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picture books

The Squawks

written and illustrated and designed by Ruth Thorp


ISBN: 978-0992864705  /  Paperback  /  36 pages  /  First published in 2014

Meet the Squawks – an irresistible community of quirky birds!


Written in a tongue-twisting rhyme, each page is sure to raise a smile from readers of all ages.

'The Squawks’ was the first book Ruth published as both writer and illustrator and it developed from the name she gave to a range of bright, whimsical greetings cards she had drawn. She called the funny blue birds on the cards the Squawks, which led to a hilarious evening with her family, who came up with ever more words that rhymed. The joyous silliness made Ruth laugh – not an uncommon occurrence – and she promptly stopped doing all the other urgent projects she had been involved with and spent the next eight months lovingly illustrating and writing her book. The rhyming poem still makes her laugh and she hopes others will too.


CREATING THE SQUAWKS  /  Words from the author

The Squawks never fail to make me laugh and the invention of new characters and their silly situations keeps me constantly entertained.


DEFINING THE COLOUR PALETTE  //  As in all of my work, I created a clearly defined colour palette for The Squawks. Blue was always going to have the most emphasis based on my original little blue bird characters and the black outlines were particularly important for the graphic style of the illustrations. As the writing developed, a clear primary colour palette was set as the story describes the birds:


'they can be yellow, though most are blue, and some Squawks have red feathers too.’


The addition of a light grey and darker blue-grey, along with the bright white of the paper enabled me to diversify each page spread depending on the mood and feel of the story, creating interesting contrast whilst ensuring as a whole family, the spreads sat together as a unified and coherent design.


TYPOGRAPHY  //  Consideration of the layout of the text and choice of fonts was particularly important for The Squawks due to the emphasis on alliteration, rhyme and rhythm within the text. I wanted to create a sense of movement and energy across the pages and also chose the style, size and weight of font according to the sounds and volume of the words. 'Squawk' holds particular importance in the book which I emphasised by increasing the vertical scale of the 'squawk' words. The sharpness of ‘Prestige Elite Std’ font, in particular the 'A' also helps to demonstrate the high pitch sound of the birds.


HUMOUR  //  Getting the humour of The Squawks across in the illustrations was really important to me. This was achieved in part by the look of The Squawks: the combination of body shapes, positions and facial expressions. One of the most important aspects however, was giving the birds human characteristics so that the reader felt a connection with the little characters. I also wanted the book to appeal to adults as well as children so I added a number of references that adults would relate to at a different level to the child reader. I love watching people reading The Squawks for the first time - seeing them turn a page and giggle is a real delight.

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'The Squawks are a diverse little community of birds in many shapes and sizes, moods and attitudes, and the book charts a small insight into their lives.  From choral singing to ‘squiffy’ walks home and squabbling over 'squawkboard:' these birds do it all.  


The heavily alliterated, rhyming text is at times almost a tongue twister.  It is fun to read, particularly aloud and has some lovely comic moments.  The design is graphic and bold, particularly attractive when the Squawks are at their cutest, and Thorp has a great eye for strong colour, using her limited palette to great effect.  Her page design is well thought out, varied and is beautifully striking.  Our favourite stand out pages feature blue squawks leaping across a grey midnight sky, the beautiful yolk yellow sun that glows ‘when they wake for morning song’ and when we get the chance to observe them in their simple, multicoloured glory against a stark white background.


The multicoloured text, unrestrained by the problems mainstream publishers face, weaves and wanders across the page playfully.  Each book is handmade and published by Raw Mixture Publishing, something of a Thorp family affair.  It is high quality, well printed and the colours are fantastic.'  The Illustrated Forest




'We love,'The squawks.' Utter magic'  Dawn




'The Squawks is a joyful picture book; gorgeous to look at and pure fun to read.


With a delicious collection of tongue twisting words, Ruth Thorp takes us through the antics of the cheeky bunch known as the Squawks.


[...]  The typography dances across the pages in a delightful, fun manner. Thorp's illustrations are modern and bold.


I love the carefully defined colour palette that she sticks to, oh, and ... those endpapers are pretty good too!! You can't beat great endpapers in a picture book.'  My Book Corner




'Great fun, great words!: A great read, full of lovely words and a story line for the grown ups as well as the children. My 4 year old regularly chooses this for bedtime story. The colourful and stylish illustration also make this a great book for a children's gift.' Bonnie Powell (Amazon review)

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