Published

30 June 2021

Lucy, the sad firefly with a special talent, was a spark of an idea in the mind of University of East London graduate Amabel Barlow. Now, after Amabel turned her character into a children’s story, Lucy lights up book shops around the world.

Amabel’s story Lucy Lights The Way is living up to its title, setting Amabel on course for a career as a children’s book illustrator, author and artist.

She said she was “over the moon” seeing her 34-page picture book published and appearing in Waterstones and Foyles shops in this country and distributed and marketed around the world, in countries such as Germany, Australia and China.

Amabel, who lives in south east London, explained the idea behind the tale.

She said, 

Lucy is a sad firefly who does not think she has a special talent. It is by helping her friends she discovers what her special talent is. We all have special talents. We often realise what our talents are through people who care for us. It encourages children to think positively about themselves and to support others.”

On Amazon, the book has received a string of five-star reviews, with reader Barbara Hunte saying, “Such an engaging children story. The illustrations are adorable, and the story of Lucy is well written with a lovely ending.”

Amabel said, “I have always wanted to have a career in children’s book illustration and Lucy Lights The Way was a story I wrote knowing that it has an important message for children about recognising their individual special talents.”

Amabel, who graduated in 2020, is currently working on two more books as well as finding her way as a freelance in the creative industries, building her portfolio and receiving commissions for her paintings.

She said, “I love to paint, and I am now a member of the Blackheath Arts Society. I will continue to prepare for future exhibitions and commissioned work.”

She chose her course at the School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering in order to understand the variety of disciplines in illustration, including as editorial illustration and printing, and telling stories with images, all while working with industry-leading software such as the Adobe Creative Cloud.

“Throughout my illustration course at UEL, I was able to research and study how to become a successful children’s book illustrator and my work was critiqued and encouraged by my lecturers and students.

“There was a great deal of effort preparing me for a future career in illustration, encouraging me to develop my style of working, my website, my professional portfolio, and how to work in a professional team.”

And she advised students to her lesson of the past year as she launched a career against the headwinds of a pandemic.

She said, “If you are creative and determined keep going. It is a difficult time as we come out of the pandemic but use that creativity and you never know what might happen.”

If you are interested in an illustration degree, see our course website. Lucy Lights The Way is available from Foyles and Waterstones bookshops and on Amazon.

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