Behind the Scenes of The Best Mum with Sharon Davey

March 19th, 2021
The wonderfully talented illustrator, Sharon Davey, takes us through her process behind the making of The Best Mum!

The best part of making a book for me has to be when you sit down with the text for the first time. It’s exciting to think of everything you could do with the word choices and what you can bring to the story that isn’t even in the text.

The Best Mum was an interesting project because the way the text was split up meant that we followed the conversation of one girl character and her Mum from the beginning on all the odd pages of the book and we met all the other AMAZING mums on the even pages. So, in essence it’s two different books and that’s how I approached it. 

Every even numbered page where we meet a new mum gave me an opportunity to draw a stand-alone piece of work, a moment between parent and child. Then the busy pages, with chaos and expression were between our main characters. 

I like to use colour pretty early on in the drafts as it helps me visualise how the space on the page is being divided up. This way I can easily see if my layouts will work. The comparison of the mums in pairs in this book meant that I could use a repetition of shapes. For example, the bus and the singing Mum’s jazzy wallpaper.

The other great perk of being a book illustrator is adding things to the story that are not in the text, sorry Penny!
I added pets to each child including, a dog, three cats, a gecko, rabbit, tortoise, butterflies and birds. There was however another dog in an earlier version of thumbnails when the table of treats was the other way round. I loved this dog and even though he didn’t make it in (replaced by a gecko.) I still coloured him up so he can have his sneaky cake licking moment in the end!

One of the pages that didn’t change too much in composition from thumbnails to final was the last hug of the book, but we still went through various stages of colour choices, we lost a bunny soft toy that was getting in the way of the dog’s sleepy face and many, MANY, versions of what bedspread should she have? It’s these decisions that can keep you up at night but also make you the proudest when you look at the final book. When I’m really stuck, I generally go for solutions that have meaning to me, like the bees. The symbol of Manchester and a nod to my hometown.  

Patterns were a big part of this book and so I was thrilled when New Frontier let me use all the patterns from inside the story on the end papers. 

There is the bus upholstery, tablecloth, wallpapers, trouser patterns, costume fabric and the hare duvet from Mum’s lazy bed image.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading a little bit about the making of this book. Penny’s words were a dream to work with and made me think of times with my mum and the early days with my own two kids. 

Big shout out to Verity, my designer on The Best Mum, her input always makes my ideas better.

And to New Frontier who trusted me with another book. 

A big thank you to Sharon! You can find Sharon on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on her website.

The Best Mum

There are so many AMAZING mums in the world: the chefs, the singers, the athletes. But every mum does one special thing that makes her The Best Mum.
What makes YOUR mum the BEST mum?

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