How does the interaction between pictures and words work to create something special in a picture book? Carolyn generously shared the process that she used as an author/illustrator when creating her latest book Maya and Cat.
Caroline loves individuality in a picture book and while it can be seen as a weakness by some editors, Caroline assured us that if your quirky story is something that you desperately want to do then it is important to keep on with it.
Caroline described writing a picture book as being like a two legged sack race between writing and illustrating. Each has their own mode of telling. Behind every image is an idea and emotion. Behind every word is an idea and emotion, a successful picture book the marriage of the two.
Painting of Caroline by Inda Ahmad Zabri
It was exciting to hear the story that was the genesis of Maya and Cat and to be shown examples of the multitude of rough charcoal sketches that Caroline used to help her coalesce and refine the story in her head into something that would work as a picture book. She demonstrated the flexibility and possibilities of a charcoal sketch when working out how to fit the theatre of your story into the standard 32 page format.
Once Caroline has the book mapped out visually then she often finds that the words just come by themselves. For her the visual literacy comes before the verbal story. Caroline urged us to read our stories out loud, to talk them through with trusted others so that we are aware of where the reader will pause and where they will build the theatre of the story.
Caroline loves to work with watercolour. She has an affinity for it and demonstrated to us how to use the two techniques wet on wet and wet on dry. She talked about the importance of colour theory and how to create a palette. Then it was time for us to play with watercolour while we experimented with the techniques that she had demonstrated. I found this part of the workshop relaxing and challenging as I attempted to paint something recognisable while using the techniques we had learnt. It was fun and Caroline kindly came around to everyone of us to share her feedback and ideas.
As a struggling picture book author I felt enormously encouraged when Caroline concluded the workshop with her assurances “You can teach yourself anything. Don’t doubt yourself. I got here from a standing start. Anyone can make their creative dreams come true through hard work and effort.”
Thank you Caroline for conducting an inspiring and informative workshop. I have learnt so much from you today.
Kate Shapcott is an Early Childhood Teacher who plays around with words and ideas and hopes one day to publish a picture book herself.
Photography: Maria Parenti-Baldey
Photography: Ian Morrison
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
What inspires an author to write and how do they translate this passion into a story that interests others? Who better to share some insight than Karen Tyrrell who weaves her passion for the environment through her Song Bird series.
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
WHY Great Barrier Reef Rescue?
I created my eco adventure mystery, Great Barrier Reef Rescue from my life experiences as an amateur snorkeller, environmentalist, biology major at teacher’s college, teacher and science co-ordinator at my primary school.
As author of the Song Bird eco series, I pondered which environment should feature in Song Bird 4 after its prequel Rainforest Rescue.
I settled on the ocean and the reef as my family and I had spent many tropical holidays swimming with giant green turtles, giant Maori wrasse and stingrays off the Great Barrier Reef. At school, I loved teaching about the ocean as a science subject to my Year 2 students. I took my class to King Island for a science excursion.
I’m an avid fan of Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough’s TV series. When David proclaimed …
‘The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. It’s time to step up.’
— Sir David Attenborough
I was compelled to write Great Barrier Reef Rescue.
What’s Great Barrier Reef Rescue about?
Song Bird Superhero and her friends arrive on Green Turtle Island, discovering the reef and marine animals are dying. Before long, her friends disappear. Rosie (Song Bird) travels through a time portal to rescue her friends and solve a mystery.
Can Song Bird rescue the Great Barrier Reef before it’s too late?
How did you connect the story to children?
I wanted Great Barrier Reef Rescue to engage children with a thrilling action-packed adventure, superhero characters, marine animals and mysteries to solve. At the same time, I planted an eco-subplot to educate children on climate change and sustainability, encouraging children to take action. My mission was to educate, engage and empower children on how to care for the reef.
How did you write with co-author Steve Tyrrell?
Steve and I share a love of superheroes, fantasy, adventure and the environment. Steve wrote the Destructo chapters and dialogue (the evil environmental villain), the dream chapters and some of the action scenes. I wrote chapters from Song Birds point of view. We both critiqued and beta read each other’s chapters, so the story and dialogue flowed.
How did you get Brisbane City Libraries and a sponsor to support you?
I contacted Brisbane City Libraries and a sponsor, sharing my eco vision and goals with them. Brisbane City Libraries offered me a launch venue and Australian Marine Conservation Society offered resources to share at my events.
Great Barrier Reef Rescue evolved as the story I was compelled to write. As if all my prior life experiences had led me to this point.
5 Tips on Writing your WHY Book
1. Write what you’re passionate about, write what you care about.
2. Ask yourself: what are you most qualified to write?
3. What have you experienced first-hand?
4. If interviewed, how could you explain why you created that particular book to adults as well as to children?
5. Write THAT book.
FREE Great Barrier Reef Rescue Resources here
Find out more about Karen Tyrrell and Great Barrier Reef Rescue …
On April 14th I took my daughter Belinda (nine years old) along to Dave Lowe’s workshop for children, ‘How to be a writer.’ He knows how to entertain and inspire a group of 9 to 12 year old writers (and some older ones too!) Within the first minute there were chuckles throughout the room. We were immediately engaged when he told us some of the funniest questions he’s ever been asked by children, including ‘Why do you look nothing like your photograph?’
Dave Lowe then shared where his story ideas come from. He likes to ask himself the question, ‘What if?’ ‘What if a genius hamster could do your maths homework?’ From that question, came one of Belinda’s favourite books from Dave, My Hamster is a genius.
He then described the first three things writers need to think about before writing a story:
Know every detail about your character, right down to what do they like for breakfast.
3. Where to start. The first paragraph could:
· Introduce the character
· Introduce the setting
· Start with a conversation
· Have a chat with the reader
· Plunge into action
When writing the story, he advised to show and not tell. For example, ‘Jack was surprised’ could be changed to ‘Jack’s mouth dropped open and his eyes widened’. Also, text is less boring if the sentence length is varied throughout a paragraph.
Dave Lowe then talked about using wow words to add interest to the text. For example, ‘devoured’ rather than ‘eat’.
The children loved it when Dave shared some of his humour secrets. One of them is using the ‘rule of three’. For example, My Dad loves toast…Beans on toast, eggs on toast, toast on toast. Hee hee!
Belinda thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and thinks it was ‘the best writing workshop I’ve ever been to.’ At the end of the afternoon, we both came away with some writing gems, in addition to one of his new books The Incredible Dadventure. Belinda thinks it’s hilarious and highly recommends it!
Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane, with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.
Eva’s Imagination https://www.newfrontier.com.au/books/evas-imagination
Sheepy-Bear (Share Your Story anthology - It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas) https://www.lillypillypublishing.com/product-page/it-s-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-christmas-an-anthology-share-your-story )
The Tail of Sizzle the Sausage (CKT anthology –Wings, Superheroes and Determination) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760744
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
Karen Foxlee was a humble presenter at the WriteLinks Middle Grade Workshop on 2 March 2019. This was despite just receiving notification that her latest book, Lenny’s Book of Everything, had been nominated as a Notable Book in the 2019 Children’s Book Council Awards for Younger Readers (update: now Shortlisted).
She started the session by saying that everyone writes in their own way and finds their own way.
Foxlee’s way of writing is very character-driven. She said, “The whole aim of my existence is to make characters that readers care about.” Her tips for creating memorable characters are to try to open yourself up to who is telling the story, and to give yourself time.
This time is essential because while some characters, such as Lenny, arrive fully-formed, “others look like the real deal, but you smell a rat.” This happened with the character of Kitty in A Most Magical Girl, where it took a lot of peeling back the layers to find the real Kitty.
Foxlee finds inspiration for her characters in memories of people she has seen on the street, characters in books and films and family stories. However, she really emphasised looking within your own heart. Many of her characters directly reflect periods of her life and aspects of her personality. Jenny Day is Foxlee as a child; Ophelia is her nursing self, wanting to be organised and sensible; and Rose is her teenage self.
In terms of differentiating characters, Foxlee likes to think in terms of the Big Four Chambers of the Human Heart (but they are not the anatomical metaphors you might think):
1. Memories eg Lenny’s memories of her father’s nicotine-stained fingers
2. Fears eg Lenny fears the outcome if her brother doesn’t stop growing
3. Secrets eg Lenny’s secret shame of her brother
4. Important Things (objects; intangibles; talismans) eg Lenny’s sticker from Wyoming
She feels that identifying one of these for each character is more powerful than describing the character.
Once you have more understanding of your characters’ motivations, the next challenge is conveying this to the reader. This is where literature is different from other art forms, because readers have access to the thoughts and internal dialogue of characters.
And this, according to Foxlee, is where things can go wrong in the writing. If you find yourself stuck or slipping out of character, she suggests getting messy with stream of consciousness writing. Also, staying switched on to thought triggers, for example the hole in Ophelia’s pocket reminds her of her mother. Foxlee recommends being consistent and staying centred in the heart of the character, describing how they feel and think, not just describing things. And utilising the five senses while doing all of this.
As usual in an audience of writers, we asked all the process questions of Foxlee. She answered very graciously, basically saying that she is a pantser, starting with characters and then finding the plot. If she gets stuck she often uses the “cracked mirror” approach, where she writes things that might happen in the story, for example Lenny and her brother might want to run away; something about a doctor’s visit, and then puts the pieces together. By three months in to the writing process she knows how these will all fit together.
In terms of her writing life, Foxlee is still juggling her writing with casual nursing and motherhood. She gets up between 4:30 and 5am and writes until 7am; then again 9-11am on her writing days.
Ideally she likes to write daily for three to four months. She was very grateful to be awarded a Fellowship grant from the State Library of Queensland to facilitate her writing.
Karen Foxlee’s latest book is Lenny’s Book of Everything. Her first picture book is being released in May 2019.
Painting by Inda Ahmad Zabri
Zewlan Moor is a writer, GP and bibliotherapist, @byronbiblio www.byronbibliotherapy.com
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley
Our very own Write Linker, Jacqui Halpin, has just released her second picture book, 'Where's Lucky?' with Little Pink Dog Books, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini. Lucy McGinley was delighted to interview Jacqui about her inspiration for the story.
How did you get involved with Our Haven Wildlife Shelter?
I saw a video someone shared on Facebook of Tony from Our Haven bottle-feeding about 10 joeys all at once in what looked like an ordinary suburban kitchen. I thought, there has to be a picture book here somewhere. So, I followed them on Facebook to learn more about them. Then I contacted my publishers at Little Pink Dog Books and asked if they would be interested in a story based on Our Haven Wildlife Shelter, and they said yes! So, I contacted Theresa from Our Haven and got the ball rolling.
What came first the story idea or the desire to help the charity?
At first I just thought it would make a beautiful picture book, but as I discovered more about what Our Haven Wildlife Shelter actually did, and saw how hard they worked for the animals in their care, I realised it could be a lot more than just a lovely story. It could bring recognition for Our Haven and wildlife carers everywhere. I also wanted this book to be a way that children and adults could learn how to help care for our native animals. The final page has a list of tips on how the general public can help save our wildlife.
I’m blessed in that my publishers, Peter and Kathy Creamer from Little Pink Dog Books, are animal lovers and were happy to donate a percentage of the income from Where’s Lucky to Our Haven. Sandra and I both personally make donations to Our Haven as well.
Are all your stories about animals?
Actually, now that I think about it, a lot of my picture books are.
In your last book, you gave a percentage to help retired racehorses. I sense a theme! Does a ‘cause’ motivate you to write?
Sometimes. I’m of the opinion that good stories should do good. So, if I’m writing a story and it can benefit a worthy cause in some way, I’m happy to do it.
Mostly, the stories find me and they don’t always have a good cause in mind but that doesn’t mean they can’t do good in other ways.
Jacqui’s passion for children’s literature started when reading bedtime stories to her children. They outgrew their childhood books but Jacqui never did. Jacqui writes junior fiction, picture books, and short stories (for adults and children). Her short stories appear in anthologies by Stringybark Publishing and Creative Kids Tales.
Find out more about Jacqui and her books by following the links below.
This weekend I held the book launch of my latest two children’s novels, Daniel Barker By Power or Blight, and, Amy and Phoenix.
I have planned and implemented a few book launches with my five titles. I find a book launch is like a wedding but on a smaller scale. It needs preparation, can be stressful and overwhelming, and you’ll have a sore mouth from smiling for all those photos!
I congratulate you if you are coming up to your book launch, because already you’ve put in a mountain of work to have your book published, whether traditionally or independently.
Here are five tips to help you hold a successful book launch:
1) Decide on the date
If you are traditionally published you will be given a date that the book will be released. If you are independently published you will have an approximate date you think your book will be printed and ready to go. Even if you are traditionally published, you will most likely have to organise your own launch.
When making the date there are some things to think about:
* What other activities are on at the same time? Will your friends and loved ones be able to come or are there a lot of other conflicting events on the same day?
* If you would like your book launch put in your local council’s newsletter you will probably need to get that date to them six months in advance.
* If you need to book a venue, you will need to allow time to be able to negotiate this with them. They may not be able to do your first date.
* Make the book launch at least a month away (many say three months is better) so you can advertise and promote your book.
2) Book the venue
Where do you want to hold your book launch? There is no prescribed place. Many people hold their launches in bookshops or libraries, but you do not have to. I have held my book launches in two different parks and the local art gallery. I’ve had other friends hold their launches at sports clubs and in community halls. Do what you want to do.
Some things to think about before you book your venue:
* The cost of the venue. If you are hiring a room in a library or a community hall, sports club venue etc. you will need to pay.
* The weather. If you are outside, what will you do if the weather is inclement?
* Is the venue near public transport? You need to consider people who are unable to drive. All of my book launches have been near the train line.
* What facilities does the venue have? If you are at a park, are there toilets? Also, if you are at the park, what do you do for hot water etc.? If you are at the park you will also have the added furniture - gazebo, tables and chairs.
3) Send out invitations
If your venue has a limit of the number of people it can hold, you will need a guest list or a ticketed event. Invite people from all the different areas of your life. On Saturday I had family, and friends from my three writing groups, school, church, my childhood and my community. If you don’t have a limit, invite everyone who you think might be interested in attending.
After saying this, if you invite a large number of people, expect a large number of apologies. People are crazy busy and some people will just not want to attend. I had 70 apologies, and 40 people attended, and others who did not RSVP. Keep positive when all of those ‘I’m sorry I can’t make it…’ start coming in. Look at the people who do come and enjoy your celebration with them.
4) Market the launch
You may need a press release
A book launch is really a part of your marketing plan. Put your book launch on all of your social media platforms. Add snippets from your planning process, glimpses of your book and what it is about, and if you are able, make a promo video. It is a great idea to contact your local newspaper and ask if they would be interested in doing a story on you. In some instances, you may need to write a press release to send to media.
5) Plan your day
Like a wedding, you will need to have a To Do list, and a program for the day. Think about everything you will need depending on what you want to do in your book launch. Some people like to do a book reading, have art and craft activities, dress-ups for the children, prizes, pantomimes, or have puppets. Think about yourself, the book you are launching, and how you can make it unique in some way. Don’t try and replicate someone else’s but by all means take ideas from others you have seen and like.
* A banner
* Flyers, business cards, bookmarks
* Books (pre-sign to save time) and a pen
* A float/credit card facility (organise a person to handle the money for you on the day so you are free to just sign the books and chat)
* A cake & knife, tablecloth
* Food & drinks (plates, cups etc)
* Your speech
* Public liability insurance (check with venue)
You must have some type of speech. Your guests will be in awe of you. Many people would love to write a book but will never. You have! Make sure you explain a little about your book, or read some of it (if it is a picture book then read it all) so they know what it is about, and say anything else that you think would interest your guests. You can have someone interview you, or you can tell a story and then relate it to your book, act out a play… whatever you are comfortable doing. Write a list of who you would like to thank in case you forget someone. Even though writing is a solidary activity, there will be people who helped or supported you, encouraged you or have influenced you in your journey. And if you forget someone who is present, go to them and apologise (I did this on Saturday!) I also suggest that if you suffer from anxiety, practise your speech beforehand.
6) Post about it afterwards.
You’ll be exhausted afterwards, but this is not the end. You need to post on social media photos from the event and tell your followers how they can support you – by purchasing your books, posting reviews and telling people about you.
Then it’s time to get on with more writing!
Jenny Woolsey is an educator, author and speaker, on difference, diversity and difference. She is passionate about advocacy for facial differences, mental illness and inclusive education. Jenny has published five children’s/YA novels on her theme. Through her work, Jenny presents three messages: 1) Just be yourself 2) Embrace your differences 3) Be a victor not a victim. She ultimately wants everyone to feel valued and be accepted for who they are.
Reblogged from https://ali-stegert.com/2019/01/09/a-writers-self-care-part-2/
Not all goals are good goals; some can be downright unhealthy.
Of course, most writers want to sign with a world-class agent, experience a bidding war over their manuscript, sell out their first print run, hit the best seller’s list, and become wildly and internationally famous. The trouble with all of those awesome events is they are completely outside of a writer’s control. Setting any of them as a goal will lead to disillusionment, heartache, and burnout.
Dreams & Goals
The old adages hold true:
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
“Dreams should be big enough and wild enough to scare us.”
But dreams and goals are two very different things. Dreams engage your wishbone. Goals rely on backbone.
Writers—all creatives in fact—need both ‘bones’. Your wishbone is a trellis that supports your imagination, fosters your vision, and trains your creativity into something uniquely yours. Your backbone is a girder for your growth, dedication, resilience, and longevity.
Goals or SMART Goals
The SMART acronym has been bandied about since 1981 when it was coined by George Doran and associates in an article in Management Review. I particularly like this amplification of the basic qualities of good goals:
S = specific and stretching
M = measurable + meaningful and motivating
A = achievable and action-oriented
R = realistic + rewarding and results-oriented
T = time-bound and trackable
I whimper on the inside when my writing peers say their goals for the year are to get an agent and land a publishing deal. Both are superior dreams but inferior goals, because they aren’t specific, measurable, achievable, realistic or time-bound. Lots of wishbone, little backbone.
Compare these SMART Goals:
But Will Setting SMART Goals Get Me My Agent?Well, not exactly… But it will lay stepping stones in the direction of that dream. Instead of chasing a hazy desire, you create a clear path to follow. Won’t it feel amazing to know where you’re going and how far you’ve come?
As a bonus, tranquillity, optimism, and contentedness flow more freely when we focus on the things we can control. Setting smart goals makes the journey pleasant and healthy!
Self-Care is a Non-Negotiable
Hitting send on your query letter simultaneously hits pause on the part you control. I can tell you from years of experience: unless you are unbelievably lucky, freaky talented, or have an X-factor idea whose time is RIGHT NOW, waiting is the name of the game.
The waiting “to get somewhere” in the life of a writer can be frustrating and bewildering and downright disheartening. It can feel like being stuck in a terminal with no flight information while everyone around you takes off on time or lands safely and falls into the embrace of waiting loved ones. That’s why it’s so important to have clear steps to care for yourself.
It’s common—normal even—for emerging and aspiring writers to feel lousy about “not getting anywhere”, which is industry shorthand for not getting an agent or a publishing deal. Unchecked, disappointment can fester into disillusionment, despair, and even deeper into mental health issues. If you are vulnerable (genetically or circumstantially or both), please, please take steps to be proactive about self-care.
The creative life is a zany rollercoaster with an unpredictable series of highs and lows and tummy-squeezing, knuckle-whitening loop-de-loops. Try to step back so you can view the whole ride, rather than bogging down on the slow or disappointing bits. And above all, share the ride with friends. It’s more fun to scream in symphony than all alone!
Own the Process
We control the quality and quantity of our work. We control how we use our time, how we spend our resources, who we include in our networks. We can control what we read, who we listen to, where we find inspiration, and how we treat other writers. We cannot control whether an agent will like our work enough to sign us as a client. Therefore, own what we do control and let the rest go.
This is a workout for the backbone, not the wishbone.
Over to You
I hope this is the year of your breakthrough or continued success in the creative life—whatever that means for you, signing with your dream agent or landing a publishing contract or breaking a sales record with your latest indie book. May it also mean growing in your ability to find joy in the act of creating and strength in the practice of caring for yourself.
Until next time, take care of yourself!
I went because I wanted to make a website. I had part of an understanding of the process via some wonderful, tech-savvy (which I am not) friends. But not only that, I’d been trying to make it to one of these meetings for a year.
It was too far, it was in the afternoon, my kids needed me (no, they really didn’t). Not getting to a WriteLinks meeting had become an excuse. I went to other local writing meetups which were wonderful, getting to know my writing community. I learned my craft.
But they never really fulfilled my needs. Why? Because none of them wrote for children. Writelinks provided that for me today. Bonus, I got to listen to Anthony Puttee of the Book Cover Café - now The Self-Publishing Lab – speak on making a website.
A few friends had teed me up in the prior months, yakking on about domains and hosting (napkins on the table and chips in a bowl, right?) when really I had no idea. Nods and smiles convinced them their words had gotten through while I hoped my computer started and I could find my most recent Word document.
An hour and a bit into the meeting I was amazingly well educated on how to choose a host that allows me to purchase a domain – my own author name – which looks professional, is easy to use and can grow with my business. This includes listing my books in an online store and getting one of those snazzy enter-your-email-here boxes I’ve always wanted.
In fact I’m so gung-ho, I’m heading home to sort it out later tonight. Not bad for someone who regularly sees wisps of smoke rising from whatever electrical item they’ve neared. I was pretty impressed with my very first Writelinks meeting – more so by Anthony, who gave me the confidence that I could sort this at home by myself.
So here are his tips for making a strong author website. An author’s website is their online presence, their main hub to the world. The Domain, he explained, is like a street address, the Host is the land and the website the house itself.
First he offered a choice of website creators. The usual suspects, Wix, Weebly, Wordpress.com. But it was Wordpress.org he focused on, along with Blue host.
For a small fee you can set it all up ad free, with an email that matches your domain. What screams professionalism like that? Especially to that top-notch agent or Big 4 publisher you’ve been chasing. *cough* Because we never do that…
If yours is a reasonably unique name like mine, use that as your Domain, so your fans can find you easily. If you have a more common name or one that crosses with another online personality, maybe you could add something to it – johnsmithbooks.com, for example.
Anthony went through the entire process with us and it took around half an hour, with questions. In your own quiet space, you could do it in less time again. Follow the prompts and save for a quick, professional hub that can expand with your writing business.
You can even get a great little plug in that shares your content to social media for you. Handy. It’s also compatible for mobile devices, so that professional look follows your online presence. www.selfpublishinglab.com also provides authors with editing, cover design, layout and a plethora of coaching services. Many of the WriteLinks authors have used Anthony’s services to their great benefit and speak well of him.
In all, I enjoyed my first WriteLinks meeting. I learned a lot, put faces to online names, met some wonderful authors and reconnected with others I’ve spoken to at prior Brisbane events. I’ll certainly be adding these meetings to my 2019 calendar.
Jo Seysener is an emerging children’s author with a passion for PND awareness living near Brisbane with her three crazy kidlets, enthusiastic GSD pup and decrepit Kelpie. She also shares her living space with a trio of mad chickens. Jo dabbles in speculative fiction in her spare writing time and is obsessed with alpacas.
Author and illustrator, Gregg Dreise, bounced into view and began his Welcome to Country so the gathered members attending the Book Links AGM could join him in paying respect to the traditional custodians of the land.
Before we knew it, he had Tess Rowley flying like a sea eagle and Sandy Driessens bouncing like a kangaroo as Gregg himself animated the whole room with his passion and energy.
He peppered his stories with snippets and antidotes and we all hung on tight for the ride of our lives though some of the oldest stories in the world to the stories of Greg's parents and his own generation. Gregg pointed out gleefully that we are still teaching in schools today what his ancestors 55,000 years ago knew, that to tell a good story you need to have an introduction, body and conclusion!
We replied with gusto to his communal storytelling, singing back, clapping and ‘tsking’ in mostly the right places! The stories of more recent times, The Stolen Generation “savages to be civilised” can be hard to hear as a white Australians, however Gregg is about joy and happiness and he shares stories to bring awareness and to ensure we look after each other and the world, so the world can look after us.
Gregg spoke to us of the power of tradition especially with art and storytelling and how we can change perceptions and increase diversity without stereotype. Something as simple as the revised edition of Jessica’s Box by Peter Carnavas. The text hasn’t changed but in the illustrations Jessica is now in a wheelchair. It can be as simple as blending skin tones in illustrations so that children could be of any ethnicity that connects with the reader. That is what diversity is about, books that connect with every child because they are about people like them.
Gregg agreed that changes like the above are simple to do but as a non-indigenous person if you wanted to write a story about an indigenous group it was important to connect with that group for their guidance and approval.
In the true spirit of inclusion, I asked other members of the Write Links group to share their reflections, resources and their favourite inclusive books and picture books for this blog:
Write Links attendees were fortunate to hear Gregg Dreise talk about his heritage, his stories and how we can all include greater diversity in our work. I was extremely grateful for this opportunity as I have always wanted to be more inclusive in my work, however I have been concerned about the possibility of inadvertently causing offence through potential cultural insensitivity or lack of knowledge. Gregg clearly and concisely explained the way forward. It would be wonderful if all authors could hear Gregg speak. Thank you so much Gregg, you are a brilliant ambassador. – Emma Middleton https://emmamiddleton.com/
I think it's really that Gregg is encouraging respect. It is more than inclusive literature it is raising up diverse voices, through mentoring to also tell their own stories. So, it is everyone reading beyond their own immediate experiences who may be used to always being mainstream.
It is also about deconstructing stereotypes of others and keeping them out of our writing
So, for the inclusive list you wrote, it is also about adding authors of experiences often offered as well, not just as friends, but as a new world for some readers, but a well-researched one.
Dr Who on Rosa Parks was great episode, for instance. Also thinking of Indigenous and Migrant authors just telling stories they want that are great books for all.
Dr June Perkins https://magicfishdreaming.com/
Here are some links to check out for more information:
And here are some books suggested by our members
Karen Tyrrell, a Write Links member has written …. Ready, Set, Discover Logan
Cecilia Adams 'The Day War Came' - Author, Nicola Davis. Illustrator, Rebecca Cobb. www.walker.co.uk - Amnesty International UK endorses this book because it shines a light on children's rights to be safe and have an education. Walker Books donating one pound to Help Refugees for every copy sold. My very best purchase from London trip this year!
Justine Lawson "My Two Blankets" Irena Kobald, Illustrator, Freya Blackwood
Hayley Jackson Gus the asparagus! and Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern
This one is a beautifully illustrated, rhythmic exploration of difference in an Indigenous/non-Indigenous context https://www.goodreads.com/.../17236136-same-but-little...
For your advanced Yr 6 readers, Inheritance by Carole Wilkinson is thought-provoking. A time-slip looking at the massacre of original occupants of a pastoral lot, but really sensitively done, with a gripping mystery at the heart.https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40660553-inheritance...
I love this as a non-patronising look at a non-Anglo family & the different ways families express love. Unique & powerful use of language too.https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2962372-so-much...
Lucy McGinley – My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins
Gregg Dreise is the author and illustrator of Silly Birds, Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie. These stories are about teaching morals. Silly Birds is based on the saying, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys”. Kookoo Kookaburra is based on the saying, “Kindness is like a boomerang - if you throw it often, it comes back often. If you never take the chance to throw it, it never comes back”. Mad Magpie is based on the words of wisdom, “Stay calm like the surface of the water, yet strong like its current. And know that there is a song out there for you.”
A descendant of the Kamilaroi tribe, from south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales. He was born and raised in St George, Queensland and moved to Noosa during high school. He is the youngest of eight in a family that loved sport, music and poetry (one of those families where everyone sings, and passes guitars around at get-togethers). Gregg’s mother (Lyla Dreise-Knox) has always inspired him to write. Her poetry has entertained the family (as well as the odd magazine and newspaper readers) for many decades.
Gregg is currently a teacher in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. He has completed writing four more picture books waiting their turn for publishing; and is also working on a chapter book for upper primary. For Gregg, the most exciting part of writing, is going to schools and libraries with his didgeridoo and guitar, with the aim to educate an audience filled with smiles. He was very excited to take his books to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy this year. His book Silly Birds was on the 2015 Premier’s Reading Challenge year 1 to 3 booklist and was shortlisted and then won the 2015 Speech Pathology Australia - Book of the Year award.
Gregg has been an artist most of his life, following in the footsteps of many family members. His paintings have been sold all over the world. His recent international art award was for the last painting in the book Silly Birds.
Lucy lives in a house where dinosaurs roam the bathroom, chess pieces invade the dinner table and drawings of the weird and the wonderful carpet the floor. Words wrap around her like possums clinging to telecom lines, plop onto pages steadily like koala droppings and dart into the grass like blue tongue lizards! She spends her days captivating kindergarten children and her afternoons marvelling over birds feathers, seedpods and occasionally snake skins, with her son.
French artist Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) famously said ‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see’.
This was truly my experience when I joined June Perkins’s tour of Words & Pictures. June's interactive journey through the Australian Collection features poetry and micro stories inspired by 12 different artworks. Her responses are written for visitors of all ages, with particular appeal to children and families; a delightful glimpse of art through the eyes of a poet and children’s author.
Words & Pictures is part of an ongoing project to increase engagement with artworks in QAG. Local artists and writers are invited to respond to artworks in the Australia Collection. June was thrilled to be commissioned to do this work. ‘This was one of the best emails in relation to my work I’ve ever received,’ she said.
June had complete freedom over her choice of artworks. Each response was limited to a maximum of 80 words and everything had to be completed in three weeks with a couple more weeks for editing! She spent a lot of time in the gallery, finding works that appealed to her, thinking of a child’s perspective (choosing works above and below their eye level and in a variety of media) and developing a concept for her poetic responses. The result is engaging, inspiring and easily accessible to children and adults.
June’s poetry appears in a display adjacent to author information beside each artwork. Each poem carries a delicate feather motif. This is a reference to an imaginary character that June created - Perceval’s Angel, inspired by John Perceval’s Herald Angel, a richly glazed sculpture.
Herald Angel, John Perceval, Queensland Art Gallery
June imagined the tour like a giant picture book with Perceval’s Angel guiding viewers through the pages. June was delighted to tell John Perceval’s grandson, a friends from her university days, that she was using the angel in her creative pieces for the gallery. Some of her poetry pieces begin with a quote from Perceval’s Angel who speaks directly to the viewers, guiding them to the next artwork or helping them interact with it.
‘Hop on board’ the angel invites viewers of Yvonne Koolmatrie’s Hot Air Balloon, and June adds:
‘Take yourself to the balloon’s edge,
Feel the breezes, through the sedge’
in an enticing invitation to adventure and travel, lets the imagination ride free in this sedge grass, coil woven work suspended in space.
Hot Air balloon, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Queensland Art Gallery
On a time travel wall displaying different artists’ ’ approaches to the Australian landscape, the angel says:
‘Listen to the music of landscapes
through the portal of Australia’s artists’
One of June’s choices on this wall is Rosie Gascoigne’s Lamp Lit, a large work made up of letters and shapes from cut up road signs. June’s response draws on the personal experience of destruction and loss wrought by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 when a road sign ended up in her front yard; or as angel says: ‘But the real question is what will you design in response to loss?’
Lamp Lit, Rosie Gascoigne, Queensland Art Gallery
And so, the adventure in art continues, stopping by at Ian Fairweather’s Epiphany, Sydney Long’s romantic and ethereally beautiful Sprit of the Plains, Sonya Carmichael’s colourful Baskets of Culture, Fred William’s vivid Echuca Landscape, Irene Chou’s suggestive Universe within Our Hearts, William Delafield Cook’s amazingly detailed and skilfully toned A haystack, and Ray Crooke’s Woman with blossoms, reminiscent of Gauguin. June said she saw her identity in this particular work.
Woman with blossoms, Ray Crooke, Queensland Art Gallery
Our tour ended as it had begun with an invitation to travel on in the imagination, this time on a representation of Ian Fairweather’s ramshackle craft; the one he used at the age of 60 to make a potentially suicidal 16 day crossing of the Timor Sea from Darwin to a remote coral island west of Timor in 1952.
The gift (from 'Argonauts of the Timor Sea'), Michael Stevenson, Queensland Art Gallery
June’s verse reads:
You can do anything, be anything
The child in her poem makes the sacrifice necessary to travel to Kudusur – a reference to the dramatic mural visible through the hole in the craft’s sail. Painted by Torres Strait islander Alick Tipoti, it references paddling a canoe, seasons, ocean currents, journeying between islands and spiritual ancestors – the universal journey through life.
Kudusur, Alick Tipolti, Queensland Art Gallery
Don’t miss this Words and Pictures journey. Grab a child or find your inner child; help yourself to the drawing board, paper and pencils, and create your own responses. You can take yourself on a tour anytime between 10 am to 5 pm, until the end of November.
June's final in person tour will be on November 17th 2 pm (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information). You won't regret it. All those attending on 17th Nov are invited to sponsor Magic Fish Dreaming books to go to PNG.
Poems are available as pdfs until the end of November https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/australian-collection/quiet
Renee Hills 2018-11-06
Dr June Perkins is a Brisbane-based poet, blogger and children’s author, of Indigenous Papua New Guinean and Australian background, raised in Tasmania by Baha’i parents. She utilizes multiarts and multicultural stories to inspire an enriched sense of belonging and compassion in those who encounter her work. She was recently invited to share Magic Fish Dreaming at the Asia Pacific Triennial Pacific, Summer Program 2019 and became a member of Mana Pasifika research Institute. She maintains an interest and dedication to promoting diversity in the Australian literary landscape. Her first children’s book was the award-winning poetry collection, Magic Fish Dreaming (2016) illustrated by Helene Magisson.
Renee Hills has always loved words and writing. A founding member of Write Links, she writes picture books (Turtle Love was published in 2017); flash fiction (Proof was published in Short and Twisted, Celapene Press 2017); and a short fantasy is to be included in the Rainforest Writing Retreat Anthology 2018.
Lucy McGinley blog editor and coordinator