Tuesday Tips – Picture Book Writing and Illustrating with Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie

This week at my blog I’m celebrating the release of my crit buddy Alison Reynolds’, and talented illustrator Heath McKenzies’ beautiful new picture book, The Littlest Bushranger.

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERI was so excited to hold The Littlest Bushranger in my hand. I have seen this book through its various stages of development. I’ve seen it grow from Alison’s seed of an idea to a complete, full colour work of art and literature.

Bushranger page 2So I can’t promise my review of this book will be completely objective, but anyone who reads The Littlest Bushranger will love the playfulness and the wild imagination of this story, enhanced by Heath’s amazing pictures.

When Jack’s sister Lil goes off to school, Jack is left alone with his dog Hector and his imagination. Lil has assigned Jack the task of looking after her favourite toy while she’s away, but when an outlaw comes to steal it, Jack must call on his bushranger skills to save the day.

What I love about this book is that it explores the world inside a child’s pure imagination – and shows us that in the universe inside our mind anything is possible.

Jack is a very likeable character  who shows resilience and resourcefulness in dealing with his sister’s absence. He transforms his backyard into a magical world of adventure where he battles the fiendish villain with fearless resolve.

Bushranger - other picThis book is a true collaboration between author and illustrator where the author has given the illustrator plenty of space to bring his own interpretation to the story. Heath’s illustrations are full of life and movement and carry the reader along in the urgency and adventure of this story.

The Littlest Bushranger can be read and discussed on so many levels from the entertaining story to looking at issues of the younger sibling left at home, and finding the resilience within ourselves.

The Littlest Bushranger has a uniquely Australian flavour.


Alison and Heath, the creators of this beautiful book have generously agreed to share some of their writing and illustrating tips.

Alison and Heath book signing at Collins Northland

Alison and Heath book signing at Collins Northland

Alison’s Writing Tips

  1. Pillage your childhood!
  2. Get writing. You can’t fix up a blank page.
  3. Cut, cut, cut.
  4. Do as many drafts as it needs. If the sight of your manuscript makes you feel sick, then you’re on the right track. Swig an eno and do another draft.
  5. Leave room for the illustrator to interpret the story too. You don’t need to say everything when you can show it in an illustration.

Heath’s Illustrating Tips

1. The more you draw, the better you’ll get – mistakes are one of the best things you can do!

2. Don’t try and draw a perfect drawing straight away – rough things in, make a little mess and refine that.

3. Imagining what you’re trying to draw as a group of basic shapes is a good way to start.

4. Draw what you love (BUT try something different now and then, it’ll do you wonders!)

5. Experiment! Both with styles of drawing and what you draw with!

Saddle up for The Littlest Bushranger blog tour.

Follow the stops on tour and you could win some fabulous prizes. The best thing about a blog tour is that you don’t have to visit on the stated day, you can drop in the next day or the next and still enjoy being part of the tour – and win the prizes.

June 11 Kat Apel


June 12 Chris Bell


June 13 Angela Sunde


June 14 Boomerang Books Blog


June 17 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont


June 18 Dee White


June 19 Kids Book Review


June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil.


June 21 Heath McKenzie and Alison Reynolds interviewed by Juliet Chan, Marketing & Publicity Executive.




  1. A piece of Heath McKenzie’s artwork from The Littlest Bushranger
  2. A picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds
  3. 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile)
  4. Copies of The Littlest Bushranger.


Little Bushranger_Internals_LORES - page 8 There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope.

What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your own best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to alrey@msn.com.au and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

Follow the blog tour to find out details of the competitions and how you can win these great prizes.


Have your manuscript on a Non Fiction Editor or Children’s Book Editor’s desk.

All you have to do is comment on any of the posts and leave NF (if you have a non-fiction manuscript) or CB if you have a children’s book manuscript. Leave NF and CB if you have both.

Good luck:)

I hope you’re enjoying our picture book blog post series.

Happy writing and illustrating:)


33 thoughts on “Tuesday Tips – Picture Book Writing and Illustrating with Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie

  1. Many thanks, Dee, and for your tips, Alison and Heath. You’re right, Heath, I definitely need to sketch more to get better and less fearful of ‘failure’ for the finished product to not look as I’d like it to look (particularly drawings of children). There will be another evening of free time now ‘The Voice’ has finished on TV. I hope the book sells heaps!



  2. Thanks for the tips on Picture book writing and illustrating. It is great to be reminded to just get on with it and that mistakes are a great way to move forward – right off to swig an Eno and get back to writing 🙂 CB NF

  3. I’d love someone to come and wrangle my dog, Dee. I watching her tear around outside, waiting for some attention.

    I love the images in this book, and am enjoying the blog tour. It’s very inspiring! NF

  4. Congratulations Alison & Heath – I’m looking forward to seeing your new book ‘The Littlest Bushranger’. Pillage your childhood is sound advice and I often forget to tap into this. I also liked Heath’s advice about drawing rough. Sadly, I’m a bit neat. It’s not good, I need to loosen it up a bit so that’s my goal in the next month – sketch fast! 🙂

  5. Congratulations – the book looks fantastic. Love the part about the drafts – and then I start to wonder if I’m actually reading it at all anymore or just seeing what I think is there and have to step back for a bit 🙂


  6. Great advice, Alison and Heath! I really love this book – good fun and an excellent one to develop little imaginations (and big ones too!) Thanks, Dee too.

  7. This book sounds absolutely delightful. It reminded me of a another small girl and boy many years ago who had wonderful adventures travelling to exotic places without leaving their suburban back garden. The tips for authors and illustrators are spot on. CB & NF

  8. It was fun to see the progress of The Littlest Bushranger and very exciting to read the finished product.

    Children are such an inspiration for writers aren’t they?

    I’m sure your stories will mean a lot to your children.

    Happy writing:)


  9. I always pillage my childhood for ideas. All you have to do is polish the ideas a bit to make them current :0) CB

  10. Hi Dee, Alison and Heath, This has to be the best fun blog tour I’ve followed. I’m learning new things at every stop and these tips will be invaluable. Thank you. CB

  11. I’m having fun following Alison and Heath around this week and reading about the creation of The Littlest Bushranger. It’s always so much more exciting to read a book when you have a sense of the inspiration for the story and the ideas that were part of its creation.

    Thanks so much for sharing. (NF)


  12. How many times have we been told practise makes perfect? The author and illustrator’s advice goes to the heart of this. I am finding this is not just advice on writing and illustrating but life in general. Edit the parts you do like, insert the ones you do, write, edit, cut, paste till you have a master piece. Brilliant! For me it is a call to saddle up and seize the day! Thank you again to you all. nmn.


  13. Hahaha. I had to laugh at Alison’s comment, ‘If the sight of your manuscript makes you feel sick, then you’re on the right track.’ – Err… been there done that a few times, though writing in rhyme it often gets to the point where the brain is tied in knots! I love that feeling when they finally unravel and you know the story is right.

    Thanks for sharing your tips, Alison & Heath – and your delight/pride, Dee. 😉


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