Because I Had a Teacher

Research output: Other contribution


In January 2016, Russell was commissioned by Seattle-based publisher, Compendium, to illustrate Because I had a Teacher, a book written by Kobi Yamada – a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author.

Russell’s illustrations portray ‘symbolic adventures’ between two gender/race-neutral bear characters (teacher and child) as they participate in a range of learning activities suitable for children at US Key Stage 1 (Age 4 - 7). For the project, Russell developed an illustrative technique for the project, that deployed pencil drawings and collaged materials to reflect the methods of making used in a child’s classroom at this stage, to enable and enhance connectivity to the content and aim of the publication to celebrate the role of teachers and their positive impact on the growth and development of a children. Building on her ‘screen-printed’ method of illustration, Russell developed sketchbook drawing techniques, in conjunction with contrasting photographic elements, to create a timeless and new illustrative approach that would enhance reader experience for adult and child alike, and to strengthen reader engagement and interaction through a visually meaningful experience together with the words in what became a best-selling children’s book.

Russell’s innovative drawing technique has gone on to be utilised as a visual tool for learners, as a means of visual storytelling, and to promote the employment of inexpensive mark-making tools within the studio, classroom or home environments.

Because I had a Teacher was published in 2017 and reached number five on the New York Times bestsellers list in May 2019 and was, subsequently number four, in June 2020.
Original languageEnglish
TypeMulti Component Output
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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