Schools Book of the Month: Wild Cities

Entries are now closed

Competition type: Schools

Start date: 05 January 2021, 09:00

Closing date: 31 January 2021, 11:59

Genre: Animals, Environment, Nature, Non-fiction, Travel
Age group: 9-11, 12-14

We have 10 copies of Wild Cities to be won. All you need to do is answer the question at the bottom of the page. Entries close on Sunday 31 January at midnight. All entrants must reside in the UK and full terms and conditions apply.

About Wild Cities

Wild Cities is an absolutely stunning non-fiction book that will transport you around the world from the comfort of your own home! This gorgeous book is full of beautiful, bright illustrations by Edinburgh-based artist Harriet Hobday and fascinating facts from travel writer Ben Lerwill. Children and young people will love learning about urban wildlife around the globe, from Paris to New York to Toyko. Hobday's vibrant illustrations capture the different atmospheres of all of the various locations, and Lerwill's writing tells the story of the cities and their wildlife in an accessible way that brings the animals to life. Wild Cities is a wonderful non-fiction book that is sure to inspire an interest in urban wildlife.

Q&A with Ben Lerwill and Harriet Hobday

Why do you think it's important that children learn about urban wildlife?

Ben Lerwill: Developing a sense of wonder around nature is so important, but not all children live in the middle of a forest or national park. Urban wildlife is something that, for whatever reason, young people might find themselves overlooking, or even fearing, so I wanted the book to show just how interesting and ingenious our city animals can be. There were some amazing stories to tell. Ultimately, the more we know about the creatures that share our spaces, and the more we can understand and appreciate them, the better it becomes for all of us.

The cities are all so distinct from one another. Can you tell us about how you made each of the illustrations feel unique?

Harriet Hobday: When starting this project, I felt reflecting the distinct identities of the different cities was very important to the success of the book. I decided to use limited colour palettes to create an immersive quality to the illustrations. The colours often came from the cities themselves but sometimes I had an emotional or instinctive response to the city that shaped the colours I selected. Whether it was capturing the rich intensity of Mumbai or the crispness of snow-covered Calgary, I really wanted the reader to turn the page and feel like they were transported to each new destination and hopefully I achieved that in the final book.

When we are able to safely travel again, which city from the book would you love to visit and why?

Ben: Great question! I’ve worked as a travel writer for more than 15 years, so I’ve been lucky enough to explore many of the cities included in the book. Places like Paris and New York are endlessly rewarding, but I’m going to choose Tokyo. It’s somewhere with so much character, energy and variety. The city has some unexpected wildlife too – with luck, you might even spot kingfishers. I’d love to head out there by train, riding the rails right across to China then crossing the sea to Japan. Travel should be an adventure.

Harriet: I have actually visited very few of the cities featured in the book, but all of the visual research has given me a big itch to, particularly during lockdown! I'm hoping to eventually make my way to all of them - I might even make a checklist! However I think Tokyo would be at the top of my list! The cherry blossoms look so beautiful and trying authentic and unusual Japanese food there really appeals to me too. I'm mainly craving visiting somewhere really culturally different from the UK, and have my fingers crossed that travel becomes safe soon. In the meantime, I love that the book can offer readers the opportunity to experience these incredible places from the safety of their own homes.

About Harriet Hobday

Harriet Hobday is an extraordinary new talent, a recent graduate of the MA Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. Currently based in Edinburgh, she was highly commended in the Macmillan Prize 2015 and runner-up for The Batsford Prize 2018.

About Ben Lerwill

Ben Lerwill is a multiple award-winning writer. His work has appeared in a host of publications including National Geographic Traveller, Time Out, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. Over the past decade Ben has won four British Guild of Travel Writers' Awards, and often focuses on wildlife, rail journeys and the outdoors. Best of all, he writes fascinating, magical non-fiction stories that will amaze and inspire - just like the ones in this book.