It appears you're viewing content from a territory other than your own — switch territory?

Behind the Book: This Is Ruby

last updated 28 May 2021

Lead Banner

Innovative and curious, Ruby sees the world through a childlike lens readers of all ages can learn from! This is Ruby (Tundra Books), illustrated by Bright Artist Alea Marley, hit shelves earlier this week and we celebrated by sitting down with Alea to hear about all the details behind this book. We hope you enjoy getting to know more about Ruby!

What creative details did you incorporate into this project?

A lot of things in this book are actually drawn or painted by hand and then scanned into the computer. Ruby’s clothes and fro’ are watercolor, her face is drawn with graphite and the curls on the edge of her fro’ are thick colored pencils.

Door replacement

Interior spread from This is Ruby

What is your favorite illustration from this book and why?

My favorite illustration in this book is the kaleidoscope spread. It was the spread I had the most fun sketching and it took three whole days to draw! One thing people may not notice is the little kaleidoscope itself is drawn by hand. It’s a little paper cut-out filled in with lots of different colored pencils!

Beginning Kaladeiscope

Beginning stages of the Kaleidoscope spread

What art are you most proud of from this project?

What I like most overall was that I was able to create art in a completely different way from my usual style. It wasn’t my intention at first, but I had so much creative control thanks to the amazing team at Tundra. I was able to be more experimental and really take my time with the developmental process. This is how Ruby’s image was born along with the look for the rest of the art.

Alea and Ruby

Cover of This Is Ruby & Photo of Alea Marley

Ruby has a mind of her own, full of creativity and innovation! What was your inspiration in illustrating her world? What message do you hope young readers gain from reading This Is Ruby?

I took inspiration from how I saw the world as a child. Everything was bright and wonderful. I would always want to pick things up and look at them, and I always had a smile on my face. I spent a lot of my childhood visiting my family in Barbados where some of my favourite memories took place. The setting of the book is based on that and so is the color palette. I hope that readers see how much fun Ruby has making and doing things, and that they can do the same.

Rubys World

Interior spread from This Is Ruby

In what ways did your agent, Anne Moore Armstrong, aid you in the creation of Ruby?

Anne is absolutely wonderful and made it possible for me to even do this book in the first place. She sent it my way, negotiating everything on my behalf and saw the whole process of the book from start to finish. She is incredibly supportive and without her help I wouldn’t be able to develop as an illustrator!

From Anne, her agent: “I was thrilled when Alea was chosen by Tara Walker at Tundra to continue Sara O’Leary’s bestselling series. They quickly became a dream team, collaborating and challenging Alea to stretch and create some of her very best work; I’m so proud of her and the book is an explosion of storytelling color and character!”


This Is Ruby is a part of a series by Sara O’Leary

To work with Alea, get in touch with Anne Moore Armstrong.

Thanks for reading all about This Is Ruby in May’s Behind the Book blog! Miss out last month? Read all about Afraid of the Light illustrated by Bright Artist Flavia Sorrentino in April’s Behind the Book!

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website — see our privacy policy for more.