Posts Tagged 'picture book'

The New York Times (.com)

There are many things I could be blogging about right now. In fact I seem to have spent the last month collecting things to blog about but lacking the time to do it. I’m experiencing a bit of bloggers guilt, as I haven’t yet posted about book week, Brisbane Writers Festival, my new project, the two Brave Squish Rabbit launches or any of the amazing schools I’ve visited recently … and I will get to all those things (I promise). But I’ve had a little news that kind of cuts through the normal scheduling.

While I may occasionally whinge (a little) about the intrusiveness of the blooming digital age, on Thursday I decided I quite liked it. Because a little bird (possibly a tweet) popped up from a New York Times editor with the following:

Click through and you’ll find a lovely article she wrote for NYTimes.com called ‘Be Brave, Little One’, where she reviews Brave Squish Rabbit (as well as another Australian picture book that sounds fascinating – check it out). With the approach of Halloween, she is celebrating books that “pay tribute to those little ones who manage to be braver than you might expect”. She gets right to the heart of the two stories, and she writes this about Brave Squish Rabbit:

The story Battersby tells is deceptively simple, but it conveys valuable ideas — for instance, that distraction, companionship and resourcefulness can help us to combat fearfulness. And acting brave even when you don’t feel brave makes a difference too.

They also include this spread as the feature image:

I’m thrilled they enjoyed my little rabbit, and Squish has been doing a happy dance (called a binky) ever since we read the article. Pamela also did a beautiful print review in the New York Times of Squish’s first story in their Sunday Book Review last year.

Now, as promised, I’ll be back next post with some book launch photos…

CBCA Book of the Year Awards

Ever since I was a little girl I was aware of the round stickers that occasionally popped up on Australian book covers. I didn’t know what they said or exactly what they meant, but I knew one thing: whether the sticker was silver, bronze or blue, the book was going to be good. As I got taller and older I learnt about the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the organisation behind the stickers, and that each year they ran awards to select the best Australian children’s books published.

Over a lifetime these stickers have informed much of my reading. As a wee one I was much more likely to pick up a book if it had one on the cover. As a teenager so many of the books I treasured were awarded (Gary Crew’s Angel’s Gate, Isobelle Carmody’s The Gathering and Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi). As an aspiring author / illustrator, my reading list came directly from the award notable list (although I had often read most of them already). Then, as I became part of the writing community, each year I’d barrack for my friend’s book and my favourite picks.

This year the awards meant something different. I had my first children’s book ‘out there’. I was determined not to think about the awards, but a friend mentioned when the short-lists were announced and I suddenly found myself thinking (and stressing) about them a whole lot. It was kind of awful. Steven Herrick wrote a beautifully humble and honest post about how writers try to pretend that awards don’t matter – that we don’t mind whether we’re selected or not. I even tried to trick myself into thinking this, with lots of very sensible self-talk about the fact that it was only ‘my first book’ and that ‘so many amazing books are published each year’ blah blah etc, but it didn’t really work. I still harboured a deep secret hope.

Tuesday was the fateful day, and after all that stressing I still feel incredibly humbled and overawed with the news. Squish Rabbit was selected as part of the short-list for the 2012 Crichton Award, which aims to encourage new talent in the field of children’s illustration. It was also selected as a Notable Book in the Early Childhood Category of the Book of the Year Awards, which I’m thrilled about.

The Australian writing community is such a supportive one, and there was an outpouring of lovely congratulations and kind words – thank you. So many amazing books made this year’s lists, including those by some of my favourite people: Michael Gerard Bauer, Lucia Masciullo, Peter Carnavas, James Foley, Prue Mason, Sally Rippin and Wendy Orr. So proud to count these incredible writers and illustrators as friends.

The day’s celebrations included champagne, party poppers, a movie, a decadent Thai feast and a little pack of fun:

  • The Shin’s latest album: Their music makes me happy (and is part of the soundtrack for my latest novel)
  • Obi-Wan: A funny gift from my poet to remind me that Jedi like patience can bring rewards (for Star Wars nerds that would like to inform me that this is not actually Obi-Wan, I say to you that I had already named him thusly when I discovered this, and besides I like this name better)
  • My Neighbour Totoro: Possibly one of Miyazaki’s greatest films, which is quietly magical and so full of beauty, and one I have been meaning to get forever

Stop Motion Animation-ing

It’s now official. There is a second book in the Squish Rabbit series. The files have all been sent to the printers. As we speak I’m awaiting the first unbound print proofs from my publisher. Somewhere in the last few months my second book even found itself a name…

Brave Squish Rabbit will be released in September this year.

And there was much rejoicing (mainly from those close to me who are likely sick of me in stressed illustrator mode, where I spend a lot of time doubting myself, eating cereal and not sleeping). The National Library of Australia is the first to have it up on their site, with a hilarious description that goes something like:

Squish, a little rabbit who is afraid of nearly everything, ventures into the night during a storm to find his friend, Twitch, who he fears may have encountered chickens.

With a new book comes the need for a new book trailer, so I’ve been toying with a few ideas. For my first book I learnt an entire new animation and editing program in order to make the trailer, and it took a good month of experimenting to create something I was happy with. You can see the product below, which has just passed 2,500 hits on YouTube:

Not one to make it easy for myself, I really want to do something different for book two. Inspired by a few clips I’ve seen recently I decided to try my hand at stop motion animation. I’ve had to do a bunch of research in trying to determine the best program to use, and have just downloaded a trial version of iStopMotion. This morning I had a go at making my very first halting and oh-so-very-B-grade stop motion video.

I’m still not sure how I’ll make the book trailer in the end (my aching back votes a firm ‘no’ to stop motion) but feel free to check out my attempt below:

I used a funky freeware tune composed by Mike Vekris (I think I was referencing some Peter Gabriel-style Sledgehammering)

Stay tuned to see how it all evolves…

Squish Rabbit Launch (in Photos)

On Saturday 3rd September a bunch of old friends, new friends, family, families and a horde of little rabbits (plus one spiderman) all gathered together at Black Cat Books to help me launch my first picture book, Squish Rabbit. Everyone warned me that the day would speed by and be over before I knew it, so I made sure I enjoyed every second. The classy Pascalle ‘Bunny’ Burton MC’ed the day, while Michael ‘Bouncing’ Bauer (amazing writer and good friend) did the honours of launching the book. We had live music from the talented songstress Skye ‘Rabbit’ Staniford, while Richard ‘Hoppy’ Grantham entertained with his playful keyboard tunes. There was even an appearance from a real bunny (quite a feat in Queensland where rabbits are illegal), and also a visit from a not so real one…

Some of my favourite moments from the day:

  • Signing my first book
  • NOT misspelling a single child’s name
  • Michael revealing the little known beginnings of Squish Rabbit as ‘Squish Cockroach’
  • Promising myself that during my thank-yous I wouldn’t cry and would only make others do so (failing at one but succeeding at the other)
  • The kidlets hopping around eating the ‘for-decoration-purposes-only’ carrots (instead of the cupcakes)
  • People pointing out that I had worn a carrot coloured dress (unintentional win!)
  • Pascalle’s unexpected magic trick (multiplying rabbits! – exactly why they’re illegal in QLD…)
  • Richard’s lollypop formal shirt (designed by him but made by his grandmother)
  • Skye’s impromptu version of ‘Old McDonald had an Alien’
  • The magician performing mind blowing rabbit magic while seeming to have some kind of meltdown mid-act
  • Spiderman running around amongst all the little kids dressed as rabbits (there’s always one)

.

Then again, rather than telling you about it all, why not let the images speak for themselves?

Morning launch? So what - let there be wine! Plus red balloons from the book

Lots of orange and green type food (Squish would be proud)

We were up until midnight making hundreds of little carrots for the cupcakes

David and I enjoying the fruits (or veg?) of our labour

Skye and Richard delighting the kids and adults alike

Rabbit! (I didn't Squish this one)

Magical bunnies

Some of my favourite little rabbits

Michael clutching his book (I did promise not to steal it...)

Kathleen, Jules and Peter (some favourite writing/illustrating peeps)

Some notorious bunnies from the day (including one tiny pink one plucking the decorative carrots for her lunch)

Who knew spiderman also enjoyed carrots?

Signing a book for a little pink bunny

Some of the precious rabbity gifts I got on the day

Bookstore Paparazzi

[Please read with your best David Attenborough voice...] Armed with camera, carrots and a sense of adventure, on Monday we headed out into the wilds of Brisbane suburbia in search of our first glimpse of Squish Rabbit. The book was said to have been released into the bookstore savanna just that morning, however there had been rumoured sightings for several days prior.

A notoriously shy creature, Squish Rabbit is best approached with reading glasses and a gentle hand. If having trouble tracking him down, try asking your local bookstore or librarian, as they are well trained in the art of literary rabbit spotting. As a last resort, attempt the tried and true trail of carrots. On this day we were in luck, as we managed to track the wily rabbit to our local bookstore: Black Cat Books. And for a typically nervous creature, Squish seemed to quite enjoy the paparazzi attention…

I also had a box of books arrive from both publishers on the same day, and now have a veritable fountain of rabbits in my home. If they keep multiplying (as rabbits tend to do) I may have to start putting them to good use around the house. One on the bookshelf of course. Several as matching drink coasters. One to entertain the dog. Hang one on the wall as a postmodern art work. One beneath the outdoor table leg to stop it rocking. Two as ironic book ends. Any other ideas..?

Front window display in Black Cat Books

The countdown is now on for the launch. Only two days to go…

Rabbity Book Launch

As of yesterday, Squish Rabbit is now officially in Australian stores! Only a few days now until the Brisbane book launch, which will be held at the glorious Black Cat Books in Paddington. Please join us if you can.

There may even be an appearance from a little furry friend…

(click on the image to see a larger version of the invite)

The New York Times

It’s a wonderful yet hectic time of year, right in the middle of book week and literary festival season. I’ve just returned from several days of school workshops in Townsville with some amazing kids, and am heading off for more in Toowoomba (which I’m visiting for the second time in less than two weeks). Meanwhile, Squish has been hopping off on his own, and has made himself known in one way I’m quite excited about.

There’s something a little surreal about having your first book out in another country and not yet in your own. Something about it that makes it not quite real. It’s a little like experiencing it through another’s eyes, as I’m being told about it but not seeing it for myself. But that doesn’t stop the excitement of it all. To be honest, I haven’t stopped grinning since my publisher wrote to me to say that Squish Rabbit had been reviewed in the New York Times.

… Squish demands to be noticed, and he certainly deserves the attention. Seamlessly told in barely-­there text and deceptively simple ink and collage pictures, “Squish Rabbit” is bound to win children’s hearts.

To read the full article, click on the image below (to see a bigger version) or hop on over to their website.

Book Trailer

For the last month or so I’ve been rabbiting away on a secret little side project. It took many hours, much experimentation, some laughter, a little cursing, and the learning of an entire new computer program. But mostly it was a lot of fun, as it involved watching one of my little characters come to life. And today I’m ready to release it.

To celebrate the upcoming launch of Squish Rabbit in Australia (29th August), check out the video below if you want a sneaky peek of my first ever book trailer:

Or you can watch in on Vimeo here.

A huge thanks to the amazing musician Richard Grantham for the score, and also to my publishers (UQP and Viking / Penguin) for their support.

Hope you like it…

Happy Squishy Day!

It’s finally here. It feels wonderful and surreal and a whole mix of different things. It all began back in 2006 with the first spark of an idea. It’s come such a long way since those first baby rabbit steps. Today it’s emerging from it’s burrow, all grown up and ready to enter the world. And with a hop, skip and a jump…

Squish Rabbit is finally in bookstores.

Only in the US so far, but it will also be available here in Australia by the end of the month. I’ve been spoiled with some lovely reviews so far.  Kirkus Reviews says:

Battersby’s expert, ample distribution of white space provides room on each page for readers to luxuriate in her impressive, evocative ink, watercolor and collage illustrations — and to absorb a small rabbit’s feelings. Minimal, moving and adorable, little Squish makes a big impression.

Publisher Weekly also had some encouraging things to say, as did a lovely mummy blogger over at Baby Centre.

I’ve been busy organising the Brisbane book launch (Saturday 3rd September) with my wonderful Aussie publishers, UQP, and the amazing indie bookstore, Black Cat Books.  All are welcome – kids and adults and anyone willing to go back down the rabbit hole. I’d love your company if you can make it. I’ll have the official invite up soon, and have a facebook page all about the launch that you can check out too.

Now this little cotton tailed writer is off for a day of celebrations … welcome into the world Squish!

Voices on the Coast Part 2

This was my first year at Voices on the Coast, where I ran several different kinds of workshops with both primary and secondary students. My favourite part of these kind of events is meeting the kids and teens, as they’re funny and inspiring and so much more clever than I was at their age. Here are some of the drawings we did together in the primary school workshops…

Squishy Speech Bubbles

In this session I talked about how I tell my stories visually. We discussed emotion, body language, facial expression and a visual storytelling method I use in Squish Rabbit: pictorial speech bubbles. In this activity I had the kids brainstorm what picture we could draw in the speech bubble to let a reader know that Squish is hungry. There were some great creative suggestions, including tacos, sushi, pancakes and guacamole. We also discussed what each food would tell us about the kind of rabbit Squish is (ie. sushi might tell us he is Japanese, or well travelled, or is quite adventurous for a small rabbit).

We then chose one food to draw together – in the above class we chose a burger and the kids suggested all kinds of things to fill it with (clearly, we had to sneak in a carrot). We then worked on making it look extra tasty so the reader would really empathise with Squish and feel his hunger – notice the smell wafting, the sesame seeds and the big bite mark.

Making Monsters

In this session I talked all about characterisation – how I create my characters, the research involved and the drawing process. I used the example of a picture book of mine called ‘Monster Music’, where I had to create a whole horde of little monsters. In coming up with the characters, I actually drew about 100 different monsters before deciding on which ones to use in the book. In order to make sure they all looked like they belonged together and ensure they weren’t too scary (the story is more playful) I ended up basing each character on an animal and then adapting it. After demonstrating this I got the class to choose an animal to base our monster on.

The above class chose a bird, so together we brainstormed a couple of features unique to birds in which we’d keep – you can see they chose a beak, wings, feathers and claws. Next comes my favourite bit – we worked together to monster-ify our bird. The kids came up with all sorts of crazy ideas to make sure our character was really monster-like (the girls often want to keep their monsters cute, but the boys are quick to add fangs and blood). And did anyone notice the bunny ears on my monster? It actually wasn’t my idea!

The kids were a blast, and I wish I could show you all the zany foods and monsters they created. Or maybe instead I’ll just borrow some of their clever ideas for my next book… mwa ha ha <evil artist laugh>.


About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

Available:

Author Talks

Speakers Ink
Creative Net

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers