Anna Walker is a name synonymous with picture books in Australia. She is known for her charming, thoughtful and beautiful illustrations all of which are inspired by the tiny details in the world around her. Anna is an award winning author and illustrator and we are most delighted to have her as our guest at the April #picbookbc Twitter chat/party on Thursday 6 April to discuss illustrations in picture books!
‘Florette‘ is the latest release by Anna Walker and is a sheer delight for readers of all ages.
Thank you Anna for sharing your own picture book story with us!
The Possibilities of Picture Books
Imagine a huge room full of magnificent books. A child wanders through the aisles carefully looking for the right book, when she hears a faint sound. Past the towering shelves, through the novels full of adventure, the sound grows louder. Eventually she reaches the far corner of the room to be greeted by a wonderful chorus of chirps, growls and joyful elephant trumpets! It is the children’s book section. The sun streams in the window and as if discovering treasure, the child picks up a book.
Sitting in that sunbeam of light, lost in another world is where I belong. I have always loved books, but picture books are my true love. It has been this way ever since I can remember.
Mum tells the story of me as a baby sitting in my cot with a stack of books. Apparently I would look carefully through each book, ceremoniously tip it on to the floor and then pick up the next one. I am not sure whether my love of books was inspired by this story or whether this story came from my love of books. Either way stories give our life meaning, provide connection and identity. The stories we listen to as a child, the stories we tell as children form part of who we are.
The possibilities picture books provide are not limited to helping us understand the world around us, they are a gateway to the imagination. Words hardly do this concept justice. I wish I could illustrate this paragraph! The chance to escape on an adventure to a place you have never dreamt of, to take part in a tea party with a lion or run with a rabbit in golden shoes is pure joy.
As a child I was sometimes reluctant to voice my thoughts by speaking up. Creating images and writing though, was a way of expressing my ideas and helped me gain confidence. I am passionate about children being given the chance to not only experience diverse picture books but to explore telling stories, and express ideas in different mediums.
One of the privileges of being an illustrator is doing workshops with children – the wonderful creative beings that they are! In some classes we create bird characters. It is with delight that I see all those individual expressions of birds using only paper and a pencil, each of them with their individual character. It gives me particular pleasure to see the child who exclaims ‘I can’t draw’ proudly holding up their creation and telling the class about a world they have envisaged.
If it was up to me all children would have the chance to explore different art mediums along with reading and writing – all the way through primary school and beyond! I would love to see further exploration of creativity as part of the curriculum. Paper clay, animation, sand sculpture, split pin creatures, dioramas, cardboard cities, mono-printing, chalk drawings, shadow puppets, ink blobs, stick construction, watercolour, screen printing, fabric painting, abstract work, collage and more! This desire is not because I want all children to become artists, it is seeking the chance for them to discover new ways of seeing things. I think it is great to use different mediums for problem solving and finding interesting solutions to express an idea. And an added bonus is the child weaving their own stories around this creativity.
We are fortunate to be in an era in which there are sooooooo many wonderful picture books! To see a child connect with a story or delight in the world of imagination is a precious thing. And the possibility that a story might inspire a child to express their own unique voice is one of the many reasons I love the world of picture books!