If you are a book lover, a true book lover, you will know her name, or at least recognize the work of Coralie Bickford-Smith, who very aptly refers to herself as a, "designer of fine things. Mostly books." She is best known for her work designing Penguin's Clothbound Classics, a few of which you can see below. Of this work, she says, "These titles explore my obsession to create beautiful, timeless artifacts for people to enjoy, cherish and pass on. Sumptuous, tactile books that evoke a rich heritage of bookbinding while retaining fresh appeal to modern readers; that both stand out in bookshops and have a longevity appropriate to the contents." Her designs definitely achieve this, and it is exciting to see Bickford-Smith bring her talents to a book, cover to cover, and all the pages in between.
The Fox and the Star is a visual, tactile treat. The trim size is larger than a novel but slightly smaller than a traditional picture book with no dust jacket. The story of The Fox and the Star is a simple one, a fable inspired by William Blake's poem Eternity, and Bickford-Smith's pattern filled illustrations and limited palette suit it perfectly. A timid fox finds friendship and courage from the light of a star that is always there when he wakes at night.
One night, Fox wakes to find the star is gone and the forest, "stayed cold and dark and still." Fox sleeps through days and nights until hunger rouses him from his den and he decides to find the Star.
Fox asks everyone and everything he encounters, from the rabbits to the trees to the raindrops until he sees a message in the fallen leaves:
And that night, "beneath the blazing sky of stars," Fox, "made his way through the forest." The Fox and the Star has a timeless quality, both in story and illustrations, and is one that readers will surely return to, again and again. While I look forward to more designs from Bickford-Smith, I hope that she has one or two more picture books to share with the world as well.