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  • Writer's pictureDavid Salariya

Book Makers - Behind The Pages: Carolyn Scrace Chooses Her Top Ten Books

Updated: May 22

Carolyn Scrace has worked as an illustrator and writer for more than forty years. She also works under the name of Carolyn Franklin (her married name). Mick and Carolyn have been together for 38 years and were married 6th December 2002. They have three children and five grandchildren. Mick is a toolmaker, unusual skills in the digital age and very much a dying craft. Throughout her long career Carolyn's unwavering passion for art and design encompasses a wide span of artwork styles and subjects and she has worked on too many books to count! 

I take a look behind the pages and discover Carolyn Scrace's Top Ten Books, starting with The Bronze Trumpeter, each of the books has a story to tell.

Carolyn Scrace at Frankfurt. The Salariya Book Company stand at the Frankfurt Bookfair.
Carolyn Scrace

As a graduate of Brighton College of Art in England, Carolyn's art education began under the wings of three remarkable lecturers: Raymond Briggs, John Vernon Law and Carol Lawson. Carol was Carolyn's personal tutor and her main influence, setting project briefs based on Carol's own freelance jobs, for example a college project based on a double page spread for the Mitchel Beazley Joy of Knowledge Encyclopaedia, using the Mitchel Beazley art director's brief. Their mentorship provided Carolyn with invaluable insights into the world of illustration, instilling in her a keen eye for detail and a relentless pursuit of creativity. 

Freelancing aged sixteen

From freelancing at the age of sixteen Carolyn has encountered challenges which became stepping stones to her growth as an artist.The pivotal project 'Giants,' with David Larkin, marked a significant milestone in Carolyn's early career, reinforcing the importance of meeting deadlines and refining her artistic styles.

A wide portfolio of styles

Her wide portfolio of work and her published books span decades and are in a multitude of styles and subjects: from children's picture books and information books, to sophisticated colouring books for adults to staggeringly swaggering fashion drawings fit for French haute couture fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and of course all the art instruction books. Carolyn's artistic versatility really knows no bounds. 

New View

I first met Carolyn back in the 1980's when she came to my studio in Brighton, I had been working on a new series of books to be published by Franklin Watts, I'd given this series the title of New View and was looking for an illustrator to work on a book about Rainforests. The idea was that I'd have a top to bottom view of a subject and the spreads inside would zoom in on a specific area - the book jackets would have poster on the inside of the jacket.

The New View series published by Franklin Watt with seagulls and a cross section of the ocean
The New View series: Carolyn Scrace's artwork on the cover of Seas & Oceans

A Spectacular Portfolio

As you can imagine Carolyn showed a spectacular portfolio - just right for the job in hand - and she was wearing her artwork too, she had painted her black leather jacket with tattoo themed designs. Inspired by her talent and unique flair, I promptly commissioned Carolyn for this project. Little did I know, that initial meeting would grow into a long lasting collaboration and friendship.

So from such a huge back catalogue, I set Carolyn the task and asked her the question...

So...Carolyn, can you choose your top ten books from your vast back catalogue, can you tell us why you have chosen these titles and why these books are important to you?

Certainly! Over my career spanning more than four decades, I've had the privilege of working on many projects that hold a special place in my heart. Each book represents different times in my career and the diverse range of experiences that have shaped my life in art. Here are the top ten books that I've selected, each with its own back story:

Illustrator and Writer Carolyn Scrace's Top Ten Books

The Bronze Trumpeter

1: The Bronze Trumpeter written by Jenny Nino, published by Angus and Robertson.

I was still at school taking my ‘O’ Levels when I was lucky enough to be asked if I would like the opportunity to illustrate the cover and accompanying black and white spot illustrations for The Bronze Trumpeter. This was the first time that I been given a brief to work to, and was the beginning of my career as an illustrator. 

Art work for The Bronze Trumpeter by Carolyn Scrace
The Bronze Trumpeter by Jenny Nimmo. Illustrated by Carolyn Scrace


2: GIANTS  Designed by David Larkin, published by Pan Books.

Illustrations by Julek Heller, Juan Wijngaard and  Carolyn Scrace.

After finishing my degree course in illustration and design at Brighton College of Art, I began showing my portfolio to various London - based publishers. In those days it was possible to phone an art director and make an appointment to see them in person. Being a graduate of Brighton Art College was helpful as many of them had either attended it themselves or knew someone else who had. Name-dropping certainly helped open doors when John Lord was your head of department and Raymond Briggs one of the tutors. Yet again I was extremely lucky when I showed my work to Gary Day-Ellison the Art Director of Pan Books. He introduced me to David Larkin, who offered me the opportunity to be one of the three illustrators to work on GIANTS, the follow-up title to the extremely successful FAERIES which was exquisitely illustrated by Brian Froud and Alan Lee. This was a tremendous opportunity and learning curve for me. Both Juan and Julek were brilliant and experienced illustrators and somehow all three different styles worked well together.

The deadlines were tight and more than once I had to work through the night to complete the artwork on time, my father delivering finished pieces up to London, while I continued working on at my desk. My father Maurice Scrace was a self taught artist, photographer, poet and amateur radio buff. He left school aged 14 and delivered milk for the local farmers. At 18 he joined the army where he was given amphibious tank training in readiness for the Normandy landings. Despite the utter brutality and horror of the Second World War my father somehow retained his inner child, finding and sharing with me his humour and joy in every day things.

Front cover of the book Giants designed by David Larkin
Front Cover of Giants Designed by David Larkin

The X-Ray Picture Books

3: X-Ray Picture Book of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures,

written by Kathryn Senior

    X-Ray Picture Book of Incredible Creatures, written by Gerald Legg.

Published by Franklin Watts, London..


The X-Ray series, the brainchild of David Salariya, covered a wide range of topics and became a tremendous success with worldwide sales. I’ve chosen both these books from the series as they were very much sister titles and I was so interested and excited by the subjects. John Cooper who, at the time, was Keeper of Geology at the Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton, acted as consultant on X-Ray Dinosaurs. His enthusiasm for the subject was contagious and he shared both his understanding of the world of dinosaurs and also invaluable reference materials. John extrapolated the current understanding gleaned from fossil evidence, to enable me to illustrate cutaways of dinosaurs showing what and where their various organs might be. I well remember taking my portfolio of all the completed artwork to John for his final approval, and then waiting in some trepidation for his comments. Having checked the entire book he pointed out that there was a single, tiny bone missing from the Plateosaurus’s finger!

To say I was impressed is a total understatement! 

Similarly, working on X-Ray Incredible Creatures with Gerald Legg who was then the Keeper of Natural Sciences at

The Booth Museum, I was able to illustrate some amazing creatures that hadn’t, at that time, been visualised before: for example imagining a three dimensional image from a two dimensional image seen through a microscope. While illustrating this book I went on holiday to Greece and took one of the spreads with me to work on. At the airport, customs officials were making random luggage checks. Inevitably, they picked my suitcase to open - and looked aghast at my holiday packing- a selection of books on frogs and other amphibians! 

Front covers for The X Ray Picture Book series designed and created by David Salariya
The Front covers of The X Ray Picture Book OF Incredible Creatures and The X Ray Picture Book Of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures. Created and designed by David Salariya

Gorilla Journal 

4: Gorilla Journal  Published by Book House, an imprint of The Salariya Book Company. 

David Salariya had the idea of creating and designing a series of journals about animal encounters that were both fun and informative. I wrote and illustrated the first title, Gorilla Journal, which was based on a trip to Volcanos National Park in Rwanda to see mountain gorillas in the wild. It was written in the first person and in a day-by-day diary format which included handwritten notes, sketches, photographs and maps. My intention was to convey the unbelievable excitement one would experience when seeing these beautiful creatures in the wild. The journal was an ideal way of describing the everyday life of mountain gorilla families. At the end of the book there was a section on gorilla conservation, including information on how the reader could get involved and help these incredible animals survive. I was absolutely thrilled when the book was shortlisted for the ALCS Information Writers’ Award 2013. 

Front Cover of Gorilla Journal with artwork by Carolyn Scrace/Carolyn Franklin - Cover designed by David Salariya, series created by David Salariya
Front Cover Gorilla Journal

5: Fast Forward Rainforest, written by Kathryn Senior. Published by Book House an Imprint of The Salariya Book Company.

Yet another fabulous series of books designed by David Salariya, Fast Forward featured split pages which enabled the reader to see two different versions of each double page spread. For example, in the Rainforest I was able to illustrate the different animals found at night and those during the day - shown in the same scene. I have always been passionate about wildlife and fascinated by rainforests so it was a particular joy to work on this book. My intention was to create as realistic a representation of the forest animals in their environment as possible. It was so interesting and rewarding to research the subject and I was over the moon when the book won the TES (Times Educational Supplement Award) for Senior Information Book of the Year.

Fast Forward: Rainforest. Created and designed by David Salariya, written by Kathryn Senior and illustrated by Carolyn Scrace.

Book Cover Fast Forward series created and designed by David Salariya, Written by Cathryn Senior, illustrated by Carolyn Scrace, shows South American Leopard
Fast Forward Rainforest, written by Cathryn Senior and Illustrated by Carolyn Scrace

Inside page for Rainforest - Illustrated by Carolyn Scrace
Inside page for Fast Forward Rainforest

The ART Colouring Books

6: The ART Colouring Books 1 and 2.  Published by Book House, an imprint of The Salariya Book Company.

This was such an exciting project to work on and completely different from anything I’d done previously! I worked without a brief as such, and not only did I thoroughly enjoy the creative process, I also felt happy with the images I produced. Normally I am so aware of how I could have illustrated a subject better, but somehow each illustration seemed to fall into place - I loved working on these books. 

Front Cover Art Colouring Book By Carolyn Scrace, Cover design by David Salariya
Art Colouring Books

Front Covers Art Book Colouring Book 2 Designed by David Salariya
Art Colouring Books by Carolyn Scrace

Tyrone the Clean ‘o’ Saurus

7:  Tyrone the Clean ‘o’ Saurus with Dazzling 3D Animation, written by David Salariya.

Published by Scribblers, an imprint of The Salariya Book Company. 

This was another book that was so much fun to work on. In 2009, the use of Augmented Reality in children’s books was completely innovative, so it was especially exciting to be involved with this new technology. The illustrations were torn paper collages, a technique I’ve used on a wide range of subject matter from human anatomy to natural history. Tyrone was an adorable dinosaur devised by David Salariya who was completely obsessed with tidying and keeping his house clean. One day a large parcel arrives and completely transforms his life…his brand new vacuum cleaner!  I had tremendous fun working out the animation sequence for the augmented reality, showing Tyrone pirouetting whilst cleaning his carpet with his much loved vaccum! By holding up the book page to the computer camera, the reader could to see and hear Tyrone’s antics as he hoovered, and also see themselves in the background! We did not want to use QR codes in the book, so the illustration was the trigger for the animation. The iPad and apps were invented shortly after this book was published so holding a book up to a webcam on a computer quickly became redundant.

Front cover of Tyrone The Clean-O-Saurus - a dinosaur using a vacuum cleaner
Front cover of Tyrone The Clean-O-Saurus

Lola and Monty developed as soft toys
Sister book to 'Tyrone' The Clean - O - Saurus was What Lola Wants, Lola gets!

The Fashion Designers’ Doodle Sketchbook

8: The Fashion Designers’ Doodle Sketchbook

Published by Book House, an imprint of The Salariya Book Company.

Front Cover of Carolyn Scrace's book The Fashion Designers Doodle Sketch. Book published by The Salariya Book Company
The Fashion Designers Doodle Sketchbook by Carolyn Scrace

Once again I was extremely lucky to be given the freedom to experiment, try out new ideas and be creative. I have always enjoyed fashion and fashion designing - and for a long time I made most of my own clothes, often using fabrics I’d hand painted myself.

Fashion Drawing Doodle BookIllustrated by Carolyn Scrace
Fashion Drawing Doodle Book by Carolyn Scrace

It was an absolute delight to work on this book. I drew the starting points for each design in brush and ink using light washes to indicate the figure to allow the reader to continue designing by adding, embellishing and creating their own fantastic designs. 

Double page spread from The Fashion Designers doodle Sketchbook by Carolyn Scrace
Double page spread from The Fashion Designers Doodle Sketchbook by Carolyn Scrace

Fashion drawings by Carolyn Scrace in a style that would please Jean Paul Gaultier
The Fashion Designers Doodle Sketchbook by Carolyn Scrace

Draw, Pattern and Paint Your Way to Mindfulness 

9: Draw, Pattern and Paint Your Way to Mindfulness 

Published by Book House, an imprint of The Salariya Book Company.

I’ve written various books on drawing and natural history -both are topics that I am fairly familiar with. So Draw, Pattern and Paint Your Way To Mindfulness (along with several other Zen Doodling titles) was really interesting as well as challenging to write. When possible I used relevant quotes from learned sources such as Buddha, and I read and researched imagery and ideas from other cultures. 

Whilst writing doesn’t come naturally to me I do however enjoy the challenge. I have been tremendously lucky to be given the opportunity to write some books while working with David Salariya at The Salariya Book Company and been extremely blessed with wonderful editors! Writing and illustrating a project calls for a fundamentally different approach to   Illustrating someone else’s text. The latter is easier in some respects as the artwork is usually determined by the author’s text so your rough designs go to the author, editor and the publisher for approval. As both author and illustrator you are generally provided with a brief, and often a rough synopsis, as well as an overall series design but from then on it’s up to you to create the end product. This can be both daunting and rewarding. 

Front Cover, Draw, Pattern and Paint Your way to Mindfulness by Carolyn Scrace
Front Cover: Draw, Pattern and Paint Your Way To Mindfulness, by Carolyn Scrace

Hello Head to Toe

10: Hello Head to Toe written by John Townsend. 

 Published by Scribblers an imprint of The Salariya Book Company.

I’ve included this board book, which is one of a series, because I was asked to use linocuts to illustrate it. Having only ever tried linocutting at school many years ago, it was a total revelation to use the technique for illustrating these black and white baby books. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating the initial design then reducing it down into simple, bold, black and white shapes. Lino cutting is a wonderful technique, it has inbuilt limitations, which I’ve found strangely liberating and it has currently become my favourite method of creating artwork. 

Front Cover of Hello Head To Toe by Carolyn Scrace
Front Cover of Hello Head To Toe by Carolyn Scrace

Each of these books holds a special place in my heart, representing not only milestones in my career but also the joy of creativity and the power of art to inspire, educate, and enrich lives.

Carolyn Scrace, Frankfurt Book Fair
Carolyn Scrace, The Salariya Book Company, Frankfurt Book Fair

...which book would I choose..?

On a closing note, I would find it very difficult to choose only one favourite book from Carolyn's immense back catalogue, as she has worked in such a huge variety of styles, genres and for different ages, I'm always looking to the new and what's coming next.

I'll choose a piece of unpublished work which sum's up Carolyn's great wit, style and sense of humour and great ability to inspire me: Dorris and Elsie - a painting of two blue rinsed sheep, that I think could be inspiration for a series of blue rinse lady (sheep) detective novels - Dorris and Elsie straight from the hairdressers...'The Golden Fleece'...which just might be the next big literary success in 'Wooly Whodunnits' ... a sort of 'Cosy Murders', but with more wool and probably less murders as these would be detective books for children. So watch out for...Lamb Lit The Baa-d Eggs of Ramshackle Alley Synopsis: Dorris and Elsie's peaceful day at the hairdressers is interrupted when they receive word of trouble brewing down in Ramshackle Alley. A gang of rams known as the Baa-d Eggs are causing chaos, and it's up to our glamorous detectives to put a stop to their nefarious plans.

Two sheep having had wool done into elaborate hairstyles set out on an adventure
Dorris and Elsie

As Carolyn Scrace wraps up her interview, she has shared her top ten books with me and what they mean to her. These books hold a special place in her heart, each playing a role in shaping her career and artistic vision. From sparking her imagination to offering valuable insights, they represent the essence of her passion for art and writing in both non-fiction, fiction, and picture books and show her huge dedication to her craft. As the conversation draws to a close, Carolyn thanks the all the young readers who have embraced her work.

Advice for fledgling Illustrators

In Carolyn Scrace, we find not only an illustrator and writer, but a real visionary whose indelible mark on the world of art and publishing resonates across many generations, inspiring countless aspiring artists to follow in her footsteps, so Carolyn do you have advice for fledgling Illustrators about to try their luck in the world of books as a maker of books?

Embrace mentorship:

Amongst several people who had a strong influence on my artistic career was my father, a self taught artist; followed by Mr Di Guisseppi, my art teacher from school; and Carol Lawson, my personal tutor at Brighton College of Art. Carol was one of the most influential -as well as being my tutor, she is an extremely talented illustrator whose work I admire tremendously. 

Start early:

I was extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to start freelancing at the age of sixteen. I continued working whilst at school and Art College illustrating book jackets, advertising posters, leaflets and brochures. So I would always advise grabbing any opportunity- don’t wait to start pursuing your passion. 

Learn from challenges:

Recognise challenges as an opportunity for growth. Testing yourself is a great way of learning your own creative limitations, as well as your strengths. It’s all too easy to take it personally when your work is rejected- just remember that next time you may have exactly what is required for the job!

Meet your deadline: 

Meeting deadlines is crucial in the creative industry as timing is essential. As an illustrator there are numerous stages in the publishing schedules to meet, and roughs and artwork must be delivered on time. This was a lesson I learned early on in my career when working on Giants, for David Larkin at Pan Books, when I sometimes had to work through the night to finish pieces of artwork.  

Make sure you understand the assignment:

This may sound obvious, but it’s important you read the brief, and if you need any clarification - don’t hesitate to ask questions. Showing the publisher very simple thumbnail sketches prior to finished roughs can save a lot of time in the long run. I have always tended to provide detailed roughs prior to starting the finished artwork so that the author/editor/art director are fully aware of what I intend illustrating. 

Research your subject:

Look to see how other illustrators and designers have tackled similar subjects. If the artwork is for children - make for sure you aim your work for the appropriate age range.  If the subject matter requires reference material - find out how much will be provided by the commissioning editor. Try not to rely on a single piece of reference as having as many views as possible always gives you a clearer idea of your subject. 

If possible, research the company you will be working for - check out their website and online catalogue.

Refine your style:

I’ve always tried to adapt or refine my style or try something totally different when a particular job requires it. There are so many highly-talented illustrators vying for a relatively small number of jobs, so it’s important to be aware of new styles and techniques and to do the very best work you can. It’s all too easy to repeat the same style and technique, but much more exciting to try something new.

Diversify your portfolio:

For a time I specialised in natural history illustration, working in a variety of styles and techniques. My approach was generally determined by the commission. For example: I was asked to illustrate a series of animal life-cycles using a naturalistic style in watercolour. A few years later, it was decided that the series should be revisited and made to look more like story books. This time, the style I was asked to use was torn paper collage which gave the series a unique and fresh appeal. My portfolio has always covered a wide range of subject matter, styles and techniques, reflecting the many areas I’ve worked in: science fiction, advertising, children’s picture books, information books, fashion illustration, colouring books for adults to art instruction books. 

See inspiration everywhere:

Take inspiration from diverse sources. A stroll through the streets where you live can provide tremendous visual stimulation if... you simply look. I recently rediscovered some amazing artists who worked at the turn of the century. Many of their compositions and colour schemes look incredibly fresh and modern. Keep abreast of your contemporaries work but, remember that illustration from the past holds a treasure trove of ideas and styles that you can learn from, too. 

Share your passion:

I’ve always admired and respected those illustrators and authors who have shared their passion for art and storytelling with others. Whether through teaching, public speaking or simply engaging with people - sharing your art can inspire and encourage a new generation to explore their own creativity. 

Above all, stay curious and open minded.

More of Carolyn's work can be seen at


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