Award winning author and illustrator Catherine Rayner studied Illustration at Edinburgh College of art. She fell in love with the city and still lives there with a small menagerie of creatures: Shannon the horse, Ena the grey cat, goldfish Sheila and a speckly black and tan guinea pig called Marvin. She finds huge inspiration in her pets and often uses them as models, frequently asking Ena to pose so that she can study her posture and movement. Then she translates sketches of Ena into characters such as dragons and hares, not to mention moose and bears! But it was creatures of a wilder kind that inspired her first picture book, Augustus and His Smile - Catherine spent hours and hours watching and sketching tigers (in freezing temperatures) at Edinburgh Zoo.
And it must have paid off, because in 2006 Catherine won the Best New Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Awards and was also shortlisted for the V&A Illustration Awards 2006. Augustus and His Smile was then selected as one of five picture books to be recommended on Channel 4's 'Richard and Judy Christmas Party' in December of that year. Since then, Augustus and His Smile has been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, the 'Read it Again' Cambridgeshire Picture Book Award, the English 4-11 Award 2007 and the Royal Mail Scottish Children's Book awards (0-7 category) 2007. Meanwhile, this year Catherine has been selected as one of the ten best new illustrators for Booktrust's 'Big PicturShe is also currently shortlisted for the 2008 Dundee City of Discovery Picture Book Award, and the Norfolk Libraries Children's Book Award.