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The littlest readers will fall for THE LITTLE KITTEN this Halloween.

Don’t you just want to forget about Trick-or-Treating and cuddle up with this book instead? Nicola’s artwork has a gentle feel, just like leaves slowly drifting down in autumn.

Nicola, we talk a lot of story ideas on this blog—so how did you get the idea for THE LITTLE KITTEN?

THE LITTLE KITTEN is the third book about an imaginative little girl called Ollie, following on from THE LITTLE REINDEER and THE LITTEL RABBIT. When I was asked to to do an autumnal book for the series, I was very excited as I’d already painted Ollie in a cat costume and carrying a pumpkin for Halloween the year before and I knew the direction I wanted it to go in!

Ollie has a pet cat in the other books, and having been out drawing at the start of autumn, my sketchbook was full of falling leaves so they had to be included in the story too. The idea seemed to develop naturally from these starting points!

I very much wanted Ollie and her pet cat Pumpkin to keep the kitten because the three friends seemed like they belonged together. But Ollie knows she has to do the right thing. It’s an important message for young readers, yet it’s so subtle and delightfully told.

How did you decide on the color scheme? It’s not just orange and black—it’s gray and red and rust. There’s a lot of dimension to it.

The character of Ollie first came about when I was experimenting with painting solely in black ink. I then added small touches of color to the artwork. Using orange as the additional color for this autumn story felt like the obvious choice. I tried using just one shade, but felt that the two combined worked better and added more depth to all the leaves! The designers and production team at Simon & Schuster picked just the right shade of copper foil to add the finishing touch!

The foil really makes the whole book pop! 

What is your favorite part about Halloween?

My favorite part of Halloween is definitely the costumes. Deciding what costume to wear and then making it can be so much fun, but I also love seeing what everyone else has dressed up as!

It’s really the perfect holiday for Ollie who loves dressing up any time of year!

Blog readers, Simon & Schuster is giving away a copy of THE LITTLE KITTEN!

Leave a blog comment below. What’s your favorite part of Halloween?

A winner will be randomly selected in two weeks.

Good luck!


Nicola Killen is a children’s book author and illustrator based in Cambridge, UK.  I graduated from the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art in 2009, and since then I have been working on picture books, board books and a couple of pop-up books too! Visit her at nicolakillen.com and follow her on Instagram @nicolakillendraws.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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