Emma Valenghi is a freelance illustrator based in Hull, UK, who specializes in illustrating children’s books and creating artwork for kids.

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Children's picture books have always been a true love of mine since being a child myself. Now that I am a mummy to four little ones I have even more excuse to buy them—for the children obviously! Illustrating them has been what I have been working towards throughout my career. My passion for creating characters really took off whilst employed as an In-House Designer at Hallmark Cards. We had development days where we could spend time with Senior Designers and Illustrators who worked on some of the most recognised characters in the Greetings Industry. It gave me an opportunity to learn what makes a character 'cute' or 'quirky', how to aim characters at different ages or genders and also helped focus my interest on this particular area of Illustration. Working in the Greetings Industry gave me a chance to try out lots of different styles and find what I felt most comfortable as my own. Illustrations are an important aspect of what makes a 'good children's book'. They help draw the child in, capture their attention and even in some cases tell the story in its entirety. I have been lucky enough to have been chosen to illustrate a number of self published children's books for independent authors, a short story for Highlights for Children for their High Five Magazine and have illustrated a couple of books for Jellycat London based on their soft toys. I am constantly working on my skills in this area, there is rarely a day that I don't sit and draw! Like with any skill, practice is of the utmost importance and luckily I just can't seem to get enough of illustrating books and characters!


  • Jellycat London
  • Highlights For Children
  • North Yorkshire Moors Railway
  • Hallmark Cards, UK
  • American Greetings


What was your favorite storybook as a child?
Percy The Park Keeper books by Nick Butterworth. I love the sweet characters, their friendships and the adventures they get on. They are heart warming, kind and magical in a really understated way.

Which authors do you admire most?
I am particularly intrigued by books that start conversations about big topics which might be hard to bring up naturally. Topics like mental well-being, mourning loved ones and making friends. Tom Percival's Big Bright Feelings collection is absolutely brilliant. His illustrations are wonderful and the topics are so important and helpful for parents and carers reading them to children. Jodie Lancet-Grant's The Pirate Mums is a fantastic celebration of the diversity in contemporary parenthood. And books with lead characters from diverse backgrounds like Look Up and Clean Up by Nathan Bryon and Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones all feature awesome spunky female characters from diverse backgrounds. 

What characteristic really brings a children’s book to life?
I would have to say their eyes. A very important characteristic to get right and keep consistent. They are the window to the soul and this is true even in an illustration. You can feel the emotions of a well drawn character through their eyes.

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