Highgate picture book explores the strange faces of inanimate objects

Picture: Jacqueline Sinclair

Picture: Jacqueline Sinclair - Credit: Archant

Highgate illustrator Jacqueline Sinclair and husband Jeremy tell Bridget Galton about their debut picture book for children.

Husband and wife Jacqueline and Jeremy Sinclair from Mill Lane, Highgate

Husband and wife Jacqueline and Jeremy Sinclair from Mill Lane, Highgate - Credit: Archant

A husband and wife team from Highgate have collaborated on their first picture book for children based around the faces you imagine in inanimate objects.

Illustrator Jacqueline Sinclair created the colourful images for Faces Faces Faces while her ad executive husband Jeremy penned the words. She says the duo, who met while working at Saatchi and Saatchi, worked well together on the book.

“I got a job illustrating for Chiltern Seeds catalogues and thought ‘how can I approach a veg seed catalogue without getting bored?’ says Jacqueline who went to Chelsea Art School before becoming a graphic designer.

“So I started drawing veg with faces – so many vegetables are characters.

“I had done children’s books before and when I was going to work on something about veg for children, Jeremy had the idea that everything has got a face. He put some words down and we went from there.”

Jacqueline recalled a childhood fondness for anthropomorphising the objects around her.

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“When I was a child I remember lying in bed and seeing faces in the curtains or a shoe that looked like a face. When I look at an object it’s got a character. You can see perhaps two screws that look like eyes. I am sure children often see characters in objects. When you are out with them if they find the right stick it can become a baby or a gun!”

The couple have three children and two grandchildren aged 5 and nearly 3 who love looking for the surprise faces in all the pictures, and the book’s gentle message about treating possessions with care.

“We tried it out on them It’s Rosa’s favourite book and it’s been so nice making something they’ve enjoyed and fun working on it together although Jeremy’s stage was quicker than mine!

“We had small disagreements but we have worked well. When the children were little he used to tell them stories he had made up and I always said I wished he would write them down so I could illustrate them, but he never had the time.”

The couple have lived in Highgate for 35 years. Jacqueline doesn’t rule out collaborating on further books, although as chairman of M&C Saatchi Jeremy continues to be busy. But she says the art of producing a good storybook is harder than it appears. “It looks so simple, as though it took five minutes but you go through every word to think about whether the language is too grown up for them, whether it’s the right length and how children will receive it.”

Faces Faces Faces is published by Penguin Random House £12.99.