Meet the Illustrator behind Our Legendary Ladies


We are so excited for you to get to know our amazing illustrator, Mrs. Jennifer Howard. Who influenced her? What are her hopes with this series? Jennifer puts so much time and consideration into every color and detail to ensure we are 100% faithful in telling the complete and accurate stories of these Legendary Ladies. We hope you enjoy acquainting yourselves with her. :)


This series is called Our Legendary Ladies, who were/are the legendary ladies who impacted your life?

I think the first was naturally my own mother. Seeing her navigate through life and rise up to every challenge with this unique sense of calm and strength gave me a great role model to look up to. I also found myself looking up to women like Jane Goodall, Rosa Parks and more for being such strong, intelligent and independent women who just knew what they wanted and stood up for what was right in the face of adversity. Now of course I am so inspired by the new young female leaders who are emerging and making their marks on the world.


Who was the artistic influence in your life as a child?

Oh wow, quite a few really! 

For starters, I grew up in a very artistic family, so it was always around us at all times. My dad worked in B2B advertising, and I was always fascinated with the work he did. I remember when I was very little ‘helping’ my dad while he worked in his office and taking these little vinyl decals he had and just creating all sorts of scenes with them. My mom was also very much literary type, and from her I inherited my love of books and storytelling.

In the books I read I remember in particular loving the artwork of Graeme Base. The depth and detail he would put into his books just made it a delight to always come back to as I grew up and discovered more hidden gems that I never saw before. From that source I have always taken that note in my own work.


When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?

I think I always wanted to do this. The problem was knowing that I could. In the areas I lived and grew up in, this wasn’t a career option that was even brought up to me as a child. I was told that I would never make it and needed to find a real career. Of course, the only career options they gave me were either a teacher or finance. I think the real moment when I finally committed was in college, after taking a year’s worth of studies to go into psychology I knew my heart wasn’t in it and I needed to try for it. It took a lot more training and time, but I can say that it was all worth it as I get to work in so many different aspects of art, including illustration.


What do you love most about illustrating Our Legendary Ladies?

I love the process of getting their stories from loose sketch to color to final product the most. Through this I get to know their stories so intimately, and finding ways to bring that to life that doesn’t need a novel’s worth of content to explain is such an amazing challenge. I feel like I really get to know them by the end of each book! 


Most people do not know the amount of research that goes into bringing these stories to life. Can you tell us a little bit about your research process?

So of course, with each of these ladies I start by researching as much as I can through any available biographies about them. I also research everything I can about the historical nuances of their time, like which tools would have been in use, or foliage in that area, or how they would dress. And of course consulting our historian contacts! I also try to see what has been written or drawn, and what has been done well or could be improved upon. The next phase comes about in the concepts and storyboarding. With this comes the most challenging and creatively rewarding part, as I try to figure out how best to convey the words, the feelings and the time period. This is when I go back and make sure everything from the colors to the designs are accurate to that region and time period. Of course, we can’t always find the most accurate information due to some time periods, but the hunt is rewarding!


What was the most interesting thing that you learned about Harriet Tubman while illustrating the first Our Legendary Ladies book?

For myself, I think the most interesting part was realizing just how young she was when she started her journey. Due to the limited nature of photography at the time, the only pictures we ever see in history class just gives you an impression that she was old from the get-go. Not at all! She was youthful and even described as ‘fine’ by papers when she first ran away. She was far more intelligent, resourceful and led a very interesting life. The fact that she also played such an important role in the Civil War is also often glossed over. Far different than I remember history books depicting her. 


What did you learn from Dr. Kate Clifford Larson (Harriet Tubman’s historian) that surprised you?

I think of course it was when we realized we were following the stereotypes and showing Harriet always using the lantern. In most situations she would never have used it, as it would give away their location while on the run.


What do you hope to come of these stories?

I really hope that every family, parent and child who comes across our books learns a little bit more and finds themselves inspired. I know growing up I would have loved to have seen so many amazing women accomplishing the things that everyone else says are impossible. I also hope that our audience will continue to grow and continue to read our work, so we can tell even more stories.


How much research goes into every book or even every page?

So much research! For each book, I take time to do my research about every topic of that legendary lady’s life, ranging from clothing to location and even the types of objects they would interact with in their lives. For each page, we go through multiple rounds of storyboards to get the flow just right. I want to always keep a good cadence to the pages, so they don’t all feel the same. On top of that, each page should have its own life and its own wealth of things to discover and see. Every piece is well thought through, vetted with our historians and added with care.

Our Legendary Ladies is a unique children’s book series that focuses on some of the most prominent women in history. We encourage parents to start reading to their children at the youngest age possible, and we’ve created fun, educational books that go beyond the basics of numbers, colors, and animals to teach your little one about some of the world’s most historic ladies.

Our Harriet Tubman children’s book is a favorite among our online customers, and follows the journey of one of America’s most historic women. Harriet stood for freedom, and she was one amazing women that children should learn about. Order our children’s book online!