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picture books

Squiggle Bee

written and illustrated and designed by Ruth Thorp


ISBN: 978-0992864743  /  Paperback  /  32 pages  /  First published in 2015

The story of a happy little squiggly bee trying to find her place in the world!

'Squiggle Bee' is Ruth's third picture book published by Raw Mixture Publishing. The original idea for the book was inspired by a small meadow that her parents planted in their garden which quickly attracted a lot of bees. Her 2 year old niece was fascinated by them and she wanted to capture the delight she expressed at these little squiggly creatures whilst also drawing attention to the importance of these wonderful insects who are currently in so much danger of disappearing. The story follows Squiggle Bee, a happy, inquisitive bee who just doesn’t seem to fit in with the other Grumble Bees in her hive. Her sense of adventure and squiggly way of flying often makes her late back home and she is banished from her hive forcing her to embark on a new squiggly adventure as she tries to find her place in the world. The books is a celebration of creativity, of being brave and embracing our uniqueness.


CREATING SQUIGGLE BEE  /  Words from the author

THE LINE  //  One of the most important design considerations of the book was how to represent the joyful squiggly path of Squiggle Bee. The first decision I made about the design of the book was that I wanted to make this part of the story very interactive and my response to this was to create a continuous squiggly line that runs across every page, including the front and back covers forming a seamless squiggly loop. The reader is able to trace the line with their finger as it responds to and illustrates the mood and movement of Squiggle Bee and the rhythm of the story and text.


CREATIVE PROCESS  //  I had an urge to experiment on this project. I wanted to build on the style of my previous books and try to create illustrations with a new level of richness and texture. Much of my previous work has been created from black pen drawings, which I then scan in and vectorise to compose and colour digitally. To some extent, I used similar methods for Squiggle Bee, but I also incorporated other media and techniques into the digital illustrations including cut paper collage i.e. the yellow flowers and mountain scenes, and photography which I used for texture and to create some of the silhouetted meadows. I really enjoyed the experimentation and layering of these different components which enabled me come up with some surprising effects.


COLOUR  //  As with my previous books, I created a restricted colour palette which was generated from the warm bright yellow colour of the bee. I love the use of this orangery yellow against a rich inky blue, so the rest of the blue and grey tones were chosen to compliment this combination giving me enough scope with the addition of white and black to create a series of different and contrasting atmospheres, moods and landscapes.


TEXTURE  //  In my previous books I used a lot of flat graphic colour, but I wanted to push my illustration style further and try something new with Squiggle Bee to create a richness and texture that I hadn’t achieved before. Through different experimentations, I settled on using a photograph I had taken of a piece of slate within the Tropical House at The National Botanic Gardens of Wales - particularly apt as it sits next to the dedicated Bee Garden and within the Double Walled Garden which has a pollination trail with lots of information on the importance of bees. The texture provided depth and variety to a limited colour palette and it was important to me to use light and dark contrast throughout the book to help illustrate the changing scenery, character traits and emotions throughout the story.


CHARACTERISATION  //  Illustrating the emotion and character of the bees was a really important part of the storytelling process. Although I wanted to keep the graphic style of the bees quite simple, I also wanted to achieve real expression to show the contrast between the boring grumpy Grumble Bees and the creative and joyful Squiggle Bees. This was partly demonstrated through colour and  the shape of the movement lines as previously discussed, but also through the position and facial expressions of the bees. This was probably one of the most challenging parts of illustrating the story, but I am pleased to say that even now, every time I turn the page onto the Grumble Bees it makes me chuckle because they just look so miserable and irritated in contrast to the lively and animated Squiggle Bee.



'My daughter loves the adventure of Squiggle Bee. A beautifully illustrated and charming story.'




'Squiggle Bee is a quirky little bee who is quite happy with her squiggly wiggly way of flying. Her fellow bees are not so happy and after she is late one too many times they banish her from the hive! At first, she enjoys the freedom but it’s not fun when you don’t have friends to share your adventures with. What’s a Squiggle Bee to do?!


Squiggle Bee is beautifully illustrated. With lots of blues, yellows, whites and blacks, the illustrations are very striking and would be standalone artwork in themselves.


Squiggle Bee is a rhyming book that is not only easy to read, but incredibly emotive too. You fall in love with Squiggle Bee very easily and we loved the fact that she was brave enough to be on her own and carry on with her squiggles and her wiggles, despite being banished from her hive. Our uniqueness should always be celebrated and this is what Squiggle Bee does! This became one of our favourites in the first reading and it’s one you can read time and time again.


We also loved the features of bee anatomy on the first page and the information on the plight of our bees at the back of the book. At Beebop towers, we have recently bought lots of bee friendly plants so Squiggle Bee came at a very good time for us! Use #savethebees to find out more. There are so many ways to help bees, from planting bee friendly plants to adopting a hive or attending a bee keeping course to have your own hive!''  Beebops Books




'Ruth's illustrations are bold and full of energy and the story of the little Squiggle Bee is delightful. We would recommend this book as a great Christmas gift  for any children between  1-7  years.'  The Tester Family




'Such a lovely story and beautifully illustrated. A really great present for a little person!' 




'Squiggle Bee is quite self explanatory really, it tells the story of a little bee who can’t seem to fit in with her bee friends due to her wiggly squiggly flying technique. She gets teased by the other bees, until she ventures off on her own squiggly journey to find a home where she fits in.


The writing in this story is a mixture of rhyme and non-rhyme, which is really nicely done and works really well. It’s has a rhythm to it that almost matches the squiggly little bee herself. The story is ever so sweet and endearing and again would be perfect to read to little children. Ideal also for getting them to act out and dance along to the story!


Ruth has excelled herself with the illustrations in this book. There is a new depth of colour and interest that gives a powerful feel of the different places the little bee visits. Like her previous books, the illustrations are still bold and bright, but this time with more depth and interest on each page, a work of art! There’s a constant squiggly line that goes through the book which would be fun to trace with young children’s fingers, and at the end they are encouraged to count up all the bees on the page. It’s really nicely interactive.' Book Monsters

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