Posts Tagged 'children’s books'

European Non-Rabbits

It is a well known fact that I have a bit of thing for rabbits. What is lesser known is that I actually love animals of all kinds. All picture books I write feature animals, usually as the main characters. In fact, recently I have begun working on my first picture book featuring kids, but even then they are all dressed as animals.

A few posts back I did a photo diary about all the rabbits I encountered during a recent trip across Europe. As rabbits feature a lot on this blog, I thought I owed it to all the other animals to give them a bit of blog time. So here are some of the non-rabbits that crossed my path in Europe:

These suspicious geese on a Scottish loch:

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This dog (dug) at an Edinburgh pub:

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Dogs could go anywhere in Europe. In pubs, banks, on buses and the underground. I wish Australia was more like this.

This grumpy bird (eyeing all the Geordies in Newcastle):

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This graffiti pig in Venice:

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This bizarre bronze zoo in the misty hills of Eze (France):

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Over 50 animals. Can’t imagine how they got them all the way up the mountain.

This snarly lion:

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Roar

This Scottish house for elephants:

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Actually, this is an obligatory children’s author shot (the cafe where J.K.Rowling penned her Harry Potter series)

This most enchanting stray dog on the drive from Barcelona:

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He so stole my heart I spent several days trying to figure out how to adopt him & get him back to Australia. But he was well looked after by the town & had made his home in a fuel station, greeting all passers by.

These fish in a Berlin blizzard:

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This delightful stray cat in Niguelas, Spain:

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We fed her and loved her and called her Peppi.

These noble once-dogs at Edinburgh Castle:

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These hungry goats and sheeps in a Spanish village:

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These wild-eyed things:

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You can be sure there will be picture books to come inspired by these animals. They were all quite unique characters in their own ways.

Especially the cranky bird. He had spunk.

 

A Stampede of Books (or Bologna Children’s Book Fair)

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I’ve been wanting to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair for several years now. It’s the biggest annual event in children’s books, making it an incredibly exciting place for a writer / illustrator. Now I knew it was a massive event, but this was purely an intellectual concept. It’s a bit like being told about a stampede, as opposed to standing in the middle of one. A glorious stampede, mind you. A stampede of colourful stuff from a child’s imagination.

The fair is “the most important international event dedicated to the children’s publishing industry”, and includes authors, illustrators, literary agents, licensors, packagers, distributors, printers, booksellers and librarians, all meeting up to sell and buy and meet and produce and discover all things to do with kids books. Sound exciting? It was.

There were 1200 exhibitors. From 66 countries. With 5000 professional trade representatives. And the exhibition covered over 20,000 square meters of floor space. Plus the fair was celebrating its 50th year. Now I may specialise in words, but those numbers sound pretty impressive to me. Here’s the sight I walked in on – this is one fifth of one side of one hall out of four, on the first and quietest morning:

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I spent three inspiring days wandering around the fair and being involved in all its amazing busy-ness. I got to meet up with the head of my American publishing house (Viking / Penguin) who was passionate and humble and funny and charming and all things you would want from a publisher. I also had an amazing meeting with my American agent, talking picture books and characters and lots of ideas for new projects to come. I got to spend time with the incredible ladies from Books Illustrated, Ann James and Ann Haddon, who are super supportive of Australia children’s book creators and who ran the stand that became my home for fair. They ran a live illustration table where I made art alongside some very talented Aussie artists (Alison Lester, Isobelle Carmody, Briony Stewart and of course Ann James). While illustrating I got to meet passers by who stopped to chat – other artists and publishers from all over the world. But none of this quite captures the spirit of the fair. No, that is best done with photos.

Here’s my US publisher’s stand. It was full of books and well-dressed-important-types and take away coffee cups. This was a quiet moment captured on the first morning of an otherwise bustling stand:

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Here is the Books Illustrated stand, and the two awesome Anns setting it up. See if you can spot the Brave Squish Rabbit cover and the feature illustration from the book:

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Doing live illustrations (with my terrible paintbrush grip – such a lefty):

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More live illustrating, using papers I’d collected on the trip so far (you can just see a couple of the drawings I’d already done in front):

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One of my favourite stands, a European publisher called Edelvives who make gorgeous books:

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There were quite literally hundreds of different publisher stands. So many books! Some funny:

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Some sad:

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But mostly just awesome. Lots and lots of awesome books:

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And more:

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And more. How cute are these guys?:

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But it wasn’t all just a bunch of people standing around talking about books. Sometimes it was a bunch of people standing around drinking and talking about books. Here we’re preparing for the Australian Publisher’s Association party (while Boori gets in some sneaky self promotion):

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And here we might be at the Irish Publisher’s Association party drinking whisky (all in the name of being culturally appropriate and warming the winter chest plate):

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I’d heard about the famous ‘illustrator wall’, where you can pin an illustration that people peruse throughout the fair. All up there were actually about eight walls. Here is one on the very first morning:

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And here it is again on day three:

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And this is what an author looks like after three days of wandering halls, reading, illustrating, meetings, being inspired and overwhelmed and just generally feeling like a very small fish in a big pond:

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Luckily, we were in Italy, so there was always good food at the end of the day. Salute!

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Happy Hoppy Easter

Having nursed a long and healthy obsession with rabbits, Easter holds a very special place in my heart. I’m almost equally passionate about chocolate, which may also help. But Easter is particularly special for me now, having my first book out about a little bunny. So Squish and I would both like to wish you all a very happy and hoppy Easter.

I’m thrilled to see that many have been giving Squish Rabbit as a gift to their favourite little people this Easter:

  • Over at Lavender & Lilies one very thoughtful mum has put together an Easter basket for her little girl (take a look – just delightful!)
  • My Book Corner have done a lovely review of Squish Rabbit, as well as named him as one of the best Easter books
  • The Little Big Book Club are featuring Squish all April
  • My wonderful publishers, UQP, have also been twittering Easter competitions where you can win copies of Squish Rabbit

And to top it all off, look what just arrived in the mail:

The print proofs for Brave Squish Rabbit, plus two galleys (unbound mock-ups). I am thrilled to bits with how it’s turned out! So much so that I’m even willing to use exclamation marks!! Considering the first book is all about white space, I made it quite hard for myself by setting book two at night. It meant I had to develop a more complex colour palette, working hard to create space and balance. I love how it’s come up on paper – seeing Squish swimming in all those colours. I might give you a few more sneaky peeks at the interiors as the publishing date of September approaches.

In the mean time, though, I’d better hop off to find some chocolate that I hear a very special festive bunny has left for me around the house…

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…

Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail

2009-04-28On Wednesday the 15th of April, a very good friend of mine, Julie Nickerson, held the launch party for her first children’s book, Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail.  This book is a delightful early reader, released as part of Penguin’s highly successful ‘Aussie Nibbles‘ range.  The story follows Pippa, who is getting ready for her birthday party.  For parties, Pippa always wears her hair in a perfect ponytail, but on the big day, not everything goes perfectly to plan.

The launch was particularly special to me because Julie and I have been crit partners for many years now.  I have had the joy of watching both Julie and the story grow and develop on their journey towards publication.  So I was also incredibly touched when Julie asked me to launch the book.  It was such a joy, although Julie may have secretly regretted asking someone who knows her so well to speak publicly about her, because I may have given away a few secrets… (this is a snippet from my speech)

As writers, we’re often asked if the characters in our books are based on people we know.  Specifically, we’re often asked if our characters are actually us in disguise.  Writers spend a lot of their time trying to convince people that they’re not – that the characters in our stories are actually their own people, with their own unique quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  But I have a secret.  Pippa, the main character in this book, is actually a LOT like Julie.

Just like Pippa, Julie needs things to be not just perfect, but perfectly perfect.

There were about 80 children and adults at the launch, and lots of food, laughter and books.  Party games were played and creativity was encouraged at an illustration table (which the delightful Peter Allert helped me to run).  Following is a photo diary from the day, chronicling the general hilarity:

 

Me, pulling silly faces during my speech to entertain the kiddies (although not consciously)

Me, pulling silly faces during my speech to entertain the kiddies (although not consciously)

Julie, hugging me after my speech, possibly out of relief that I didn't give away anything too embarrassing...

Julie, hugging me after my speech, possibly out of relief that I didn't give away anything too embarrassing...

Julie doing a reading from the book

Julie doing a reading from the book

Julie playing 'Pin the ponytail on Pippa', but I think she got a bit confused about the rules...

Julie playing 'Pin the ponytail on Pippa', but I think she got a bit confused about the rules...

Julie signing books for her hordes of fans

Julie signing books for her hordes of fans

Sheryl, Ally and I being entertained by some books Julie created as a wee thing

Sheryl Gwyther, Ally Howard and I being entertained by some books Julie created as a wee thing


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:

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