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# 28 Women Artists: Emily Gravett

By July 9, 2018May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

Emily Gravett 

Head shot of Emily Gravett

Short Biography of Emily Gravett from her website

Emily Gravett was born in Brighton, England, the second daughter of a printmaker and an art teacher. She left school at 16 and travelled the UK for eight years, living in a big green bus with her partner and their daughter. After returning to Brighton to take up an art degree, Emily sprang into the limelight with the ground-breaking Wolves in 2005, which won her the Macmillan Prize for Illustration, followed by a book deal and the first of her Kate Greenaway Medals.  

From Emily Gravett’s FaceBook page, August 10, 2018

I was delighted to see process art on Emily Gravett’s Facebook page.

“I often get asked my working method, and sometimes struggle to explain, because at the time it doesn’t feel like I have one, but when I look back at a project I can see that I definitely follow a pattern, and part of that is making little thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook of each spread. Sometimes they are little more than a squiggle, but this one has a little more detail, but is still only a couple of inches across.”

The Research Rabbit Hole

It is a fact that one could start looking for background material on Emily Gravett at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning and not come up for air until 10:28 am.

Gravett and classroom practice

I was thinking about Emily Gravett’s Wolves. Specifically I was thinking about a recent visit of Education students who were assigned to select a picture book to read aloud for their graduate class. They were a bit perplexed because they were going to be teaching in Middle School (ages 11 to 14) and didn’t quite understand what the assignment had to do with them and their teaching practice.

I pulled a few books off of the shelf and then proclaimed.


Cover of Wolves by Emily Gravett. White background, pinkish-white rabbit in profile on the bottle left third of the page looking up at the title in bold black capital letter type.

And read it aloud to them.

Emily Gravett’s Work Crosses Age Groups

As I read aloud Wolves, I noted to the graduate students the factual information embedded in the text.

Grey wolves live in packs between two and ten 

I reminded them that during the first read aloud of a picture book to honor the creator/s intentions. Do not stop and ask questions. Do not request that the listener’s predict what happens next. The page turns are intentional, the pacing is intentional, the words on the page are intentional. Try not to ruin the listening experience with a “lesson.” 

Ohh, they disagreed. That is NOT what our professor taught us. These classroom teachers were visibly shaken by my adamant disagreement with what they had learned in their education class.

I said that I understood what their professor meant but…

Picture books were an art form to be respected.

Like a piece of great music, the picture book can be enjoyed again and again. We can examine the text and art on the 2nd, 3rd, and 10th reading.

That said, Wolves and facts and older students

Wolves is the perfect book for beginning researchers. They can check the facts in the text with other sources.

For every fact listed, how do we know that it is is true? Information literacy and critical thinking skills abound in this one picture book.

How do we know that wolves live in packs? 

How do we know that

Wolves eat mainly meat. They hunt large prey such as deer, bison, and moose. They also enjoy smaller mammals, like beaver, voles and… IMAGE cropped from Wolves by Emily Gravett

whitish pink rabbit holding wolves book centered in a black and white penciled wolf face showing only the eyes focussed on the rabbit. PAGE IMAGE from Wolves by Emily Gravett

Creative Assessment 

Are we evaluating research skills? Are we insisting that students cite their sources?

During the second read, ask students to write down the facts that they have gleaned from the text.

Provide field guides on mammals, books about wolves, e-resources like National Geographic Kids Website

Face front photograph of a gray wolf. head only

Gray wolf photo from National Geographic Kids Website

Perhaps each student can pick an animal to research and create their own picture book explicating their subject.

Emily Gravett models the process of creating Wolves

Dummy page sketches Emily Gravett

Dummy and process work for Wolves from The Guardian Photograph: Emily Gravett

Emily describes her creative process for Wolves on the occasion of its 10th anniversary of publication on The Guardian site here.

Another picture book perfect for older students

Cover of The Rabbit Problem

Interior spread of a grey lop eared rabbit teacher in front of a blackboard writing out the rabbit problem

double page vertical spread of the the multiples of rabbits crowding the page bleeding off of the edges


Apple, Pear, Orange, Bear 

Picture Bear Balancing a stack on the top of his head an apple, orange and pear

Cover of Orange,Pear, Apple, Bear

Essential call-and-response reading featuring limited language and visual fun.

Preschool through 1st grade.


Go to  Seven Impossible Things

for the best interview with Emily Gravett and an overview of her titles.

 “Emily Gravett creates clever variations on this theme by rearranging the words–on one spread, a brown bear juggles an orange, apple, and pear; on another spread, there is an orange-colored apple and a pear-shaped bear.”

 Emily Gravett has 

created activities to pair with her books here

How Emily Gravett Became An Illustrator

and talks about her book Tidy in a video here


She also mentions her favorite picture book that inspires her work

 Set in a   a town called Itching Down and one day, four millions wasps fly in and terrorize the villagers. None of them know what to do.

Then Bap the Baker leaped to his feet
And cried, “What do wasps like best to eat?
Strawberry jam! Now wait a minute!
If we made a giant sandwich we could trap them in it!”

Emily Gravett demonstrating how she draws a book

Video here


 Part of the series 100 Women Picture Book Artists

 #100 Women Artists

What Started Project

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