Saturday, December 03, 2022

Mark the Mountain Guide


The original Mark the Mountain book was published in 2008. It sold over 20,000 copies in the UK, US and France. It was decided it needed a revamp – a new look.  

Yet, at the risk of stating the obvious, children's books are all about the illustrations. We set out to find the best. To that end we scoured the earth with no success which left us despondent.  

Time passed by, then, out of nowhere my friend Vin called me : "I have found you an illustrator: a children's book illustrator with an impeccable portfolio of books and awards." 

Vin continued triumphantly: "What's more is she only lives a mile from you!" 

"Oh," I said non-comitally.This is because  I am generally of the view that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. 

Yet seemingly there are exceptions:

Brooke and I met at the "Petit Social" cafe bar in Les Praz a couple of days later for what would be over time the first of many coffees. [It is 30 seconds from Brooke's house and 10 minutes from mine!] Originally from Canada, Brooke is an accomplished climber and skier who had been living in Chamonix for over 10 years.  She saw this project as the opportunity to illustrate a story about the mountains. We agreed a schedule and she started with some very simple character sketches:

Then some action sketches:

From there we discussed colours, I had always been captivated by the iconic Samivel paintings and as Brooke continued to work away it was good that she has given a nod to these wonderful illustrations.

One of Samivel's famous paintings

Furthermore, Brooke drew heavily from her own experiences: anyone who is familiar with the Chamonix landscape will be able to see the Argentiere glacier. 

Once Brooke had finished all the paintings, she set about designing the actual book which was then sent to the printers.

The next stage was to launch the book. My daughter Andrea  was able to connect with the world famous mountaineer Catherine Destiville. She publishes mountaineering books through Les Editions du Mont Blanc. In France, the book is published under the title Marc le Guide de Montagne, available here.

Les Editions du Mont Blanc are now responsible for the distribution throughout the French speaking world. It was not lost on us that having France's most famous climber driving the book forward would be positive.

We have been asked to do a book signing on afternoon of the 23rd December at the central book shop in St Gervais.

For the UK market we created our own dedicated publishing company – Mark the Mountain Guide Ltd .

We set up the primary form of sales via our own website – Order online and the books are shipped with postage included overnight throughout the UK. 

In summary, we are extremely satisfied with what we have created.  We hope it goes some way to drive home the key message that enjoying physical activity and exposing children to gradual risks improves their happiness and self-confidence.  Furthermore, the power of walking and climbing has the ability to connect us to the mountains.  This is a book for anyone who loves the mountains and the outdoors.

Sophie Marmot & Sophie real life version on the right.

Happy Christmas 2023