Posts Tagged ‘What are you supposed to be?’

What are you supposed to be?

By Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775434054

Scholastic NZ

 

 

There is so much to love about this new picture book by Paul Beavis. The wonderful warm colours, the gorgeous quirky illustrations which totally capture the characters and their personalities. I have been a fan of Paul Beavis for some time now and I do think he just keeps getting better and better.

Everyone knows REAL wolves go Grrrrr and HOWL at the moon…  

but what happens here is the story of an inquisitive little girl who is determined to make the not so wolf-like wolf more like a real wolf. I love her determination and wolf’s matter-of-factness that he is just fine the way he is. Their expressions are delightful. What makes this book special though is the realisation that you can be true to yourself. You don’t need to change anything about yourself for anyone else. A lesson many adults still find hard to learn. 

This is a wonderful picture book to share and read over and over. Look out for wolf’s tongue and the funny way it keeps sticking out. Cute and funny.

I love this book so much I asked Paul Beavis a few questions and you can see his answers  right here.

 

Your illustrations have a wonderful mix of quirkiness and warmth. How hard is it to get that mix just right?

I find it very hard. The major issue is trying to get what’s in your head onto the page, I suspect most illustrators have the same thing. Oddly enough the wolf character came fairly quickly, he was originally meant to be part of a 3 Little pigs animation thing I was developing in the late nineties, nothing came from this but I filed away the wolf drawing as I thought he had something. The little girl character design was a nightmare to get right. Like casting a film you know the right one when you see them, but I have to draw them first. Once Scholastic were on board with the project I had Lynette and her team’s experience to help me decide which character designs were worth following. Also involved was Vida Kelly, Art director supreme. I’ve worked with Vida on all my books and she has the magic ability of nudging me in the right direction. She gives me the confidence to follow an illustration idea that I might doubt but she knows with a little work it will shine.

There is also with almost of all of your books a sense of mischievousness to them. Did you get up to much mischief as a child?

Well I always imagined I was a good boy/teenager. But my fiancée is a school teacher and having told her some of what I got up to in and out of school she is less than impressed, she would have marked my card very early on. However my Dad, who was pretty smart, never knew that all the football practices I said I was going to were in fact detentions.

What comes first – pictures in your head or the story?

The character always come first. Be it a drawing of an odd looking wolf or an old lady in Mrs Mo’s case, they both stared back at me and I wondered what’s your story?

This happens very rarely as I’ve drawn hundreds of faces/characters over the years. After I have my ‘star’ the real challenge is to find someone for them to act against. Then the story evolves with me speaking to myself (in my head) and writing down the dialogue, I churn out of lot and then edit this back down to find the basic bones of a story. The hard work then begins of trying to make a story that can be read multiple times while hoping against hope that it will resonate in the readers mind.

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

Well based on my behaviour as a child, I reckon an afternoon with young George from the Roald Dahl book George’s Marvellous Medicine would be interesting to say the least. I’d hope to go toe to toe with him on some of my questionable deeds, although I will say that I have never poisoned an elderly relative. I’m assuming dinner would be a burger and coke, and if we go back to the 1980s when I read the book we’d find ourselves in either A Little Chef or a Wimpy Bar, both were pretty grotty by today’s standards but I felt ‘proper posh’ going in them as a child.

What advice would you give to children who want to write or illustrate?

Write, write, write, draw, draw, draw. More importantly don’t worry if it’s not right the first time, this is so crucial to remember so I’m going to say it again don’t worry if it’s not right the first time. Because the great thing is that you don’t know how good you’re going to be, if you knew already where would be the fun in that?

Think of it as a big adventure, at the moment you are just wandering towards a mountain stepping through endless fields of cow dung (or dinosaur dung if you want to add a bit more excitement) but each of these stinky fields you make through makes you stronger. Then one day you’ll find yourself stepping on the mountain path and all sorts of possibilities open up.

Brilliant. Thank you Paul for taking the time to share your thoughts. I love that your dad thought you were at football when you were actually in detention.

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