In Sara Fenelli’s children’s book, Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece, she illustrates her own way various creatures from greek myth, including this double page spread of the Hydra which particularly caught my eye. I enjoy the way Fenelli presents and designs the monsters in this book as they conform to their descriptions in the myth, whilst also sometimes taking a new and completely different look then to those we would usually imagine. For example, the Hydra is usually given the look of a traditional western dragon with many identical heads, whilst here we see Feneli uses her style and the original idea of the Hydra’s dragon like appearance to create a monster which is much harder to pin down to just one monster. We see some heads which appear to resemble that of sheep, others with look more like dogs, and some which do still retain the appearance of being dragon-like. Her collage style helps with this, giving the creatures mixed together and strange appearances which are jagged and unnatural, whilst still being fun and engaging for its target audience of children. Fanelli’s originality brings fresh air to the world of British children’s books. Her unique sense of humour and an inventive approach to everything from page design and typography to choice of materials, shines through from the crazy eyes of the Hydra to the childish and fun descriptions placed around the page.
“There is also a part of me that directly relates to the magic in children’s books, looking for new worlds to go to, with their own, different characters, colours and logic.”
You can see this by looking at the double page spread of the Hydra. The creature is shown through colours and basic shapes, rather than being drawn anatomically correct. Children would look at a creature like the Hydra and see a swirling mass of colour and heads, which is exactly what this illustration shows, by having the emphasis on the heads and leaving the body as a vague, sprawling mass which isn’t paid much a attention to. A child would want to see a Hydra because of it’s usual features, which Fenelli caters to by making the multiple heads the main focus.
“I like to experiment. When I make a collage illustration I start with a drawing of the composition, the layout. Then I play around with it, interweaving it with all the different items I might be using. I like to play around with the typography too and create my own lettering. I don’t use a computer to create artwork. Too many designers rely on them”
Fenelli’s hand lettering is paid a lot of attention to. By doing it by hand she gives her work a relaxed feel and doesn’t look comparatively too hard and obtrusive as a harder, computer based font may have. Her letting blends in perfectly with her style, allowing her to give focus to the parts of the page that really matter, which is usually the collage. She does however draw attention to certain pieces of information which are important by making parts bigger or different colours, for example, the name of the monster and the number of heads it has. Other tags or annotations are bolded, such as the tag saying “Immortal” so it grabs the child’s attention more. Her lettering also probably appeals to children because t looks funner anf more relaxed that ordinary type, which to a child may feel boring.
Overall I think the piece does it’s purpose well, it communicates the information about the Hydra so it can communicate what the Hydra is the the child and educate them. Fenellis bold colours and shapes are very appealing to children, however some children may be off put with her use of black and white photos of eyes shown in other pieces as it may look strange or too frightening for them.