The lure of the twist in the tale....

So, it was announced last week that The House on the Hill, written by the rather brilliant Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by some woman wearing mismatched socks has been shortlisted for the New Zealand Children's Book Awards in THREE categories - Picture Book of the Year, The Russell Clarke Award for Illustration, and the Children's Choice Awards. That's a bit good. Thanks so much to the judges and everyone involved - organising awards  requires a lot of effort and investment from a bunch of dedicated people who are mostly volunteers, and they do wonders for keeping children's books alive and kicking, and children happily reading.  To celebrate, I thought I'd make a Behind the Scenes blog post and tell you a little about how the book came together. It's long and self indulgent, so proceed at your own risk. 

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Unsung Book Heroes, episode 1 - Lakes Grammar Anglican School

An unexpected, delightful side effect of illustrating picture books is that I get to go and visit schools all around the country speaking to students about illustration and visual narratives, which involves a lot of telling bad jokes and drawing strange pictures. I'm usually invited to visit by the Teacher Librarian - a rare breed of human who dedicates lots of time and energy to fostering a real love of reading in their students. The buzz that they generate around books and learning is really something to behold, and I'm constantly amazed by the creativity with which they approach their job. So I thought it might be nice to shine the spotlight on some teacher librarians - they deserve some applause!

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Character Design Session One

I've had my eye on Schoolism courses for a while now, so when they launched a Kickstarter campaign allowing people to buy subscriptions and get access to all their courses, I jumped at the chance. But the end of last year was a bit of a mad flailing scramble (in which no dignity was preserved) so I had no chance to even look at it. BUT! It's a new year! New Year = New me, ammirite? So I've got started on Stephen Silver's fundamentals of character design.

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Painted Stories Exhibition

I've just packaged up some roughs and working drawings for The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate, and sent them off to take part in a very special exhibition. It is near and dear to my heart because I know if i could get my hands on a time machine and tell ten-year-old-me that one day I'd be part of this exhibition, my ten-year-old head would explode with excitement. Which would mean I wouldn't grow up to illustrate the book, which would mean I'd never take part in this exhibition, which would mean... uh-oh. Paradox. Quick, reverse! Let me explain this in a slightly less quantumly-entangled way. 

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Sarah Davis Comments
Handpainted Smithereens

I've decided to make more time to sketch randomly, both for Rest & Relaxation (because when you can't be on a beach on your own private island with an endless supply of Margaritas, sketching is the next best thing) and because it will, of course, help me get better at drawing. So, I came up with an entertaining way to fill one of those blank pages which didn't involve a lot of brainpower, and ended up juxtaposing some fairly strange ideas. I thought I'd share it in case anyone else wanted to try it.  I call it "Handpainted Smithereens"

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Pigging Out

This is a quick and shameless public opinion poll. Whenever I'm designing a character I usually start with fairly realistic drawings, and then try to feel my way from there. That's what's happening with this little guy - my initial sketches have quite realistic proportions, but I'm leaning towards stylising him and making him cuter and stumpier. The final book is aimed at preschoolers, so I want my pig to be as appealing as possible for small people. Which look do you think our piggy rocks best? More true-to-life, or slightly cartoonified?

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Toucan Can!

He'll dance all over you if you give him half a chance. And, what's more, he knows kung fu. Plus he's got a lot of charisma, so he's pretty hard to resist.

Toucan Can, written by Juliette MacIver and published by Gecko Press, is turning into a book even as you read this. The illustrations are all done and dusted, the amazing designer has worked her magic with the cover and text layout, and the whole shebang is being sent away to be magically printed with whatever arcane leprechaun-powered devices they use to do that sort of thing. I thought that now, in the midst all the therapeutic things I do to aid my recovery after meeting a tough deadline, in between sips of champagne, during the pauses in the interpretive dance routine devised by a troupe of intelligent Himalayan Mountain Ponies and a dozen carefully trained chickens, while the orchestra in my bathroom is pausing to tune the double bass and my personal French chef is sauté-ing more truffles for the souflee, NOW would be the perfect time to write a blog post about why Toucan nearly killed me. 

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Journey of a Book

The Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators is staging an exhibition at The Brisbane Library  "Journey of a Book: Celebrating Books from idea to publication", a series of glass cases in which authors and illustrators display paraphernalia from the process of creating one of their books - early drafts, letters to publishers, inspirational objects and images that first got their imaginations sparking

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