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About Jo de Ruiter

Tell us about yourself. Who is Jo?

I'm originally from Grimsby, Lincolnshire. As a little girl, drizzly rainy days were my favourite (and there were a lot of them in Grimsby) as I could sit inside and draw in my 'rainy day book' until my heart was content.

Now I live in Bournemouth with my lovely husband and dog Arnold, where we spend most of our time walking on the beautiful beach and exploring the southern coast. When at home most of my time is spent drawing or painting with my pup at my feet. 

What means a lot to you?

When I'm not beach-combing with my puppy, my husband Michael and I are usually planning our next theme park adventure. We love a good roller coaster so spend a lot of time in Florida. The details of the theme parks are amazing and totally inspiring.

I adore details, and I've always been fascinated by miniature things, so I've built myself a miniature Sylvanian village. I spend a lot of time making teeny tiny things for it. I basically decided never to grow up!

How do you know Sarah?

Sarah and I have a wonderfully talented mutual friend, Lils (Leanne Pearce). She's an incredible portrait artist and co-founder of the marvellous Thought Foundation in Gateshead. She was convinced we'd work really well together so introduced us, and she was totally right!

What is it like working together?

Sarah has such a positive and infectious attitude, she's a dream to work with. She's incredibly brave, creative and ambitious, I've loved every minute of this project.

Why did you want to be part of this story?

The world that Sarah has created I think is so relevant today. I love the idea of children learning from each other's diverse backgrounds and different traditions in such a positive fun way. The characters are so adorable, bringing them to life was a joy. 

What did you like about working on the book?

The characters are key to this story, bringing them to life has been my favourite thing. Each of them has a very unique and individual personality, so using movement and expression to show that has been a challenge. I loved adding little details (like Dilly Ducks rubber ring) to each of them to express who they are.

What surprised you while working on the book?

The most surprising thing was creating the 'Magic Map'. Researching the different landmarks really highlighted how few places I knew. I really need to visit more of the world! I really hope it inspires the reader as much as it did me.

What do you hope to happen when this book is launched?

I hope children enjoy it. I hope they read it over and see different little details each time. I hope they can relate to the characters. I hope they want to read the next one and the next one and the next one!

Why do you think this book could have a positive impact?

I think the book really celebrates our diversities in such a positive, fun, and magical way. 

What's next?

Well, I think it might be Felix Fox's turn to show everyone his background and hobbies! 🦊


Other Children's books illustrated by Jo de Ruiter

 Read Sarah Moller's interview here