Gloria Goes for Gold by Marina Firth & Annabel Tempest

Gloria Goes for Gold
Gloria Goes for Gold by Marina Firth & Annabel Tempest

About Author

Discover a young hippo who loves her medal-winning family, but who wants to win a prize all by herself.  Illustrator Annabel Tempest introduces Gloria Goes for Gold!

Marina Firth lives in Hertfordshire, UK, where she likes to make up animal stories about the critters that visit her allotment, from the hungry mice who munch all her strawberries, to the local snake, who thankfully keeps a distance!

Annabel Tempest's style is bright, bold and full of fun. She uses her experience as a surface pattern designer to bring lots of texture, layers, and patterns into her work. Annabel lives in Somerset, UK.



Gloria Goes for Gold  (OUP Children's Books)

June 2024

With the Olympics just around the corner, it's the perfect time to find out happens when a young hippo who LOVES to win decides it's time to win her very own gold medal, rather than swimming as a team with her family.  Things don't go exactly to plan, though, and Gloria comes to realise that it really isn't all about being a winner.

In this month's feature with illustrator Annabel Tempest, we find out what it was like to illustrate Gloria Goes for Gold - and that team of extraordinary hippo swimmers! - and what she hopes young readers will enjoy in the story.

Review:  "The story is fast-paced and fun to read aloud with brilliant illustrations to accompany the text."



Q&A with Annabel Tempest: Finding out about Gloria Goes for Gold

"Taking part and having a go is very important, and we learn things even when we fail.
Sometimes we learn the most important things when we fail!"

1.    Hello Annabel, thank you for joining us on ReadingZone!   Can you tell us how you became an illustrator, and what have been your career highlights to date?

Ever since I was little, I have loved drawing. I did a degree in fashion textiles, but when I took my portfolio out in the big bad world, I was told my work didn't suit textiles and that it looked more like wrapping paper so I thought, okay, I'll do wrapping paper!

Since then I've illustrated all sorts of lovely things from paper and cards to maps and mugs. I even did the branding for a whole pub, but illustrating picture books has been my favourite thing so far. Seeing my work on publishers' stands at the Bologna Book Fair was pretty amazing, and out in real life book shops and being read to and by children!

2.    What kinds of things inspire you to be creative? And where's your favourite place to work?
I'm a bit of a magpie for collecting ideas like shiny things, so many things inspire me. I live in the country in a very busy house filled with boys and animals, so they and nature are a constant source of inspiration, but everything really from vintage china in charity shops to new films and old reference books and cartoons.

I did the initial drawings for Gloria while I was stewarding at Glastonbury festival, which was brilliant inspiration for characters that were at the Savannah games. I draw everywhere. 

3.    Do you have sympathy for a young hippo wanting to win her own prize?  How do you feel readers will respond to Gloria wanting to win her own medal? 

Yes, definitely! I come from a really big family and although I love that and adore them, sometimes it's nice to go out on your own! But obviously with that comes its own challenges, so I think it's lovely that Gloria also finally sees how very clever and special it is to be part of a team.

4.    Why did you want to illustrate this story - and what were the challenges in drawing a team of synchronised hippos?

Ha! Yes! Hippopotamuses aren't what you immediately think of as elegant, graceful synchronised swimmers. This year at the Paris Olympics is the first year that men will be allowed to compete in the teams, which I think is great. I've learnt a lot about hippos and artistic swimming teams while doing this book!

5.     How did you decide what the hippos would look like, and how do you make Gloria stand out from the rest of her family?
I always start with drawing real hippos from life, so hooray for Google! I had a lot of fun designing the hippos' team colours and swimming costumes so they are all different. Also things like her grandfather having a moustache and her brother, Harold, having lime green glasses, but yes, it was definitely a challenge to make all the hippos look different, Gloria is wearing my favourite swimming costume design.

6.    There are many moments of humour in the story and illustrations - how do you achieve this?

I always think that if it's made me smile while I'm drawing it and the characters expressions make me laugh, hopefully they will make other people laugh, too. The little birds and fish onlookers are always fun to do and there is a rather surprised snake who appears in some of the spreads!

7.     Do you have a favourite spread or moment in the story?

Yes, I love the spread where the crocodile bumps into Gloria's bottom! They both have such funny expressions on their faces, and it was so much fun trying to work out how the crocodile would do the front crawl with such a long nose and such short arms! And I loved putting him in teeny weenie, skimpy, swimming shorts and a matching funny little swimming hat. 

8.    Other than a great story, what would you like young readers to take from Gloria Goes for Gold? What kinds of discussions do you feel it can encourage?

I think it's really important to do your very best and it's fine to want to win, but it's also fine not to win and accept that some people (or animals) will just naturally be better at some things than you, and that's OK, too.

We can't be the best at everything, and of course the taking part and having a go is very important and we learn things even when we fail. Sometimes we learn the most important things when we fail! And finally, that it's always great if you can be part of a team!

9.    With the Olympics just around the corner, what kinds of sports and activities are you looking forward to watching?  And what are your favourite things to do to relax - either in a team or on your own?

I'm actually very excited to see the artistic synchronised swimming this year as before I illustrated Gloria goes for Gold, I didn't really know anything about it. Having researched it, I've realised it takes so much work and dedication from the teams to make it look so elegant and effortless. I also love to swim and do all year round outside in a wild pond. Although in the summer, I wallow more like a hippopotamus than actually swim, but in the winter when it's freezing cold, it's more of a chilly dip!

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