Heidi Olivia Cannon

Master of Children's Book Illustration

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NB. Views and opinions of students in the degree show are their own and do not represent the views of the University.


Hello, I'm Heidi, a children's book illustrator and author based in North West England.

During my MA, I wanted to examine if illustrators could design interactive picture books to encourage children to engage their own imaginations to explore these books and assist in preparing them to be multiliterate individuals, posing the question, "Can illustrators help children become multiliterate individuals through interactive picture books?"

As children are subjected to more digital and technological innovations than ever before, trends in children’s picture books follow these new resources in the way they are told and presented.

I looked at the range of interactive books available and the different methods illustrators use to get children to interact. I completed academic research into multiliteracy and interactivity. I then focused on the illustrators themselves, conducting a survey to investigate their approach and working methods. Whilst recognising the educational benefits of interactive books, almost all of the illustrators responses placed priority on the story and illustrations above the interactivity.

I began to investigate various ways I could include interactivity within my work, alongside experimenting with different painting techniques to evolve my style further. I found a combination of traditional and digital gave me the most interesting result.

My first book, The Owl and the Pussycat House Hunt, contains a simple innovative interactive element, with plans for a large scale interactive project.

My second book, The Biscuit Tin Blues integrates several interactive concepts, combining my interest in music with illustration. The story takes the form of a song I had recorded by a musician. This sing-a-long song will be played by the reader as they make their way through the book and explore the other interactive elements.

I concluded illustrators can help children become more multiliterate individuals through interactive picture books, but these interactive pages should be included where relevant, based on their value and interest not for the sake of having them.