In 2008, in order to celebrate HRH, The Prince of Wales’ sixtieth birthday, Random House published The Birthday Book. The sales from this “illustrated treasury of stories and poems” were to help The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts.
The book contains both text and artwork from some of the most renowned writers and illustrators. Of course, J.K. Rowling is part of them along with Lewis Carroll, Anthony Horowitz, Philip Pullman or Malorie Blackman.
J.K. Rowling’s contribution to The Birthday Book is an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (chapter 34: ‘The Forest Again’), with a foreword explaining the reason why she chose this part of the book and two illustrations from Quentin Blake.
Though the foreword J.K. Rowling wrote for the occasion has some interesting ideas, what I’m the most interested in are the drawings that have been chosen to illustrate this story. For some of you the name Quentin Blake might not ring a bell. I’m sure if you search it on the Internet and you see some of the illustrations he’s made for Roald Dahl’s stories you’ll recognize those for sure. Quentin Blake is quite a famous British illustrator, and through his works on Roald Dahl’s books he has had the talent to give a face to many literary heroes from our childhood, such as Charlie, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox or the BFG.
I like it every time an illustrator is given the chance to draw a new face for Harry, but getting to see such a renowned man’s interpretation of Harry’s looks is quite unique. Looking at the two illustrations feels a bit like two parts of my childhood are colliding.
For collectors out there, though you can still find the book for sale on some websites, you might find it interesting to know that 500 copies of a special edition signed both by Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake have been printed.