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PASS THE BOOK BATON

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 picture book author and illustrator, Kylie Howarth. Kylie’s books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA. She grew up in the country with a dog, sheep, orphaned kangaroos and even an echidna.

Last week Geoff Havel asked:
How much of your love of stories and your ability to write them comes from your own childhood on a farm and how much comes from being surrounded by children now?

Kylie Howarth answers:
I do draw from my own childhood and now more than ever appreciate all the experiences my parents gave me. Not every kid had pet kangaroos or spent a year traveling around Australia. As a child I loved drawing and have always been fond of animals and the beach, which are both reoccurring themes in my books.

That being said I am now focused on creating stories that my children love. Their interests and personalities are definitely the biggest inspiration for my work. They contribute so much to my books too as I am constantly tweaking text and layouts based on their reactions and feedback. We also create paintings together in our backyard art sessions, which I then scan and use as textures in my illustrations.

For more info about Kylie Howarth and her books (and colouring sheets and craft activities), visit www.kyliehowarth.com


Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry (cover)And now Kylie Howarth passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her most recent poetry collection is Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry.

Kylie asks:
“Which of your poems or books means the most to you?”
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

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 Sally Murphy. Sally has written over forty books for children including picture books, novels, non fiction, and verse novels. Her poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and online. Sally’s latest book is Sage Cookson’s Fishy Surprise — book three in a series about a girl with parents who are celebrity tv chefs.

 

Sally’s next book — coming soon! — is called Looking Up. You might recognise some of these other books by Sally Murphy:

Last week Gabrielle Wang asked:
I would love to know how you began. I’m interested in hearing about that transition between being unpublished to being published. Did it take you long? Did you ever want to give up? Did you have many rejections?

Sally answers:
Where did I begin? Gosh that’s a hard one — I was always a writer. I started writing ‘stories’ before I could actually write anything legible, and as I grew up I didn’t really stop. I made up poems and stories all the time. I always knew I wanted to be an author, though by the time I left school I was less sure about how I would achieve that and earn a living.

So, although I kept writing I also did other things: became an English teacher, got married, had children. And I wrote in my spare time, and I submitted manuscripts, not really knowing a lot about the industry. I was rejected repeatedly. But persistence paid off. First I had a few poems published in small publications. Then, by chance, I saw an advertisement for teachers to write educational resource books and the next thing I knew, I had my first book contract. I was published!

It was a few more years, still writing and bringing up children (I have six) before I realised my dream of having fiction published. The educational books gave me the confidence to keep going, and I spent a lot of time studying market guides, and researching publishers and publishing on the internet, as well as improving my writing by writing, rewriting, getting critiques from a critique group, attending conferences and workshops and so on.

Looking Up by Sally Murphy

Looking Up (coming soon!)

My first trade publication came about because I saw online a call for manuscripts for a new chapter book series. I read the guidelines carefully and also read the few titles which had already been published in the series, to get a feel for what the publisher (Banana Books) wanted. Then I wrote, revised and submitted two manuscripts. The day that one of those was accepted was amazing.

Now, twenty years from my first educational book being published, I’ve had over 40 books (trade and educational) published. I still get rejections — more rejections than acceptances. And every time I get one I feel sad. But I also know that no piece of writing is wasted. Published or unpublished, that manuscript has added to my skills, a bit like sportspeople learn from every game or every training session.

Do I ever want to give up? Yes. When I get lots of rejections. Or when I can’t get a story to work. Or when I get a negative review. But the feeling never lasts long. I’m a writer. Writing is what I do.

Visit sallymurphy.com.au to find out more about her and her books.


Dropping InAnd now Sally Murphy passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Geoff Havel. Geoff’s most recent book is Dropping In; an action-packed novel that explores friendship, bullying, and living with a disability.

Sally asks:
What is the thing (or things) you are most proud of in your writing career to date?
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
 ..
See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

James Foley photoIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday 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 author-illustrator James Foley takes the baton. James Foley is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. He likes working with pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, watercolour, and digital tools. He has illustrated books by other people, and written and illustrated his own books.

He has quite a stack of books behind him now.

Check them out:

His most recent book is the graphic novel Brobot.

Last week AL Tait posed two questions for James. AL asks:

Q. You started out as an illustrator — what made you decide to write In The Lion and Brobot yourself?

A. I’ve always written and illustrated my own stories; it just worked out that my first book was only as the illustrator. It’s easier to break into the industry by working with someone more established, as Norman Jorgensen was. Then I got the opportunity to make In The Lion on my own, which was great. It’s a different experience writing AND illustrating a book yourself, as opposed to illustrating a text written by someone else (as I did with Sigi Cohen for My Dead Bunny) or collaborating with a writer quite closely through the initial process (as I did with Norman Jorgensen for The Last Viking and The Last Viking Returns). Also, when you do the book yourself you get the full royalty … 😉

Q. As an author-illustrator, do you start with the words for a story or start with the pictures?
I usually start with a bit of both — some loose images and a few phrases. I may have a few key scenes playing in my head, but they’re fragments of what the overall story will eventually become. Then I nut out the character designs and the overall storyline at the same time; these two processes feed off each other. A character design may give you a plot idea, and vice versa. Then when the characters and the storyline seem to have settled, I can get started on thumbnails and storyboards, and then final artwork.


The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling BeeAnd now James Foley passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Deborah Abela. Deborah is the author of many books. Her most recent title is The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee.

James asks:
Do you find that your characters reflect different aspects of your personality? So the heroic characters might reflect your good side, the villains might reflect your naughty side, the protagonists might share your strengths and weaknesses, etc?

Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators. See you next week!


Visit James Foley’s website for more information about him and his books. You can also read earlier Alphabet Soup interviews with James here and here.

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Tania McCartney is the author of fiction and nonfiction picture books. Now she is launching the first book she has written and illustrated. Today one of our regular book reviewers — Matilda, aged 10 — asks Tania some questions about her new book Australia, illustrated.

 

Matilda: Why did you think of illustrating this book yourself when your other books are illustrated by other people?

Tania: Just like you, I’m sure, I absolutely loved to draw when I was a kid. Writing and drawing was my thing. I did it right through school and into high school but then something terrible happened. I became an adult.

Well, actually — it’s not terrible to become an adult! But what IS terrible is that so many adults stop doing the things they love, and instead do the things they ‘should’. So I lost my ability to draw, and I really, honestly believed I could no longer do it.

I began writing children’s books around 10 years ago (around when you were born! spooky!), and I had a secret dream to illustrate my own books. I never, ever thought that would happen because I still believed I could no longer draw.

Then, in 2014, I started the 52-Week Illustration Challenge [a group of illustrators where the members each create their own illustration in response to a weekly prompt] and over two years I learned that I could still draw! I couldn’t believe it! At first, my drawings were pretty horrid, but over that time, they quickly improved — and that goes to show that practice does make ‘better’!

I was stunned and delighted when my publisher said they’d be happy for me to illustrate my new book idea — Australia Illustrated. I was also a bit scared. Could I do it??? Well, I did. And I still have to pinch myself!

Here is a picture of my first drawing for the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, and then after that you’ll see a page from Australia Illustrated. Do you think I’ve improved?

Eggs illustration

Tania’s first illustration in the 52-week illustration challenge.

 

A page from the first book Tania illustrated.

A page from Tania’s new book.

Matilda: How did you have the idea for a book like this about Australia?

Tania: There are so many books about Australia, but I wanted to do something really different. I don’t know of any other book like this one.

For a start, it’s a whopping 96 pages! (Picture books are generally 24 to 32 pages.) And it’s also unusual in that it’s mostly pictures, with only a handful of words.

It also covers parts of Australia that are really well known (like our animals and icons like the Sydney Opera House) but it covers things people don’t know much about, too — like quokka selfies or Tasmanian chocolate factories.

The other thing I’ve done with Australia Illustrated is that I’ve included lots and lots and lots of kids of all different cultures and races. I think it’s important to celebrate the multicultural country we live in!

Matilda: How many of the places in your book have you also been to?

Tania: What a great question. I’m going to look through the book and tell you exactly!

Okay, I’m back. So, out of all the places I cover in the book (towns, sites, states) I’ve been to around 70 out of around 100. This doesn’t include the maps I’ve done for each state which have hundreds of place names — though I have been to a lot of those places, too. I like to travel!

My big dream is to go to Uluru. I used to be a flight attendant and I used to fly over it all the time! If they’d given me a parachute, I could have jumped out and gone to see it! I’m hoping next year I can go.

Matilda: What was different about illustrating your own book instead of having someone else illustrate it?

Tania: Oh, it was SO different. It was the first time I’d ever illustrated an actual book so I wasn’t really sure how to do things. In fact, I did the cover first … and books are hardly ever done that way! But it worked out really well for me.

It was fantastic being able to have control over how the book looked visually. And it was also fantastic to get to draw whatever I wanted — it was such a creative process and I loved it so much. I could mix things up and change things and dream up kooky things. It was just SO much fun.

When you have an illustrator doing pictures for you, it’s a whole different experience because the illustrator reads your words and has their own thoughts about how the pictures should look. When my illustrators send me their pictures, it’s like Christmas! Opening the email to get a wonderful surprise — a beautiful picture. It’s really exciting — and you can never guess what they might have created.

You may have heard of that saying ‘two heads are better than one’ and when I work with an illustrator, I find they bring so many great ideas and thoughts to the text. They might read my words and see things completely differently from me — and they could add some wonderful things to the story with their illustrations … extra things that I may not have thought of.

I love both ways — illustrating my own books and having illustrators create the pictures, too. They are totally different but both are a lot of fun.

Oh, and also — when you illustrate your own book, it’s twice the work!

Matilda: Are you planning to illustrate more books?

Tania: I am. I’ve already started on three illustrated books and each one of them is going to be digitally illustrated. In December, I’m starting work on a big book for the National Library of Australia. I’m doing the illustrating but someone else is compiling the book — someone quite famous! I can’t say more yet but I’m really excited about that one.

I also have some ideas for more picture books I want to illustrate but I want to try a different style — perhaps just watercolour. And a few people have asked me to illustrate their books, too. I might be doing one for a friend, not sure yet — we’ll see! The thing about publishing is that we so often say ‘we’ll see!’

Thanks for the wonderful questions, Matilda. I just loved them.

Australia Illustrated launch poster

 

Visit Tania McCartney’s website www.taniamccartney.com for more information about her books and to join in the celebrations for the launch of Australia Illustrated. 

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday 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 we are lucky to have two visitors at once! Joshua Button and Robyn Wells collaborated over ten years to create their recently published picture book Steve Goes to Carnival.

Joshua Button and Robyn Wells.

Joshua Button and Robyn Wells.

Joshua Button is an Indigenous artist from Broome. He is descended from the Walmajarri people of the East Kimberley in Western Australia. He first worked with Robyn in a literacy program at primary school that resulted in the picture book Joshua and the Two Crabs. Robyn has a degree in Fine Arts and has lived in the Kimberley for many years. She is passionate about enabling young people to express themselves through language and art.

Kathryn Apel posed a question for Joshua and Robyn. Kathryn asks:

Q. I read that you collaborate for hours over the kitchen table. Can you describe your process — and how you came to form this wonderful working partnership?

Joshua answers:
Robyn and I help each other a lot with the artwork. Robyn often cuts out stencils and does the background textures with sponges. Then I usually use black drawing ink to paint the characters or animals over the background textures.

Robyn and I research the animals and characters together. We look at the size and shape of the animals, the structure of their bones and the texture of their fur. Sometimes we take photos of people we know in Broome to base the drawings on — we study the colour of people’s skin, how they are standing, the expressions on their faces and what clothes they are wearing.

Robyn and I work really well together. We don’t have any arguments — working with someone else means it takes half the time to finish the work!

[Here are some photos of Joshua Button and Robyn Wells working together. Thank you to Magabala Books for permission to use these photos.]

Joshua and Robyn creating a picture book together.

Joshua and Robyn creating a picture book together.

Joshua working with ink.

Joshua working with ink.

 


 

LILY IN THE MIRROR by Paula Hayes.

And now Joshua and Robyn pass the book baton to next Friday’s visitor — Paula Hayes. Paula is the author of the novel Lily in the Mirror.

Our question for Paula Hayes is:
Your character Lily loves all things dark and mysterious. Were you inspired by any real life mysteries, strange events or unusual people?

Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators. See you next week!


Visit Magabala Books for more information about Joshua Button and Robyn Wells and their books. You can read a recent review of Steve Goes to Carnival here on Alphabet Soup.

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REVIEWED BY BREANNA, 8, VIC

Frog Finds a Place

Frog Finds a Place by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, ill. Dub Leffler, Omnibus Books, ISBN 9781742990231

Breanna read a copy of this book in her school library.

Frog wants to fly to the moon and stars to make friends.

One night Frog has a dream, He is with the moon and stars up in the sky, playing games telling jokes, until Old Crow comes along and ‘caws’ at Frog. Frog wakes up from his dream just as Old Crow flies away into the darkness.

Spider thinks that Frog could make a web to reach into space. Possum suggests that Frog could swing from a high vine in the woods. Crow reckons that Frog needs some feathers to fly high into space. Will Frog ever get to the moon and stars?

This book is about a frog who has a dream that he can’t achieve on his own. However, when he finds help, his hope grows like ours does when we have faith in an opportunity to try and achieve.


This is Breanna’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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REVIEWED BY GABRIELLA, 9, VIC

Adelaide's Secret World

Adelaide’s Secret World by Elise Hurst, Allen and Unwin, ISBN 9781743313350

Gabriella read a copy of this book in her school library.

Adelaide’s Secret World is a wonderful fantasy book.

Adelaide is a lonely ginger coloured rabbit.

The setting is a town that was once a bustling place but is now a lonely place. Adelaide watches the sun rise every morning and the stars come up every night.

Will she find a friend?

The story could be confusing for young children, but is fabulous for children aged 7–11 who love to visit imaginary places when reading.


This is Gabriella’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

 

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