Jim Field is no stranger to my blog with many previous picture books shared that he is illustrated including Oi Puppies! and The Way Home For Wolf . Now Jim has written and illustrated his debut book Monsieur Roscoe On Holiday.
Monsieur Roscoe On Holiday is an engaging and fun read. The book will prove a great resource to many as not only does it share the story of a friendly dog and his goldfish on holiday, readers will be able to learn various words and phrases in French. The book includes splendid spreads full of colour and detail and various animals to spot.
As part of the blog tour for this new release, I am delighted to share an interview with Jim Field, where we talk all about his new book and more.
A huge welcome to my blog. Thank you so much for taking time to join us and happy blog tour for your new book! Eek, so exciting or rather comme c’est excitant!
I am a big fan of your work. From your quirky illustrations from the Oi! Series written by Kes Gray, your breathtaking double page spreads in The Way Home for Wilf written by Rachel Bright and tender illustrations in Grandpa Christmas written by Michael Morpurgo. So talented and the fifth bestselling illustrator in the U.K.? BUT this time you’ve gone it alone and produced your debut book.
-How does that feel?
It was rather terrifying about a year ago when I was trying to make the story work, but now I’m delighted Monsieur Roscoe is out in the world.
-I’m aware that an early sketch, from a few years ago, of a dog inspired you to create a story for him. How long did your idea for Monsieur Roscoe to publication take?
Yes- The initial character came to me several years ago while designing a dog for a pet food company. I did a very simple drawing of a long-eared dog and I really liked it. So, I redrew it, added a bowler hat, a suit, tweed trousers and brogues and Monsieur Roscoe was born!
It took a long time to work out the format of this book- 4 years, on and off. The concept arrived when my daughter was just a baby and my wife and I were searching the shelves in a local bookshop in Paris for English/French bilingual books. There weren’t many, so we decided to create our own.
-As an illustrator how did you plan your book? What came first the words or the illustrations? Could we have a sneaky peek of some early sketches of Monsieur Roscoe?
Well it was unusual for me as I usually have someones story which I then visualise. The initial idea I had for Monsieur Roscoe was a much simpler book, a day in the life of Monsieur Roscoe – like the format of Mr Men with the words on one page and illustration on the other, with one or two French words on each page.
But after bouncing ideas back and forth with my Editor – the wonderful Emma Layfield, we felt it was more fun if he was going on holiday and it became a much richer book, using comics sequences and themed busy spreads with lots of new French words and phrases children and parents can pick up. The format of the book was the hardest thing to crack, as it’s not a picture book, and it’s not a language book but it’s both. So I really had to crack the story visually first and then build the words around them.
-The detail of work throughout the book is amazing. I have a favourite spread which features all the shops in French. I love all the detail and the busyness. Have you got a favourite page?
Thank you so much. I think that’s my favourite one too, but blimey, it took a long time to draw all of the elements and characters, as I wanted this loose textured charcoal line which I couldn’t achieve drawing small so each page was drawn at A2 scale.
-How would you describe your art?
Well for this book it’s a bit different to the books I’ve illustrated before with Kes Gray and Rachel Bright for instance. It’s a simpler, bolder style but hopefully people can still recognise it’s by me. I guess I would describe my art as characterful and funny.
-You now live in Paris, how long have you lived there? For anyone who has not been to Paris, how would you describe it?
I have lived in Paris for 5 years now. It is a beautiful city – in places – but like London it has its rougher edges too.
What’s so charming about Paris is how it is still keeps its style of the 19th century Haussmann’s architecture. It is restricted to build above 7 floors so it preserves the cities old character, some areas of Paris you feel like you have leapt back in time.
I’d definitely recommend a visit to Paris to anyone.
-Monsieur Roscoe has a book loving, pet fish named Fry, ace name. How about yourself? Have you any pets who love books too?!
Haha – I’m glad you like the name! Fry is a very intelligent fish, she is the thinker for Monsieur Roscoe. We have a pet cat called Nami, she’s more into sleeping than reading sadly.
-I love how the book shares a simple story and along the way you’re learning a new language. How long have you been speaking French for? I’m sure it has helped hugely having a French wife?
I didn’t know any French when I arrived (except the ‘Bonjour’ song I learnt in French Class 30 years ago) and I’ve struggled over the years to grasp the language. I really struggled with learning French and German at Secondary School. I feel the UK teaches foreign languages too late unlike many countries in Europe.
There are huge benefits to learning a language at a very young age. Our daughter is has just turned four and is truly bilingual. It’s incredible. She’s already teasing me on my bad French annunciation!
My wife speaks amazing English – we met in London, so we nearly always speak together in English. She does help me, but she loses her patience with my bad French at times.
-You are a successful, award winning illustrator but what do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Well that’s not very often I have time to myself as we’re usually trying to keep our 4 year old daughter entertained! But I love mountain biking, sadly it’s something I haven’t been able to do since I moved here but I do cycle everywhere in Paris. I also play the guitar, which I find very relaxing and therapeutic. I love music, it’s always on in my studio and at home and I also love to go to gigs. Although this year of course, that’s not been possible.
-As a child what did you enjoy reading? What was your favourite book?
Richard Scarry’s books have had a great influence on me, especially when working on Monsieur Roscoe. I remember staring at his wonderfully illustrated busy scenes for ages as a child.
-As a parent now to a little girl, what do you look for when choosing books for her?
Being an illustrator I’m drawn instantly by the style of the art work for the book. I like to buy her something that has its own personality, style and mood. She’s a fan of funny books, especially stories when you can do silly voices. ‘Alan’s big Scary Teeth’ by Jarvis is one of our favourites to read together. It’s hilarious.
-And finally, we’ve all experienced this rather strange time during COVID. What’s the one positive thing you’ve taken from that time?
Like many, lockdown was a real juggling act as my wife and I were both working and sharing the childcare. I think looking back in years to come, we’ll cherish the time that we had as a family.
I’ll miss the calm and peace in the city of Paris. It was lovely to be able to hear birdsong instead of building work or traffic for two months.
Thank you so much for visiting Mamma Filz. I’m sure Monsieur Roscoe on holiday will be enjoyed by many and I look forward to seeing future work, another for Monsieur Roscoe? I guess we shall have to wait and see.
I am planning some new adventures for him so I hope so soon!
I am rather excited for that.
If you’ve missed any. posts from the blog tour, not to worry, here is where you can find them:
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.