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An interview with Catell Ronca, illustrator of The Drum and The Flute

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We interviewed the Swiss artist Catell Ronca, who illustrates the series Children. Music. Life. by Ken Wilson-Max. The first book in this four-part series was The Drum, which is now followed by the fab sequel The Flute. Read the fab interview below!

Catell Ronca with her book The Flute

How did you interpret the sound of the flute as images?

I think of the flute as an instrument that can express all sorts of feelings. All the different flutes have different properties. One can sound very bright, lively and upbeat, the next deep and dreamy, and then some can be piercing and loud, while others can whistle like the wind. To that effect, I used weather situations during the four seasons to show the diversity of tunes.

What’s your personal relationship with music? Do you play an instrument?

I don’t play anything at the moment. But I generally listen to a lot of music.

Can you tell us a bit about the process of illustrating The Flute?

We came up with the idea to have the Flute characters live somewhere in a Nordic country (The Drum was vaguely set in an African country). I really wanted it to be a colourful book, so I looked at all the lovely flowers that are found in the north and also because I started with the project in spring, and there were flowers everywhere.  I felt inspired by Ken Wilson-Max’s words and associated different weather conditions with them. My aim was to show the rhythm of the four seasons, and how the atmosphere can change from one page to the next, just like the sounds of the instrument itself. Finally, I wanted to show a group of children from different ethnic backgrounds, as we live a diverse world, even if the book is set somewhere in a Nordic country.

How can parents use a book like The Flute to encourage their children to make music?

The best thing would be to listen to flute music while reading the book to really emphasise how the range of flute sounds can rouse different kinds of emotions. Perhaps this book is also a good tool for teaching emotional expression.

How do you feel about the way The Flute turned out?

I am very happy with how it looks and it is a great follow-up to The Drum.

What three words would you use to describe The Flute?

Colourful, lively, and emotional.

  • The Drum named among best diverse children’s books by The Evening Standard
  • Hurrah! The Drum nominated for Kate Greenaway Awards!
  • Read a blog: Travel the world with the music of The Flute!

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