I adore children, and find them to be some of the most authentic, engaging and interesting humans on the planet! And I’m passionate about writing stories for them with strong positive themes and the natural inclusion of characters with disabilities – which is a reflection of my previous career in Occupational Therapy. My current works-in-progress include several picture book texts and an upper middle-grade fiction novel – all of which are at various stages of development.
“Feel-good rhyming adventures”
I’m really excited to announce that one picture book I’ve been working on for some time, with the very talented commercial illustrator Nicole Haeberle, is now finished. May I introduce ‘Daisy Dubois’ – her book of the same name is set in Paris, and celebrates what’s so very special about all of us.
Please do watch this space for news on Daisy’s journey to publication. In the meantime, here’s a little bit of background on how her story came into the world:
Q: Why did you choose your first children’s book to be a picture book?
I loved reading picture books as a child; and I equally loved reading them to my own two children. I passionately believe that picture books play a vitally important role in children’s social, emotional and intellectual development. It’s my great privilege to be the Ambassador for Ardoch Youth Foundation’s Annual School Readiness Book Drive – where each year, thousands of picture books are collected and donated to preschool children in areas of need throughout Victoria.
I’ve been writing and independently publishing illustrated storybooks with primary school children in Melbourne via classroom workshops since 2006, with fun titles like ‘Have You Ever Seen a Blue Banana?’, ‘Treasure Island’, ‘The Parrot and the Scarecrow’ and ‘Pencil Pandemonium’.
I’ve been brewing the concept for my picture book ‘Daisy Dubois’ for many years – stemming from my great affection for Paris and its people. And I finally got the time to start forming the characters, plot and themes back in 2012. It’s been a lovely project that I’ve dipped in and out of since then – culminating (after several drafts and re-drafts) with ‘Daisy Dubois’.
I felt that I had a new story to tell and an original character to share. The two most important things when it comes to taking on a new writing project, in my opinion.
Q: Why did you choose to write your picture book in rhyme?
My love of rhyme stems from the early childhood influences of my mother. She is a great story teller who also loved to recite to us the poetry of Australian bush poet, AB Banjo Patterson. So I grew up surrounded by good old-fashioned storytelling told in rhyme. I was also a child of the ‘70’s and raised on Dr Seuss and Madeline books, so it was only natural that I’d be drawn to writing a children’s book in rhyme. It’s also no coincidence that I enjoyed reading Julia Donaldson and Lynley Dodd’s books to my own children.
I did try writing ‘Daisy Dubois’ in standard prose, but always found myself coming back to rhyme. I really like the way the words sing on the page and I think parents, carers, grandparents, and teachers like reading rhyme to young children, too.
Q: Why is your children’s picture book set in Paris?
My enchantment with Paris and its people stems back to my childhood when I used to play with a magical box of Parisian fashion magazines and mementos – which dad had sent home to mum earlier in their marriage, from his postings to Paris. [He was at the time a lowly ranked RAAF officer and not allowed to take his wife with him] I was besotted by Paris – its buildings, language, fashion, food, people and traditions – and was determined to travel there one day myself.
Oh, how I loved taking my mini-Eiffel Tower and L’Arc de Triomphe brass statues to show-and-tell. Such a concept seems quite twee now, in the well-travelled internet-connected world we live in. But for a young girl in small town Australia in 1974 it was quite exotic.
I’m embarrassed to say that when I was a university student, I decorated my room with cut-outs of original Chanel advertisements from Vogue Paris in the 1960s. I could weep now, when I think of how I butchered those beautiful magazines. Mum recently gave me the few that I didn’t cut up, and they are a real treasure trove for any fashionista.
I did indeed visit Paris many times during my 11 years of living in London. My husband even proposed to me on the Eiffel Tower!
I also wanted to showcase the beautiful drawings of Melbourne commercial illustrator Nicole Haeberle, who specialises in Parisian-inspired artworks for children, with an emphasis on architecture, fashion and art.