Posted in illustrator, interviews

Meet the illustrator: Mel Pearce

Mel PearceMEET THE ILLUSTRATOR

Mel Pearce is a Western Australian artist and illustrator. She takes inspiration from games, Japanese animation, machinery, childhood nostalgia, elephants, fish and teeth, to name a few things. Today we’re talking to Mel about illustrating her new picture book No! Never! written by Libby Hathorn & Lisa Hathorn-Jarman.

No! Never! cover

From the publisher:

A cautionary tale about a little girl who drives her parents up the wall when she starts answering ‘No! Never!’ to all their requests — and what happens when the tables are turned on her.

There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:
‘NO! NEVER!’


Can you tell us about the art materials/tools you used for illustrating No! Never!?
I use a variety of media in my drawings, but Suzanne, a publisher from Hachette Australia, really enjoyed a particular style I’d used in some pictures, so I used that very scribbly hand-drawn style for No! Never!. I drew most of the main drawings on slightly roughened paper with a Blackwing pencil, which is a really beautiful drawing tool and a favourite for a lot of artists, illustrators and designers because the very soft graphite allows you to draw very expressively with whatever pressure you want to use. I then scanned the images into my computer and coloured them on Photoshop using my drawing tablet.

How long did it take you to illustrate this picture book from first draft to finish?
I think I started the rough storyboard in September 2018, and handed over the final illustrations (after fixing all the bits and pieces Hachette asked me to!) in May or June 2019. So maybe 9-10 months?

What’s your favourite art medium to illustrate/create with?
Besides drawing with dark pencils, I really love using ink in my work – either with a brush or with a drawing nib. I love how you can get such a variety of tone and marks out of one medium – you can get a sharp, dark line if you use a nib, or you can water it right down and use a brush to make a soft sky. When I was in Art School I really loved doing printmaking with big metal plates, using a process called Intaglio. Unfortunately, I don’t have the facilities to be able to do that kind of printing anymore. Hopefully in the future!

Do you have a tip for budding artists?
I think it’s important to stop looking around and comparing yourself to all the other artists out there all the time. We are constantly bombarded by posts about awesome things people did and made and how clever they are, that sometimes it can make you feel like you’re never going to be as good as them, to the point where you get scared to try in case of not doing well. I am also very guilty of this! I spend so long stressing about how I can’t do what someone else can, or how I take days to do something that someone else did in a couple of hours. I went through a stage where I could not even do a simple sketch or scribble on a page because I was afraid that it wasn’t going to look good at the end. I don’t think I did a proper drawing for a good part of a year!
Just keep observing from life and drawing at least once a day, and you will definitely improve your skill.

Can you tell us something about your next project or something you’d like to work on?
I would very much like to write my own story to illustrate, and since I didn’t get to use ink in No! Never!, that’s definitely what I want to use next! However, if I get approached by a publisher with a new project, it will depend on the feel of the story for what I end up using to draw it. At the moment I’m just trying to get back into drawing for fun … usually good ideas come when you’re not trying. Or so I’ve heard!

Mel Pearce (R) holding one of her ink drawings, and Mel's sister Erin holding up a copy of No! Never!
Mel Pearce (R) and her sister Erin (L) with No! Never! & artwork created during a livestream tour of Mel’s studio for Paper Bird Books Home Club.

AWESOME EXTRAS:

Take a sneak peek inside the book

Have a look inside Mel’s studio & see her create with ink (YouTube)

No! Never! is available at book shops and libraries from 28 April 2020.

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: My Place (Younger Readers Edition)

REVIEWED BY SASKIA, 10, WA

My Place (Younger Readers Edition) by Sally Morgan, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925816761

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

This book is about Sally Morgan’s life. It is an autobiography but it also has some information about her family history. It has four different people’s perspectives: Sally, Sally’s nan (Daisy Corunna), Sally’s mum (Gladys Corunna) and Sally’s great uncle (Arthur Corruna). Sally’s family history is rather secret and unknown, which makes the book very interesting. I learnt a lot about Australian history through her family’s stories.

I also like Sally’s writing style and the way that in the perspective of the other people she used their real speech instead of modifying it to fit her own style.

I would recommend this book to 6th to 9th grade children. There is also an adult version of the book.

Read a sample of My Place on the publisher’s website.

Click here for Teachers’ Notes


This is Saskia’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in competitions

Winner of the Home Imaginarium Competition

Our inbox was overflowing with entries for this competition and we read through some amazing action-packed, scary, mysterious and funny stories. You are wonderful creative writers.

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the Home Imaginarium Competition is:

MIRA CORRY, 11, Tasmania 

Judge’s comment:
‘Dinosaur in a Supermarket’ tells the (mis)adventures of two friends who find themselves in an unexpected situation. The story was well-structured, with effective use of imagery and language. I was particularly impressed with the story’s pacing, and Mira keeps the reader laughing from beginning to end.

Mira wins a 6-month Home Imaginarium subscription from Paper Bird Books, Fremantle, and an Australian children’s book creator will read this story live on Instagram.

Thank you to all the young writers who entered. We enjoyed reading your masterpieces! Please note that we cannot provide feedback on all your entries. (If you love entering writing competitions, check out the Comps for Kids page on Alphabet Soup’s website. Good luck!)

Posted in authors, interviews

Meet the author: Raewyn Caisley

MEET THE AUTHOR

Raewyn Caisley photoRaewyn Caisley was born in New Zealand but has lived in Western Australia for more than half her life. She’s the author of many, many books. You’ve probably read some of her books from the Aussie Bites and Nibbles titles, or perhaps her picture books Hello From Nowhere and Something Wonderful. Raewyn has two new books out in 2020 — Rocky and Louie (co-written with Phil Walleystack and illustrated by Dub Leffler), and Meet Eve in the Outback (illustrated by Karen Blair).

Today we’re chatting to Raewyn about Meet Eve in the Outback, part of  the new Aussie Kids junior fiction series.

Meet Eve in the Outback (book cover)

Hi! I’m Eve.
I live at a roadhouse in the Nullarbor. We don’t get many visitors. But today my cousin Will is coming. We’ll have so much fun!


Hello from Nowhere (cover)Eve is a character readers might remember from the picture book Hello from Nowhere. What was different writing about her for a junior fiction book?
Her personality had to change a tiny bit. Younger Eve wouldn’t have worried about Will not seeing the magic. She just assumed Nan would, (and of course she did), but older Eve knows a little bit more about the world. She knows Will has dolphins where he lives for example. Little Eve’s experience was only her own immediate surroundings.

Older Eve has had more experience of her own place too. She’s helped Doug with the chores on the sheep station and she is friends with Wally now. She knows about the space station and about telegraphs. It was important to include details bigger kids would be interested in.

Oh, and another thing! With junior fiction the words have to carry more of the story because there aren’t illustrations on every page but that meant I could really have fun describing all those new places, thoughts and people.

Were you in contact with the illustrator (Karen Blair) while you were writing Meet Eve in the Outback?
I wasn’t in contact with Karen while I was writing it and if she’d said ‘no’ or been too busy I would have been up the creek without a paddle. But I knew she’d love Wally …

Meet Eve in the Outback is part of a junior fiction series. Were you asked to write a particular story in the series, or did you come up with your own story ideas?
My publisher and I came up with the idea for the whole series together. I sent them this story. The original title was ‘Next to Nowhere’. They responded with, ‘What if we do a whole series of these set in all the different states and territories of Australia?’

It was a little bit of a bummer because I had five ideas for five books set out in the Nullarbor and starring Eve and Will, but being part of the Aussie Kids series has turned out really well. It’s the right series for the right time. When kids can’t get out and see Australia for themselves at least they can read about how other Aussie kids live and see our beautiful country on the pages of a book.

Do you have a tip for young writers about creating story characters?
My tip for creating characters is, decide what they’d have for breakfast! Would they cook? Would they grab a bowl of cereal? Would they spill the milk? Would there be any milk?! Would they gulp it down or would they set the table? Is there any cutlery? Has anyone done the washing up? Would they eat alone or with someone else? What time of day would they have it?

Once you know what your character would have for breakfast you probably know them well enough to start writing a story about them.

Can you tell us something about your next writing project?
My next writing project? I still want to do my own junior fiction series and I’ve got ideas for the first three. One is set in a doctor’s surgery, one is in a school, and one is set in an isolated community in the outback. More than that I cannot say … Watch this space …

Meet Eve in the Outback is out now! Available from book stores and libraries. 


AWESOME EXTRAS!

Meet Eve in the Outback (book cover)

Click here to download an Aussie Kids series activity pack

Click here for Teachers’ Notes for Meet Eve in the Outback (PDF)

Visit Raewyn Caisley’s website for more about her and her books.

Read an earlier blogpost about the settings in Raewyn’s books.

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Kobe

Book review: WeirDo 13

Kobe recommends WEIRDO 13: WEIRDOMANIA by Anh Do & Jules FaberREVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

WeirDo 13: Weirdomania by Anh Do, ill. by Jules Faber, Scholastic Australia, ISBN 9781742997933

Kobe reviewed her own copy of this book. 

Thinking of a book to read in May? WeirDo 13: Weirdomania is the right book for you.

This action packed book is filled with funny pictures and amusing jokes. In this book you’ll learn who’s the famous wrestler in the Do family and you’ll be surprised to find out who it really is! I hope you like the battle between the unbeatable Block and the mystery Do wrestler.

I hope you enjoy this amazing book and once you read it you’ll be attached to this best selling book written by Anh Do. Enjoy your reading journey!


Kobe is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereTo send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in competitions

Winners of the Young Book Reviewers’ Competition

Confetti (image courtesy pexels.com)WINNERS

Junior section:
Kade Ennis, QLD.
Review: Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Primary section:
Harper Klein, NSW.
Review: The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams, with illustrations by Tony Ross.


SHORTLISTED

Kade Ennis, QLD

Harper Klein, NSW

Amelia Davis, QLD.

Lissy Dermody, WA

Kate Nicholas Edgar, VIC

Anya Arora, ACT

Molly Phillips, NSW


LONGLISTED

Those listed above and:

Mahlie Bond, VIC

Joshua Campbell, NSW

Kala Petronijevic, VIC

Kobe Wu, WA

Mira Nguyen, NSW


All these entrants’ reviews will be published here at Alphabet Soup over the coming weeks. If you are one of the longlisted or shortlisted reviewers above, we will be in touch soon to let you know the date that your review will appear. 

Congratulations!

Posted in authors, interviews

Meet the author: Sharon Giltrow

Sharon GiltrowMEET THE AUTHOR

Sharon Giltrow writes humorous picture books and adventure-filled chapter books. She lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children, a tom cat and a miniature dog.

Sharon’s debut picture book is available in May 2020. Today we’re chatting to Sharon about Bedtime, Daddy!, which is illustrated by Katrin Dreiling.

From the publisher:

Bedtime Daddy by Sharon Giltrow and Katrin DreilingHave you ever tried to put Daddy to bed? It can be hard work! Full of heart and humour, Bedtime, Daddy! is for anyone who wants to try putting their grown-up to bed.


You wrote the text for Bedtime, Daddy! and Katrin Dreiling is the illustrator. Do the illustrations match the story you had in your head when you were writing the book?
Katrin Dreiling has done a fantastic job. I was very happy and excited when I saw her first sketches.
EK Books (the publisher) asked her to do sketches of people and bears. When I first wrote Bedtime, Daddy! I pictured the characters as people, so I was very surprised when the publisher suggested bears. However, when Anouska – the editor – explained that bears would make a more universal family, I agreed. The rest of the illustrations match the story perfectly. Placing Daddy Bear in the office for the first page spread was Katrin’s idea. 😊 I only had one illustration note which was for the last page … but I don’t want to spoil the ending.

Favourite pyjamas to wear today vs favourite pyjamas to wear when you were a kid?
My favourite pyjamas as a kid were actually nighties and I used to keep them in a zippered pyjama bag which was a bit like this one. Puppy pyjama caseNow as Mummy Bear (aka: Bedtime Mummy!), my favourite pyjamas are my new dinosaur pyjamas. They are also Daddy Bear’s favourite pyjamas and my children have dinosaur pyjamas too.

Sharon and her two kids in pyjamas
Did you like to try to delay bedtime when you were a kid?
Most definitely! I was the youngest of eight children so my parents were a little more relaxed about bedtime. So, I used to fall asleep on the couch and my dad would carry me to bed. SShhhh!!! Don’t tell my children.

Can you tell us a bit about the book you’re working on next?
Well, my next book, which I hope will be published soon is called … Get Ready, Mummy! A sequel to Bedtime, Daddy! and you guessed it, it’s about how to get a mummy ready for the day. It starts with the line: ‘When you see your mummy roll over and open her eyes, announce, ‘Get Ready, Mummy!’

Do you have a tip for kids who would like to try writing a picture book themselves?
Be open to ideas. Ideas are all around you. Keep a notebook to write your ideas in. Once you have an idea, brainstorm it and then start writing. Don’t try and get it perfect the first time. Writing is like any skill it just takes practice. You can do it! Also, read lots of books!


AWESOME EXTRAS:

Bedtime Daddy a picture book by Sharon Giltrow with illustrations by Katrin Dreiling

Watch the book trailer for Bedtime, Daddy!

Click here for Teachers’ Notes

Click here for a sneak peek inside the book

Visit Sharon Giltrow’s website to learn more about her and her books.

***WIN a copy of Bedtime, Daddy! ***

This competition has now closed and the winner has been contacted by email.