Monday, December 3, 2012

Books for Christmas #2 A First Book of Nature

When you first see A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies (Walker Books) you might think it is an old-fashioned nature book, and you might be right, but as you pick it up and feel its heft and note that it's no slim picture book but a large and well-made thing, then open the cover to reveal the gloriously patterned endpapers, taking a peek under the dust-jacket to see the hardcover bears a different illustration to the dust (something that always encourages me to take better care of the coverings, and the feeling that I've witnessed a secret that others might not think to find).
Within are poems, long and short and well informed by the biologist-author's thorough knowledge of the 'simple loveliness that is everywhere, if only we can look'. It is English so some creatures are found here that won't be seen in New Zealand. I do love poetry myself and find that, given the chance children will enjoy it too, and appreciate having something brief which can create big pictures in the mind and feelings to dwell on.
It was the illustrations that drew me to this book in the first place, led to artist Mark Hearld by his association with one of my favourite artists Angie Lewin and St Judes, the business she runs with her husband. I'd seen this great video about Mark and his work on their website and heard that he was illustrating a picture book. His collages are crafted from his own illustrated paintings and I never cease discovering things in the pages that I hadn't noticed before. Glorious patterns, lovely characters and creatures in all their mottled and colourful variety.
A treasure for young and old.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Books for Christmas #1 Princess Betony and the Unicorn

Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman, illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie (Walker Books)  This is a teeny book that appeals to the little girl in me who also loves dollhouses, Sylvanian Families, The Borrowers and other such things, and with delicate illustrations and all things magical it's a little treasure that I'd want to hide away in a pocket to be enjoyed in any spare moment. The chimes in the book trailer are the perfect sound effect you hear in your head when you open the pages. As soon as I read the first few pages set in a library I was hooked!
It's priced at NZ$20, which might seem a bit much for a tiny book but it's hardcovered with a dust jacket and thus destined for a long life. 6-9.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Graphic Design and all that

For the past three years I've been spending much of my time at Unitec, studying for a degree in graphic design and animation.
It's nearly coming to an end, in fact I have six days to go until my final hand in on 22 November, followed by the party night on 29 November when the grad show will show our work in all its glory.
Anyone is welcome to come and look at my work, and all the other student work on show that night, both in my department at Unitec, and the other parts of the design school - painting, interior design, architecture, photography and all that. It's quite a night and well worth getting along to. I've been to many in the ten years that Neil has worked at Unitec and it's amazing that this time my own work will be there.

If you're interested in reading about what I've been doing (and others in my class) you can go to our class blog at There are a number of aspects you can look at: On the front page you will find each class member and you can see the text and illustrations from a conference presentation we gave earlier in the year about what we have been working on and the research behind it. In more depth you will see several sections on the left hand side which groups us into the types of projects we have been involved in - I'm in Hybrid Media, which mixes up a bit of everything. Find my name there and it will take you to the main piece of writing about my research and making this year.

Still to come is a downloadable pdf of my portfolio which will be up by 29th, and also some external projects I've worked on this year that were graphic design related.

It's been an incredible three years, the most intense of which has been the last few weeks and we strive to produce the best results we can. None of it would be achieved without the fantastic tutors and technicians who help us make it all happen and I can't thank them enough for what they've helped me achieve; more than I ever imagined was possible.

Here's a glimpse of my new book:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NZ Children's Books in Print 2011-12

The new edition of New Zealand Children's Books in Print is out now. It includes books currently in print at the end of 2011, and many from 2012 too. Titles are for children from birth to secondary school and written and/or illustrated by New Zealanders, living both at home and abroad. Books are divided into categories including picture books, graphic novels, junior/intermediate/senior fiction, natural history and resources for teachers and parents. It retails in New Zealand for $20 including gst and postage. Email orders to or purchase through the website using Paypal.