And so to carry on from the last post Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found in which we learned about the talented illustrator Sophie Blackall…

A few weeks ago, I was helping out in the book booth at a school fair. As we sorted through the books I discovered a number of donations from a series called Ivy & Bean. Being in a household of boys I wasn’t familiar with them at all but was immediately enchanted by their quirky illustrations and sassy story lines. As I explored the world of Sophie Blackall for the last post, I realised she was the illustrator of Ivy & Bean!

The coincidence doesn’t stop there. Reading about Ivy & Bean I learned that the author of the series was none other than Annie Barrows. Wondering why that name sounds familiar? You’ve no doubt read one of her other works, the hugely popular The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. If you haven’t had a chance to read this yet, treat yourself soon!

But back to Ivy & Bean … These adorable tales are geared toward the elementary school aged girl but I’m convinced there’s wider appeal. Let’s take number 6 in the series: Doomed to Dance. My schooldays pal Molly and I could well have been the inspiration behind this story. When Molly and I were convinced we’d be the next prima ballerinas our gracious mothers enrolled us and diligently delivered us to Ms. McBirney’s ballet class once a week. Let’s just say it was grossly obvious from the start that we were delusional.

Aren’t the drawings tremendous? Sophie Blackall has a number of projects on the go – other illustrated storybooks and also a poignant project with her father. Take the time to visit her website here and enjoy her inspiring work.

Saturday, May 21, 2011
“Ack! ‘Round 7pm or so… I was browsing the shelves and saw you on the other side. I swear I glimpsed our entire future together in that brief moment. It was beautiful.  And then someone asked you for the time. I mean c’mon, who doesn’t have a damn time-telling device of some sort these days! 
Oh, if only I’d thought of that.”

I’ve been itching to share this bookish discovery with you for the last week (dastardly computer!) The word serendipity is one of my favourite and this post (which has grown into two so standby for the story to continue) oozes serendipity.

Now, where to begin? Let’s start with the artist: Sophie Blackall is an illustrator with a talent for conveying whimsy in delicate colour. Originally from Australia she now resides in New York city. Sophie, like many, I’ve learned, peruses the on-line world of Missed Connections. What’s that, you ask? Missed Connections are the web postings launched following one of those occasions when a person feels a particularly strong connection with a stranger but lets the opportunity to form a bond pass them by. There are designated sites, Craigslist’s Missed Connections column among them, which provide the forum for regretful folk to post an appeal with the hope that the feeling was mutual and a connection is also being sought. Serendipity is wildly at play! Sophie Blackall saw a wonderful opportunity to bring the poignant and funny messages to life with her charming art. In her words:

“Messages in bottles, smoke signals, letters written in the sand; the modern equivalents are the funny, sad, beautiful, hopeful, hopeless, poetic posts on Missed Connections websites. Every day hundreds of strangers reach out to other strangers on the strength of a glance, a smile or a blue hat. Their messages have the lifespan of a butterfly. I’m trying to pin a few of them down.”

We benefit by being able to follow Sophie’s work on her blog ( ) by being able to purchase her works of art on her etsy site ( and soon by being able to read her book (September release) called Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found.

There’s more to Sophie Blackall than Missed Connections but you’ll have to wait for the next post … meanwhile, enjoy a few more of her illustrations and the messages by which they were inspired.

“Thursday, December 31, 2009
– m4w – 32
You had on a furry hat with ear flaps and you crashed into me at Wollman Rink today. You are a terrible but adorable skater.
Happy New Year!”

“Sunday, March 15, 2009
-w4m 27 (East Village)
Green Hula Hoop in Tompkins Square Park
Yesterday you had a bright green hula hoop around your waist and you were VERY cute. Hope you reply.”

%d bloggers like this: