Davide Cali and writing picture books

Davide Cali, author
Davide Cali

Davide Cali is a children’s book writer and illustrator who was born in Northern Switzerland and grew up in Italy.

He has created more than forty illustrated books for publishers in Austria, France, Italy, Argentina and Portugal. His books have been translated for 25 countries.

Davide speaks French, Italian and English and he is currently on a blog tour before travelling to Australia to celebrate his new comic book/graphic novel, 10 Little Insects. (Kids Book Review has a sneak peek inside 10 Little Insects … check it out here. )

Today we are pleased to have Davide visiting Alphabet Soup‘s blog to discuss writing. We’re talking to him about his picture book, The Bear With the Sword.

The Bear with the Sword (cover)What brought you to write The Bear with the Sword?

At the beginning, the bear of the book was a man. Just a human warrior. The Italian publisher Zoolibri asked me to change it into an animal, to make it a little less tough.

In this book comes the theme of ‘the enemy’, but I wanted to talk about the fact that we always try to find someone else as guilty for our faults.

Did you meet the illustrator Gianluca Foli?

Yeah, a couple of times, but only when the book was already finished. You know, in this job often you don’t even know or meet the people you work with. I did four albums in France with Eric Heliot before we met and talked for the first time!

You write books for a range of ages. How do you know if a story would work best as a picture book or a novel?

Well, I read a lot of children’s books before I start my writing. As you probably know, I worked for a while in a public library which specialized in children books (during the civil service I did instead of military service). Later I spent a few months working for a magazine specialising in children’s book critics, so I really saw and read hundreds of books. These experiences helped me to fit something I got in my mind in a certain range of ages.

Could you give us your top tip for young writers who want to write picture books?

I guess the most important ones are: reading, writing.

I know it could sound a little obvious, but it’s not. Many people—even adults—who want to write, don’t read. I think reading is just like feeding yourself. And you know, writing is just like feeding others. So, how can you feed others if you don’t eat first?

And writing because: many people tell me “I really would like to write. What should I do?”

My answer is always: “Just do it!”

You have just to start it. Sometimes you don’t need to have a complete and perfect story already formed in mind to write it down. Stories come out just while you’re writing, and they often change while they’re coming out.

Check out the complete blog tour schedule (and reviews of Davide Cali’s books) on the Wilkins Farago blog.

© May 2012 “Interview with Davide Cali”  (Alphabet Soup magazine). Text by Rebecca Newman & Davide Cali.
teachers' resources

Book review: The Great Expedition by Peter Carnavas

The Great Expedition, written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas, New Frontier Publishing, ISBN 9781921042812

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

The Great Expedition (cover)This story is loosely based on the expedition of explorers Burke and Wills. In The Great Expedition, the exploring party is assembled—with a leader, a navigator, a botanist, a biologist and an animal handler (to keep the dog under control). The group of young explorers needs to get a parcel safely to its destination. They set off in high spirits but soon run into all sorts of trouble … and then disaster strikes.

Although they are exhausted by their journey, obviously this adventure is not as arduous as the one Burke and Wills faced (plus, this journey has a happy ending!). This is a great picture book for kids learning about explorers—learning what happens on an expedition, and the roles of the people involved. At the end of the book there is a little about Burke and Wills, too.

Younger kids will enjoy the story as it is, older kids will appreciate the humour behind the kids’ expedition mirroring a real one. And everyone will love the quirky illustrations (look out for the dog in the endpapers!).

A fun adventure, and a springboard for learning about the great explorers of history.

© October 2011 “Review of The Great Expedition by Peter Carnavas”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)