Last week was Children’s Book Week, my busiest week of the year. It’s the time when schools and libraries across Australia invite children’s authors and illustrators to speak to their students. For me it’s become more of a Children’s Book Month: between July 30th and September 16th this year I’m giving 93 talks and workshops to schoolkids. Each session with grade 4s and up is featuring at least one zombie animal. Here’s how a typical session looks.
First off I show the students a bunch of books I made when I was their age. We talk about the importance of practicing and persisting, and why it’s important to have fun when creating stories.
Then I show them some rough sketches and storyboards I’ve made, so they can see the process of how actual picture books are developed.
Then we read a story.
This year I had a new story to read, about a zombie rabbit: ‘My Dead Bunny‘.
(I usually only read it with Grade 4s and up; it’s a picture book for older readers).
Then we look at the basics of character design, i.e. that characters are designed in a certain way to evoke a certain response in the viewer. I don’t put it in those words though 😉 I show them how to draw the zombie bunny, and I ask the students what sorts of shapes and lines the character is drawn with. We compare the design to when the bunny is alive. Then the students suggest a different zombie animal for me to draw, and if we have time …
… the students design their own zombified animal too.
Sometimes we do a nice big happy group photo …
… and sometimes we do a big zombie-face photo.
Here’s all the zombified animals that students suggested this Children’s Book Week!
Thanks to all the schools and libraries that had me visit this August. I hope you had a great Children’s Book Week!
(Extra special thanks to Guildford Grammar Preparatory School for the photos).