Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Reader Q&A with Adam Beer


Mammoth is the new picture book written by Anna Kemp, bestselling author of Dogs Don't Do Ballet, and illustrated by new talent Adam Beer.

It's a funny and heart-warming story about an Ice Age mammoth who finds himself lost in a modern city. The brilliant illustrations bring Mammoth's adventures in the alien urban jungle to life and we love the underlying message that we all need to find our herd.

Toppsta reviewers have given it five stars, saying:

"The ending is so joyful with wonderful illustrations, it’s an ultimately uplifting read." Weereads1

"A really heart warming story that both of my daughters really enjoyed." mandamom

"This is a great story that shows that you should always stay true to yourself as there's always a place for you even if it takes a bit of time" Jrh

"It's so heartwarming to see that you can be from two totally different time frames, places, backgrounds but still sing-or trumpet- the same tune." Mrs_Smith

One Year 2 class from Holy Family School in Birmingham read this in class and won the chance to ask Adam some questions about illustrating this wonderful new book.

Read on for their excellent Q&A.

Reader Q&A with Adam Beer
Year 2, Holy Family School, Birmingham

What made you become an illustrator?

I always wanted to draw for a living! When I was young I was crazy about comics like 2000AD and I would sit in front of the TV with a tray on my lap copying the artwork for hours. After art school I worked for a long time in TV, animation and computer games as a storyboard artist before taking the plunge and illustrating a picturebook.
(A storyboard artist takes the script for a show and turns it into a series of drawings. Like a visual guide for the director and crew.)

What comes first when you are working on a book - the text or the illustrations?

When I’m working on a new idea I write and sketch at the same time, I think best when I’m doodling. Sometimes a sketch inspires a story and sometimes the other way around! I always keep a sketchbook full of notes and little drawings - it doesn’t matter if it’s messy, as it’s just for me. With Mammoth I could just have fun making the illustrations, Anna Kemp’s text was so inspiring.

Reader Q&A with Adam Beer

What do you use to create your illustrations?

For the black lines I use a dip pen and waterproof ink. Dip pens make the best scratchy lines! Then I use gouache paint, colour inks and marker pens over the top. It’s quite a messy process and I always have inky fingers!

Why did you make "shiny beetles" into tractors and cars in Mammoth?

This was Anna Kemp’s idea, when she sent me the story it had a few little notes with it. I love drawing cars and trucks so this made me very happy.

Reader Q&A with Adam Beer

Did you like using story strips to illustrate this story? Why did you choose this type of illustration?

I have always loved comics and it seemed the best way to show what the Mammoth is thinking and feeling. The rhythm of Anna’s text somehow suggested it.

Why did you set this story in New York because it does not tell you in the text?

I think Anna & I always pictured the story in New York. It’s such a fun city - I love the buildings, the yellow cabs and the museums. I went on holiday there years ago and used my photos from the trip as reference for the street scenes in Mammoth. Plus Mammoth is huge so we needed to send him to a really big city!

Reader Q&A with Adam Beer

Why did you use a rainbow instead of musical notes?

I wanted the music to be really joyful and colourful and there’s nothing more colourful than a rainbow. Also I can’t read music..

Do you think Mammoth will be happy in his new home?

Yes I do! I can picture him practising music with his little friends and experiencing lots more new things in the city; ice skating in Central Park, climbing the Empire State building and eating at all the amazing restaurants.

Is this the best book you have ever illustrated?

This is the first book I have illustrated! So yes, this is most definitely the best one ever.

How long did it take to illustrate this book?

It took me ages, but it was my first one and I learned a lot by making mistakes as I went along (thank you to my super patient editor and art director, Helen and Jane x).

Reader Q&A with Adam Beer
Book pages Placeholder Book


The funny, touching story of an Ice Age mammoth who finds himself in a modern day city from the bestselling author of Dogs Don't Do Ballet .

Big beast. Big city. BIG TROUBLE.

When an Ice Age mammoth finds himself in a modern day city, he's not at all sure what to make of this huge, gleaming forest. Strange birds in the sky, strange beetles on the ground and strange, shouty cavemen.

Is he the only mammoth in the WORLD?

A warm and and endearing story about finding your herd and a place to trumpet wildly from much-loved author Anna Kemp and exciting new illustrator, Adam Beer.


14th July 2021

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