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Heart-warming ‘Lovebirds’ is a visual feast for readers

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Lovebirds, the just-published title from Cambridge Children’s Books, is a heart-warming book so beautifully illustrated by local artist and wildlife enthusiast Jamie Sugg it could be an art book of paintings on display in a gallery.

‘Lovebirds’ – one for Valentine’s Day?
‘Lovebirds’ – one for Valentine’s Day?

Written by Greg Hodder, Lovebirds is the story of Sam and Solomon, two lovebirds who fall in love, have children, and grow old together. Like all lovebirds, Sam and Solomon are partners for life, working together for the good of their family and their fellow lovebirds.

The story is about love, relationships and community in the natural world, and offers a few nuggets that reveal the essence of life and love in human partnerships too.

“By following the story of Sam and Solomon, you can learn about how love develops and endures through thick and thin,” says Greg. “This book really means a lot to me. I wrote it for my wife at Valentine’s! I wanted to write a story about love that held my hopes for our future and where we will end up together. I think it is lovely to see the whole of a life, from birth to old age, set out in front of you and framed in the lives of beautiful lovebirds.”

Jamie Sugg, left, and Greg Hodder. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jamie Sugg, left, and Greg Hodder. Picture: Keith Heppell

He adds: “I have been really lucky to be able to work with Jamie Sugg. I have known Jamie for a while as we both go to the same church in Cambridge. I have always known that he was an artist but he hadn’t done any children’s book illustrations before. So I showed him some different stories that I had written and he thought Lovebirds would be the perfect fit for his style.

“His illustrations are stunning and really help tell this story. He did lots of research about the natural habitat of the Fishers lovebirds and we built on that by putting lots of information about these birds in a book.”

Jamie is a Cambridgeshire-based landscape and wildlife artist living on the edge of the fens. His work, which reveals an astonishing variety of styles, is rooted in the fens of East Cambridgeshire. He calls the landscape his “constant inspiration – the vast never-ending skies, the interaction of light on the flat landscape and the movement of clouds across the sky combines with an endless search for mark-making and vibrancy to create works of bold colour, strong contrast and a sense of movement and emotion”.

The cover for Cambridge Children’s Books’ new title
The cover for Cambridge Children’s Books’ new title

Jamie says it was always his intention to become a professional artist early on in life, however he took the long route, via a 20-year career in reprographics, structural engineering, construction and the National Trust. His watercolour and coloured pencil work leans into his background in construction draughting – he “creates detailed work which highlights the intricacies of our created world, be it within its natural form or through the built environment”.

A Swaffham Bulbeck resident, Jamie said of his work on Lovebirds: “All the illustrations were created using oil-based coloured pencils on paper, over the course of six months. The front cover image is also featured in the book when the two lovebirds become friends.”

There are 29 illustrations in the new book, he adds.

Majestic art for Cambridge Children’s Books’ new title
Majestic art for Cambridge Children’s Books’ new title

“I have thoroughly enjoyed creating the illustrations for the Lovebirds book,” he continues. “Greg’s beautiful story of friendship and love enabled me to create pictures which show how we can all look after each other as a community. The illustrations will be available soon to buy from me – they will be mounted and framed ready to hang. They can contact me via my website or Cambridge Children’s Books.”

Greg started Cambridge Children’s Books in 2017. The Waterbeach author’s first book, The Little Lotus Flower, was published in 2018.

Last summer, Greg left his job in the charitable sector to go full-time as a publisher. The imprint now has five titles on sale.

Lovebirds is priced at £7.99 and is available from online booksellers or via Cambridge Children’s Books.

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