Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘digital’

A Good Trade is “simple yet soulful”—Publishers Weekly

Posted on March 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

AGoodTrade_Jacket_Aug28.indd“Patkau (One Watermelon Seed) offers simple yet soulful digital collages that gracefully supplement Fullerton’s (Libertad) understated storytelling in this book set in a Ugandan village…The double gesture of kindness—the good trade—projects a strong spirit of generosity and gratitude, traits as universal as the appeal of a gift of cool new sneakers. Ages 5–up.”

Click here to read the full review.

Kirkus gives A Good Trade a Starred Review

Posted on February 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

AGoodTrade_Jacket_Aug28.indd“…On each spread, a few lines of spare text carry the story in a predictable pattern, a pleasure to read aloud. Page by page, verbs describe Kato’s experience as he wakes, skips, races, treks, fills, hauls, dawdles, hurries, runs, kneels, weaves, gives and dances.

Expertly crafted, Fullerton’s first picture book reminds readers of the pleasure of small things. (Picture book. 5-9)”

Click here to read the full review.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction reviews A Good Trade

Posted on November 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

The author uses clear prose and descriptive language to make the reader aware of the life that Kato lives. We hear the silence of the early morning, see the soldiers as they stand guard, feel the sloshing of the water on Kato’s bare, dusty toes, catch our breath with him as he hauls the water home and must stop to rest, and smile as he and the aid worker make their ‘good trade’.

Karen Patkau creates a setting that allows a glimpse at Kato’s life and his village, the bright and happy colors that the children wear (including their new shoes) and the muted landscape he travels over daily. Each page captures our attention and begs for discussion.

Click here to read the full review.

Interview with Karen Patkau

Posted on October 1st, 2012 by pajamapress

K.PatkauKaren Patkau is an award-winning artist and illustrator of children’s books. Written by Alma Fullerton, A Good Trade is a deceptively simple story about a special day in the life of a little boy growing up in Uganda. Karen joins us today to answer some questions about her work on the book.  

The text of A Good Trade is very brief, even minimalist. Do you find that an advantage as an illustrator, because it gives you a lot of room for interpretation, or is it easier when more of the story is fleshed out in the text?

I loved the brief, but powerful text of A Good Trade. Rather than giving me a lot of room for interpretation, it clearly defined what content had to be included in each illustration to tell the story. I was allowed more freedom when visually embellishing the story.

What was your favourite part about illustrating Kato’s story?

I tried to echo the message of this story with simple and bold illustrations. I developed a digital collage technique for the text that I really like. I used to do traditional collage and still like the strong use of colour, shape, texture, and pattern. Illustrating Kato’s story, in this way, was a very fulfilling experience.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was keeping the children, especially Kato, slightly abstract yet recognizable throughout the illustrations.

A Good Trade is a story of hope and gratitude, but it doesn’t ignore the realities of civil war and hardship in Uganda. How did you approach this balance in your art?

I approached the contrasts in this story in a straightforward way. I needed to show the magnificence of the African landscape, as well as the hardships of poverty and horrible reminders of war. I needed to show the exuberance of the Ugandan children and Kato’s beautiful spirit—his hope, joy, resourcefulness, and gratitude; despite their daily struggles.

Digital art is still a fairly new medium, especially in literary picture books. How do you find people respond to this style of art? Do you think it will one day be as mainstream as, say, watercolour illustrations?

I think the quality of picture book art is determined by the creativity and skill of the illustrator rather than the medium. During picture book presentations that I give, both young and old are very curious about my digital technique and process. Digital imaging is now an established method for anyone studying illustration. So yes, I do think it will become as mainstream as traditional mediums such as watercolour.

You can learn more about Karen at

Quill & Quire praises A Good Trade

Posted on September 20th, 2012 by pajamapress

“To most North American children, being able to turn on a tap and have clean water come out is a given. The latest book from Alma Fullerton, with illustrations by Karen Patkau, should open children’s eyes to the fact that not everyone is so lucky.

A Good Trade portrays a day in the life of Kato, a young Ugandan boy who rises with the sun and travels barefoot to the water pump just outside his village to collect a day’s worth of water for his family. On this particular day, an aid worker comes to the village square with a delightful gift, and Kato is inspired to reciprocate her kindness.

Fullerton uses simple prose to relay the story of Kato’s walk to the pump and back, but she notes details—the sloshing of water in the jerry cans, the rumbling of the aid worker’s truck, the armed soldiers standing sentry in a field—that paint a complete picture. Kato’s harsh reality is illustrated through tender moments as well, such as when he splashes cold water on his dusty feet before starting the long trek home.

Patkau’s distinctive digital illustrations are a pleasant complement to Fullerton’s text, capturing the terrain of the village. The greens and browns of the landscape provide a muted backdrop to the children’s brightly coloured clothing and jerry cans. The hard lines and distinct coloration make the pictures leap off the page, as in one splendid image of children pumping water that captures the vibrancy of a girl’s dress, the texture of the children’s hair, and the leafy foliage.

There is much more to this gentle story than its obvious message about the hardships faced by others. The juxtaposition of happy children in a war-torn village, and the beautiful exchange between Kato and the aid worker, portray the endurance of childhood innocence, suggesting small joys can be found in imperfect places.
–Katie Gowrie, Q&Q’s editorial intern.