Featured Articles

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Raising Literacy Australia’s publishing imprint, Little Book Press, is pleased to announce that two of its picture books have been shortlisted for the highly regarded Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2017.

What it Means to be an Illustrator

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Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living I’ll say, “I’m an illustrator.” There’s inevitably a pause and a quizzical look and so I’ll go on to elaborate further. This usually clarifies things, but not always. Illustrating is one of those professions that often slips under the radar. And although everyone has read a children’s book, we don’t often consider by whom or how they are created.

To Need or Not to Need an Editor

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Whenever I meet someone for the first time, invariably the question gets asked, ‘What do you do?’ When I tell them that I’m an editor, the first response is usually, ‘Oh, I’m going to write a book one day.’ Following on the heels of this is, ‘You must be really good at spelling.’ Some people will even go so far as to act surprised this job even exists anymore, considering the advent of spellcheck software. My reply is that editors are more than human spellcheckers. Editing can be broken down into four levels, with each level building upon the other — like a house of cards. The strength of the card house relies on the sturdiness of each level, beginning from the first level up. When a manuscript is sent to an editor, the following steps will usually be taken:

Life as an Illustrator

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As an illustrator, I occasionally get to draw pictures. Like many jobs, much of my time is spent answering or ignoring emails, making cups of tea, washing up the tea cups, then coming back to those emails I initially ignored. When I do sit down at my desk with a pencil in my hand, I feel like I’m home. It’s like I’m ten years old again, doodling and scribbling to see what happens. I begin most books by sketching character ideas. After spending most of my life using dark, slightly blunt pencils, I now prefer to use very light 2H pencils. This allows me to slowly build up a drawing, using lots of feathery, scribbled lines until a face starts to take shape. I draw all of my roughs like this, until they are ready to trace, ink and paint into the final illustrations.

To be a Children's Writer

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Some children know they want to be writers when they grow up. Others are ‘accidental authors’. I’m that sort. For many years I was a teacher and only wrote a few poems for my young daughters. I once tentatively attended a weekend writing course and that’s when I made a discovery. I knew nothing about writing. But I began writing a little more. And borrowing ‘How to write’ books from the library. Was I hooked? If I’m interested in something, I tend to pursue it to see if the initial appeal is sustainable. But I was interested. And I did love words – and language – and reading.

Reflections On Being a Writer of Children's Books

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I wanted to be a writer in my late teens but wanting to be a writer was the easy bit. Life became busy and a lot of things delayed me doing anything about it for another twenty years! Studying, playing sport, teaching, travelling – there was never any time for writing. And that was before my wife and I started a family, after which there was hardly time to breathe! I eventually found some time when the children were teenagers and didn’t need (or want) me around all the time. I remember thinking I was at a stage in life when I needed to have a real go at writing or forget about it altogether. Time for writing was still intermittent, between family life, teaching and playing some sport, so I gave myself about five years to get a manuscript accepted, after which I thought I’d give it away and focus on other things.
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