A Wee Bird Was Watching

Karine Polwart
and Kate Leiper have done a number of events to celebrate the recent publication of their gorgeous picture book, A Wee Bird Was Watching. Here they are at the end of a very long signing queue following their event in Blackwells, Edinburgh.



The story, Karine explains, draws on a number of traditional tales about the reason behind a robin’s red breast. It was a story she included in her critically acclaimed debut work for theatre, Wind Resistance, a collaboration between The Royal Lyceum and the Edinburgh International Festival in 2016.

But as she developed this story for the book she was also influenced by tales of communities on the move, looking for shelter. The before and after of this story remain undefined, for the reader to consider and decide.

Kate Leiper‘s illustrations are well known to readers – she’s currently working on a third illustrated treasury of traditional stories with Theresa Breslin, but it was The Book of the Howlat, a retelling by James Robertson, that showcased her extraordinary illustrations of birds and wildlife. In A Wee Bird Was Watching, she allowed her imagination to go off piste – her words! – drawing on the lyricism of Karine’s text and the onomatopoeia of the writing to add to the world in which the story takes place. Sometimes her imagination too her too far off piste, apparently, and you can see some of the illustrations that didn’t make it to the book on her Instagram account here but we’re sure you’ll agree that the resulting book is stunning. Here is a selection of interior detail.