I’m taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of my friend, Aileen Crossley’s debut picture book, Henny is Stuck (Little Door Books).
I went back to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair for the fourth time last week. I had a great time filled with beautiful books, good food and wonderful fellow illustrators. I wrote about my last three BCBF experiences (2017, 2018 & 2019), but this time I’d like to share Aileen and Henny’s journey that involves their Bologna success.
Henny is Stuck is a story about blue chick who is stuck in her shell. She can’t get out even with her friends’ help. It’s a story about perseverance, bravery and friendship. Henny’s perseverance reminds me of Aileen’s determination to get the book published.
I met Aileen at Picturecamp, a week-long picture book masterclass in Spain, in 2015. That’s where I saw Henny in the early dummy shape (she was called Blue Egg back then, and the first idea was hatched during Aileen’s degree show in 2011). I got to witness the journey of Aileen and Henny ever since. Over the following 7 years the story has gone through great metamorphosis.
Aileen kept rewriting the text and reworked the illustrations with different techniques (etching, hand drawn, digital, and lithography). The result is a riot of colours, whimsical characters and beautiful backdrops inspired by Irish countryside.
In 2018, Aileen and Henny went to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair for the first time. But it was the 2022 fair where they found their publisher, Little Door Books. Read her interview with Red Paper Kite for more about how the encounter happened.
For Henny, the strength to face the fear and crack her sticky problem comes from within, just like Aileen who stayed true to herself and believed in the story despite of the long journey. Aileen’s perseverance to get this book published has been inspirational. I’m delighted to see the final transformation of the little blue chick in the physical book form. Well done, Aileen and Henny!
The book is now available from all good bookshops.
Aileen Crossley: Aileen is a Dublin based illustrator, animator and motion designer. Her work combines her love of printmaking and lithography and retro style illustration.