Horse secrets make Jill’s book a winner – Martin Hesp meets famed illustrator Jill Newton

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At a time when most of us travel on four wheels, an artist from West Somerset has spent the past two years celebrating a time when four legs were far more important than anything with a motor.

Renowned children’s illustrator Jill Newton, whose previous work has been published around the world – and even turned into a children’s musical performed by a symphony orchestra – has just launched a book called Around the World in 80 Horses.

“It’s easy to forget that the horse helped shape the world we live in today,” says Jill, who lives in Watchet. “The new book explores the world of equines and discovers how they became the most adaptable and revered animal on the planet.

“My goal in working on the book during the shutdowns has been to allow children and adults alike to travel the world learning fantastic facts about this incredible beast as they go.”

Jill, who has written and illustrated over 20 children’s books and illustrated over 150, has been published by Bloomsbury, Harper Collins, Scholastic, Walker and Orchard Books. Her talents have also been called upon to illustrate the work of others and bring her own creations to life, but she says the new book is one close to her heart.

“From riding muddy ponies bareback across fields to galloping racehorses through the morning mist on the Quantock Hills, horses have played an important role in my life,” says Jill.

“When I came up with a plan to create this book, the general idea was to have lots of little nuggets of information that kids could absorb and enjoy and impress their friends. I love the idea of ​​giving kids – and to adults, for that matter – amazing anecdotes that no one else knows.

“Around the World in 80 Horses is not just for children who are crazy about ponies, even if it is for 7-12 year olds. I also designed this book to appeal to adults who, I hopes, will not only be captivated by the more than 200 full-color illustrations, but you may also be fascinated by the brave and bizarre deeds that horses and ponies have performed over the centuries.”

The book shows how a horse can sleep upright – Jill even encounters a horse that dances to the beat of the tam-tams. The vast array of illustrations also focuses on unlikely beasts such as the seven-headed horse of Indian folklore and the ferocious man-killing steed known as Bucephalus, which was tamed by Alexander the Great.

There are even simple instructions teaching readers how to draw their own horses and make origami ponies.

Around the World on 80 Horses is available for £15 in paperback or £20 hardback from Jill’s online store at www.jillnewton.co.uk

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