In a previous post are the screenshots of the emails i have sent to existing illustrator’s; asking their opinion on the question of gender stereotyping in children’s books and what the illustrators role is in this issue. I have already had a reply from Quentin Blake’s secretary informing me he is too busy to answer questions, so that was a shame but i hadn’t expected a reply from someone so busy 🙂 But i have been fortunate to have had some replies from illustrators that have been very helpful!

I also emailed Chris Campe who wrote the article in Varoom in gender stereotyping in illustration, because i felt she would have a well informed and rounded opinion on the matter and thankfully she gave me some very interesting and useful answers to my questions. The questions changed slightly with each illustrator i emailed due to me wanting questions to relate to them directly and not seem vague:chris campe

Hi Megan,

thanks for being in touch! I am always happy to hear from people who share some of my interests. Where do you study?
I don’t actually illustrate children’s books at all but I am mostly working for magazines and adult book publishers and you are right, it’s difficult for me to take the time and answer the kind of questions you are asking. The quick answers to any of the questions is „yes“, I am sorry I can’t give you more detailed answers right now. Luckily, children’s books are a well researched subject and I am sure you have already or will find some great literature that deals with gender aspects of children’s book.
Thanks again for writing to me, it’s great to know that you liked my contribution to Varoom.
Good Luck with your BA dissertation!
Best regards
This is the reply above, in case it is hard to read from the email screen shot.  Below is the reply i recieved from Mel Elliot, who has recently published the feminist childrens story: “Pearl Power”
Dear Ms Elliott  🙂

I am writing my dissertation on gender representation in children’s books and specifically on what an illustrators role in representing gender is, and whether they have any control over it. I was shown your book by my university tutor and its wonderful! literally the first of its kind i’ve seen thats so refreshing and i love the colour scheme 🙂 its such a nice change from all that pink! I was wondering whether i could ask you a few questions about your feelings on the issue of gender stereotyping in children’s books if that’s ok 🙂 because you clearly have strong views on it and i’d love to know what shaped your opinions. If this is at all possible i’ve written a few questions at the bottom of this email and would be very grateful for any info you could give.
1. do you feel that you as an illustrator can have an impact on gender stereotyping in children’s books?

It’s worth a shot! Seriously though, I think I can. I do feel very strongly about gender equality and as with most things, I think the younger we teach people, the better. I tried to write the story so that it was fun and that young children of both sexes would see the humour in it. These are quite serious issues but you can’t ram them down the throats of 5 years old. It has to be a fun learning curve.

2. when presented with a brief to illustrate a children books, do you have any control over how characters are portrayed and whether genders are presented fairly?

Hmm this isn’t that relevant to me, in that this is my first children’s book and I wrote it and set the brief and published it. I have never actually been briefed to illustrate a children’s book.

3. what shaped your opinions on gender representation in children’s books?

My own daughter really (Pearl, who is 5 years old). I witness so many stereotypes being forced upon her as she looks at books and comics, as she watches TV and as she walks around in supermarkets or the high street. It’s so harmful and it’s plain to see that it’s a money making exercise by larger companies. What they are doing is wrong and damaging to young children’s attitudes towards each other and damaging to their own ambitions and confidence.

4. is there anything you would like to see change in illustrating for childrens books in relation to gender representation?

Yes, I’d like to see more strong, young female characters. Less princesses, less pink, less stay at home mums, less dads out at work, less male doctors, less female nurses… I could go on and on and on. Whilst I realise that there ARE female nurses and that there is nothing wrong with pink, we need to take positive steps to readdress the balance: which I hope is what ‘Pearl power’ does.

5. when you are dealing with a client to illustrate a children’s book, are there any restrictions you face when representing different gender roles?

Again, this is irrelevant, sorry.


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