Another special highlight from my trip was the opportunity to meet in person, for the very first time, the artist who worked so hard on the illustrations for my novel, How I Lost My Ear, a funny, action-packed epic for older children and adults that was published in January 2018. In fact, before we met, I had spoken to him only once, over Skype, and that was just briefly. Otherwise, we communicated through email: many, many, many messages over the full length of 2017 that ultimately resulted in a total of 136—yes, 136!—fabulous illustrations for the book.
The truth is, without his illustrations, I could never have fulfilled my highest vision for the story. I worked on the text for 10 years, and while I was finally satisfied with it, feeling that it was the best creative writing I had ever done, I also knew that the right illustrator could bring the playful spirit of the story fully and vividly to life. And from the very first illustrations he sent to me, I knew I had been blessed to find Simon Farrow.
Simon lives in Leicester, England, and I was introduced to his work through Alex Nicoletti, the founder of Lil’ollo, a company that produces a range of beautifully-designed resources for bilingual and multilingual families. Simon, in fact, is the illustrator behind the lovely products created by Lil’ollo.
So my stop in Leicester was not only my first homestay on this trip—with Alex and her family—it was also my chance to finally meet Simon and thank him in person.
The photo at the top of this post was taken when we had lunch together with Alex’s family. I can’t tell you how fantastic it was to at last meet Simon in person!
The timing was great, too, in the sense that I could share a lot of good news with him about the book. While the response of readers to How I Lost My Ear has been extremely positive, the book recently received a rave review from the critic at Readers’ Favorite, who said:
“Adam Beck’s How I Lost My Ear is a marvelously comic, wonderfully wise, delightfully imaginative and deliriously unpredictable epic adventure. In Boony Point, young Ben Boyd covets a pair of ruby red bongo drums, seemingly tailor-made for his superstar tryout for the Marching Moose – the town’s pride and joy. Never mind that bongo drums have not previously been seen or heard in the community’s iconic marching band; Ben is determined and has the most deliciously eccentric support crew in the history of children’s literature to help him reach his goal.
Along the way, Ben contends with a practical-joking grandma fixated on crab apples harvested with the dew still on them, a monster to slay, a mystery to solve, the twists and turns of his never-ending quest to be a member of the Marching Moose, and his own deep-seated need to overcome his unwanted nickname: Butterfingers. The drama is high, the pathos is non-stop, and the comedy is as whimsical and witty as any to be found in the realm of fiction for the young. Although How I Lost My Ear is listed as being intended for pre-teen readers, it has much to offer readers of any age who are willing to allow themselves to be young at heart long enough to become swept up in the merriment. Adam Beck is a master storyteller and a master of invention, and How I Lost My Ear is un-put-down-able.
Simon Farrow’s playful illustrations are a perfect match for Beck’s unique storyline. They capture both the eccentricity of the characters and the absurdity of the incredible situations in which they find themselves, time and again. Adam Beck’s How I Lost My Ear is always fresh, always a surprise; in short, an ideal antidote for the mundane cares of ordinary life for readers of all ages.”
In addition, I was happy to tell Simon that How I Lost My Ear was a Finalist in two book contests this year, one at Readers’ Favorite and the other at the IAN Book of the Year Awards.
Simon and I warmly invite you to read How I Lost My Ear. It was truly a labor of love, for us both, and I bet the story and the illustrations will bring you a lot of fun and laughter. (I hope you enjoyed this sampling of Simon’s work. You’ll find 108 more of his marvelous illustrations inside the book!)
How I Lost My Ear is suitable for older children and adults, to read alone or read aloud, and is available from all Amazon sites and other online booksellers.