Sophie Blackall Illustration

Drawings and Snippets and Breaking News, (but more snippets than breaking news).

Friday, January 24, 2014


Tomorrow I am heading to Rwanda for a week. I am very excited to be working with Save the Children UK on their International Children's Book Initiative; the idea is 'More children reading, more and better books’. I have been thinking abstractly about this trip for months now, but as I begin packing it is suddenly, dauntingly real. I'm going to be visiting schools around the country, madly drawing and taking photographs, to help produce a guide for teachers on how to use books in the classroom. The Rwandan Children's Book Initiative proposes to provide schools with books and shelves to put them on, and even mats to create reading corners. But from what I understand, few schools have books right now. If they're anything like the schools we visited in the Congo, there will be a blackboard and benches and not much else. I am hoping to draw and read with these kids, and I'm suddenly overwhelmed by the idea of introducing them to their first picture books. Or watching as they make their first marks on paper. I'm not sure how much English they'll speak, or French. And I don't speak any Kinyarwanda. I'm leaning towards books light on text, heavy on animals. I'm leaving tomorrow so I've left it a bit late to canvas your response, but I'd still love to know what books you would all suggest.
I have assembled a pile on the floor of everything I want to take, a pile about ten times the size of my suitcase. A growing pile of books, sketchpads, packets and packets of pencils, tubes of watercolors, brushes, crayons. And a diminishing pile of clothes. I can't bear the thought that I'll be one pencil short.
Classroom in the DRC, 2012


S. Strickland said...

How exciting Sophie! I might suggest Anthony Browne's "One Gorilla". Safe travels!!!

Allison said...

There are some amazing wordless picture books, which might be wonderful, like Flotsam by David Weisner or Journey by Aaron Becker. Something else that could be fun is an illustrated song (I know, for example, that there's a beautifully illustrated book version of Raffi's Baby Beluga). Safe journeys!

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

This is fantastic, Sophie. As it happens, I just got back from Tanzania, and was there for a school, but under much different circumstances than you. What you're doing is so noble and I can't wait to read/see the outcome. Good luck.

Sashiko said...

Well done Sophie. I am quite sure you have left an indelible and lasting impression on their as yet, un polluted minds and they will remember your visit with great affection, and fond memories.
Your very proud Mother.