Judging a book by its cover: Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf

Posted on 23rd July 2015 by Lesley Barnes
How illustrator Lesley Barnes created the new cover for our July Children's Book of the Month, Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf

I was delighted to be asked to illustrate the cover for Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf. I have quite a collection of vintage Puffins of my own which hold a very special place in my heart.


Many were old ones that my mum bought for me at jumble sales when I was little. I looked to these for inspiration when I was creating the Polly artwork as I think there was something very special about these vintage Puffin covers that still make an impression on me today. I particularly loved the ones where there are children and animals together. One of my favourite Puffin covers was for By the Shores of Silver Lake where a girl clings on to her galloping pony. I love the connection between the girl and her horse and that was something that I wanted to capture between Polly and the Wolf in my own illustration.


I was also inspired by the cover illustration on a vintage book called The Starlight Barking (which is the sequel to 101 Dalmatians). The dog illustrations on the inside and outside are some of the best I have ever seen.

I also turned to my dog friend Frank to help me. Despite being long and elegant Frank has the slightly goofy expression and impressive jaws of the Wolf. It was very important that the Wolf wasn’t too scary despite his size and sharp teeth... and this made me think of Frank! I used to share a studio with Frank and his owner Jo and I miss his long nose resting on my lap.


I work in a studio in Glasgow surrounded by books and objects that inspire me. I even have a couple of wolves I created for other projects on my desk! I always start my drawings using ink and cut paper before scanning my images into the computer where I can add colour and texture.



I had a lot of fun doing the covers for Polly and it’s really nice to think of my illustrations on Puffin covers... books that meant so much to me when I was growing up. Hopefully I can do even more!



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