Striking a Chord

April 30, 2011 at 11:11 am (Uncategorized)

Llew, Master J and I are taking a family breather. We shall shortly return to the blogosphere and business as usual at DoctorDi, but today we have a post by debut author Julia Cooke, who’s just published children’s book My Little World, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.  Julia is on tour in the blogosphere – see here for tour dates and venues. And without further ado, here’s Julia on the origin of her tale:

Julia in a wombat hole with her dad making sure she doesn't disappear completely! Photo: P. Cooke

My Little World began life as an assignment in which we had to write and illustrate a children’s picture book.  Not knowing where to start, I dutifully returned to that old adage – write about what you know – and thought back to when I was little.

Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of going bushwalking and camping with my family.  I loved walking and exploring in national parks and then pitching the tent and sitting around a fire to eat dinner.  I can remember lying on the ground watching ants dragging a grasshopper, finding case moths hanging from tree trunks, and attempting to stand very still so I didn’t scare a dragonfly that had landed near me.  But I also remember trying, and failing, to use my mother’s binoculars and, being the youngest and shortest, struggling to see things a long way away that my parents saw easily.  I remember that it wasn’t that easy for my parents to see the little plants and animals that I found because it was often at an awkward height for them. But my parents were always interested nonetheless and my mother used to say she always saw so much more when walking with my sister and me.

Checking the traps: 'What's in there, Dad? We can't see from here!' Photo: P. Cooke

So I wrote a story about seeing the world through a child’s eyes.  I wrote about what you see from a child’s perspective.  I wrote about seeing things that are closer to the ground and right in front of you, right here, not over there.  And I wrote about realising that this was something special.

Later, much later, that English assignment became a book.  I took a very early copy to a six-year-old friend of mine, Emma, and she opened My Little World and read me the first page:

Each time that we went walking,
My gran and Jack and me,
They saw many birds and animals
That I just couldn’t see.

When I had found the branch they meant,
There was no bird at all.
The wallabies, I couldn’t see –
The grass was much too tall.

Emma looked at me and said very earnestly “That always happens to me!” She didn’t praise the rhyming verse, or even Marjorie’s gorgeous illustrations (well she did, but it was the second thing she said), she just said she got it and that’s all I needed to hear.  I’d written a story that stuck a chord in her, and my heart sang.  Here’s hoping it resonates with others!

Title: My Little World
Author: Julia Cooke
Illustrator: Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
Publisher: Omnibus Books, $26.99
Publication Date: April 2011
ISBN: 9781862917903
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 4+

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4 Comments

  1. Woo said,

    Oooh, it sounds like a wonderful book, I shall have to get a copy through my local bookstore (they’re very good about ordering things in if they don’t already have them in stock).

  2. Pete said,

    Lovely post. That book sounds like great fun to read (and write). Hope you have a lovely break Di (well as lovely as it can be with 24-hour child-minding!)

  3. Julia said,

    Thanks so much Woo and Pete. I’m pretty proud of the book and I hope you like the illos Woo (not that I can take any credit for them at all, but I’m thrilled with Marjorie’s pictures), and Pete, it has been a really fun and fascinating thing to do. I had no idea how collaborative the production of a picture book is, but I think the final product is much richer because of that! Cheers, Julia.

  4. Grad said,

    Well, here I am just getting back aboard the blogosphere, as you are just getting off! Like meeting at the doors of a train. Oh dear, this is my stop! Will catch up with you later. Have a wonderful family break.

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