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Big Hid, by Roisin Swales

27th March 2017 | by Rachael Rogan

Most of you will, by now, be aware of my extreme fandom of publishing house Flying Eye, producers of such deliciousness as Francesca Sanna’saward-winning The Journey, Briony May Smith’s eye-dazzling Imelda and the Goblin King, and the exquisite Wild, by Emily Hughes… I have been known to salivate over their Latest Releases catalogue. So imagine, if you will, the high-pitched squealing that occurred when I received a pre-release copy of their latest beautiful title…

Big Hid Roisin Swales Flying Eye

Big Hid is the gorgeous debut from illustrator Roisin Swales, who graduated from Manchester School of Art just last year. Incredibly, this is not her first picture book – Why is Grandad Grumpy?, which formed part of her final university project, won the Pan Macmillan Highly Commended award in  2016, which gives you an insight into the level of talent here.

On the surface, it is a touching tale of two friends…

Big Hid Roisin Swales Flying Eye

…with an undercurrent of humour…

Big Hid Roisin Swales Flying Eye

However, it is when we come to the titular part of the story that Roisin’s gift for complex simplicity becomes clear. Much like Brendan Wenzel’s award-winning They All Saw a Cat, Roisin uses few words and images, allowing the reader to imprint their own story, their own perspective.

This may be a tale of friendship; it may touch on sadness; how sometimes it can be necessary to take time to be alone; it may reflect deeper issues, such as depression, and prompt a starting point for a wider conversation. Big Hid does what great books do, drawing the reader in, provoking bigger thinking.

Big Hid Roisin Swales Flying Eye

Big Hid takes a simple core theme and weaves words and images into a perfect whole, beautifully realised. The fact that it was actually Roisin’s final degree project makes it all the more impressive – the team at Flying Eye produced it almost entirely edit-free, and it has paid off. We suspect this will be the first of many great collaborations, and we’re already excited to see what she creates next.

(If you can’t wait, check out some of her amazing illustrations here, including the brilliant Why Is Grandad Grumpy?…)

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