The Elves and The Shoemaker 1897


Illustrated by Rupert Bear artist John Harrold, “The Elves and The Shoemaker, 1897” is a story told almost entirely without words.

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John Harrold, who worked on the Rupert Annuals and the Daily Express’ Rupert Bear strip for more than 30 years, was also given an extra tier of challenge with this, his first major publishing commission since leaving Rupert and friends behind, as The Elves and The Shoemaker, 1897 is a story told almost entirely without words. John worked closely on the project with Independent Literacy consultant and publisher Alan Peat, who strongly believes that wordless picture books are a valuable way of encouraging children of all ages to enjoy stories. Alan said: “John had decades of experience drawing Rupert Bear, where he carefully structured the frames and their sequential relationship to ensure that the stories could be easily understood by young children who hadn’t yet learned to read.” “Wordless picture books are an immensely valuable tool for the development and enjoyment of both reading and writing. They help children to gain an understanding of how whole stories are constructed. They also serve as a prompt for the imagination.” “With Rupert, John honed his ability to create narrative images that were as independent of the text as possible. He said at the start that illustrating ‘The Elves and The Shoemaker 1897’ simply meant taking things one stage further!” John and Alan’s new version of The Elves, is sited in 1897, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year. “We wanted to include incidental historical details, chamber pots and the like, to add an extra layer of interest for readers of all ages, ” Alan explained. “It gave John the additional challenge of seamlessly integrating these into the story, which he has managed to do brilliantly. It’s a real testament to his skill as an artist and illustrator.” John said: “I relished the challenge of recounting the late Victorian version of ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’ in a purely graphic form without employing dialogue or any of the little explanatory captions such as ‘Later that day – ‘; ‘Next morning – ‘; or ‘Autumn turns to winter’ that one normally uses in graphic works to inform the reader of the passage of time.” “I’ve tried to create extended sequences of unbroken, chronological action in order to facilitate their retelling by children, but there were, inevitably, moments when I had to convey, in some way or other, the passage of time. This is something which is often done in TV or cinematic dramatisations through evocative music. These elements, which link the extended sequences, were, I must confess, the hardest parts of the story to handle, demanding the greatest ingenuity.” “I very much hope that the visual narrative and images will fire many young imaginations.” John is currently working on a series of children’s books together with Alan Peat and Creative Educational Press Ltd and is in the process of finishing ‘The Magic Stone’ a delightful, contemporary tale with colour illustrations and text, written by Alan Peat.


About The Author

ALAN PEAT is an Independent Literacy Consultant. His unique INSET, conference and school-based training provides teachers and school leaders with practical, effective and enjoyable strategies for raising pupils’ achievement in both reading and writing. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Historical Association, Alan is the author of a number of books on a wide range of subjects including education, art and ceramics. The Magic Stone is his first story for children.

About The Illustrator

JOHN HARROLD was born in Glasgow and studied drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art. He has lived in Courbevoie, on the outskirts of Paris, for the past 17 years. For over three decades he was the Rupert Bear artist for the Daily Express, producing the daily strip adventures for the newspaper as well as the famous Rupert Bear annuals. In this capacity, he signed the new Rupert Annual in Canterbury every November for 18 years – an event that was immensely popular and built up a faithful attendance. John has also illustrated Alan Peat’s first children’s story, The Magic Stone.


Reviews Artistry, 27 Feb. 2013

This is recommended for those readers who prefer the pictures to lead them along, rather than the text. It is a new slant on an old folk or fairy(elves) tale. John Harrold will always be remembered for his work for over a quarter of a century illustrating the Rupert Bear stories in the Daily Express and for his glorious work on the Rupert Annual – he drew the covers from the 1978 Annual to the 2008 Annual inclusive.
The frames are so lifelike that the characters could almost step out of the panels and the movement and emotion displayed by them is exquisite.

Additional information

Weight 0.16 kg
Dimensions 29.7 x 21 x 0.5 cm


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