THE CROC AND THE PLATYPUS

The-Croc-and-the-Platypus-COV-webToday The Croc and the Platypus is stopping at DeeScribe Writing on its tour through cyberspace.  The Croc and the Platypus is a gorgeous new picture book written by rhyming poetry queen, Jackie Hosking and illustrated by the very talented Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.

They’re going to share some fabulous tips on how they created The Croc and the Platypus.

JACKIE’S INSPIRATION

The seed was planted a long time ago. Not to necessarily write this book but to write a book for Walker. I like to tell the story of being in a small book shop and picking up The Dot by Peter H Reynolds. Much to my embarrassment, as I read the book my eyes began to fill with tears. It really is the most beautiful book. I turned it over to see who had published it and saw the bear carrying the candlestick. Candlewick Press is the American arm of Walker Books and so my journey began. That was over ten years ago.

Then, when a friend of mine, author Claire Saxby had her rewriting of There was an Old Lady who swallowed a Fly, (There was an Old Sailor) published by Walker, I thought AH HA! I’ll rewrite a rhyming classic too. I chose The Owl and the Pussycat because my grandmother used to sing it to me when I was small so it has always been a favourite.

Jackie head shotJACKIE’S WRITING TIPS

1.  Once I’d decided that I wanted to do an Aussie reimagining of the The Owl and the Pussycat, the first thing I did was find the words to the original poem by Edward Lear.

2.  Then I read it over and over so as to better absorb the rhythm. So the first line, if you recall goes like this…

The OWL and the PUssycat WENT to SEA in a BEAUtiful PEA-green BOAT

The capitals denote the stressed syllables, the drum beat of the line. I needed to copy this beat exactly and so…

The CROC and the PLAtypus TRUNdled OFF in a RUSty old HOLden UTE

3.  This process was then applied to the whole poem.

4. There’s another line that I borrowed, though I’d not realised it at the time, from a song called Gypsy Rover. The line in song goes like this…

He whistled and he sang ’til the greenwoods rang,

My line goes like this…

Platypus sang till the hubcaps rang.

This was not intentional. I used to sing this song at school and it showed up again just at the right time.

5.  After I finished the text I was awarded a Maurice Saxby mentorship. One of my mentors was author Elizabeth Honey. She was instrumental in helping me improve what I thought was a pretty polished story. Writing buddies, critics and mentors are gold and I would recommend everyone to give their work to someone else to read before they submit to publishers. It’s just a sensible thing to do.

The-Croc-and-the-Platypus-Web-22-23Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.03.43 amMARJORIE’S INSPIRATION AND TIPS FOR THE ILLUSTRATIONS

Inspiration for the illustrations can come from many places including an initial emotional response or even from unexpected sources. When I read the text for The Croc and the Platypus my first impressions was that it was ‘bouncy’ and ‘joyful’ so I wanted to reflect those emotions in the illustrations. This can be quite literal, like the Ute bouncing along a dirt track and the curved and bouncing type treatment—or it can be more understated, like the joyful dancing under the stars and the fluid curves of the landscape.

It is surprising the different paths you might wander down when you meet some unexpected inspiration. For example, the ‘rusty old Holden Ute’ features prominently in the text so it was important to get that image right. Unfortunately, I’m not really fond of cars, so I was not looking forward to drawing the Ute. However, once I started to delve into the research I fell in love with the 1950s Holden Ute. The Ute became another character and began to spark a number of other ideas for the book—I suddenly wanted to give a nod to the 1950s road trip. This became the jumping off point for several more elements including the fonts and even the colour palette.

Ute-webFive Illustration Tips Relating to The Croc and the Platypus:

  1. Read lots of Picture Books, they can be inspirational in unexpected ways.
  2. Study the painting process of other artists. I decided to use under paintings and drawings after researching Renaissance painting. It’s amazing what you can adapt to your own style!
  3. If you want to use pencil on top of the acrylics, you can try using gesso instead of white paint—it helps to create a ground for the pencil.
  4. If you use a heavy watercolour paper you don’t need to stretch the paper.
  5. You can use your final roughs as a value study.

DEE’S REVIEW

The Croc and the Platypus is an Australian version of The Owl and the Pussycat, and I couldn’t decide what appealed to me most about this rollicking Australian picture book. There were so many things to like about it.

There’s a lilting quality to the rhyme that I just love, and who wouldn’t enjoy wrapping their tongue around words like hullabaloo?

The Croc and the Platypus is one of those books where you feel like the writer is sitting next to you telling her story, the author’s voice comes through strongly in a unique and engaging way.

But the text is only part of this entertaining story.

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall’s illustrations perfectly compliment the words. They take the humour to a whole new level, and the ochre’s, tans and greens of the truly Australian setting are captured so authentically.

The scenery is stunning and there is so much movement and life in Marjorie’s illustrations that you can picture yourself in the setting – perhaps even coming across these colourful characters along the road.

One of the other entertaining aspects of this book is the incongruous pairing of the Croc and the platypus – and this makes the tale even funnier.

For those who might struggle with the very Australian vernacular, there’s a glossary at the end of the book that provides translations.

Aug 11 – Aussie Reviews
Aug 12 – DeeScribewriting Blog
Aug 13 – Write and Read with Dale
Aug 14 – Children’s Books Daily
Aug 15 – Stories are light
Aug 16 – Kids’ book Book Review
Aug 17 – Pass it on

Marjorie Crosby Fairall on Facebook | TheCrocAndThePlatypus.com | Jackie Hosking on Facebook

Please note that Stephen Whiteside’s profile and tips have now been rescheduled for next Tuesday 19th August.

Picture Book Writing Tips – Alison Reynolds Shares her ‘Marmalade’ Story

Today I am thrilled to welcome my very special crit buddy and great writerly friend, Alison Reynolds to DeeScribe Writing.

As well as being a fantastic crit buddy, Alison is the author of over 30 books for children and adults.

She’s here to celebrate the release of her wonderful new Picture book, A Year With Marmalade. It’s a very cute book with a compelling story and wonderful illustrations by the very talented Heath McKenzie.

I’m going to start with a review of Alison’s new book, but I have to warn you that I may be biased on several counts: I love Alison and Heath’s work and I love cats.

But I have seen A Year With Marmalade develop from a three simple elements; girl, a cat and a picture of autumn leaves, into a heartwarming story about friendship and change.

Ella’s best friend Maddy is going away for a year and she asks Ella to look after her beloved cat, Marmalade. But Ella and Marmalade don’t exactly take to each other and they both miss Maddy.

Over the course of the year their friendship blossoms like the tree in Ella’s garden. When Maddy comes back, Marmalade manages to slot perfectly into both Maddy and Ella’s lives.

In A Year With Marmalade, Ella and Marmalade’s friendship mirrors the four seasons and all the changes are beautifully depicted by illustrator, Heath McKenzie. I fell in love with the gorgeous, green-eyed Marmalade – a cat with attitude.

A Year With Marmalade is published by The Five Mile Press. It’s a great book to share with young readers and to invite discussion about friendship and change.

WIN A COPY OF A YEAR WITH MARMALADE

DeeScribe Writing is Alison’s first stop on her blog tour to celebrate the release of her new book.

During the tour, she’s running a competition so you can win a FREE copy of this special book just by sharing a picture showing the personality of a special cat in your life.

Here’s what to do:

Marmalade’s   personality really shines through in Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie’s newest picture book A Year with Marmalade.

Share your favourite picture showing your cat’s personality to win. The winner will receive a signed copy of A Year with Marmalade and a copy of the picture book Lighty Faust the Lion, a book about a much bigger cat.

Share your favourite picture of   your cat by uploading it to author Alison Reynolds’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it to Alison as a low res jpeg file at alrey@msn.com.au and she’ll upload it on her website www.alisonreynolds.com.au

Entries close on the 1st of   September.

ALISON’S PICTURE BOOK WRITING TIPS

Today, Alison is sharing some of her favourite picture book writing tips.

Five tips for picture book writers

1.  Be prepared to do lots and lots of drafts.

I often start with a vague idea and play with it and see what emerges. Often I find that I end up with a totally different story, which is always better than my first try. A Year with Marmalade started with a little girl, the seasons, jealousy, a cat and a bird. It morphed into a cat, two little girls and a story of friendship and that change isn’t always a bad thing!

Themes seem to have a habit of emerging as the book improves.

2. Learn to think in double spreads and the physicality of a picture book.

Think of each spread as a scene, and when you turn the page the curtain closes and there’s a new scene on the next page. I buy visual diaries and copy my words in them so I can check on the flow. I also always write illustration guidelines. This helps me check that there is actually something different to illustrate on each spread.

3.  Don’t have too many words!

You have pictures to help tell the story too! Make the most of it. I cut A Year with Marmalade by one third, and it improved it! I like to see how low in word count I can go.

4. Don’t submit too soon

I like to live with the picture book for a while and peck away at it, removing a word here, or changing a word there. I wrote a completely different story first, and then an entirely new one that ended up being A Year with Marmalade.

5.  Find a great crit partner.

My crit partner always improves my books. (Thanks, Dee.) I tend to complicate things. In A Year with Marmalade, I needed to make the cat climb up a stile over the fence. Why wouldn’t the cat just jump over anywhere? So I was starting to think barbed wire, booby traps etc. The brilliant Dee suggested a cat-flap. This is my favourite part of the book.

BLOG TOUR STOPS

You can follow Alison and Heath on tour as they visit these great blogs:

Blog Tour

7th  August  Dee White

https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

9th  August  Karen Tyrrell

http://www.karentyrrell.com/tag/karens-blog/

11th August  Tania McCartney

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

13th August  Pass It On

http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/school-magazine/

14th August  Kathryn Apel

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

17th August  Dale Harcombe

http://orangedale.livejournal.com/

20th August  Peter Taylor

http://writing-for-children.blogspot.com.au/

22nd August  Susan Stephenson

http://www.thebookchook.com

23rd August  Robyn Opie Parnell

http://robynopie.blogspot.com.au/

27th August  Sally Odgers

http://spinningpearls.blogspot.com.au/

29th  August  Angela Sunde

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

31st August Chris Bell

http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

TEN PICTURE BOOK WRITING TIPS + a Writing Competition

Today I’m thrilled to welcome talented and wonderful writerly friend, Tania McCartney to my blog. Tania is here to share some great tips on writing picture books.

Tania is an author of both children’s and adult’s books, and the founder of Kids Book Review. She has been writing professionally since her teens and has edited, viewed, reviewed or assessed countless children’s books and manuscripts. Four of her books were self-published (full self-creation) and she instructs both adults and children on writing, self-publishing and picture book construction.

TANIA’S TOP PICTURE BOOK WRITING TIPS

1.      Write about something you know, love and are inspired by, but don’t be afraid to do something really ‘different’. Goodness knows the world needs ‘different’.

2.      Think about the age group your book is aimed at then use an open and honest voice that appeals to that group. Use words kids can relate to but don’t be afraid to include words they don’t yet know. Never underestimate the comprehension of children.

3.      Create an ending. So many manuscripts I see have no ‘wrap up’. Writing about a little girl who goes about her day and then goes to bed at night is not a story, it’s an account. Picture books either need a surprise ending, an emotive ending, a clever ending or some kind of resolve (that’s set up earlier in the story).

4.      Forget about morals. If you must slip them in, do it imperceptibly. Yes, even the smallest children will notice.

5.      Don’t use words to describe what pictures can show, and don’t use too many words. Unless it’s a high text picture book, many are spoiled by laborious text. Cull, cut, edit.

6.      Consider shunning old-fashioned formula and be sure to think outside the square. Fairies, trucks and superheroes have been done and done – ad infinitum. If you must use them, paint them in a different light.

7.      Think about imagery as you write and remember a picture book is generally 32 pages – around 26 to 28 of which contain your book’s text. Gear your story towards that structure so you can edit the word count and create impactful moments as each ‘page’ is turned.

8.      Avoid predictable, over-used adjectives and sentence structures. Don’t be afraid to use unusual language or sentence structure.

9.       Allow you story to ‘marinate’ awhile – at least a few weeks. You’ll be astounded how much you hone and improve it after a decent hiatus.

10.     Consider using humour. It’s always a winner with both kids and adults, and indeed, many books with high crossover appeal are centered in humour.

PICTURE BOOK WRITING COMPETITION

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.

FABULOUS PRIZES

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.