Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Sleepy Hummingbirds is the first book in an enchanting new series of children’s books celebrating the real-life beauty and wonder of the natural world. We speak to illustrator Rosie Butcher to find out what it’s like bringing this magical series to life!
Rosie Butcher, illustrator of Magical Kingdom of Birds
How did you approach illustrating the Magical Kingdom of Birds?
The first thing I did was read the story! At least twice! That way
I get a proper feel for the characters and what they will be facing
in the adventure. After that, I spend a lot of time thinking about
the brief, even when looking after my toddler around the house
or laying in bed—I get my best ideas for compositions when I’m
What research did you have to do into the birds and their habitats?
I had to research hummingbirds quite a bit, particularly the
flowers they visit so I could depict the foliage and flora
accurately in the scenes.
How would you describe your style? What media do you use for creating the illustrations?
Growing up I loved Monet and Van Gogh and would try to
imitate their brush strokes with paint when I was very young; I
think a lot of my mark making comes from that. I always sketch
my compositions out on paper with a 2b pencil first, and then I
scan or photograph the rough illustrations onto my computer
and work into them on Corel Painter. I use a range of digital
brushes including gouache, charcoal, and watercolours.
Do you have a favourite character or scene from the book and why?
I love the scene with Maya taking flight on Patch’s back for the
first time—that was such a joy to illustrate and I got such a sense
of the exhilaration from Anne’s description of the scene. I love
Willow; she’s such a caring soul and I really admire her
knowledge and compassion for all the different types of birds
under her care.
Which bird do you find most magical and why?
I think birds are quite magical creatures in general; the way they
are equipped to fly and hunt and build a nest—natural selection
is a very magical process. A beautiful example of this is
camouflage; some birds can disguise themselves as foliage or a
tree branch so effectively they are indistinguishable from their
surroundings. I also love Blackbirds. My daughter and I have
been watching a family of them who built their nest in our old
Christmas tree at the bottom of our garden; the brown spines
made the perfect camouflage for the brown baby birds.
Do you have any top tips for budding illustrators?
I think you need a real love for visual storytelling; publishing, in
particular, is a fast-moving industry and its good to immerse
yourself in the visual trends—keep collecting those images and
storybooks that make your heart flutter. I also think it’s
important to keep evolving your own visual style and be flexible;
challenge yourself by trying new mediums to produce artwork
that really communicates what you are trying to say.
What was your favourite book as a child and why?
When I was very little, my favourite picture book was Dogger
by Shirley Hughes and it’s now a firm favourite of my daughter’s.
I had a special toy I would be so afraid to lose so the story
really resonated with me. As an older child, the book I loved
above all others was The Twits by Roald Dahl and Quentin
Blake; I just thought it was hilarious.
Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Sleepy Hummingbirds is the first title in an enchanting new series of chapter books by Anne Booth and Rosie Butcher. Filled with enchanting fairies, majestic birds, and magical wonder, this beautiful new series is perfect for children aged 6+. Buy now on Amazon.