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Alex Willan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Jasper & Ollie Books

Jasper & Ollie (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jasper & Ollie Build a Fort (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Children's Books

Unicorns Are the Worst! (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dragons Are the Worst! (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Yetis Are the Worst! (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Alex Willan is a children’s picture book and fiction author from Louisville Kentucky that is best known for his debut work “Jasper & Ollie.” The novel would make him into a bestselling author and would later spawn another title.

He has said that growing up he would often be found with a sketchbook in hand. It was from his love of drawing that he decided to study illustration in college. Over the years, he has painted squirmy kid’s faces, theater sets, murals and had his work exhibited in art galleries.
However, children’s books have always been his first true love.

He currently makes his home in Chicago where he lives with Harley his dog. “Jasper & Ollie” , his debut work, was first published in 2019.

As a child, drawing was something that Alex Willan loved to do. As a teenager, he got his BFA in illustration from the Savannah College of Art & Design. His dream was to always write picture books but after graduating from college his fear of failure prevented him from making anything of his dreams.

Fortunately, the dream would continue nagging him and even as he postponed it for years, it would not let go and he eventually had to let go of his fear. The writing part would be something that came later.

Willan is that person who always has all manner of stories swirling around in their head. When he was just starting out, he believed that he could get his foot in the door and become a children’s fiction author if only he could get someone interested in his illustrations.

He felt that he would need someone to give him permission to write his stories. But illustration never opened any doors or introduced him to people who could and this is when he figured that he needed to open those doors himself.

Alex Willan’s road to publishing was winding and it took him a long time to find his way to publishing children’s fiction. He finally decided enough was enough and that he had to get published but it was still several years before he saw any tangible progress.

Much of the time, he felt like he was just spinning wheels as he would get an agent or editor to meet him at a conference who would be interested in his work but nothing would come of it.

It was a heartbreaking time but he believes these moments were critical as they helped him develop the determination and persistence he needed to become what he is today. Initially, he only worked with acrylic paints but he would soon transform to the making of digital art using an iPad Pro.

He believes that most artists now need to move to digital technology as it has evolved so much over the years that it seems natural. He feels like he can now create and experiment with his art using digital technology unlike with traditional media as he now can make use of the undo button.

Alex Willan’s novel “Japer & Ollie” introduces two best friends who are often found together. At breakfast, Jasper tells his friend Ollie that he wants to use the pool and Ollie goes out with him. As the fox of the two friends, Jasper says they should race there and they dash out of the house.

On the way there, he pulls on a swimsuit, runs past the mail man who drops all his mail, hustles past the ice cream guy and leaps over a turtle who is drawing something on a fence. But once he arrives, he needs to wait for the slothy Ollie who has a very different approach.

He comes across lazily as he gets an ice cream cone, helps the turtle draw, gets a drink, picks up the letters dropped by the mailman, smells the flowers and watches butterflies. In the meantime, Jasper rushes all over the place trying to locate Ollie and given his frenzied state he is thrown out of the establishment.
Luckily this is just the time when Ollie, his friend, comes with some ice cream.
It is amazing how Willan manages to tell an entire story with just speech bubbles. He makes use of framing techniques that he gleaned from comic books to make for some spectacular effect.

He shows a desperate Jasper trying to find Ollie while Ollie enjoys his walk. Jasper is often shown with a dashed line to show his frantic movements around and under obstacles and people.

“Jasper & Ollie Build a Fort” is a hilarious novel that will make its readers laugh out loud. Ollie and Jasper set out to build forts and the latter seems to still have his old frenetic nature as he acts without forethought or much planning.

What he loves is anything extravagant, fun and big as compared to Ollie who is practical, slow, measured and barely says anything over the course of the story.

It is a brilliant piece of storytelling in showing how different these two are in their personalities.
Jasper builds his fort very quickly and is soon adding all manner of features. But since he built so quickly some of it is falling apart and he has to go back and hold it all together with duct tape. On the other hand, Ollie is a slow builder who keeps it simple and consults his blueprints while building his fort.
When it is finally time to show each other their work, Jasper’s fort collapses as he was shabbily built. Ollie’s fort on the other hand is quite large and has room for two. As such, he lets Jasper share his castle and they spend the night in it. In the end, even Jasper acknowledges that Ollie has built the best fort.

“Unicorns are the Worst” by Alex Willan is a hilarious tale of a goblin narrator. His life has been nothing but a disaster ever since he lost the meadow he loved playing in as it was invaded by unicorns. All the harp music, glitter and prancing is unbearable to the studious and serious goblin who prefers to spend much of his time sorting ingredients and studying spells.

The unicorns also hold boisterous tea parties and the goblin has never been invited even though he would never go even if he was invited. But when he finds himself in a lot of trouble, he acknowledges that those unicorn behaviors he found so irritable could be useful.

Funny and adorable, it is a delightful story that tells of the true motivation for Goblin, which seems to be that he cannot connect with his new neighbors and feels left out. When the unicorns help him when he is attacked by a dragon, he realizes that what he thought were frivolous behaviors have just as much value and his studious studies.

Just like in his other works, the author uses sparkles and bright colors to make delightful illustrations and present a contrast between the more staid and drab goblin and the carefree unicorns.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Alex Willan

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