“I’ve been the oldest child since before you were born”
— E.L. Konigsburg (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler)
Arabella and the Magic Pencil is, really, a story about me.I was the “delightful daughter” that my parents doted on….until my siblings arrived. I experienced firsthand how jarring a new baby can be to a young one’s life. I also know how rewarding and special those relationships are. And that’s what the book is all about — recognizing the full range of the feelings that come with giving up the reign of only child and adjusting to new family members — whether through birth, adoption or blended families.
So, I was excited to see this perfectly on point post on Motherhood, The Real Deal, a top UK family blog (#11 if you’re curious), highlighting tips for introducing a child to a new baby. With advice from Dr Sarah Hughes, a clinical psychologist, PhD in child and adolescent anxiety disorders, the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists, AND the author of forthcoming book Parenting Made Simplepublished by Exisle Books, it’s an absolute MUST READ for families with a new child on the way. Oh, and it may just mention Arabella and the Magic Pencil too!
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!
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.
Kicking off a new photo feature on #BookLoversDay with a classic stack of books 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.