Blog Visitor – Megan Higginson on Writing and Illustrating

Today’s writing guest is Megan Higginson who loves to write and illustrate stories of monsters, aliens, and mind-blowing places and asking questions like, ‘What if?’ She hopes her stories and illustrations will help readers to look at their life and the world around them with new eyes. 

I have come to know Megan through the Duck Pond community, of Jen Storer and also through Creative Kids Tales. I was thrilled when she illustrated one of my poems for the Creative Kid Tales Story Collection 2.   I am delighted to have her as a special guest on my blog.

1) What motivates you to write? What keeps you writing?

I always have characters talking to me and wanting to go on adventures. When I was a kid it took me until I was seven or eight to learn to read. After I learned to read, I was a total bookworm but never thought I was a writer as I have dyslexia and thought I was too stupid to write stories. In class I would write a story for a class assignment (primary and secondary) and it would be so different to everyone else’s I always thought I did something wrong. And the class usually ended up laughing at my story too. I realise that I just approached life differently and my stories where actually offbeat and funny.

As I child, sometimes, I would close the last page of a book and all these different characters would talk to me and we would go on adventures. I never told anyone as I thought I was nuts. For me it was another form of escapism. Yet, I’ve since found out that this is what writer’s do. In answer to your question, I have so many characters chatting to me about this adventure and that adventure they’d like to go on, I think I’ll be writing until the day I die and still have another story begging to be written.

 

2 a) You illustrate also? How long have you been doing that for? How do you prepare for your illustrating jobs?

In 2017 I joined the 52 Week Illustration Challenge at the encouragement of Giuseppe Poli. In fact, you can read about my journey to this point in a blog post, How I Overcame My Fears and Dived into the World of Illustration.  At that stage it was about practicing and learning about illustration, so I also took Nina Rycroft’s inaugural Illustration eCourse in 2017. I’m friends with an illustrator as well, so Ester de Boer has helped me immensely by giving me feedback on my art pieces, areas to improve, and different exercises to enable to me to get better. I’m a member of Creative Kids Tales. Therefore, when Vol.2 of The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection was announced, I decided I was ready to put myself out there as an illustrator. All nine of my illustrations were accepted and now published in the collection available now, including one I did for your poem.

For June Perkins, ‘Sleipnir’s Children’

 2 b) So, how do you prepare?

For the collection I read over the story and then I pretty much just dumped whatever came to mind onto the page. Lots of really scribbly pictures, and half-formed ideas. From there I weeded out what I thought would work and what didn’t. Then I moved onto planning the piece and getting it down onto the page in pencil, and gradually worked it up in layers of paint/pencil/ fine liner, whatever medium I’ve decided was best for that story, until I was happy. And then I finished them off in Photoshop. If I’m stuck on something and can see it’s not working, I ask Ester and she can always spot the little details that are problematic which I’ve missed. She always knows a work around. I fix it and then the picture pops.

I’m about to illustrate my first picture book and I’m doing the same sort of thing. However, in addition to my usual dumping, scribbling and refining the characters and composition, I will be mentored through the process of illustrating my first picture book by well-known illustrator Nina Rycroft, along with Ester de Boer. So, lots of support.

3) Tell me about your self published book?  Why did you choose to self publish?

‘Raymund and the Fear Monster,’ was originally written for some children in a Philippine orphanage whom I’d met while on a mission trip in 2013. However, I realised it had broader appeal. About the same time, I started writing other stories and decided that this was what I wanted to do seriously. In 2015 I took a Writing Picture Book course with Cathie Tasker at the Australian Writer’s Centre. I tried to make ‘Raymund’ fit within the parameters of a picture book. I tried to shove it under 600 words. It was like trying to shove a huge fluffy pillow into a tiny box. It just didn’t work. I did come up with a shorter different version which is now published as Freya and the Fear Monster in the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection Vol 2. Things that Go Bump. Yet, I knew Raymund’s story still needed to be told. I kept reworking it. It kept popping out everywhere until I wanted to throw up on it, burn it, and never see it again.

In 2016 three things happened within a week. 1) I read Jen Storer’s blog post, Right Story, Wrong Format. Why it’s important to stay true to the story. I also attended my writer’s group where we did a dialogue workshop. I played around with some dialogue from Raymund and I finally didn’t want to throw up on it anymore. I actually felt excited about it again. And then I read a picture book about a dragon who ate children (I know. Weird right. Fun story though) and realised I had started the story in the wrong place. I went and rewrote Raymund and it was so much better. I submitted it to one publisher who I thought if anyone would take it, they would. They didn’t. Probably because it is waaaay over the current trend in word count and a rather niche topic. So, Ester and I decided to partner up and do it ourselves. Penny Springbrook at Bookcover Café helped me polish ‘Raymund’ and I am so happy with how the story ended up.

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4) What have been the highlights of the journey?

I think watching my story come to life under the skilled hands and creative brain of my illustrator has been a major highlight. It’s a different style to what is normally used in picture books. However, when we’ve taken the illustrations and even the mock-up into schools, it’s been warmly received by the students and teachers. And that’s before it was published

5) What have been the challenges?

I think for me personally, has been the wait. We started this journey in late 2016 and it’s now 2019. Ester was busy illustrating other picture books she’d been contracted to at the time. She started planning December 2017 and began the illustrations in January 2018. However, having said that, I was happy to not be a pushy author and just leave her be and work at her own pace. Ester’s work is incredible and the amount of research she put in, and the details of her illustrations are amazing. I thought our book would look wonderful. But, not in my wildest dreams did I think it would look this incredible.

I think it’s also been a highlight, as well as a challenge working with a graphic designer. Ester and I had very clear ideas as to how we wanted our book to look and I’ve discovered it can be hard work putting a picture book together. However, it’s finished and it’s how we envisioned our book would look like. It’s a fun book.      

 6) What/Who are your major creative influences?

Writing: I love Anne McCaffrey, Frank Perretti, Wendy Orr, Jen Storer, Tony DiTerlizzi, Adam Wallace, Dee White, Jackie French, Alison Reynolds, Allison Tait… well you get the picture. Each of them has influenced me in various ways.

Illustration: As a child I loved the impressionist era (Of course, I didn’t know that it was called this at the time). As a child I loved the bush and was captivated by the artworks people like Tom Roberts, and how they captured the light of the Australian bush. I thought it was incredible and I always wanted to paint like that. I’m learning.

I didn’t know it as a child, but I loved Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. I would pour over his work for hours, studying his line work and detail and wishing I could draw like that. Tony DiTerlizzi is another one. I love his imagination and I love that he’s current and I can get online and see videos of him working on an illustration.

Aaron Pocock is another artist whose work I love. Hmmm. I’m sensing a theme. Fantasy. Anyway, Aaron is so versatile. He does cartoons, and huge gorgeous oil landscapes. However, it’s his fantasy artwork I adore. So, from him I endeavour to use colour well and think how to use colour to portray emotion. Ester de Boer’s work I admire. Her imagination is insane, as are her detailed line work. So, from her I’m learning to let my imagination run wild, to play and have fun, and to always add little details to my illustrations.

Thanks Megan for sharing your story!

Launch of At the End of Holyrood Lane

Following the Crow Song

Brisbane Square Library, Sunday 24th September.

It was a very special launch of a delicate book about a difficult subject.

At the End of Holyrood Lane is a book intended to open the conversations about domestic violence and the fear it causes for children and the hope that change can begin when help is sought, written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston.

I enjoy conversations with Dimity about what a picture book can potentially do for people of any age.  Dimity is a bubbly and cheerful person, who is able to deal optimistically but also poetically with such a difficult topic.

Dimity Powell’s friends, family and the organisations endorsing the book, the kids lit community and people who already are big fans of her work, as well as people from the wider communi8ty were out in force at this event.  In all the hub bub, she had time…

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Dimity Powell – How to Launch a Children’s Book About Loss

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Today’s special guest is Dimity Powell who will share her journey to create the picture book The Fix-it-Man.  

I first met Dimity through an online writing group, where all the participants wrote every Monday morning, and we left messages in a facebook space on our writing progress and challenges.  I then interviewed her by phone for my blog because she seemed so interesting.  Little was I to know that soon I would move from Far North Queensland to Brisbane and finally meet Dimity in person at the CYA conference.  She was up from the Gold Coast for it.

I love this excerpt from her website which sums up what kind of person she is:

“Dimity Powell writes for children because she believes being a kid is one of the coolest things you can be…next to riding dragons and lying under palm trees. She believes in magic and that ice cream tastes divine in any flavour, except maybe rainbow sherbet. She hopes the dozens of stories she’s conjured up over the years will be read by children who love to curl up with books as much as she does.”  Website

Dimity is widely published in anthologies, the creator of digital narratives, and the author of one junior novel,  PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail.  She is a true artist who has devoted herself to  honing her craft of picture book writing, looking for the ‘sweet spot’ in her stories and it is with great delight that I attended the Brisbane launch of her very first picture book, The Fix it Man.

This interview took place a few weeks before the launch of the book.

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What most inspired you to write a story tackling how a family can deal with loss?

Initially, I didn’t set out to write a story about loss and grief. However, as the story spilled out and the symbolism behind the words became more apparent, I felt it was something a bit special and an important story to tell in spite of the sadness behind a child losing her parent.

What inspired the title?

My husband, the original fix it man, although he was not aware of it at the time. The true-life inspiration for this story came from an incident involving my then infant child whose infinite belief in her father’s ability to fix anything and everything (because he did and still does) forced me to ask the question: what if one day he couldn’t fix something?

What are your favourite lines in the book?

I actually like the opening line – it’s the one that began the creative outpouring for me. I like its naked simplicity and absoluteness. It’s the sort of assured statement that young children often make.

Other lines that particularly resonate with me are the ones about dad breaking too: ‘His lap is cosy and warm but his face is crumpled and wet’. I felt it was important to show that even the omnipotent fix-it man was hurting emotionally and in danger of breaking, too.

Which is probably your favourite illustration in the book?

I have a standout favourite but really all of Nicky’s images cause me to choke with emotion; they are incredibly tender and yet simultaneously powerful. My favourite is the two-page spread of dad bringing cupcakes and peach and honey tea to mama. It’s a poignant statement about mama’s well-being but is also awash with warmth. It was one of the first images from Nicky I laid eyes on and fell instantly in love with. I also adore the images on the final two pages, which exude love and suggest everything will be all right.

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How long did this picture book take you to write and then to find a publisher for?

Um, how long have you got?! The idea spawned around 2009, and then three years later, I penned the first draft. In 2013, it was shortlisted in the KBR Unpublished Manuscripts Awards. It was then I decided to rework the whole thing under the umbrella of a structured mentorship with Dee White. Then, just after pulling the wheels off the whole jalopy as it were, Anouska Jones from EK Books got in touch. Turns out, it was just the sort of story EK Books was keen to publish, problem was, it was now in shreds. After many discussions, many rewrites, and another year or so, it was finally ready to resubmit.

Apparently, everyone at EK loved it but it caused a few tears. It was never my intention to reduce the whole acquisitions team to a blubbering mess! In spite of getting the green light, I still had to work hard to convince everyone (by everyone, I mean the CEO) that this was a story of substance that would find a place in the hearts of readers everywhere even if they weren’t suffering the kind of loss depicted in the story and was therefore worth publishing. Tenacity and sheer refusal to give up finally won the day. I was offered a contract in June 2015. Essentially, this picture book took nearly as long to come into existence as I’ve been writing professionally!

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How long have you been working on the craft of picture books? What has helped you most in your quest?

Since I began writing professionally for children in 2009. I relish the exacting requirements and unique challenges that set picture book writing slightly apart from other genres. Each time I hear how an accomplished picture book author achieves getting the exact balance of language, rhythm and story helps me with my own writing, however probably one of the best ways to really appreciate this art form in all its various guises, is to simply read picture books, as many as you can, as often as you can. You can learn volumes by simply immersing yourself in them.

Why do you love the picture book genre so much? What do you think it can do that other formats can’t?

I truly feel picture books are the elixir of life. They can entertain, enlighten, and enthral and the good ones educate, all at the same time. They are the first exposure to the marriage of visual literacy, sound and stimulating vocabulary for young children providing essential steppingstones into the world of reading and books that will hopefully last a lifetime. More than that, they provide legitimate, endless opportunities that encourage intimate exchanges between children and their parents or carers, thus reinforcing those relationship bonds. They are meant to be shared; to be heard; to be marvelled at.

A picture book’s ability to take a banal everyday occurrence and transform it into a thing of beauty and wonderment is truly magical. There is no topic too taboo for the picture book medium to address because it can relay them in a safe and nonjudgmental format and as such, I believe they should be embraced and studied by age groups far beyond those they are written for.

page-32rgbHave you tested the book on young audiences and how did they respond?

I’ll let you know after March!

Can you tell us how your launches have gone (as this will be in March) and what it has been like to plan them?

Yes! Planning for them wasn’t so difficult as The Fix-It Man is a picture book rich in symbolism. Nicky and I were able to pull ideas for the launch from the many prompts included in the text and illustrations.

By sheer fluke and coincidence, Nicky and I decided on the same decorations to make, motivated by one of her beautiful images. As with all parties though, the execution of the plans and fine tuning of the details (designing the various flyers, confirming venues, snagging dates and so on) was really the most time consuming thing, albeit hugely enjoyable!

Our intention is simply to share the joy we both experienced in the creation of this book and how much it means to us.

What are you doing at a launch that is about a book about loss?

Ah, a good question given I’m a hopelessly sentimental type prone to weep at the mere rustle of a tissue. So perhaps a song and dance to lighten things up! Really, I plan to launch this book with honesty and sincerity that I hope kids will connect with. There’s not a lot you can do to dress up grief (which is why I used a PowerPoint presentation as a visual back up) but you don’t need to be maudlin about it either.

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Thank you so  much for this insight into your creative processes and your motivation for writing this book  Dimity.

Fix-It- Man is available at all good bookstores! 

(Dimity Powell, author, June Perkins (owner of this book!), Nicky Johnston- illustrator)

Note: The launch was just beautiful.  May be writing a more detailed account of it when I have a chance with my mobile phone pictures! In brief: there was a fun introduction by Peter Carnavas about everything we could have been at, followed by Dimity giving a story power point about the writing of the book complete with a picture of the author and illustrator by Nicky and a sharing of the story board.  This was followed by Dimity reading the book, complete with support tissue giver outer from the audience and two other helpers (one to fly kites!) and one with a puppet. Then Nicky spoke about the journey from her perspective.  And of course there was the signing of the book and lots of chats with those gathered.  Dimity’s sister, and mum and Dad were there and it was lovely to meet them.  A well done launch!

You can catch up with Dimity at the following upcoming events!

 

Where in the World – How to Create Sensational Story Settings

April 5th  10-11am

Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop

191 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane

TO BOOK

 

Riverbend Books Kids’ Reading and Craft with Dimity Powell

April 8th  10.30 -14.00

Riverbend Books

193 Oxford Street, Bulimba, Queensland, Australia

 

For More Visit the Following Links

Dimity Powell Facebook

Dimity Powell Website

The Fix-it-Man

Mystery of Visual Literacy – Leigh Hobbs Laureate at Large

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Leigh Hobbs, this year’s Australian Children’s Laureate, is about to give a lecture, The Mystery of Visual Literacy, to the three quarters full auditorium in the state library, Queensland. The talk has been sponsored by Book Links and the Queensland Writer’s Centre. Scanning the audience I see many of my Writelinks buddies,  visitors from the Gold Coast and further afield, prominent children’s  literature advocates, and several librarians.

[Also check out Sam Sochacka Article on the Lecture at the awesome BookLinks Blog]

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Images Courtesy: Sam Sochacka , June Perkins (aka Gumbootspearlz), Jillanne Harrison, Giuseppi Poli, Leigh Hobbs & Sally (surname unknown)

Mr Hobbs is the creator of Old Tom as well as Mr Chicken and the  4F For Freaks. I used to giggle watching the television version of Old Tom when my children were growing up, as it seemed to have a lot of jokes highly suitable for parents, not just their offspring.

He seems to have a spring in his step and twinkle in his eye before he even begins and smiles as he offers to sign posters, featuring some of his characters, that he has bought with him.  Many of us line up and take him up on this offer.

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Then Megan Daley, who doesn’t want to say anything about herself but is a great advocate for children’s literature, gives him a warm introduction, and talks about the good old days and various children’s book creatives she hung out with, and Book Links and the dream for a children’s literature centre in Brisbane. Everyone in the audience claps keen support for that idea.

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Mr Hobbs begins by telling us that he feels ‘a responsibility and protectiveness to his audience, children.’

He tells us he will make the talk as much about us as him, he will share several pictures as they say a lot more than words can ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ and will be teaching us to draw Old Tom.

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He tells us that theory is not his thing, but he will speak to us from his experience as a secondary teacher,  a visiting presenter to several countries and his memories of his own childhood.  (He shows us a few pictures of these presentations later, with photographs that show the children all having a go at drawing old Tom).

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He explains that he writes in an ‘adult’ voice, not as a child. But he likes to have fun and celebrate the ‘absurd.’  He shows that absurdity throughout the presentation with images.

He tells us that his creations are character studies and that he works ‘innately and never writes or draws down to children.’  He doesn’t feel a need to be ‘realistic with his art’ and he totally believes children will relish the opportunity to stretch their minds.

He works with three levels: first the words,  second images and  thirdly the contradiction between the words and image.  Often the image is doing something every different from the words.  Interpretation doesn’t have to be literal.

He likes to work instinctively and intuitively.  He tells us a funny story about when a student asked him to explain, ‘Why is Old Tom is sometimes very big and sometimes tiny and doesn’t seem to be drawn to scale?’  He asked if anyone in the audience if they knew the answer and another kid explained, ‘that is because Old Tom is big when he is good, proud, happy and small when he is bad or in trouble.’  That is visual literacy!

His character’s size then depends on their emotion.

Hobbs, explains that if children like characters, and they’re well constructed, they will be gripped by them in a couple of pages and make a decision whether to keep going into their world.   He doesn’t write with ‘a message’, but rather with ‘real’ characters, experiencing loss, friendship and more .

Some of his books appear ‘subversive to adults,’ but children just relate to them as they innately understand characters like Horrible Harriet,  the  outcast. Not to mention that naughty Old Tom.

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Hobbs has had a mixed experience with critics, but it is the children who are the most inspiring in their responses to his work and there was one editor very early on who believed in his work and gave him the opportunity to share it.

He reads us a scathing critique from a prominent Australian newspaper where the writer/reader didn’t display any understanding of the characters in his text, and compares it to  comments from some positive kid fans  (six and five) in Ireland wrote, including their teacher (30 years old).  They asked delightful questions which he savours reading to the audience.  He then reads us another adult critic who did understand his book, and loved it. He is philosophical about this and not at all bitter.  He talks about the process of how people enter the world of books like his.

At this point Hobbs shows us a picture of himself as a child in bed, reading, with an alarm clock behind him.  There are a few aws in the audience.  He tells us his parents wouldn’t allow him to draw until it was at least 6am as he drew all of the time.  So he would wait for the alarm to go off  and then draw.

As a boy he wanted to grow up to be an artist and travel to London.  His favourite books were non-fiction books about castles, architecture, and London. He liked to inhabit the worlds in these books.  He does point out the Noddy Collection in the back of the photograph (I remember my brother having this set too.) He has been to London over 30 times and that’s why one character, Mr Chicken goes to London. Mr Badger is also created out of his passion for England.

Today he likes to travel everywhere with his notebook and sketch.

He shows us some slides of teapots with architectural construction and other visuals of things that inspire his art. He always loved architecture and history. He then tells us a bit more of the history of where Old Tom came from (he is maybe a bit based on him and his mum is the mum in the book) and reads us some of the pages of the book as they appear projected up on a screen behind him.

He talks to us about some of the other books, like  4 F for Freaks, and shows us some pictures.  He jokes, but is deadly serious as well, that many of these characters are based on kids he knows.  Well they are kids we all know if we think about it. Some of the teachers in the audience are giggling now, showing their visual literacy.

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He says, ‘kids are scary, ‘the audience laugh.  ‘Yes, I don’t like to read aloud to them as they might not laugh in the right places, and then I might stop being intuitive when I create.’  Instead he prefers to teach them to draw and field questions about the characters, which he will sometimes have them answer themselves.  Sneaky Mr Hobbs, but maybe there is something in this technique, because it is about not talking down to children!  Children can explain his characters and how they are represented to EACH OTHER.

He explains that children read Old Tom and see that the cat is like a baby, a naughty boy, and the mother, a control freak.  Angela is lonely which is why the cat is her baby boy. The cat/boy wants to grow up, and is sometimes immature and pretends to be sleeping to avoid things like helping the mother.

He once wanted to dedicate one of the Old Tom books to his mum, but she said, ‘no’ which at the time made him grumpy.  He loved his mum but used to fight with her a lot (I think I might have giggled here, sorry mum).  When he spoke to another relative about this, they just laughed and said, ‘Mum always complained those books were all about her and you.’

At the start of every old Tom book Mr Hobbs doesn’t assume anyone knows Tom, and so he introduces him.

His pictures are never just literal and he will for instance have a vacuum cleaner with eyes (this flashes up on the screen.)  They have an emotional honesty to them.

Then Hobbs, tells us more about Horrible Harriet and Mr Chicken and shares slides of portions from each book.  He shows Mr Chicken sitting on a chair visiting the Queen, and sitting daintily and the Queen is depicted respectfully.

Mr Chicken is pretty mischievous and bold too and he shows us some of his adventures in Rome as well. More laughter from the adult audience gathered.

Mr Chicken is in some ways ‘an affront to the adult world,’ but he makes total sense to children (and the children at heart?)

Every now and then he has a comedic break, and shows us things like Mr Chicken now on the loose in Queensland.  Could a new book be on the way?

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‘Children like Mr Chicken because he is bold and funny. ‘ Mr Hobbs invites us to have pictures with Mr Chicken later and holds up a toy of him.

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And now it is lesson time.  We all learn to draw Old Tom. How to make him angry looking, and mischievous. It’s fun!  Mr Hobbs tells us all our pictures will be different and he asks some people to voluntarily show their pictures once we are done.  These are projected up for all of us to see.

He makes a few jokes about how the pictures reflect the personality of the ‘feral’ artists, which makes a few people look at their pictures a bit more and giggle.  One will later proudly sign hers and share it on her facebook!

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Then it is question time.

And in his response to the questions he shares his feeling that libraries are safe havens for many of the kids who feel like freaks at school.  They one space they are not assessed in within the school environment, but are FREE to read, write and draw.

He thinks schools spend way too much time assessing!  More cheers from the audience.

He tells us a story about one of the freaks of the library days of his school days being someone who grew up to become a famous journalist.  The library was his safe place.

He shares that if someone wants to grow up to be a laureate, they should first just be a writer or artist.  To foster this you can give those someones  notebooks and say ‘draw whatever you wish, observe the world around you  and you don’t have to show your book to me unless you want to.’ This gives children freedom.

Mr Hobbs very much believes that everyone has the right to make marks on paper, and be free, which is why he taught us how to draw Mr Tom, but some of those who do this will grow up to be artists.

He likes to think of himself as an artist, not an illustrator, but he does tell stories in art.

There are a few more questions and we find out that his dear old Mum is gone, but she got to live to see her son doing something he loved.

Now we head off for a VIP reception and Mr Hobbs kindly deals with a long line of people asking for photographs and autographs in his books (some of them have dashed down stairs to grab some from the shop.)  None of them are children but there are several illustrators amongst them.  Mr Chicken meets Mr Grumbles!  Another character on paper. A big of magic happens.  Giuseppe and Yvonne are delighted.

Every now and then he dashes out of the autograph line to grab a snack and talk to someone he knows and then he heads back to his Laureate duties.

He has a bit of a joke with everyone, and is smiling, and some of us make sure all the food trays are pushed towards him so he doesn’t suffer autograph fatigue.  Who would know so many adults would start acting like Old Tom and Mr Chicken? Grown ups can be cheeky!

Mr Chicken makes an appearance in the centre of the group photograph, that we manage to call people together for – all wearing their VIP stickers.  Everyone seems to be in high spirits and several have the giggles.

Someone makes sure that Mr Hobbs finally gets to eat more food.  In fact maybe they are turning him into Old Tom or is it Mr Chicken.

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Mr Hobbs leapt across the stage  at the end of his talk to become Mr Chicken.

Reception Time

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Mr Grumbles introduced to Mr Chicken!

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“I had a brilliant evening @ Book Links 2nd annual lecture in childrens literature with guest speaker Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs. I was impressed with the delightful manner in which Leigh Hobbs shared his knowledge and experience. During his presentation ‘The Mystery of Visual Literacy’ with a projector at hand, he got everyone to follow his direction to create our own drawing of ‘Old Tom’ a main character in one of his picture books. He explained that he writes and draws instinctively, saying ‘he doesn’t draw down to the children, he makes them stretch up to the understanding of the image”

Jillanne Harrison

“Creating amazing children’s literature is a whole lot of craft and good splash of magic. After listening to Leigh Hobbs – Australian Children’s Laureate, I have levelled up in craft …and experienced a little bit of magic. Can’t wait to share this with the school kids. Awesome – Go Australian Children’s Literature!”

Giuseppe Poli

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You can check out Mr Hobbs in action tomorrow and he was busy there today as well :

As part of the Out of the Box festival the 2016/17 Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs is coming to the State Library of Queensland to introduce us to a trove of his Picture Book characters: Mr. Badger, Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig and the well-travelled Mr. Chicken.

Leigh will be conducting Create a Character illustration workshops to show you how to create your own colourful characters ready for their own adventures.

When: 25th and 26th June 2016 – three sessions per day at 10am, 12pm and 2pm

Where: Auditorium 2, Level 2, State Library of Queensland

Cost: Free but bookings required.

For more information please phone 07 3840 7927 or email Lyps@slq.qld.gov.au.

For more on helping a Children’s Centre for Literature happen check out BookLinks

For more resources Children’s Calendar PDF   This Month Hear a Story; Feel a Story

Check out Sam Sochacka’s Article on the Lecture.

Images Courtesy: Sam  Sochacka , June Perkins (aka Gumbootspearlz), Jillanne Harrison, Giuseppi Poli, Leigh Hobbs & Sally (surname unknown)

 

PiBoIdMo Day 20: Carolyn Fisher Switches Hats (plus a prize!)

Love reading the posts at PiBoIdMo,although I stopped a little this month to start writing a YA Novel and am now just catching up with the posts. Thought I’d share this one over at my blog as it is so interesting.  Have one PiBoIdMo idea I am really excited about and have been working on that as well.  I stop and take photographs or go for a walk when I can’t write, and yes I love to doodle drawings as well, but don’t consider myself an artist.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Carolyn Fisher

switcheshats

As you can see from the above, making a book is simple. I NEVER get stuck, beat-up or depressed!

But if I DID happen to get off track, I would switch hats. Draw for a while instead of writing. Write for a while instead of drawing. Change locations from my studio to a coffeeshop.

Just in case you’re having an off day, I have 3.5 suggestions:

1. Keep a sketchbook or notebook stuffed with people, places, or things.
Just for fun, pick a page at random to use as a story starter. Or pick two pages.

fishersketchbook

2. Use thumbnail sketches
Draw quick, small sketches to generate ideas when you’re brainstorming. Test variations of your ideas. Ask: what if?

fisherthumbnailflower

3.0 Throw away your eraser.
The eraser makes you uptight. You don’t need the negative energy emanating from its pink pearly heart.

3.5 Draw or write in drafts.
Often…

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