DAVIDE CALI – And More About Picture Book Writing

Following on from last week’s post about picture books, we are pleased to welcome international author Davide Cali today. We’re going to talk about his picture books and revisit some of Tania McCartney’s tips from last week about what makes a picture book great.

Born in Switzerland, Davide has created more than 40 illustrated books, which have been translated into 25 countries.

Australian children’s publisher Wilkins Farago is proud to have published eight for the English Language market to excellent reviews.

Davide’s nine most recent titles include, The Enemy (included in the USBBY’s 2010 list of Outstanding International Books), The Bear with a Sword (selected for the International Youth Library’s White Ravens Catalogue) and What is this thing called love? 

His new hilarious comic book/graphic novel10 Little Insects (released this May) was selected as one of the best graphic novels of the year at the prestigious Angoulême International Comics Festival in France.

The Enemy 

The Enemy is an extraordinary picture book told with simple text and striking illustrations.

It looks at the personal side of war – the fact that soldiers can be enticed into battle with false propaganda about the enemy.

Soldiers are not encouraged to think about who the enemy really is on a personal level – who they are killing.

In this powerful book, Davide shows us that we are all part of the human race and have much in common with the enemy – that the enemy is not a monster, but a person with feelings and family just like us.

Clearly this book is for older readers – and even adults. It’s the kind of book that will provoke discussion in the classroom and have the reader thinking not just about the writing and illustrations in this book but the themes and issues raised in it.

And there’s a very clever twist at the end.

What is this thing called Love? 

This is another sensitive and intelligent picture book by Davide Cali.

It’s about love – a concept that is hard to define and isn’t something solid you can pick up or touch.

So like many children, Emma wonders just, What is this thing called Love? 

Mum, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa in their funny, individual ways help Emma discover the meaning of love.

With just a few words, Davide manages to create strong characters and emotions. Anna Laura Cantone’s original illustrations are funny and very moving.

Here’s another example of where pictures and text work in perfect harmony despite the fact that they have different creators.

Davide’s books are definitely worth reading.  They’re great examples of beautifully written illustrated books whose power is in their simplicity and meaning.

They are not afraid to tackle the hard issues, but they do so in a way that clearly communicates to the reader in a powerful, thought provoking way.


Davide is touring Australia from 16th May and will presenting at the CBCA conference in Adelaide. If you’d like to catch him on tour, check out the Wilkins Farago website

You can also catch him in conversation with Andrew Wilkins  at Readings Carlton on Tuesday 22nd, 6.30pm. Here’s where you can find out more:


Davide is visiting lots of great blogs in a virtual tour prior to his arrival in Australia. A blog schedule is available here.


Last week, Tania McCartney gave us some great tips on writing picture books. Here are just some of the ways that Davide’s books meet her criteria.

  1. Write about something you are inspired by, but don’t be afraid to do something really ‘different’.
  2. Think about the age group your book is aimed at then use an open and honest voice
  3. Create an ending.
  4. Don’t use too many words.
  5. Think about imagery as you write
  6. Don’t be afraid to use unusual language or sentence structure.

I highly recommend Davide Cali’s books as great examples of original, thought provoking, moving, simple picture books with a complete story arc and strong endings. 


Tania is running a picture book writing competition at Kids’ Book Review. It’s a picture book award for an unpublished manuscript and it closes on 16th July 2012.


One overall winner will score $300, a manuscript appraisal and the winning manuscript will be viewed by Sue Whiting, Publishing Manager at Walker Books!

There is no guarantee of publication, and normal Walker Books manuscript submission rules and timings apply. Copyright for the work is retained by the author.

Two runners-up will also be announced. They will win $100 each, and a short manuscript appraisal.

Winners will be announced on Monday 30 July 2012. Winners will be emailed shortly before the announcement on KBR.

The competition is open to Australian entrants only, over the age of 18.

Please refer to the KBR website for full details on how to submit – www.kids-bookreview.com.

Don’t forget Friday Feedback here at this blog. Your chance to have your work critiqued and provide feedback to others.

Happy writing:)



3 thoughts on “DAVIDE CALI – And More About Picture Book Writing

  1. Pingback: Reading for peace and the storyteller’s craft: blog tour day 8 | Wilkins Farago's Blog

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