Tag Archives: picture book

A Peek into the Illustration Process



Heather Potter, the talented illustrator of Nanna’s Button Tin has kindly given me A3 photocopies of around twenty pages from her sketch pads to share with students during school visits. These pages are now laminated so that children will be able to examine samples of character development as well as see some of the magic behind cover design and page design.

I love seeing illustrator’s character sketches. In the published book Nanna wears the same white shirt and pink vest that she does in the top left image, however her pants changed to a slightly different floral design in the final.

The sketches on the right give some insight into how much work goes into every page, in this case, the scene where Nanna first met Pop. I love the pigeon on Pop’s head.


Heather also created a recurring page design that links to sewing and buttons. On four pages she used a thread line to split the right hand side page into two. The above sketches show some of the ideas she was exploring – the dog licking image is almost the same as a final image in the book.

Thank you Heather. Working with illustrators, watching them bring characters and ideas to life is one of the joys of being a children’s author.




Nanna’s Button Tin – first peek

This afternoon something special arrived in the mail. After publication delays beyond my control, I’m so excited to at last hold my new picture book, Nanna’s Button Tin. Heather Potter’s illustrations are beautiful and every time I read the story I find lovely details in her artwork. The release date with Walker Books is June 1st but here is a first sneak peek…

The story was inspired by memories of playing with my mum’s and grandmothers’ button tins. I loved tipping their tins upside down, sorting shapes and colours and looking for my favourite buttons. Some buttons held special memories; a favourite party dress or a bear-shaped button from a cardigan. The book is dedicated to every Nanna with a button tin.

First Review:

I couldn’t have hoped for a better first review than the one published in the current issue of Books+Publishing by esteemed publisher, academic, author (and more) Margaret Hamilton AM. She writes: …The heart-warming story is sensitively told in simple and expressive language. The reader is invited to join this loving family to experience the special relationship between a small girl and her nanna and to relive treasured family memories, all through the special buttons in nanna’s jar…  Stories about family togetherness are very important in the life of a child. They reinforce family experiences and loving relationships, and when they are as warmly portrayed as those in this book, they become keepsakes.

Thank you Heather, Editor Mary Verney and the rest of the team at Walker Books.



Hurrah for favourite book lists and hurrah for Jacqueline Harvey

IMG_4935Children’s authors and illustrators are a collegiate bunch. They often support each other and help new creators find a step on the publishing ladder. Organisations like SCBWI also offer ongoing fellowship and guidance.

Award-winning Jacqueline Harvey  continues this generous tradition. After being invited by Dymocks to recommend her favourite books by Australian authors, she nominates nine. And I was thrilled to see that one of Jacqueline’s favourites is Granny Grommet and Me, my picture book about surfing grannies illustrated by the talented Karen Blair.

jpeg grannycover

What a great way for Dymocks to support Aussie creators!

For many authors, unless initial sales are phenomenal, it’s hard to keep a title in a bookstore. After the first giddy months of a new release, when books are sold, they may not necessarily be re-ordered. Shops need to make space for new titles. If a book makes it onto a shortlist teachers and librarians feature it for Bookweek displays or other events, but there are so many books…

display surfboard

Publishers don’t always have time or funds to actively promote a backlist, so recommendations like this are helpful and can be a wonderfully eclectic mix. Looking at Jacqueline’s list, I was chuffed that several of her picks are also favourites of mine. I’m a Leigh Hobbs fan and so was honoured to be on a list with Mr Chicken goes to Paris. I also love Gus Gordon’s Herman and Rosie. Both books are quirky and fun, characteristics readers like about Granny Grommet and Me.

AM1_At_School_300pxJacqueline’s Alice-Miranda series is also quirky and fun with a strong and positive female heroine (like those real life Granny Grommets). Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief isn’t fun but the narrator (Death) could be described as quirky. Perhaps… It’s certainly an  amazing book. Definitely one of my favourites.

During school visits, I’m often asked about my favourite books. There are so many and the answer varies depending on what I’m reading. I’ve just finished Nicholas Shakespeare’s Oddfellows but how can I compare that with LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or Stan Wakefield’s Bottersnikes and Gumbles (I loved those Gumbles as a child). Each of these titles made an impact on me.

So perhaps the best answer is to alternate replies, nominating great books which I feel haven’t had the attention they deserve. With that in mind, tonight’s favourite (Sorry Harper Lee) is Samsara Dog by Helen Manos, illustrated by Julie Vivas. If you don’t know this beautiful picture book, it’s worth finding. The multi-layered storyline about love, life and death presents Buddhist teachings on reincarnation and Nirvana in a way that’s accessible to readers of all ages. The illustrations are joyful – I particularly love Dog with the Bikers. Best of all, it’s a lovely story.

Book Cover:  Samsara Dog