Getting Lifesize with Sophy Henn

In celebration of National Non-Fiction November, we’re delighted to share a special blog post from Sophy Henn, the author and illustrator of Lifesize.

Lifesize is the interactive non-fiction adventure that features life size illustrations of some of the smallest and largest animals in the world and invites children to compare parts of their bodies with these amazing animals.


Where do you create your wonderful work and illustrations?

I work from home which is both great and not great all at the same time. Great as being a mum it has meant I can work flexibly but not so great as I never leave work!

I call my workspace a studio if I am feeling fancy or the spare room if I am feeling more honest. It is full of books and piles of paper all arranged in a way that only I understand (most of the time), and to the untrained eye could look messy.

I have two big pin boards as I love to have lots of lovely things to look at while I am pondering ideas.

Sophy Henn desk space
Sophy Henn’s workspace

Can you tell us a little about how you create a book?

My book making process actually changes from book to book. Sometimes it can start with a character on the drawing board, sometimes a title in a notebook and sometimes a story on my laptop.

When I am writing it can happen in many ways, sometimes flowing like an unstoppable word tsunami. Other times I have to make myself sit at my desk, bribe myself with biscuit breaks and every word is an effort. But what I have realised is that if you keep trying and don’t give up you will get to the end of the story.

Where do you begin?

I start by roughing out each layout in pencil, then I redraw it a little more neatly. Once the layout has been agreed with the team working on the book (editors, art directors and designers) I will then get to work colouring it in.

I draw each element by hand and then colour it in digitally, so it’s quite a time consuming process, I get through a lot of audio books!

Sophy Henn
Sophy Henn working in her studio

There are so many fascinating facts in your non-fiction book Lifesize. What is your favourite animal fact?

One of my favourite animal facts is that giant pandas can poo up to 40 times a day.

One of my other favourite animal facts is that we have never caught a live giant squid.

The reason I love this fact is that it is so exciting and humbling to know that this planet still has some secrets. I sort of hope we never catch one.

A spread from Sophy’s book Lifesize

Do you have any favourite non-fiction books?

Hmmm, my most used non-fiction books are my thesaurus and rhyming dictionary. My favourites are probably my design books, especially ones about illustrators such as Saul Bass, Mary Blair and Maurice Sendak.

What is your favourite thing about non-fiction?

I love non-fiction. It is as exciting and awe inspiring as fiction but feels extremely improving at the same time. And truth, as they say, is often far stranger than fiction.


LifesizeStep into Lifesize see how you measure up against some of the world’s most amazing animals. High-five a polar bear to discover who has the biggest paw. Peer through the die-cut to find out how you’d look with a giant squid eye.

This interactive non-fiction adventure features life size illustrations of some of the smallest and largest animals. It invites children to compare parts of their bodies with these amazing animals.

This huge, playful book is the perfect introduction to animals for young children and is the first non-fiction book from picture book star, Sophy Henn.

More about Sophy Henn

Sophy Henn is an award-winning picture book author and illustrator with an MA in Illustration from the University of Brighton.

She is the creator of the much-loved Pom Pom series and her book Where Bear? was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Sophy was the World Book Day Illustrator in 2015 and 2016.

Height: 1.75metres (Or almost 6 Lifesize books laid end to end!)

Keep up to date with Sophy on her website, on Twitter and Instagram.

Explore Egmont’s Red Shed imprint for more of our non-fiction range this National Non-Fiction November.

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