, Grimsdell at bevan ce@mweb.co.za or from the printers, The Picture Box, at www.printvision studio.com

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