{illustrator} alex latimer

I will occasionally share an illustrator who has caught my eye. See the above “book list,” bottom of the page for other illustrators highlighted on this blog.

alex latimer jelly fish children's illustration

{jellyfish by alex latimer via; love this}

Today I want to share Alex Latimer whose Penguin’s Hidden Talent (Peachtree 2012) was  Day 19 of last year’s “31 Days of Picture Books” feature and was one of the illustrator/authors with whom I wanted to follow-up. When I saw that the Library actually had a copy of The Boy Who Cried Ninja (Peachtree 2011) checked-in—finally!! I set aside my big-L Literature for a moment. I have to share.


website : blog : twitter : art prints

I am a writer and illustrator based in Cape Town. My first children’s book, The Boy Who Cried Ninja, was published in April 2011. Between working on more books – I write and illustrate for magazines, ad campaigns and family birthday cards. (blog’s “About Me”)

———–bibliography (w/ links & publisher’s copy)———–

The Boy Who Cried Ninja (Peachtree 2011)

see ‘review’ below.

alex latimer penguin coverPenguin’s Hidden Talent (Peachtree 2012)

“All of Penguin’s friends are excited about the upcoming talent show, but Penguin can’t seem to figure out what his talent is.”

The South African Alphabet / Die Suid-Afrikaanse Alfabet (Penguin 2012)

“splendid South African illustrations make learning the alphabet as easy as A, B, C.”

alex latimer lion v bunny coverLion vs Rabbit (Peachtree 2013)

“Lion bullies all the other animals until finally they can’t take it anymore. They post an ad, asking for help.”

From Aardvark to Zuma (Penguin 2013)

“This book captures and alphabetises the essence of South Africa.”

alex latimer JustSoStoriesRudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (Penguin 2013) more images here.

“Now these classic gems have been given a new look for a new generation. Illustrated by children’s book author Alex Latimer, each story comes alive anew with Latimer’s own insights and humour.”

alex latimer with patrick 25609gransdog-copy

Latimer had, too, in the recent past, teamed up with his (also very talented) illustrator brother Patrick on “The Western Nostril


I found a few interviews of interest. [I hope “7 Imps” asks to breakfast with Latimer at some point, I think that would be really entertaining.] In the meantime…

The Book Club Blog” (Jan 9, 2013) wherein they ask “When did you first become aware that you were interested in illustration?” and Alex Latimer replies:

“I’ve always loved to draw – but I don’t think I realised I could be an illustrator until about eight years ago. It was then that I wrote the script for my first children’s book The Boy Who Cried Ninja – and having had no luck in finding an illustrator to draw it up, I did it myself. It took a lot of practice and hard work, but I’m very glad I did it.”

and the “worst book he’s read to date?”…I know many who would agree.

alex latimer zombie print

{zombies by Alex Latimer via}

Caleigh Bright for GQ (?2013) hosts a lovely interview as well. A few questions, the first with Aardvark to Zuma in mind: How does creating a picture book for adults differ from the process of creating children’s books like The Boy Who Cried Ninja and Penguin’s Hidden Talent?

They’ve both got their own challenges. With children’s books the writing and the illustrations have to be very simple and pared down, whereas with books for adults, there can be more complexity in the drawings and much more text. And to be honest, I think that children’s books are probably more difficult to create – simply because you need to convey a whole story with characters and a plot line and a resolution to the plot line in about 400 words.

What are three words that you’d use to describe your style of illustration?  Fun, playful, humorous.


what 3 words might I use to describe Alex Latimer’s style of illustration? playful and humorous are good words; but I need another word that captures smart, incisive, yet understated…


alex latimer ninja cover

When the last piece of chocolate cake went missing, it really was a ninja. And a giant squid did eat his whole book bag (wherein his homework was left). Oddly enough, no one believes Tim. So while he is forced to think things over while doing heavy labor, he decides maybe lying would be better. It isn’t. When a pirate drank all the tea from the pot, Tim “owned up.” When a time travelling monkey throws pencils at his sleeping grampa, “Tim said it was all his fault.” Tim comes up with a great solution over more chore-work and contemplation and it is a happy ending for everyone.

alex latimer BOY_NINJA 3

I wrote “Oddly enough, no one believes Tim,” but this simple 30-some page picture book demonstrates a daring sort of tension for which humor can allow. The boy isn’t naughty, as I think we expect in any tale referencing “The Boy Who Cried Wolf;” The Boy Who Cried Ninja questions that supposition. However, Tim is a bit of a known storyteller from page one’s  illustration (free lunch, really?) and text (“Once there was a boy named Tim who no one believed”). Storytellers of any repute are suspect, aren’t they? I, for one, would be fully convinced by the sea monster tale. But which side takes the “storytelling” too far? The astronaut and sun-burned crocodile is playful, sure, but what do we do with the part where Tim feels like his truth isn’t believable and a lie is preferable, except it isn’t really. Maybe it is just that there is a recent conversation on ‘integrity’ on my mind, but: is there not some sort of line between the mischievous child and a bad child? The picture book makes us laugh at the sometimes ridiculousness of the adult-child relationship and the oft-times overly-simplistic moralist children’s story.

alex latimer boy ninja

According to the copyright page, the “artwork [is] created as pencil drawings, digitized, then finished with color and texture.” The colors are warm and bright. Less really proves to be more, the humor emerging from the rather uncomplicated details of his straightforward, somewhat spare illustrations. Latimer removes the need to make a fine study of each character for children and adults to understand who and what they are about, posture and eye-lines in illustration do the rest. Latimer’s use of voice bubbles with images is wondermous; there is no need for the long text dialog there. And he extends speech bubbles over the next page to encompass a flashback of the actual event as Tim explains what actually happened. To see is believe, here. We do not just have to take his word for it.


{images belong to Alex Latimer, do follow links and what-not to get better acquainted, thanks.}

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

5 thoughts on “{illustrator} alex latimer

  1. I will definitely be looking for his work in my local library. I love this style of illustration. I cannot put my finger on the exact “why” of it, but it wiggles right inside and touches something deep. Perhaps there is some illustration work from my childhood reading that I don’t recall that this kind of work mirrors or something. At any rate, wonderful stuff. Looking forward to reading some of these…and of course enjoying the pictures!

    1. i found myself having a difficult time trying to articulate just what it is about the illustrations that draw me in. There is a sense of familiarity with other author/illustrators I adore: Mo Willems, Oliver Jeffers, and Jon Klassen.

        1. I just saw a video on youtube about him, but not the videos of which you speak–okay, now who is filling up whose weekend??! 🙂

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