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.

PICTURE BOOK WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING TIPS FROM ALISON AND HEATH

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

http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/

June 12 Chris Bell

http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

June 13 Angela Sunde

http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

June 14 Boomerang Books Blog

http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

June 17 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 18 Dee White

https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

June 19 Kids Book Review

http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil.

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

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

www.fivemilepress.com.au

WIN PRIZES ON THIS BLOG TOUR

THE PRIZES

  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.

MONSTER COMPETITION

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.

WIN A CHANCE TO BEAT THE SLUSH PILE!

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:)

Dee

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59 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!

    Peter

    NF

  2. I read it again 😉 I absolutely love these posts Dee… i havent yet set my office up, but it inspired me to set up the lappy and tablet on the kitchen table! Hey, i have 6 hours to clean it up b4 hubby gets home 😉
    (CB)

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Alison, what I love most about your blog is how much you give to other writers like myself. It shows a generous spirit and a camaraderie amongst fellow writers that I rarely see in other professions. It makes me proud to be a writer. Congratulations on the release of this fabulous book- I wish you all the best.
    Caylie Jeffery
    Unpublished and aspiring author

  6. Thank you, Dee and Alison and Heath. Great post, lots of laughs and terrific tips. I especially loved Alison’s “If the sight of your manuscript makes you feel sick, then you’re on the right track”. And Heath’s “Don’t try and draw the perfect drawing right away”. To this non-illustrator, who’d love to play, that advice opened a freedom I’d not considered. Maybe I could start by “roughing” out some illustrations and see what happens! 🙂
    I love this book from cover to cover and how it has reminded me so much of my own childhood imagination, that freedom, and the places it took me. I wish the same for all children. The Littlest Bushranger is a great starting point for parents to encourage that creative imagination.
    Chris

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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 🙂

    CB

  9. 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.

  10. Hi Caylie,

    Thanks for dropping in.

    I hope your writing is going well:)

    Do you have a non-fiction or children’s book manuscript ready to show an editor?

    If you do, feel free to enter the competition. You just need to comment and put NF (for non-fiction) and CB for children’s book after your comment.

    Dee

  11. Hi Dee, yes I have three children’s books I would love to see in print one day! Am waiting very impatiently for the CYA conference short list to see if anything made the cut! The longest day ever, besides the days I gave birth!!
    Thanks for yr encouragement!
    Caylie
    CB

  12. 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

  13. Congratulations to Alison and Heath. Dee, what a thrill to be able to review a book that you have seen come to life. The Littlest Bushranger looks beautiful and very Australian. The last children’s bush ranger I remember was Midnite – A Wild Colonial Boy. My Year 5 teacher read us a chapter a day before we packed up to go home. This was over 30 years ago; probably about the same time I last had an Eno.

    Thank you for the tips and reminding me that the real writing comes from the cutting, drafting and redrafting. When I can’t remember enough of my own childhood, I eavesdropping on my children and raid their conversations and imaginations. They provide me with material without even trying. I hope, when they are adults that my stories will remind them of the good times they had together.
    Melanie Hill
    CB

  14. 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:)

    Dee

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

  16. 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

  17. 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)

    Susan

  18. Hi Dee! Thank you for your generous tips/advice for illustrators & writers. I hope and pray that one day my own story will get published.CB ~Charisse ‘Dadis’ Melliza

  19. 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.

    CB

  20. 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. 😉

    CB

  21. Hi Peter,
    So nice to see you here. I’m hoping the book sells heaps too!
    Great that this post has given you the encouragement to get sketching.
    I’m green that you can illustrate and paint! Good luck with the competitions.
    Alison

  22. Aww Caylie. Such a lovely thing to say.
    I’m lucky enough to have Dee White on my side. She has seen Bushranger trot along from when it was just a vague idea of a boy with a metal bucket on his head.
    There is a real camaraderie among writers. I feel so fortunate to have such wonderful talented writers and artists host us on the tour.
    Alison

  23. Cherri,
    It is hard to give yourself permission to make mistakes, isn’t it. Seems so contrary to what many of us had drummed into us at school. Hope the tour inspires you to make many mistakes and see something wonderful happen.
    Alison

  24. Neridah, I’ve become a lot more aware of pillaging my own childhood. I think it gives my writing more authenticity, writing for children as an adult.
    Hope you enjoy sketching faster! So many people, including you and the the talented Dee, seem to be able to illustrate and write. Feeling a tad green!
    Alison

  25. Sue-Ellen, I know well that feeling of working so hard on your ms that you lose all sense of its worth. As you say, move away and let it simmer for a while. Works for me.
    Alison

  26. Hi Melanie,
    I did remember the poem, The Highwayman when I wrote this story. How lovely that your children will be able to remember the fun times you all had in your stories.
    Alison

  27. Kat, I really do feel as if Dee was The Littlest Bushranger’s auntie.
    She may have been one of those aunties who scrub your face, quite hard, sometimes very hard, with the corner of a tea-towel,
    but it was all for the good of the book.
    I’m very lucky!
    Alison

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