19th October 2016
Written by Tania McCartney
Released: 1 November 2016
Book title: Australia Illustrated
Author: Tania McCartney
Illustrator: Tania McCartney
Published by: EK Books
RRP: (Hardcover, clothbound) $29.99
Intended Audience: primary school age—5 to 11
Tell us about yourself
I write, illustrate, edit and devour books and words, and have been doing so for almost thirty years. My early writing experience was in magazines, and I only entered the children’s book industry in 2008. It was the best thing I ever did. LOVE this industry and I just adore creating books for children.
One of my great passions is juvenile literacy. I also love travel, art, paper and coffee (also tea). I currently have 22 books in print, with seven in production—most of them picture books, though I have recently fallen into junior fiction, and I hope to have some news on that soon!
What is your book about?
Australia Illustrated is a visual journey around Australia like you’ve never seen before. I wanted it to include some ‘iconic’ elements, yes—I mean, how could you not include the Sydney Harbour Bridge? But I also wanted to focus on more quirky, idiosyncratic elements, too. And multiculturalism, of course.
It was really important to me to do things differently and in unexpected ways, so I’m hoping the book surprises people. From the blurb…
‘Vibrantly illustrated with watercolour, ink, mono-printing and digital art, Australia Illustrated not only celebrates the more ‘typical’ Australian flora, fauna and landmarks, it showcases the everyday quirks and idiosyncrasies that make Australia unique. Types of rain, Greek street food, Sydney ferries, cattle breeds, plants of the Daintree—even the quokka selfie epidemic—will delight both children and adults.
A whopping 96 pages and divided into Australia-wide entries and also elements from each state and territory, readers will learn more about the endemic plants, animals, foods, landmarks, sports and oddities that make the regions around Australia special.’
Who is your target audience for this book?
I think this book is pretty ageless in that it’s mostly a visual creation. It does have some words, though deliberately not many. Visual literacy is so powerful and I’ve wanted to harness that in this book. It’s the type of book any age can get something from—whether it be learning, resonating, revisiting a memory or thinking outside the square.
I also wanted it to appeal to people of all walks of life, ethnicities and cultures, after all, Australia is a place of many cultures.
Formally, it would be targeted at primary school age—5 to 11.
What aspects did you find challenging about this book?
Self-doubt. It’s my first self-illustrated book, so that was a huge deal for me—thrilling but also scary.
And also worrying about reader expectation. There seems to be this thing (not with kids, only adults) where readers are expecting books to be what THEY want rather than what they actually are.
So many reviews talk about what’s ‘missing’ from a book and this puts enormous pressure on creators. This fear almost stopped me from making this book, as the last thing an author wants to do is disappoint their readers.
The truth is, though, we CAN’T include everything—most especially in a book like Australia Illustrated. It is what it is—it’s MY personal creation and like every creator, I had to let go of the fear of expectation pretty quickly, otherwise it would have crushed me (though it’s still there—a little bit!).
What does your book offer the reader that differs from others covering similar subjects?
It’s done in a way that’s not been seen before. It’s visually-focused and each page tries to do something creative and unusual. Melbourne icons as barista art on the top of cappuccinos? Why not!
How did the idea for this book come about?
I had reconnected with illustration again, after a 25+ year hiatus. It all started when I formed the 52-Week Illustration Challenge back in 2014. My skills came back pretty quickly and I wanted to create a book that would allow me to use these skills in an organic way. I’d had this visual-tome idea in my head for years, and when an arts ACT grant opportunity came up, I thought I’d pursue the idea.
I’ve worked with my publisher at EK Books, Anouska Jones, for a while now, and she places a lot of trust in me—so she pretty much allowed me to create this book in an organic way. So, the full ‘idea’ for the book emerged as I created it. I had an outline but the rest fell into place along the way. Not the ‘usual’ way to create a book, for sure! And I’m eternally grateful to her and the Exisle Publishing team for their trust and support. It’s been an incredible journey.
Find out more about Tania McCartney
Tania McCartney's website: www.taniamccartney.com
Kids’ Book Review: www.kids-bookreview.com
Tania McCartney adores books and words and pictures. If she could, she would live inside a book, and as an author, illustrator and editor—she kind of already does.
Her books have won awards and shortlistings, and in November 2016, her 22nd book, Australia Illustrated, will be released in Australia, NZ, the UK, US and Canada.
Tania lives just outside the ACT with a very nice husband, two marvellous kids, and a Himalayan mountain of books.