As the UK began to slowly emerge from lock down the children of Stoke on Trent were invited to participate in a creative writing initiative supported by The National Literacy Trust and the Arts Council. Young people aged between 7 and 11 were encouraged to write a piece inspired by the city and environment around them with the theme ‘City of Kindness’ as part of the Connecting Stories exhibition at Middleport Pottery. With the aim of encouraging interest in reading and storytelling and promoting diversity the response to the initiative was enthusiastically received.

A judging panel formed of experts, community representatives, publishing spear heads and authors, over saw the selection process to choose the best and most inspiring entries which now form a beautifully curated collection of short stories and poems called City of Kindness.

Reflecting the ethos behind this project illustrator Joe Lillington was invited to create a bright, vibrant and inclusive image to adorn the cover of the book. As you can see Joe has captured the essence of community, hope and kindness beautifully. You can read an extract from the book HERE.

Joe has a special talent for creating engaging characters which appeal to a broad readership. His observational attention to detail and versatility really adds to the accessibility of his illustration work making him a perfect match for a huge variety of  publishing projects, from historical works to contemporary fiction, picture books and beyond.

You can find Joe on Instagram and Twitter and you can view his most recent portfolio pieces HERE. For more information regarding working with Joe please email