30 October, 2010

In praise of dragons

Dragons have tended to receive bad press over the centuries.

I'd like to concentrate on their good points. Despite somewhat fiery temperaments, dragons are relatively peaceful and generally keep a low profile, going about their work guarding their treasures. Their aggression only rises when confronted with a threat.

But isn't this what you would expect from a loyal dragon doing his job?

I'm sure the working conditions are less than ideal.  And what does a dragon receive for his stoic efforts in battling his enemies and protecting his treasure, be it money or maidens?

These days, I think small dragons could make good house pets.  They would be fairly low maintenance, although toenails would need clipping regularly, could light the barbecue on command, and be a great watch dragon for the whole neighbourhood.

Artists and illustrators have always been inspired by the myths and legends surrounding dragons.

Dragon from Korea, artist unknown
Netsuke with tiger and dragon, artist unknown
St George and the Dragon, artist Paolo Uccello
Another St George and the Dragon, artist Deborah Niland
Chinese dragon, artist Libico Maraja
Dragon Boats, artist Libico Maraja

10 October, 2010

The magic of twins

I enjoyed the opportunity to portray a day in the life of twin toddlers in my book Double Trouble.

Being a twin I can well remember the sense of unity our twinship had.
Always someone there to share the good times, and always someone there to commiserate with you during difficult times. I saw it as an advantage in my life and never envied the status of the 'sole trader'.
There is a special bond between twins.

Double Trouble was published as a picture-book by Penguin Books Australia in 2008. The story and illustrations were great fun to do.

Some of these illustrations are shown below.

Who can jump higher?

United in purpose

Feeling proud and pleased with creative work

Equally matched

01 October, 2010

More about wombats including a certain Muddleheaded Wombat

A brand new edition of the adventures of The Muddleheaded Wombat will be on the shelves from today!

Wombat and his two friends, the prickly, over-sensitive cat Tabby, and the calm peace-loving Mouse have been entertaining children since they began their lives on radio in the 1950's. They first appeared in book form in the 1960's and have been in print ever since.

What makes this new edition so special is the quality production. It includes four humorous Wombat stories, notes from Ruth Park, the author, a section about the life and work of the author, and biographical notes on Noela Young, the illustrator of all the Muddleheaded Wombat books.

Noela Young is an immensely talented and versatile illustrator, who throughout her long career has produced illustrations of superb quality and apt perfection. I cannot envisage the characters of Wombat, Tabby and Mouse being created by anybody else.

This is a book to treasure.

On my shelf I have other beautiful books which feature wombats.

The gorgeous artwork of Kerry Argent is a delight to look at in her picture book, Sebastian lives in a Hat.  Written by Thelma Catterwell, the story tells of a baby wombat orphan, his rescue and care.
This book was first published in 1985 by Omnibus Books.

Illustration by Kerry Argent
I was pleased to read recently of the magnificent donation of funds to a wombat sanctuary which is devoted to the care and health of injured and orphaned wombats. This will go a long, long way to assist the sanctuary's valuable work in wombat welfare and protecting this endangered species.

The author Jackie French has had a close and personal association with wombats for many years.
One of her books is the best-selling title Diary of a Wombat.
The illustrations by Bruce Whatley perfectly capture the charm and stubborness of this marsupial doormat.

 An equally delightful follow-up book by this author and illustrator team is Baby Wombat's Week.