Every illustrator and writer has grown up with inspirations from a variety of sources.
This week, illustrator Rekha Salin wanted to find out what gives book illustrator/author & designer
Rebecca Tonks the most inspiration.

Which genre or age-group do you write/illustrate for? 

I love to write and illustrate across multiple genres and age groups. I have self-published picture books but also have a chapter book and a middle-grade story in the second draft stage. I find myself drawn to older fiction too and have a project I am currently working on which is exciting but early days. My dream is to be traditionally published as both an author and illustrator across multiple areas.

Rebecca's bookshelves

What inspires you to pick up or buy a book from the library/bookstore or buy online?

The well-known saying is, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but often this is what usually draws me to a book on the shelf or pulls me to click on a link when shopping online. Social media hype is also a great indicator of what to try. YouTube and BookTok are great ways to come across new and otherwise unseen stories. For me, The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley is a great example of this. Watching the video of a granny reading this hilarious story to her grandchild and her infectious laugh sold it to me. My son still loves this book. 

I am a big fan of books that have heart especially when combined with an adventure and so there are a few that fall into that category dotted amongst my kidlit shelves. I find once me or my children fall in love with an author or illustrator's work, we seek out other books they have published. 

Trust is formed between us, as the readers, and the creatives.

Rebecca enjoys reading and creating books for different age groups

Are you inspired by author/illustrators who successfully write or illustrate for different age-groups or genres? 

Absolutely. As a creative who aspires to both write and illustrate across multiple genres and age groups, I look out for others who do this well. I love the work of Amy Sparkes from her picture books through to older children’s fiction. She has a wonderful way of writing that connects brilliantly to her target audience.


Amy Sparkes writes picture books, chapter books and middle-grade novels

Oliver Jeffers is another favourite of mine. The way he sees the world and presents it back in his work is amazing. His injection of emotion mixed with his unique illustration style is truly inspiring. 

Oliver Jeffers is a big source of inspiration

Do you bring your inspirations into your work?

I believe subconsciously all artists, whether writers or illustrators, bring inspiration into their work. Our inspirations are usually flag poles pinned to the map on our creative journey. Whether it be simply a combination of colour or a way in which words are grouped to evoke emotion. These things get dotted within us along the way and shape how we work.


How do you keep your work fresh, original and unique and avoid looking like your inspiration?

When I look at others who inspire me, I try to focus on why I am drawn to them. It is usually this element that I carry forward into my work. For instance, I adore Fiona Lumbers. Her use of colour and the effective way in which it is layered and built within her illustrations reminds me of Paul Cézanne, the French Post-Impressionist painter. 

I remember studying Cézanne at school and the structure of his art left an impression on me, even as a child. I guess, finding that link between why I am inspired and where the love for it comes from is important to me. An element of nostalgia is often woven within my inspirations.

The work of Fiona Lumbers reminds Rebecca of Paul Cézanne

Does your bookshelf have all the books that you love or which inspired you? 

My bookshelves are constantly evolving and shifting. I love to share books I have read with others and so my bookshelf will regularly have gaps. I find my collection of books is also adjusting as my children grow older as it is very much a shared collection of stories.


Which are the main few books that have inspired your work and yet not on your bookshelf?

A book that left an unshakeable impression on me was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd). It is laced with emotion, portraying the distorted reality of a boy losing his mother to illness, and has deep and raw language throughout. It is currently not on my shelf as it instantly became a book I wanted to share and pass on.

Tom Percival is another author whose books are not present on my shelf because these have mainly been read via the library or the library app Borrow box which is a fabulous resource for readers.


Are there any books that have inspired you in a way that made you wish you'd worked on a text like that? Or  which made you wish you thought of that unique way of storytelling? 

The Kes Gray and Jim field books are brilliant. The play on words mixed with humour is so clever that the books draw both me and my children back to them again and again. They remind me of my childhood, reading the collection of Dr. Seuss books. Tongue twisters that make you chuckle.

Kes Gray and Dr. Seuss both have unique ways of playing with language

*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo
all other images curtesy of Rebecca Tonks


Rebecca Tonks is a Staffordshire (UK) based Children's Book illustrator & author.

She Graduated from De Montford University with First Class honours degree in 2004
See more of Rebecca’s work here. Follow her on Instagram & Twitter


Rekha Salin has three books published as an illustrator. Two picture books, one in 2020 and the other in 2022, and also a recipe book (for adults) in 2022 published by ABV publisher. She is currently working with Gnome Road Publishing, and this will be available in 2024.

See more of Rekha's work here. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.

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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. 

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