Book about Bootsy was purrfect for Vicky

Student author and illustrator, Vicky Phillips
Student author and illustrator, Vicky Phillips

PEOPLE can take on many traits from their family, whether its athleticism from their mum, cooking skills from dad or being able to sing like an angel, just like Aunt Mabel.

But for one Sompting girl it is her creative, artistic talent that has been passed on to her – this time from her grandma.

Vicky Phillips admits she was always drawing from a young age, encouraged to do so by her grandma, Elsie ‘Grassie’ Phillips, who was a talented artist residing in Hove and then Worthing.

“I always liked to doodle,” reflects Vicky, as she describes how she used to sit around Grassie’s table with masses of paper and pens.

This love of art led to her studying the subject at Steyning Grammar School and Worthing’s Northbrook College before heading to Southampton Solent University to study illustration.

Yet it was a chance spot on a publisher’s website, advertising a competition for a children’s illustrator, that has led to the 20-year-old’s success.

Bootsy’s New Home, published by Hampton Bond International, is the result of much hard work and perseverance.

The book, aimed at children aged seven to nine, follows Bootsy the cat, who accidentally gets left behind at its old home and desperately tries to find the family by itself. The little tale teaches children the importance of taking care when trusting others, how to make friends and how sometimes we are not told the truth.

When it comes to inspiration, Vicky said: “I was trying to get ideas about it for ages.

“I was sitting talking about it and then I remembered there were lots of mischievous things my cat had done.

“I did some research about how people write children’s books – how it should have a moral and I thought of that.”

The experience has not been easy, with Vicky learning the ins and outs that come with the publishing process.

“I got most of the work done by Christmas 2012, then it was editing,” she said.

“Most of last year was changing things. They [the publishers] would have their meetings and then I would have to change it.

“There was a lot of people who applied,” Vicky added.

“I got shortlisted to the last 50 and then shortlisted to 35 and these 35 then got published.

“I felt ecstatic. When I got to the last 35 I was like ‘wow, that is so cool’.”

Vicky’s style of illustration is quite distinctive – clear, straightforward and simple – and this has developed further now she is in her final year at Southampton Solent.

With her degree almost completed, Vicky is planning ahead. “I want to get a job using my degree,” the determined illustrator said. “At the moment it is all about uni and getting that out of the way but afterwards I would like to do a lot more.”

Bootsy’s New Home costs £3.99 and is available from,, and

The book can be bought via Waterstones and Amazon. To find out more, visit Vicky’s Facebook page Vicky Phillips Illustration.

n For a chance to win one of 10 copies of Bootsy’s New Home, tell us the name of Vicky’s grandma who encouraged her drawing. Send the answer with your name, address and phone number to by Wednesday, April 30.