Posts Tagged ‘Joy Cowley’

The Gobble Degook Book

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson

ISBN 9781776572588

Gecko Press

This Joy Cowley Anthology is full to the brim with stories and poems to make you laugh out loud. Joy plays with language creating words of her own that will delight children of all ages. There are classics in here such as Niceketty-Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo and Greedy Cat. These and many more, have been around for years and loved for just as many years by children all over. The poem Goggly Gookers is a great example of her word creations. How can you not smile at lines like this;

The clop is in the fizz-bustle eating all the grimlings.

The illustrations in this collection add another level. From the bright yellow front cover with the big bold red title, to the giraffe on the back and everything else in between, this is a wonderful combination of story and pictures.

I feel very lucky to have had a chance to ask illustrator Giselle Clarkson some questions.

  1. The cover of this anthology is bright and immediately eye-catching.  How did you decide on which story to use for the cover?

We left the cover until very last. Vida Kelly (the book’s designer) and I had lots of back-and-forth discussion about it and went through heaps of different options before settling on the one we’ve got. In the end it just seemed like the character of the jumbaroo perfectly captured the spirit of the book. Exuberant, joyful, playful, brilliant nonsense. Because it’s an anthology we added characters and elements from other stories, my favourite bit is the tiny woman and her snail on the barcode.

  1. Were you a keen artist as a child and was this something you wanted to always do? What sort of pictures did you draw as a child?

I wasn’t particularly big on toys or sports, I liked climbing trees, computer games and art. I was really fortunate to grow up in a home with art supplies always there for me to use. I always knew I wanted to be some kind of artist, but it didn’t dawn on me that illustration was my dream job until I was about 25. It was a real “oh yeah, duh” moment for me.

When I was very young liked drawing happy people, flowers, and jewel-bright birds and fish. When I was about 10 I started reading things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and King Arthur and got really into drawing dragons, elves and enchanted woods.

  1. What is your process for drawing and which medium do you like to use best. 

I do all my illustration digitally – I use a Wacom drawing tablet and Photoshop. What I like best about drawing on a computer is that I can experiment endlessly and never waste any paper.

  1. There is a childlike quality to the pictures which is perfect for this collection. Was it a deliberate choice to do this and how hard was it to achieve?

This is pretty much my most natural way of drawing! Coming up with a good idea can take hours, but the final drawing can often be done very quickly. A lot of the time (for other work) I have to go back over my first versions and make them much more polished, but for The Gobbledegook book they were intentionally kept sudden and loose and un-fussed over. It was wonderful to work that way. Some of my favourites are unchanged from the first quick ideas I did to show the publishers, like the tiny woman standing under the falling leaves, or the wee wishy woman facing off the ogre in Nicketty-Nacketty Noo-Noo-Noo.

  1. How do you relax, or what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to go outside. I love to garden, and walk in the bush or on the beach. I usually have my nose to the ground looking for interesting stuff, like insects or feathers or unusual fungi. My walks on the beach are always very slow because I inspect everything that’s come in on the last tide.

  1. If you could have dinner with any character from any book, who would it be and why?

A quiet meal with Mog the cat from Judith Kerr’s books. I love Mog, and I miss my own cat who died recently and was a lot like her. I could rub Mog’s belly and I’d let her sit on the table, and we’d both have soft boiled eggs for our tea.

  1. What advice would you give to someone wanting to illustrate children’s books.

Persistence and practice and a lot of honest, constructive criticism of your own work! Having 32+ blank pages to fill can be extremely daunting, you don’t want to go into that unprepared!

I didn’t study illustration, so I spent several years getting experience by building up a portfolio of commercial work, always with children’s book illustration as a goal in mind. Long before I had anything published I went to a conference in Wellington for children’s authors and illustrators, and things I learnt back then are still useful to me now – about storytelling, contracts, and publishing in general. There are also so many wonderful and kind people working in illustration who are happy to offer advice if you just ask.

Thanks Giselle for sharing your thoughts with us. I love your self-portrait and the one of Joy. Just delightful. I love the look of contentment on both of your faces.

Song of the River

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

ISBN 9781776572535

Gecko Press

Cam is a young child living in the mountains where the snow is thick and the air cold. He often wonders what it would be like to see the ocean. One spring morning, Cam begins to follow the voice of the snow. It calls to him, a trickle at first.

“Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.”

He journeys in and out of the forest, through tiny villages, following the trickle of water that grows into creeks and rivers. Cam continues following the water till he finally reaches the sea.  He stands in awe of the sea and its wild beauty. For the first time in his life he splashes in the waves and feels the sand between his toes. It is a circular story and Cam ends up safe back home with his grandfather.

Beautifully written, with earthy coloured illustrations, this book provides the story of many rivers and their journey to the sea. The wildlife includes, deer, bears, leaping trout, and numerous others that children will recognise. The end pages provide a map overview of the river’s journey, from the mountains, through the valleys and small towns and all the way to the sea.

A beautiful book with heaps to look at and enjoy as well as insight to our world.

Snake and Lizard

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776571994

Gecko Press

 

Ten years ago we were introduced to two adorably funny characters.   Snake and Lizard are friends, although perhaps not the most likely of companions considering they started arguing from the moment they met. It didn’t take long however, to realise that having each other’s company was much better than being on their own.

This very special 10th birthday edition has a lovely embossed cover where the shiny new title and characters pop up from the cover. It proudly displays its gold Book of the year award in the top right corner where you can’t miss it. An award it certainly deserves.

I loved the stories back then and I love them now. Quirky, funny but also caring. There is a naive tenderness to their friendship too, which makes them even more lovable. Great as a read-aloud, but just as great for newly independent readers who will love the short, sharp stories with the wonderfully earthy illustrations.

This trailer is a perfect introduction to the stories for new readers.

Helper and helper

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776571055

Gecko Press

 

helper-and-helper-cover-432x600-2

Traditional story telling at its best. Funny, in a dry matter-of-fact way with a few lessons thrown in for good measure.

Snake and Lizard are friends, best friends as Lizard reminds Snake. But sometimes even best friends get annoyed with each other and have disagreements. It is how they work around their disagreements which is so funny. Both want to be right and tend to be a bit cunning in order to prove they are right but the outcome is not always want each one wants. But as true best friends they are at the end of each day, forgiving and kind. Joy Cowley highlights the reality of true friendships, warts and all and we can’t help but love Snake and Lizard. Short fable like stories that can be shared and enjoyed by anyone.

My favourite story from this collection is Food and friends.  Watch out for the ending but just don’t turn your back on Snake.

I love the rich earthy colours of Gavin Bishop’s illustrations. His style is very distinctive and natural and helps bring these characters to life with ease. Writer and illustrator are perfectly matched for this third book in the series about Snake and Lizard.

The Road to Ratenburg

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776570751

Gecko Press

 

Road to Ratenburg cover high-res

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel all about a family of rats on their quest to find Ratenburg. After an explosion destroys their home Spinnaker Rat and his family are left with nothing. They make the difficult decision to search for Ratenburg, a little known but much talked about safe-haven for all rats. Their journey is dangerous and long.  They meet all sorts of danger head on. Cats, dogs, hawks, rat traps and many other hazards get in their way but the “humming beans” may just be the worst. And what are “humming beans” you ask. Well, I think you really do need to find a copy of this book to find out for yourself.

This is a sweet novel about facing your fears, taking risks and finding courage. Readers will love biting into each chapter as Spinnaker, his wife Retsina and the four ratlets face even more dangers. The humour and  banter between different family members makes this family so real.

The combination of Joy’s warm writing and Gavin’s wonderful illustrations bring the rat family to life and even if you don’t like rats,(like me) you will fall in love with these ones.

“In the moment before I drifted into sleep, I listened to our soft breathing, six rats, each a slightly different sound, but all in harmony and rhythm. I thought it was the most beautiful sound on earth.”

This is great for 8-10 year old readers but would be perfect for a teacher read-aloud too. Quality all the way.

 

The Bakehouse

By Joy Cowley

ISBN 9781776570072

Gecko Press

 

bakehouse

Bert is in his 80’s when the novel opens and he is confronted by his great grandson Erueti; a boy who wants to know all about his ancestors.

So Bert begins his story and it isn’t very long before we are drawn into the past. The year is 1943 and New Zealand is caught up with the second world war.

Bert is 11 and eager to grow up quickly so he can go and fight in the war. He wants the adventure, the action and to defend his country. We begin to get to know Bert and his two sisters, Meg and Betty and the struggles of day to day to life. The Bakehouse is a book of mystery – just who is stealing clothes from the clothes lines in the middle of the night. It is also a book of danger and secrets and the secrets have the most power to destroy.      In fact it is the consequences of secrets which Bert still struggles with some 70 years later.

This is a moving, timely tale which is not only a great read but a solid account of the times. Without television the news came via radio and everyone would stop and listen.

“The war was always there, like a big hungry ghost that poured itself out of the radio to haunt the house.”

 

I loved the language, perfectly fitting for the era. I couldn’t help smiling at the terminology as it brought back my own memories. It also shows how language is always growing and adapting. A delight to read. Great for  9 – 13 year old readers and for many adults it is also great for a nostalgic look at the past set during times of war. And as for the ending – powerful – but you will just have to read it yourself. It is easy to see why Joy Cowley continues to win awards. Her writing is always top-notch and this is no exception.

Speed of light
By Joy Cowley

ISBN 9781877579936
Gecko Press

speed

I thoroughly enjoyed Joy’s previous book Dunger which won the Junior Fiction Category in the recent NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. And I thoroughly enjoyed this book too even though it has a mathematical theme because I confess I actually have a phobia to anything maths related. I can put sentences together on occasions but not numbers. Numbers terrify me and the thought of not being able to use a calculator makes my skin crawl. But with Joy’s latest book I found myself intrigued with the number side of things especially the explanation of the Fibonacci numbers. When the weather is warmer I think I will be outside looking at patterns in leaves and flower petals with a new eye.
But it is so much more than that.
We have Jeff who has a fixation on numbers and anything mathematical, and his sister Andrea who has certain secrets, brother Beckett who is locked up in a prison cell overseas and his parents; a domineering bully of a father and mother in denial. I must say I found myself quite annoyed with Jeff’s father and disliked him intensely. This just goes to show how good the writing is for when we connect emotionally either good or bad, then the writer has hit their mark!
A severe storm one night blows in more than just leaves and broken trees. It blows in to Jeff’s life a mysterious and even mystical old lady who comes with warnings he doesn’t understand. Is she really just a lost and demented old lady or is there more to her that meets the eye.
Find out when it comes out next month. Another great novel from Joy Cowley – aged 12 plus.
Review of Dunger in a previous post here

Dunger
By Joy Cowley

Dunger_cover_300dpi

Eleven year old Will aka pooface to his sister Melissa aka slime brain to Will are bribed to the tune of $1000 each, to help out their old hippie grandparents fix up their holiday home in the Sounds.
It is not until they arrive at the Sounds that they realize just how secluded they are. No cell phones, no electricity, no indoor toilet and even getting water proves difficult and potentially dangerous. They will certainly have to work for their money.
Joy Cowley weaves a wonderful feel good story with moody teenager Melissa and often smart-alec younger brother Will. At times they are both frustrating but the mark of a good novel is seeing the growth of a character. Will and Melissa by the end of the novel are not the same people that began their journey to a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere. This is an honest, realistic feel good story.
This book so deserves to be a finalist in the New Zealand Post book awards for Children and Young Adults