Isabel Chun ’14 has illustrated her first published children’s book. Her childhood love of painting ultimately led her to this project. Isabel’s vivid and colorful illustrations appear in The Kwik Adventures of Baxter Brave and Tommy the Salami, the story of a young boy who sets off with his dog from the high-rise buildings of Hong Kong for an around-the-world adventure. Traversing four chapters—The Desert, The Ocean, The Jungle and The Mountains—the duo encounter storms, beautiful landscapes, and a variety of animals that help them along the way.
“My favorite chapter to work on was The Jungle, but my favorite illustration is the starry sky that appears in the desert chapter,” says Isabel.
The book contains nearly 100 illustrations, each artfully created by Isabel’s hand. Each illustration was formed in two parts: an ink drawing, which provided the outline, and a watercolor element that filled in the color and texture. Isabel scanned both portions into a computer and merged the two in Photoshop, creating vibrant images that reflect a child’s sense of whimsy.
“The part I most enjoyed was combining the watercolor and ink and seeing the result. The most challenging part of the process was learning how to tell a story through art. This was my first experience with this challenge, and I had to figure out what perspectives would appeal to children.”
Isabel attended the Hong Kong International School (HKIS) before beginning at Milton this year, following in the footsteps of her brother, Tze-Ngo Chun ’98 and sister, Tze-Cheng Chun ’02. (Both siblings are also artists—a filmmaker and dancer, respectively.)
Last spring, Derek Kwik, a Hong Kong–based financier and HKIS alumnus, returned to his alma mater in search of a student with artistic talent to help him with the story he was writing. Isabel’s portfolio of paintings, drawings and fabric designs impressed him. The two worked closely on the project over a period of eight months. When the book was first released in Hong Kong, Isabel was completing her first semester at Milton and missed the initial launch party.
“I saw the first copy about a month after it was published,” says Isabel. “I flew home for winter break and after a 16-hour flight, I walked into my bedroom and saw stacks of the book. I was so happy!”
While home in Hong Kong, she attended a second book launch held at her former school. She says it was rewarding to see young students reading her book.
At Milton, art is part of Isabel’s daily life. She takes a Studio Art class and always keeps a sketchbook close at hand. Fashion is another of Isabel’s passions; last summer she took courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She has a sewing machine in her dorm room and makes her own dresses for special occasions.
“In my future, I don’t necessarily want to be a professional artist, but I want art to be a part of what I do.”
The Kwik Adventures of Baxter Brave and Tommy the Salami is only available in Hong Kong, but the publisher is working to make it available through an online bookseller here in the United States. All profits from the book go to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.