Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 6, 2021

Victoria Yu Illustrator Critique by Chantelle and Burgen


My name is Victoria Yu, and I recently took Mira’s Craft & Business of Writing Children’s Book course. I will also be taking the upcoming Illustrating course. I’ve been working on some illustrations for the story that I developed during Mira’s course. The story is called The Hollow-Hearted Princess and The Moon Child, and is based on a Japanese folktale, The Bamboo Cutter and The Moon Child. See below for the story pitch and my bio (same as my final submission for the Golden Ticket competition in Mira’s course).


Aiko has a problem — her heart is hollow. She finds a tiny girl (Hikari) inside a glowing bamboo stalk. Aiko takes care of Hikari and shares her world. Hikari eventually reveals that she is from the moon and must return. But though she is alone again, Aiko is not lonely because her heart has been filled with happiness and memories. She remembers Hikari whenever she looks up at the moon and they reunite once a year on the bridge of stars. 


Victoria’s path to picture book writing was not the straightest. She majored in English literature, took some murky detours in law and ecommerce, and bounced between countries from Hong Kong, to the UK, to the US. Victoria is most inspired by folklore, mythology and fairy tales, and hopes to bring more Asian representation to the table for her book-loving toddler.


Hello Victoria. Thanks for sharing your illustrations and part of your story with us for review. We hear you will be joining us for the upcoming Children’s Book Academy course starting 7th June and we’re looking forward to seeing more of this interesting story! We can’t wait to find out what happens to the Moon Child and the Princess – you’ve done a great job of building suspense with the images you’ve sent! Well done.

Let’s get started and talk about your first illustration.

We love the princess on this page. She has a wonderfully authentically oriental feel to her clothes and parasol (you’ve really done your homework) and she’s very beautiful, as a princess should be – nice work! We like the blossoming trees behind her but we think they’re a bit dominant and are stealing the princess’s limelight. The same goes for the very bold paving that takes up a good deal of your page and detracts from the delicate work in your pretty princess. So let’s bunny hop to our suggested fixes…

If you’ve been reading our other reviews on Kathy’s blog, I’m sure you’d guess that we’d bump up the size of your main character as a first step. This is to engage our reader with the main character and to make the most of the wonderful work you’ve put into your princess. To that end, we’ve sadly said goodbye to the flowering trees. Sometimes what you don’t put in can add to the message – white space can add emphasis and tension to a scene. If you feel you must have the trees, perhaps consider having just one that curves around her, bending in a pretty shape to the left and top of the page, and make sure to tone down the very dark trunk so that it doesn’t detract from the main character. We’ve kept the paving, so that she and the bunny are not floating, but dropped them down and given them a lot less emphasis so the reader is free to engage fully with what’s happening between the princess and the bunny. We’ve simplified him to match the style of the princess and aimed him to look at her, setting up a visual ‘dialogue’ between the two characters. This creates some suspense as to what happens next…

Again, some gorgeous detailed work in the bamboo! You’ve created a lovely pattern with the shoots to the sides and we like the placing of the central cane with the glow – the stage is set for drama! Take a look at what we changed…

We’ve upped the contrast between the bamboo and the background, this makes for more interesting negative spaces in the leaves and between the foreground plants and the central cane. Similarly, we’ve heightened the contrast to make the central cane glow more – let’s leave no doubt that magic is about to happen! We’ve duplicated and enlarged your bamboo to create a more dense jungle to the sides of the page. Once again, this adds to the contrast and gives ‘centre stage’ to the action.

Let’s move on to your final image.

What a peaceful looking child! We like the Moon ‘crown’, setting the stage for what you’re about to show us next. This is an excellent storytelling device, particularly in picture books where the illustrations are of primary importance to the story. We also like the glow around the child, showing the magic and linking to the glow from the previous page. Here are our suggested tweaks:

We’ve brought in some of the bamboo leaves to strengthen the link between this page and what’s come before. We’ve also upped the contrast and saturated the golden glow – this creates a bond between the background and the moon crown on the child’s head. To make the child younger, we’ve enlarged eyes, removed grey, added more colour and made the little hand much smaller.

We hope you like our ideas and we look forward to seeing more of your illustrations and how you apply these suggestions to your work. See you in class very soon!


Chantelle and Burgen are excited to be co-teaching the June 7th Craft and Business of Illustrating (and Writing) Children’s Books interactive e-course, where they will be sharing their 25 years of experience and technique development. Find out more here or purchase the course with over 30 lessons, all the bonuses, the 16 submission opportunities here  or directly purchase the full course etc. plus a one-hour in-person critique with Chantelle and Burgen here.–Burgen

Readers: if you don’t know or haven’t signed up yet, click the link below to register for ‘The Craft and Business of Illustrating and Writing Picture Books’ with the Children’s Book Academy. Starts 7th June. Don’t miss out!!


Chantelle and Burgen, thank you for taking the time to share your expertist with Ruth and the rest of us. I am sure many illustrators will benefit from your review.

Talk tomorrow,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: