Event: Reading + Art at Keats Library

Bring the kids for a reading of the newly released picture book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil. Then, stay for an arts and crafts activity. We’ll be making magic pencils and designing paper dolls of Arabella and Avery. The event is free and will be held at Keats Community Library on the 28th of September from 1:30-2:15PM. See you there!

Interview with Shaney Hyde, Illustrator of Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Shaney Hyde is the talented Australian artist behind the charming illustrations in Arabella and the Magic Pencil. She brought Arabella and her magical world to whimsical life. Shaney agreed to give us a behind-the-scenes look at how she created the illustrations and what lead her to illustrate.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a lovely coastal town on the Mornington Peninsula. I have three gorgeous boys, Liam, Josh and Ben. They are my inspiration and often my best critiques. My working place is in a section of our family room which I wish I could say has a sea view but I only have to walk up the road to see one! When I was a little girl, I was always drawing and creating things, reusing odds and ends from around the house and garden to make imaginative small worlds. 

I always knew I wanted to work with children and have been an Early Childhood Educator since forever. I share my love of nature & the outdoors, literacy and art with the young children that I teach. I continue to learn from them each day with their curious minds and fresh outlook on life. Since emerging into book illustration, I feel so lucky to share my process with the children and realise that illustrators and artists are privileged to share different emotions with them through beautiful books. Illustrating children’s books has been a long held dream so I’m thrilled to have illustrated such a magical story for my first one!

2) How did you create the illustrations for the book?

The illustrations in Arabella and Magic Pencil are hand painted with watercolours and grey lead pencil. Stephanie’s imaginative and elaborate story line allowed me to play with different ideas to visually express the story line with added layers; like a story within a story. For example, I came up with the little crowned bird character to illustrate Arabella’s one wish that she receives each year by Royal decree. I named him ‘wish’ in my mind and he appears in each page as Arabella’s companion as if to provide a mutual level of friendship and emotional support. I fell in love with Arabella early on and even made a cloth doll version of her as part of my creative process. She sat on my desk as I developed the illustrations for the book. I love how Stephanie has invented a confident character that independently solves her own problems using her creativity driven by her underlying feelings of sibling love.

3) Who are your favourite artists or illustrators and the inspirations for your artwork?

My favourite artists are the masters, Klimt, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas. Modern day; Mirka Mora and of course, my mum. She is a painter and pastelist and my greatest mentor. Her words of wisdom to me are; to work hard, keep sketching, imagining, creating, keep learning my craft and to stay true to myself with no pressure to perform

Illustrators: I love so many… (a wide range; accomplished and emerging ) Freya Blackwood, Alison Lester, Anna Walker, Maurice Sendak, Helene Maggison, Beatrix Potter, Lynley Dodd, Caterina Metti, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen., Tull Suwannakit, Catherine Rayner, my list could go on… 

My inspirations are from nature, cute animals, and seeing the joy in the little things each day. I create illustrations in a whimsical style to make people smile.

4) What is next for you and where can we see more of your work?

Currently, the original paintings I created for Arabella and the Magic Pencil are being displayed in an exhibition at Antipodes Bookshop in Sorrento, Victoria in Australia. To promote the book, I’m doing primary school visits, story and activity times in the school holidays at local Bookshop’s. It was fun creating paper dolls of Arabella and Avery which are available for download on the EK books website. My illustrations are also published on greeting cards for boutique gift shops. (my current range is ‘Yoga for Wombats ’ & ‘ Echidna and bird series). My dream is to keep illustrating picture books whilst teaching wonderful young children, hopefully, inspiring them to read, draw and create. 

See more of Shaney’s artwork on her website: hydenseekdesigns.com

Her portfolio can be found on the ASA Style File website: https://asastylefile.com/illustrator/shaney-hyde/

Booking Around the World – King’s Library Tower

Kicking off a new photo feature on #BookLoversDay with a classic stack of books at the British Library

The nearly impossible to photograph King’s Library Tower at the British Library

I love to travel and I love writing books which is why the name of this blog is Writer with Wanderlust. Whenever I’m in a new place, I seem to be looking for a bookstore (and a coffeeshop or restaurant, but that’s another blog!). I’ve found some amazing places and bought lots of children’s books in languages I can’t read. So, my new feature, Booking Around the World, will highlight wonderful books, bookshops and bookish images that I have discovered on my travels.

Since I currently live in London, it’s fitting to start with a classic image from the British Library. The King’s Library Tower sits smack in the middle of the British Library. It spans six stories and is covered with glass making for a stunning spectacle from any angle. The books contained inside are actually the collection of King George III and include over 65,000 bound copies.

I’d highly recommend popping in the British Library for a peek of the King’s Library Tower when in London.

British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

Event: #ukpbchat on Twitter

Don’t miss #ukpbchat at 8pm (BST), Thursday July 4th on Twitter!

July’s #ukpbchat features a number of debut picture book authors talking about their paths to publication including…
*James Nicholson* @JamesNAuthor
*Rashmi Sirdeshpande* @RashmiWriting
*Julie Ballard* @JulieBallard3
*Catherine Emmett* @Emmett_Cath
*Stephanie Ward* @StephMWard <– That’s me!

Hosted by @FatherReading & @CatherineWard0 and moderated by @emilyanndavison.

Looking forward to chatting with you!

5 Great Kidlit Podcasts

I’m late to the game when it comes to podcasts. But recently, I found a slew of entertaining and informative shows that have made me convert. Here are five podcasts that children’s book readers and writers should have a listen to.

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The Happy Book: A Children’s Book Podcast with Tania McCartney

My latest discovery is a brand new podcast (now in Season 2) by Australian author, illustrator and all around fabulous kidlit creator, Tania McCartney. I love this podcast for so many reasons but it’s by far the most informative for those that are writing and/or illustrating children’s books. With 30+ years of experience, Tania McCartney tells it like it is (with a charming Australian accent) and with specific, relevant stories from many areas of the kidlit industry. A bit of the information is specific to Australia, but the large majority is relevant across borders so give it a go. Available on iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa and there’s a Facebook page too – https://www.facebook.com/TheHappyBookPodcast/.

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One More Page: A Podcast for Lovers of Kids’ Books

This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. It’s fun, funny and full of interviews with popular kidlit authors. But what sets it apart from others is that they actually talk to kids about kids books. Brilliant, right? And it’s hilarious. In its first year, One More Page was a Finalist in the Australian Podcast Awards. Well worth checking out. Available on iTunes, Castbox, Pocketcasts, Spotify and iHeartRadio.


The Children’s Book Podcast with Matthew Winner

This might be the most comprehensive podcast about children’s books available. There are over 500 episodes and some with the most successful children’s authors in the world. Matthew Winner’s long-form interview style gives creators ample time to share their journeys. I’ve picked up some incredible wisdom by simply tuning in and tuning everything else out. Plus, Matthew’s sheer joy and gratitude about the world of children’s literature is infectious. It’s an absolute pleasure to listen to this multi-award-winning, highly acclaimed series. Check out the website for all of the details, http://www.matthewcwinner.com/podcast.

So you want to be a writer

So You Want to be a Writer

Practical advice for writers of any genre, Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait share their wealth of experience as writers and authors. Plus, there are interviews with a wide variety of authors. I search for relevant kidlit authors, but occasionally I’ll try an adult or non-fiction author and invariably learn something I can use in my own writing. With 275+ episodes, there is something for everyone. Available on iTunes, the Australian Writers’ Centre website or Stitcher Radio.


Middle Grade Mavens: The Podcast

A relative newcomer, this podcast specifically focuses on a middle grade books. Middle Grade Mavens reviews books, interviews publishers and authors working in this genre and discusses everything related to the genre. If you’re writing middle grade, check out this podcast for the most relevant and timely information about this wildly popular kidlit genre. Available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Radio Public.

I’d love to hear what you tune into, so please leave a comment with a link to your favorite kidlit podcasts.

Happy listening!