Nicola Davies is an award-winning author whose many books for children include A First Book of Nature, Ice Bear, Big Blue Whale and the Silver Street Farm series. She graduated in zoology, studied whales and bats then worked in the BBC Nature History Unit. Underlying all Nicola’s writing is the belief that a relationship with nature is essential to every human being, and that now, more than ever, we need to renew that relationship.
Anja Uhren is a storyteller – working with images as well as words to deliver narratives. Originally from Germany she now lives and works in the UK as a freelance illustrator, after graduating from the Arts University Bournemouth in summer 2015. Anja loves drawing, travelling and comics and nothing better than combining all three. On her journeys, big and small, she always carries one or two sketchbooks to record observations and impressions which later inform and inspire her illustration practice.
“Two illustrated stories set long ago and far away. Small but sea-loving Keenan Mowat is the youngest of three brothers. He rescues them all from sure death when he heeds a strange man’s words and takes a hook, an ax, and a silver sword—a butter knife—with him when the brothers go out on their fishing boat. Ostra, meanwhile, is from “the days before computers, before cars, before electricity…[when] humans were closer to nature.” Her ability to communicate with animals—and they with her—saves her from a cruel, selfish man who wants to marry her for her strength. Both Ostra and Keenan find love in very different ways. Each tale is illustrated in a similar line and wash palette, though with a distinctive style. Uhren’s illustrations in Mother Cary’s Butter Knife create continually dark, foreboding sea scenes, while Izlesou’s art in The White Hare contrasts pastoral scenes and gentle Ostra with a harsh huntsman. Both titles have a sophisticated sensibility but will read aloud well. VERDICT Unusual and beautifully illustrated offerings from a small Welsh publisher. Ideal for fans of dark folktales and fairy tales.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library” School Library Journal, March 2017
“The book is short, but will immerse you in its story, and the illustrations add to the mystical and otherwordly feel. Mother Cary’s Butter Knife by Nicola Davies and Anja Uhren is a new fairy tale that already feels like a classic.” San Diego Book Review
‘Inspired by traditional folk tales of mythical sea creatures, this other-worldly story of the savagery and beauty of the ocean will captivate readers. The ethereal illustrations, in a palette of watery blues, greens and greys, perfectly complement the poetic narrative. The author’s love and respect for nature shines through in this mesmerising tale from the Shadows and Light series.’ BookTrust’s Watery Reads for 8-12s