Slice of Life Story Challenge March 11 - A LOOK BEHIND THE BOOK

It was extremely hot in my world again today. This exceptional run of autumn weather persists. Breaking records, baking the earth around us and turning us towards the beach. Today we endure our eighth autumn day above 32 degrees (90 degree Fahrenheit) = a record!

It was also a public holiday across Australia today. We had an action plan for the day. Get out early before it got too hot and take our grandchildren to the Mornington Regional Gallery to view a wonderful collection of works by Australian authors and illustrators for children books. It is currently on loan form the State Library of Victoria until April.

We were looking for the story behind all those iconic books and the details of the illustrating techniques employed to create that special magic that is the picture story book. The children took their own sketch books just in case they saw something they might want to capture or imitate. For Vicki and I, it was a chance to more deeply connect with the work of authors and illustrators we have known throughout our professional lives. This was a special and affirming experience. I think the children picked up on our keen anticipation.

We were privileged to see the craft tools Ron Brooks used when creating the amazing illustrations for ‘Fox’ when collaborating with Margaret Wild. This iconic Australian book is a favourite of Ralph Fletcher. We also viewed Margaret Wild’s original text.

We viewed the initial storyboard for the illustrations for the book, ‘Lucy Goosey’ by Ann James. Along side we saw the final illustrations in all their glorious colour. We saw Jane Tanner’s beautifully realistic illustrative work in all its intricate detail. Magical artwork employing coloured pencil , chalk, water colour and ink.

Terry Denton’s, concertina miniature mock up books with their illustrative edits were there for us to feast our eyes upon. -Fine, water colour sketches which he initially shares with the author, before proceeding to the next phase of the process. This incredible collection represents the backstage secrets of these creative people. We saw Bob Graham’s sketch book with its fascinating early draft illustrations for ‘Greetings From Sandy Beach.’

We marvel at the fact that Academy Award winning author and illustrator, Shaun Tan took five years to create thousands of illustrations of which he finally used 128 in his book, ‘The Arrival.’ –Such commitment.

We got to see up close the David Miller’s sculptures. Sculptures made by cutting, folding, colouring and pasting paper. It takes this meticulous and gifted man, about eight months to create enough sculptures for a whole book. He photographs them to create his final pages.  These people have what my old high school Principal called –stickability!

Our time at the gallery was illuminating and informative. We all left on a high. We felt that we had been allowed special access.

Upon returning home, the children immediately returned to their sketchbooks. Time well spent for viewers of all ages.  After this impressive cultural immersion, we  shared lunch before retiring to the beach to see out the heat of the day.

Ron Brooks used these special tools to craft the illustrations for Margaret Wild's 'Fox.'

Bob Graham's sketchbook. Great for kids to see.

Terry Denton's mini mock up books






  1. Seeing original art from picture books is a treat for the eyes and mind. Thank you for sharing this wonderful exhibit. I was able to see original art from some Caldecott winners at the Chicago Art Institute many years ago. There is awe in the books, but awesome in the original art.


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