Illustrator goes from Otautau to world stage

Otautau illustrator Zerika van Jaarsveld with two of the books she has recently illustrated, A Baa-rilliant Adventure and Curly Cat.

OTAUTAU illustrator Zerika van Jaarsveld is reeling in the wake of winning two international awards for her picture book A Baa-rilliant Adventure.

The book, written by Jennifer Somervell, won a silver medal in the Children’s Picture Book category of the Illumination Book Awards 2020 and first place in the 2021 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards in the Best Illustrations, Cover Design, Picture Books six and older, and Spiritual/Religious categories.

“I was blown away not expect it,” van Jaarsveld said.

“It gave me a burst of confidence. It is a big thing to win international awards.”

A Baa-rilliant Adventure is the re-telling of the nativity story through the eyes of three sheep, Rumbly, Tumbly and Woolly.

An illustrated end section describes the real nativity history, and sheep of the times, and their shepherds.

She spent nearly a year researching, drawing and painting the pictures, finishing during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.

Her illustrations use contrasts between light and darkness and have been described by reviewers as exquisite, beautifully crafted, superb and breath-taking.

“I fell in love with Rumbly, Tumbly and Woolly,” she said.

“When the book was finished, I missed them.”

She received the news of the awards just as her second picture book with writer Somervell was going to print with Curly Cat due out in early November.

van Jaarsveld said she was born with a crayon in her mouth and cut her artistic teeth painting murals on the walls of her grandmother’s family home in Namibia.