Sheffield author enlists help of young student for new book

Niki Burdett (left) author of Tomi's Sea Adventure and 16 year old illustrator Poppy Keats
Niki Burdett (left) author of Tomi's Sea Adventure and 16 year old illustrator Poppy Keats
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A CHILDREN’S book sparked the start of a perfect partnership for an author and young art student.

Primary school teacher-turned writer Niki Burdett enlisted the help of budding illustrator Poppy Keats, aged 16, for her latest book after a chance chat with a cafe boss.

Niki, of Dore, Sheffield, heard about the teenager’s work from Poppy’s proud mum Theresa, owner of Tilly’s on Twentywell Lane.

The pair then began working to bring her story Tomi’s Sea Adventure, about an angelfish who swims away from home, to life on the page.

They tested out ideas on primary school pupils before the work was sent to publishers.

And now their effort is hitting shelves in Sheffield’s Waterstones and a special launch was held at Tilly’s to celebrate.

Niki said: “Many Sheffield illustrators were fully booked with other projects or focused on illustrating their own stories.

“I met a stumbling block but, thankfully, I heard about Poppy through a friend and her age was actually an asset as she could bring a fresh approach to the project and had only been a child a few years ago!

I gave her a brief to interpret a seahorse and the result was wonderful.”

Poppy, who is studying for A Levels in Art, Technology and Drama at Notre Dame Sixth Form, said: “Niki has boosted my confidence and enabled me to learn about working to deadlines.

“And to write ‘published illustrator’ on my CV will be an added bonus when I have to make career choices and apply for jobs! The money has been great too as so many youngsters are taken on by people who expect them to work for nothing.”

n Niki will be signing copies at Waterstones in Orchard Square from 11am to 2pm on Friday, April 5.