I recently had the pleasure of attending the Hardie Grant Egmont roadshow for children’s books. The evening featured an exciting line-up of Australian authors and illustrators.
One of the writer/illustrator pairs was Ailsa Wild and Ben Woods. Together they have produced a dynamic new series of books for 8+ readers.
Sita ‘Squishy’ Taylor is a city kid, living with her blended family in an inner city apartment in Melbourne. Squishy loves adventure and a good mystery. Unfortunately, though, her imaginative ideas and daring plans don’t always work out they way she hopes.
Wild was keen to write a series that featured diversity in an authentic way after watching novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk ‘The Danger of a Single Story’.
Her background as a circus performer (really!) has given Squishy’s character a physicality and playfulness that leaps right off the pages.
Illustrator, Ben Woods also spent a long time working out how to make Squishy move and to “find her soul”. He wanted Squishy to be “recognisable as a silhouette” and to have a “Melbourne look”. He created a map of Squishy’s apartment and neighbourhood for his own use so that Squishy would look comfortable and move freely in her space.
I was fascinated to see all the extra “logistic” drawings that an artist uses behind the scenes to create what initially looks like 11-12 simple illustrations in a book. I wish I could show you more of them. However, Woods has his own blog (here) where he talks about his approach to drawing Squishy.
We now have three Squishy books instore for you to enjoy – Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters, Squishy Taylor and a Question of Trust and Squishy Taylor and the Vase That Wasn’t.
Squishy Taylor and the Mess Makers is due out in April.