Dr Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She was born and educated in Perth and has always had a passionate interest in health and wellbeing, especially for children. Dr Milroy is the author and illustrator of nine children’s books, including Backyard Bugs, Backyard Birds, and Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories. Today we’re chatting to her about her stunning picture book – Owl and Star.
From the publisher:
Owl loved the sparkle of the stars. He would sit out on his tree at dusk and wait for them to appear. One evening, Owl became worried. His favourite little star had not shown herself. Owl searched far and wide. Where could Little Star be?
When creating your picture books, what comes first for you – the illustrations or the story?
Either. Sometimes I see something and I get images for a story, other times that image or thoughts about something I have noticed sets me off on the storyline first. I even go to sleep thinking about the story. Then when I start illustrating, it is like the images just fall out onto the page.
Owl knows the night sky so well that he notices even a small change. Are you a stargazer yourself?
I do love looking at the stars and wondering what it is like up there. I loved looking at the sky day or night as a kid. Making animal shapes from the clouds during the day or waiting to see a shooting star at night. I always thought the moon was a magical being and used to say hello when it was full and bright.
Can you tell us about your illustration process for Owl and Star?
In this case I had written the story before the illustrations so I wanted the illustrations to also tell the story even if you couldn’t read the words. Like two stories together. I spent a long time thinking and researching about owls before drawing any. It took me a long time before owl appeared properly on the page but once he was there, the rest was easy.
Do you have a tip for children who’d like to create their own picture book?
Yes just get started! Draw, write and tell stories, the more you do the better they get especially when they come from your heart. If you love what you are doing, it will show in the stories and images.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
I am working on several projects at once. More birds, bugs and beasties from the bush, more tales from the bush mob and a new series about some neighbourhood pets that get together for some adventures!
Owl and Star is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookshop or your local library.
Watch a YouTube video of the author Helen Milroy reading another of her stories, ‘Dingo and Moon’
Visit Helen Milroy’s website for more about her and her books