Posted in illustrator

Visit an illustrator’s studio (WA)

Is it your dream job to be an illustrator one day? James Foley—illustrator of The Last Viking, and author-illustrator of In the Lion—is taking part in an Open Day.

You can check out his Illustrator’s Workspace at The Ward, 590 Newcastle St, Leederville WA, from 2pm until 5pm on 25 November 2012.

In the Lion (cover)

"The Last Viking (cover)"

Here’s what he has to say about the day:

“Come see where I work and what I’m working on next. I’ll have prints from The Last Viking for sale too.

Plus you’ll get to meet all the other amazing artists here: filmmakers, photographers, illustrators, painters, textile workers … it will be awesome.”

You can see a photo of his workspace on The Last Viking website.

IMPORTANT: You must have an adult with you to visit the Open Day. (And keep in mind that the other artists and creators are not all children’s book illustrators. Some of their material may not be G-rated.)

Posted in illustrator, National Year of Reading

Meet the author-illustrator: Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas, author and illustratorIssue 15 is out now! And we’re thrilled to feature an interview with Peter Carnavas—author-illustrator of many fabulous picture books such as The Important Things, The Great Expedition, The Children Who Loved Books, and many more. We had far too many questions (and answers) to squeeze everything into the magazine’s pages, so we are very pleased to share the full interview with you here on Soup Blog.




The Great Expedition (cover)The Important Things (cover)


Where do you live? 

I live in a beautiful little town called Mapleton, which is in the mountainous part of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. I’m surrounded by trees and some very talkative birds.


Where do you get your ideas?

I start writing stories about things that I care about. Sometimes this happens after reading another book, reading the newspaper or watching a good movie. The best stories seem to jump in your head when you least expect it.

What made you become a writer-illustrator?

My wife! After I had made some picture books for my family, she encouraged me to take writing and illustrating more seriously and send something to a publisher.

Was it easy to get your first book published?

I was lucky enough to get my first book accepted by the first publisher I sent it to. It did take a lot of work to put the book together before I sent it. I made a lot of mistakes before I was happy enough to send it away.

Does the story influence your choice of materials for the artwork?

I usually use watercolours with an ink outline because that is what I’m comfortable using. The story definitely influences a lot of other choices I make when illustrating, particularly the style of the characters and the colours. Some of my stories have quite serious themes so I like to balance this out by using warm colours and making the pictures a bit light and whimsical.

When you work on your books, which comes first—the artwork or the story text?

I always write the story first with the pictures swimming around my head. When the story is finished, I spend a lot of time working on the storyboard (sort of like a comic-strip version of the book) and doing pencil sketches. Finally I’ll trace the pictures and paint them.

Are you working on a book at the moment?

I’ve just finished a book of mine called The Children Who Loved Books, which is about a family that discovers they cannot live without books. I’m also illustrating a novel at the moment.

The Children Who Loved Books (cover)

Do you have any advice for young writers and artists?

Just keep writing and illustrating. Read as much as you can and spend a lot of time looking at your favourite illustrations. It’s always good to find other people who are interested in books, too, so you have someone else to share your interest. This might be a friend from school, or perhaps someone in your family or a librarian.

What do you like to do when you are not writing or illustrating?

I love spending time with my two daughters. I like walking my dog, fishing and tramping through rainforests. I also spend a lot of time playing music. I have lots of instruments that are bursting out of the cupboard, demanding to be played.

Is your work influenced by another writer and/or illustrator in particular?

I am a big fan of many picture book artists. Some of my favourites are Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood, Bob Graham, Stephen Michael King, Quentin Blake, Nick Bland and Oliver Jeffers. Plus many more!

© May 2012 “Interview with Peter Carnavas”  (Alphabet Soup magazine). Text by Rebecca Newman & Peter Carnavas.
Posted in authors, Events, illustrator

WA event: A Night With Our Stars

If you are a teacher, librarian, teacher-librarian, or any grownup who loves children’s books (and who doesn’t?!) on 8 March you should head along to A Night With Our Stars at Westbooks in Victoria Park.

Twenty children’s (and YA) authors and illustrators will each have 3 mins to speed-talk about their books published last year. It’s an annual event run by the Children’s Book Council of Australia WA branch and it’s open to the public. Here’s a list of the fabulous speakers:

  • Wendy Binks
  • Rebecca Cool
  • Deb Fitzpatrick
  • Georgia Efford [Uthando Project]
  • James Foley
  • Rina Foti
  • Norman Jorgensen
  • Clare Harris [Uthando Project]
  • Brigid Lowry
  • Bevan McGuiness
  • Meg McKinlay
  • Sonia Martinez
  • Sally Murphy
  • Chris Nixon
  • Matt Ottley
  • Danny Parker
  • JB Thomas
  • Zoe Thurner
  • Jan Tilbrook
  • Leanne White

Tickets are $25 and you can pay at the door on the night, but you do need to book. For more info (and booking details) see the CBCA WA website.

NB This is not an event for children. (Sorry—we’ll let you know about more kid-friendly events soon!)

(Westbooks also stock Alphabet Soup magazine. What a top bookshop!)

Posted in illustrator

Three Quick Questions: Rebecca Cool #12

All through October, Alphabet Soup is celebrating turning three. We have heaps of writers and illustrators stopping by to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS and today’s visitor is Rebecca Cool, illustrator of Isabella’s Garden and For All Creatures (both written by Glenda Millard).

Isabella's Garden

For All Creatures


1. Where do you like to draw/paint/sketch?

My favourite place to paint is of course in my studio and I often sketch out ideas while watching T.V.

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor published by Houghton Mifflin is a book I recently bought. Each traditional nursery rhyme is illustrated by stitching onto felt—gorgeous!

Pocketful of Posies by Salley Mavor
Rebecca Cool recommends 'Pocketful of Posies' by Salley Mavor

3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have illustrator’s block?

Go for a walk.

Find out more about Rebecca Cool—visit her website and read about her on the Walker Books website.

© October 2011 “Three Quick Questions with Rebecca Cool” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

(Psst … see you back here tomorrow, when we’ll hear from author Sandy Fussell!)

Posted in illustrator

Three Quick Questions: Mark Wilson (#7)

All through October, Alphabet Soup is celebrating turning three. We have heaps of writers and illustrators stopping by to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS and today’s visitor is Mark Wilson, author and illustrator of many books, including Ben and Gracie’s Art Adventure and  The Little Wooden Horse.Ben and Gracie's Art Adventure (cover)

  The Little Wooden Horse (cover)

1. Where do you like to write/do your artwork?

At the beach or around the coast somewhere. I love rock pools and rocky headlands.

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

The Mr. Badger series, by Leigh Hobbs. The most brilliant little pen and ink drawing on page after page!


Mr Badger (cover)
Mark Wilson recommends the Mr Badger series by Leigh Hobbs

3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have writer’s or illustrator’s block?

Two words … Stay cool.

Find out more about Mark’s books and illustrations on his website!

© October 2011 “Three Quick Questions with Mark Wilson” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

(Psst … see you back here tomorrow, when author Cristy Burne answers our Three Quick Questions.)

Posted in illustrator

Three Quick Questions: Frané Lessac (#2)

All through October, Alphabet Soup is celebrating turning three. We have heaps of writers and illustrators stopping by to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS and today we are lucky to hear from Frané Lessac, illustrator and author. Her books include Simpson and His Donkey, Ned Kelly and The Green Sash and many more!

Simpson and His Donkey, illustrated by Frane LessacNed Kelly and the green Sash, illustrated by Frane Lessac

On her website, Frané says “Travelling continues to be a major source of inspiration for my work as I render my impression of a country and its way of life in oil and gouache paintings.”

1. Where do you like to draw/paint/sketch?

I love to paint in my garden studio. I planted bright flowers in primary colours outside the big windows. My walls are covered with art painted by friends and favourite children’s book illustrators. It’s also full of objects that I’ve collected from my travels around the world.

Best of all, my cat and dog come in and join me when I work.

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

I’m a picture book person and enjoyed, Flood by Jackie French and beautifully illustrated by Bruce Whatley. It features a lone cattle dog during the recent Queensland floods.

Flood (cover)

3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have illustrators’ block?

Paint as you like, and live happy.

Find out more about Frané Lessac and her books—visit her website and her blog and check out more of her artwork here.

© October 2011 “Three Quick Questions with Frané Lessac” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

(Psst … check back tomorrow, when author Wendy Orr answers our Three Quick Questions!)

Posted in activities, illustrator

Exhibition of picture book artwork

Artwork from Mirror by Jeannie Baker. (Ipswich Art Gallery, Queensland)

"Mirror (cover)"See the artwork from the picture book, Mirror—detailed collages in the book show the similarities in the life of a boy living in Sydney and a boy living in Morocco.

This exhibition is suitable for all ages and there will be art activities available.

When: Monday, 18 July – Sunday, 2 October 2011
Where: Children’s Gallery, Ipswich Art Gallery, d’Arcy Doyle Place, Nicholas Street, Ipswich (Central Queensland)
For more info: Tel: 07 3810 7222 or email the art gallery.
Posted in authors, Events, illustrator, teachers' resources

WA book event: BOOKWIZ 2011

28/6/2011 notice: We have been advised that this event has been cancelled.

The Children’s Book Council of Australia (WA branch) runs an annual book-based quiz in the style of ABC TV show, Spicks ‘n’ Specks. It’s called BOOKWIZ! Bring your family and friends along for a fun afternoon and meet local authors and illustrators.

"bookwiz 2011"

Sunday 3 July, 2-4 pm

MC: MEG MCKINLAY (author of Duck for a Day and The Truth About Penguins
Where: Boulevard Centre, Floreat [beneath Cambridge Library], Western Australia
Cost: $12 adults   $6 school students [includes refreshments]
Bookings: Chloe Mauger ––  phone: 9295 1328

Posted in Events, illustrator, teachers' resources

Two book launches (WA)

Here are two book launches coming up in June and July!

1. JUNE 2011 BOOK LAUNCH for picture book, The Last Viking

written by Norman Jorgensen, illustrated by James Foley

"The Last Viking (cover)"
When: Friday 24 June 2011, 6:30pm
Where: Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre (Old Freo Prison hospital), cnr Hampton and Knutsford Rd, Fremantle WA
RSVP for numbers to Fremantle Press: (08) 9430 6331 or email

A bit about The Last Viking (taken from the Fremantle Press site):

Young Josh is very brave.
He’s not afraid of anyone or anything—except maybe the dark. Pirates worry him a bit, of course, and so do boy-eating dinosaurs, and monsters under the bed. He’s also just a little afraid of dragons and vampires. But other than those few things, Josh is as brave as a lion.

Sort of.

When Josh comes face to face with real-life trouble, he begins to find out how brave he really is …

2. JULY 2011 BOOK LAUNCH for Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers

written and illustrated by Briony Stewart

"Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers (cover)"

When: Sunday 10 July 2011, 1.30pm–4.30pm
Where: Town of Vincent Library, 99 Loftus St, Perth WA.
Short reading, book sales, signing, sale of original illustrations and prints from the book.

Light refreshments and a chance for kids to win book prizes and colour in a giant dragon!

For more info, email Briony Stewart.

A bit about Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers (taken from the UQP site):

Kumiko is used to having a dragon guarding her night and day, but what she doesn’t quite know is why she needs one …

Since discovering the secret of the Shadow Catchers, a group of powerful sorcerers determined to steal magic at any cost, Kumiko knows it’s only a matter of time before her family’s link to dragons puts them all in grave danger. Is there a way to stop the Shadow Catchers once and for all and will Kumiko take the risk?

Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers follows Kumiko’s last and most exciting adventure as she travels through a world of shadows and dark magic in order to find freedom for herself and the kingdom of dragons.

Do you know about any upcoming book launches? (Let us know!)