authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Danny Parker


It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Danny Parker. Danny Parker is the author of many picture books, and a new series called Lola’s Toybox. When he’s not writing books, Danny is a writing and drama teacher at a Perth boys school.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Aleesah Darlison asked:
You’ve worked with some amazing illustrators in the past, in particular Matt Ottley. Can you tell us how much interaction you have with Matt before and during the book creation process?

Danny answers:

I always feel completely confident when I know that Matt has one of my texts because I think that we both feel the same way about picture books. I know that he will never just ‘draw my words’ he will find a way of working that will be intelligent and surprising. He hides extra meaning inside his pictures, often exploring the story in new ways. This gives the reader such a rich experience.

Matt has taught me a lot about the picture book format. When I am writing I can almost hear him in my head saying, ‘If you can see it, don’t say it — trust me to show it.’ That sounds quite complicated but I think he understands story so well that he can interpret what you really mean in a text. Then when those first images come through I start to rework some of the words, because we don’t always want the words and pictures to be telling the same story! Sometimes we talk a great deal about what the book will look like, sometimes very little. Our latest book is called Sarah and the Steep Slope — I only saw a couple of pages from this book before he had finished the whole thing. It is extraordinary. [Sarah and the Steep Slope is out in August 2017.]

Sarah and the Steep Slope by Danny Parker and illustrated by Matt Ottley

Freya Blackwood is also great to work with — she often shares her ideas, and shows me little bits along the way. Her illustrations are always so beautifully observed. I really enjoyed seeing her illustrations for Perfect. This was a text with no real story or characters so she had to imagine and create it all. I love that she sometimes puts little pictures from her other books in her illustrations. There is a picture of Maudie and Bear hanging on the wall in Perfect.

It is a wonderful feeling when you open the package of illustrations for the first time. I have been so lucky, so far I’ve opened quite a few packages, and there are more to come — but it is always remarkable and magical. I can’t quite believe these books started with my stories!

For more about Danny Parker and his books, check out his website:

And now Danny passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Tom Jellett. He has been an editorial illustrator (illustrating for newspapers), and the illustrator of a number of children’s books.

My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Tom JellettDanny asks:
“If you could swap your skills as an illustrator for the skills of another art form — what would you want to swap with and why?
And who or what has been the biggest influence on your work — you have such a distinctive style — I’m looking at My Dad Thinks He’s Funny as i write this! How did you come up with your ‘look’?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

Happy Book Week!