Anita Jeram, Heartwarming Children's Illustrator and Author

November 3, 2006

   Fine lines and delicate colouring are the hallmark of the children's book illustrations created by Anita Jeram. Her honed skill with pen and brush brings characters bounding to life, allowing the mood of the story to shine through expressive faces and actions, almost as if the written words were not necessary. Her intricate art is reminiscent of the great Beatrix Potter's "Peter Rabbit ".

   Though she already had a large number of book illustrations to her credit, the one book that brought Anita to the spotlight was Guess How Much I Love You , a bedtime tale written by Sam McBratney in 2002, published by Walker Books/Candlewick Press. The book unveils the story of a father rabbit - Big Nutbrown Hare - and his son - Little Nutbrown Hare - each telling the other just "how much I love you". It is a tender, comfortable classic that parents and kids adore. (I have given the book as a gift on several occasions. It is a pure delight to share.)

Jeram Honey

    Along with author Sam McBratney's sweet tale of parent and child attachment, Anita's love of animals and her connection with spirit are evoked through every drawing. Her fine lines and exquisite painting meld to capture the expression of childish inquisitiveness and devoted love in the father's calm demeanour. Anita's soft watercolour backgrounds, rich in forest tranquility and cosy comfort add another layer of dimension to the endearing storyline.

    Born Anita Rogers, she was raised in Portsmouth, England in a family with several older brothers and sisters. Her father worked "mending ambulances" and her mother was employed in a curtain store. Anita loved drawing as a child, and drew everywhere and on everything (including books!) that she could. Animals were her favourite subject to sketch. As a young woman, Anita leaned more toward a career with animals, as a veterinarian or zoo keeper, but did not have the academic background to follow through. She enrolled in Portsmouth's Art College for a brief time, but found it unpleasant and left to find employment instead. *(1)

    The work world offered several experiences for the young woman, including labour jobs at a talcum powder factory, a crisps factory and, no doubt to her delight, a kennel assistant caring for dogs and cats. Marrying Andrew Jeram in 1986, the newlyweds moved to Manchester, England. (Andrew Jeram, a paleontologist, was working on studies of scorpions at a Manchester university.)

   Making a return to school, Anita completed art programs at Manchester Polytechnic. (MT amalgamated with several other institutions to become Manchester Metropolitan University.) She earned a Bachelor of Art in Illustration, but even before she graduated, she was already dipping her toe into book illustration. Walker Books signed the talented student for her first picture book contract to create "Bill's Belly Button", published in 1993. (The book is no longer in print.)

    Her career took off from there. Anita illustrated books for numerous popular children's authors, such as Dick King-Smith and Amy Hest, and many more.

    To create the Amy Hest books, Anita took a new direction with her art, using bold strokes and elegant, darker acrylics instead of muted watercolours. About a bear family, the stronger colours evoke a strength and warmth that watercolour could not provide.

Jeram Belly button

    But, Anita does not stop at illustration. She has authored the delightful Bunny, My Honey (2001),I Love my Little Storybook (2002), and All Together Now (2005), books featuring the charming rabbits that she is skilled at drawing. She seems to be able to share that secure, comfy, cozy feeling without being overly sweet. Collaborating again with Sam McBratney, the duo created a sequel of sorts to the Guess How Much I Love You book, entitled "You're All My Favorites", but this time featuring a bear family. The cubs wonder who is the family favorite, but as the titled says, "You're all my favorites!". It is a great book for children wondering how they fit into their family.

    Still kept busy with her original publishers of Walker Books/Candlewick Press, Anita's graceful art has made the transition from books into posters, framed lithograph prints, plush animals, calendars and photograph frames. Her books are big-movers; Guess How Much I Love You has sold over 15 million copies alone. *(2)

    The Jeram family makes their home in Northern Ireland. Anita and Andrew have one daughter and two sons: Kitty, Joe and Dan, and a large number of critters: dogs, cats, snakes, ducks and chickens.

   Specializing in scorpions, arthropods and fossils, Andrew works at the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, in Belfast.

*(1) Website of Anita Jeram
*(2) Candlewick Press
*(3) Images of Delight (Many of Anita's wonderful art samples here.)

Jeram Honey 2
Jeram How Much I Love You Jeram Kiss Goodnight
© Susanna McLeod 2006