The Secret of Black Rock

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Friendship, Independence, Adventure, Love, Family, Natural World, Conservation, Environmental Activism.

Summary: Erin and her mum live in a fishing village, where her mother owns her own fishing boat.  Erin longs to go with her mother while she fishes, because she wants to get closer to the spiky Black Rock that has a history of smashing boats.  She tries repeatedly to sneak on the boat but her dog Archie always sniffs her out.  When she does finally make it one day, she falls off the boat unexpectedly and finds out that Black Rock is actually alive! Not only is it not just a rock, but lots and lots of oceanic critters call Black Rock home.  When villagers want to destroy Black Rock, it’s up to Erin to save both the Rock and the animals!  No one listens to Erin that Black Rock isn’t a monster, so she sets off to stop them.

This book has several great messages within the covers.  First, how cool is it that Erins mother is a fisherwoman with her own boat?? Such a small and awesome way to subvert gender stereotyping.  Second is the message of environmental conservation and bravely standing up for what you believe in.  Erin feels passionately about saving Black Rock and all of the critters that call it home, and she’s not afraid to take direct action.

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.

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