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Illustrator, Pam Smy, visits DGs to talk about her book, 'Thornhill'

Posted on: 09/03/2018

On Thursday 8th March, Pam Smy visited Didcot Girls’ School to talk to Year 8 students about her book, ‘Thornhill’. Pam has provided the beautiful illustrations to accompany many novels, including some by the award-winning author, Linda Newbery. ‘Thornhill’ is a wonderfully gothic book, inspired in-part by some of Pam’s own favourite novels, most notably ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, as well as Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’. Pam weaves together two narratives, one told as diary entries from a girl writing in 1982, and the other told through a series of haunting black and white illustrations of a girl living in 2017. Students were fascinated to hear about the painstaking hours Pam lovingly spent researching, sketching and model-making, before arriving at the finished piece that is now ‘Thornhill’.

Following this, selected Year 8 students took part in a workshop with Pam, focusing on showing emotion in illustration. Students learned about the importance of symbolism and produced some beautiful work conveying a wide range of feelings.

Over lunch time, students were able to meet Pam and buy copies of her book, which she signed and dedicated to them. We were lucky enough to get one of the library’s copies of ‘Thornhill’ signed too! The students, particularly the excitable Year 7 and 8 Reading Ambassadors, were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Pam and take a closer look at her models and sketch books, as well as ask any questions there hadn’t been time to ask during the talk.

Pam’s visit was the perfect highlight for International Women’s Day 2018, with the illustrator sharing inspirational advice on following your dreams, being confident with who you are and being true to yourself.

‘Thornhill’ is available to borrow from the school library. It has been nominated for the 2018 Oxfordshire Book Awards, and the prestigious Kate Greenaway Award for illustration.

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